I'm beyond the point of allowing 'the news' to get the better of me these days; however, one hot item that hit the press this week really fired me up: Country Music Consultant Says Female Artists are Merely Tomatoes in the Country Music Salad. In a nutshell, this man claims that female artists don't get as much airplay because, according to 'research', they simply don't 'sell'. I suppose this hit a nerve because back in my radio days/daze (late 1980's through mid-90's), a corporate program director for a country music station for which I worked essentially said the same thing: 'We don't play female artists back to back, and we usually don't play more than three female artists per hour.' As a twenty-something with very little sense of self, I thought it was kind of dumb. As a forty-something with perhaps an overly-inflated sense of self, I think it's complete and utter hogwash. As a young child, I harbored what may have been a strange fascination with radio - who were these people, and how did they have access to all the tunes? There was an element of mystery that appealed to my young soul. Add to it my love affair with the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati and it's no wonder that I chose radio as my profession (for a while). But real life was not WKRP (no program director I ever had wore his pants as tight as Andy Travis, and since none of them looked like Andy Travis, that was a very good thing. That's a good example of me being sexist in radio, a fair turn-the-tables, if you will).
By the time I hit the seen in a mid-size market, The Corporate Machine was already rearing it's ugly head. We jocks didn't pick the music - a computer program did, and it typically generated a most generic, depressing, overly watered-down sound. Throw in misogynistic managers and you've got yourself one troublesome situation. Bah to that, says I. I changed professions. Teaching. I did it for twelve years in a private school before The Corporate Machine bought it. We teachers didn't pick our lesson plans - someone who'd never been in a classroom did, and it typically generated a most generic, depressing, and overly watered-down curriculum. Throw in misogynistic managers and you've got yourself one troublesome situation. Bah to that, says I. Bah to all of it, says I. I don't know about you, Sisters and Brothers, but I'm tired of Men in Suits telling us what to do, what to listen to, what to watch, what to eat, what to feel, and how to present ourselves. I could go off a full-blown rant, but my focus today is that of radio and the nonsense spewed forth by this consultant. Let me preface it by saying I don't listen to much country radio these days. I like my country organic, which means no pitch-correction, no special collaboration with rappers, and no canned music. So with that being said, what might happen if: Someone had the sense to switch to an all-female format. All women, all the time. The artists featured would preferably be singers/songwriters who play an instrument. Vocalists are welcome provided they have never depended on electronic slight of hand when recording an album or performing live. Artists who are also positive and empowering role models for young women. All ages and ethnicities welcome. And it wouldn't strictly have to be a music format. Include current, women-centered events and inspiring women-centered stories. Feature a Women in Business (with no corporate affiliation) segment. In short, a venue for women to speak, to express, and to support one another, run by women for women. Good Goddess Almighty - when did I become a feminist? The F word has been bandied about much in recent years, and I still don't really understand its true definition or the tangents it has taken. Equal pay for equal work? Yes. Equal radio air-play for all? Yes. An opportunity to prance around half-naked and express one's sexuality in front of a stadium full of strangers? I don't think so. All I know is this: I'm officially sick of male domination (there, I said it). Sisters, we owe it to ourselves and to our daughters to cry 'No Mas! We don't want what you're selling because we're smart enough to seek and think for ourselves.' Now that I'm on a roll, I'd really like to get back into radio - on my terms (see 'all female format'). It must be commercial-free and a safe place for women to express themselves. As much as I hate Go Fund Me, I'd take it just to get such a station on the air. I wouldn't need anything fancy - a few watts of power, a couple of old-school turntables (because that's how I learned to run a board) and a microphone. KLHS (K (because all stations begin their call letters with a K down here) Let Her Speak). I like it.
I'm too shy to start it myself, but I'm certainly not too proud to have someone else kick start it for me. I'll do the all the grunt work gladly for those willing to pony up a few shekels.
And with that, Dear Hearts, I leave you with a number by Elizabeth Cook, who never gets any airplay on regular radio but hosts a dandy of a show on Sirius FM's Outlaw Country. Something to think about....