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Radio News: Radio consultant says play fewer female artists for bigger ratings

May 28, 2015 11:26 pm
Country Aircheck Weekly, a trade publication for country radio news, sparked a bit of controversy this week with an interview with music consultant Keith Hill in its May 26 edition. In one section of the short interview he says that country radio stations playing more than 20 percent female artists are going to lose ratings.
Finally, Hill cautions against playing too many females. And playing them back to back, he says, is a no-no. “If you want to make ratings in Country radio, take females out,” he asserts. “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.”

Country Aircheck Weekly's past reporting shows that 33 to 35 percent of the top 100 singles of the late 1990s were by female artists, but since then, that's dropped below 30 percent, falling to 18 percent last year. Martina McBride has been the most popular country musician to respond, writing on Facebook:

"Wow.....just wow. Just read this from a major country radio publication. How do you feel about this statement? I especially want to hear from the females. Do you not like to hear other women singing about what you are going through as women? I’m really curious. Because to me, country music is about relating. Someone relating to what you are really going through on a day to day basis in your life. Did you girls (core female listeners) know you were being “assessed” in this way? Is this how you really feel? Hmmm...."