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Radio consultant calls industry sexist

Tuesday, June 2, 2015 – The radio consultant who compared female country artists to tomatoes in salad acknowledged in a follow-up interview with Country Aircheck the country industry was sexist.

"I'm not going to make any apology for using the tomato analogy, as some have counseled me," Keith Hill said in the story. "What I want is to understand why they are so angry. And it's because they think we (as an industry) are sexist. And you know what, we are."

"Well, it's bias, but not by conscious thought," he said. "No one says, 'We dislike women' or sets out to hold them back. But I do understand their perception that I am unfair and the industry is unfair."

Hill raised an uproar last week when he said country radio stations should stop playing women if they want to do well in ratings.

Hill, who advises stations what songs to play, said last week, "If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out," Hill said. "The reason is mainstream country radio generates more quarter hours from female listeners at the rate of 70 to 75 percent, and women like male artists. I'm basing that not only on music tests from over the years, but more than 300 client radio stations. The expectation is we're principally a male format with a smaller female component. I've got about 40 music databases in front of me and the percentage of females in the one with the most is 19 percent. Trust me, I play great female records and we've got some right now; they're just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females."

The tomatoes comment caused many comments opposing him, including from Martina McBride and Miranda Lambert.

"God populated the planet with just as many women as men," he said. "We live in America and we want equality - certainly in opportunity even if we don't expect it in the outcomes. "Unfortunately, Country radio and the record business appears to be the most sexist business on planet earth, but it's not by willful, malicious intent."

"It certainly looks like we make decisions based on the sex of the person who is singing, but we don't. The results appear to be incredibly sexist, but it is bias based on consumer behavior and it's very strong."

Hill said he has not heard from industry powers about his comments. "Normally, the record community is ready to weigh-in on something that so directly affects what they do. But I'm not hearing from(Big Machine's) Scott Borchetta, Mike Dungan or Scott Hendricks. They are quiet as church mice. That's because what I said is true. And we all know if you strap guitars on boys and girls and send them to Nashville, the males get deals at rate of seven to one. That's the marketplace."

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