Kacey Musgraves, Kelsea Ballerini, and More Have Had Enough of Country Radio’s Sexist Nonsense
They’ve got a real problem with playing women artists, and now the women are fighting back.
Anyone familiar with contemporary country music radio knows it’s a serious boy’s club. But the sexism has become so blatant no less that Comedy Central’s Samantha Bee was inspired to investigate, featuring luminaries Tanya Tucker, Brandi Carlile, and Margo Price speaking out on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
The situation escalated when Variety editor Chris Willman made a joke on social media after a Los Angeles country station played songs by Gabby Barrett and Kelsea Ballerini back-to-back on-air.
I turned on the 105.1 country station in L.A. just now, and they were playing the new song by Gabby Barrett, and then, without any pause or interruption at all, they went into a Kelsea Ballerini song. Can’t they get fined for that?
— Chris Willman (@ChrisWillman) January 15, 2020
The tweet generated a firestorm of comments, some missing the sarcasm of Willman’s tweet. The responses from the women of country music, however, made it clear that radio stations do indeed have a very real problem when it comes to playing their songs.
Among those leading the charge was Ballerini herself, who made a point of screen-grabbing a now-deleted message from Michigan country music radio station, 98 KCQ Country, admitting that they are actually forbidden from playing two women in a row on the airwaves.
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I say this having been one of the few women who have been really embraced by country radio and having watched some of the bigger networks (and some of my friends that are pd’s and high up) make real changes in their programming to make it look more balanced. I am grateful. BUT. there is still inequality in airplay for women. And tweets like this prove it. And it’s my job to say it out loud and post about it, because of the girls moving to Nashville ( or wherever) that are ready to outrun and outwork and outplay everyone. They deserve to know that they have the same shot as the guys moving here to do the same. Country music- We have to fix this. For us and for them. How do we do it? Let’s talk. (Also- don’t lash out at this station, they are playing by rules set for them from their higher ups ?)
Ballerini’s contemporaries have been quick to support her outrage—including Kacey Musgraves, who also shared the deleted message with some added insight of her own: “Smells like white male bullshit and why LONG ago I decided they cannot stop me.” She then followed with another tweet: “And yet, they can play 18 dudes who sound exactly the same back to back. Makes total sense.” Touché.
“Ask yourself this question: ‘What do you want your daughter to know about herself?'” Brandi Carlile asked on The Samantha Bee Show. “And if you can’t get that from country music, if you can’t get that from country radio, it’s a problem.” Watch the Full Frontal segment below.