In case you missed Full Frontal with Samantha Bee's segment on Wednesday night, or haven't been following our coverage of how women aren't getting a fair shake at country radio (or need a quick brief on Tomatogate): Country radio has a serious women problem. That problem? Many radio stations don't, and won't, play songs performed by women on the airwaves.
A 2019 report from the Annenberg Institute found that women make up only 16% of radio airplay in country music in addition to facing huge challenges with ageism and award show recognition. That same year, the Women In Action Network and Jada E. Watson of the University if Ottawa crunched the numbers to reveal women have faced a huge drop in radio airplay from 2000 to 2018.
So, on Thursday morning when a country station in Saginaw, MI jumped on a joking tweet from the features editor at Variety in which he remarked that he heard two women back to back on a country radio station in Los Angeles and the world didn't come to a stop.
In response, someone from this station fired up their Twitter machine and, in a now-deleted tweet, remarked that it was just great for that station but, "We cannot play two females back to back. Not even Lady Antebellum [Ed. note: who have a woman singer and two men in the band] and Little Big town [Ed. note: a mixed gender vocal harmony group made up of two women and two men] against another female. I applaud their courage."
It's an all-too pervasive attitude held by music programmers in the genre and, in some cases, entire companies who ban their stations from playing two women back-to-back.
The tweet was captured on Instagram by Kelsea Ballerini who, like the rest of us, would love to know what the hell is stopping them from playing two women in a row.
Kacey Musgraves also spotted the tweet as it was going viral and explained that this nonsense attitude is exactly why she travels her own road and makes whatever music she wants to. Country radio failed to support a single song from her Grammy winning, critically lauded, genre-defining album, ignoring the fact that she's one of the biggest names in the genre now.
Whoever launched the tweet that has pissed off rational-thinking women worldwide sent an apology to Musgraves right quick, but it's short on one thing: airplay.
The station responded to Ballerini on Twitter, too, but again, it was heavy on sympathy and light on action. Looks like someone is aware the Oscars didn't nominate any women in the director category and that's one hell of a stretch to justify not playing women on country radio.
Dozens of women in country music are reacting. In Ballerini's Insta comments, Kassi Ashton asks, "What's their address, I just wanna talk?" Cassadee Pope thanked Ballerini for using her podium to talk about the issue, saying, "It's incredibly unfair." And Musgraves slid into her comments too, writing: "The only thing these men are good at is making themselves look like bigger pussies than all our ours combined."
One more message from Ballerini to close it out: if the radio isn't playing what you want to hear, turn to your good friend Alexi (or Siri or Google) and get what you want.
If the radio won't play what you want to hear, who needs the radio?