MISOGYNY IN COUNTRY RADIO?
Three years ago I said “tomatoes” and all hell broke loose on planet earth.
Every year on the anniversary of that event the press dusts it off and looks at measurable metrics and proclaims nothing has happened or perhaps things are “oh my God” slightly worse for female country singers.
I have decided to cause more problems.
You see this article is broader in scope regards females in Country.
First I want to address the radio programming side if things. I feel its well established that contemporary formatted country radio stations break slightly in favor or women in terms of cume audience composition. (Cume is the unduplicated head count listening to a radio station) Much like when they announce at a major league baseball game that today’s attendance is “48, 375.” That’s the cume of that baseball game. Country radio’s cume can be 55% to 65% female.
Furthermore there is a “currency” upon which we use to measure the value of radio listening and that is the almighty “average quarter hour.” For simplicity sake I will describe it as 15 minutes of listening or exposure to a radio station. The reason why I call it a currency is because it helps create an equivalency for us to value the total listening to radio. Think of those quarter hours as our “dollars.”
One person who listens one hour gives a station four quarter-hours. Four other people listen fifteen minutes each and that also yields four quarter-hours to the radio station.
Hence, a station might have 100,000 cume listeners and 578,372 quarter-hours. It’s that total collection of quarter hours that is the important metric of value.
Most country radio stations generate north of 65% of their quarter hours from women. Sometimes the number of quarter hours generated from women on country radio can go as high as 85%. So you see why country radio programmers think about programming that women prefer and will listen to for longer periods of time.
My claim (and real world experience) is that women listen to country radio stations longer when the mix of songs broadcast is about fifteen percent female. When that percentage is higher without conscious thought they simply fatigue faster and automatically respond by listening less.
Now that being said I have to weigh in on something else about country radio and gender. Because country radio depends on appealing to women and generating the maximum number of quarter hours possible from women I’d suggest that we employ more women General Managers, Sales Managers, Program Directors, Promotions Directors and Morning air talent.
Years ago I consulted KXKC in Lafayette, Louisiana. It was a country station that launched and attacked a heritage country station KMDL.
The program director for KXKC was Renee Revett. I remember meetings early on where a team was assembled and Renee was the only female. A bunch of men were discussing promotions for KXKC and Renee stopped the meeting and said, “would you like to have a woman’s point of view on this?”
Renee gently but firmly proceeded to euphemistically beat us with a two by four and wake us up. The filter needed was, “what does more than half our audience think of this?”
While I think managing a radio station is principally a from the neck up proposition I do think that more female managers would be a good thing. There are decisions that will be made where empathy, understanding and point of view could make a difference. The greater our real understanding of the majority of the audience (in terms of quarter hour value) the better we can optimize the station.
The same holds true as in the role or Program Director. That person needs to first hear in their head what the station ought to sound like. (In radio we call it an “air check”) Then that program director works on getting the station closer and closer to that ideal air check that they hear in their head. Once again a females perspective and understanding would be a very good thing.
Over time morning shows have been slowly changing from male only shows or male lead shows to some shows that have female leads. Laurie DeYoung in Baltimore was one of the few female lead morning shows 24 years ago. Today I am working with a growing number of female lead morning shows. The great news is they instantly have that “mom filter.” They understand so many things and present important topics with the correct verbiage and nuanced touches that are right for the audience.
I am considered the World’s Biggest Misogynist for metrics that I suggest for female singers in the mix of music on country radio stations.
When it comes to the GM and PD chairs in country radio stations perhaps I’m guilty of Misandry.
Actually my claim is this. There is no gender bias in my advice regarding music played on the radio. Instead in this wonderful free enterprise place called America I chase profit and meritocracy. I play music on radio based upon metrics that yield the highest ratings. And when it comes to making hires for country radio I say hire the best regardless of gender. Make sure you have folks on your team who truly understand the target audience! Since your target is women you might want to lean female in your management and programming team.
I wonder what the “tomato throwers” think of me now?