Behind The Continuing Decline of Female Singers on Country Music Radio


Report by Dr. Jada Watson shows “that programming decisions have a direct impact on the success of songs”

A new study released on Friday makes the case that programming decisions are to blame for the lack of women played on country radio.

Al Wagner/Invision/AP/REX/Shutter


When it comes to the lack of gender parity at country radio, there are many forces at play, and many ways to analyze the data, from a casual glance at festival lineups to the recent report from Dr. Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative that took a look at the Billboard Hot Country Charts, which comprises sales and streaming. But perhaps nothing gives a more clear picture than statistics gleaned from the Mediabase Country Airplay charts themselves, which has not been the subject of its own independent study until now.

Dr. Jada Watson of the University of Ottawa, in consultation with WOMAN Nashville, released today a report called Gender Representation on Country Format Radio: A Study of Published Reports from 2000-2018, the first study to explicitly examine Mediabase data. One of the two airplay-monitoring systems tracking country radio — the other is Nielsen’s BDS, which is used in Billboard‘s charts — Mediabase’s country charts are published weekly in the Nashville trade magazine Country Aircheck and used as the basis for countdown shows such as Country Countdown USA and American Country Countdown with Kix Brooks. The outcome of the new report is dismal, and puts the onus on country radio tastemakers themselves. According to the report, women  in the country music industry hear phrases like the below everyday when it comes to why they’re not represented on the airwaves:

If you want to improve station ratings, remove the women.

Country radio is a principally male format.

Women are not financially viable.

Women don’t have as many hits.

We only have space for one female on the roster.

Women don’t want to hear women.

“The results presented here suggest a different read on the cultural dynamics of radio,” the study writes. “They show that programming decisions have a direct impact on the success of songs, and that women are not afforded the same opportunities as their male colleagues.”

Studying 150 songs from the year-end reports from the period of 2000 to 2018, as well as the weekly airplay charts from 2002 to 2018, Dr. Watson looked at how women, men and duos faired in terms of spins — and determined that not only is the playing field dreary for the women of country music, it’s actually getting worse by the year. In 2000, women held 33.3% of songs on the year-end country airplay reports, but by last year, they came in at 11.3% — a decline of 66% percent. The last time women were represented well? Taylor Swift was still making country music, not commissioning butterfly murals. Grammy Album of the year winner Kacey Musgraves, meanwhile, is only seeing her latest single “Rainbow” continue to drop (Number 34 to 36 this week) on the Mediabase country chart.



  1. Just another couple of establishment elites trying to tell people what to do. Who cares? Dig a little deeper and you’ll likely find two overeducated, unimpressive people that have accomplished nothing in life other than going to school and getting grants to pontificate. Professional navel gazers that have an inflated sense of themselves.

    Their opinion is worth less than that of someone that listens to country radio. If the corporate giants that own pretty much all the radio stations could make more money playing women artists they’d do so.

  2. Yup. It is just like the old myth that women make less for the same work. If that were true, there is not a company in the world that would hire men as it is their fudiciary duty to maximize shareholder profits.

    I call B.S. on the study above. Especially since it was in Rolling Stone, a publication that was already sued for misrepresention of a an alleged campus rape case which turned out to be a fabrication.

  3. I’m still waiting for just ONE example of a woman making less than a man for the same job, all other things being equal. Instead the same intellectual frauds that wrote the above trash add up all the wages paid to women and all the wages paid to men and come up with the “women only make seventy cents on the dollar” nonsense. Anyone with reasonable intelligence can see see that it’s a meaningless statistic but the average IQ hovers somewhere around 100 (90 or below on Twitter) so they get away with it.

  4. Lack of female artists on country radio is likely more cyclical than anything.

    I recall just a few weeks ago the hand wringing of some writers about the lack of female nominees in the JUNO Awards this year. They seem to forget, if we were to go back not so many years ago when Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Nelly Furtado, Sara Mclachlan, Amanda Marshall and others dominated the JUNO’s and to a certain extent the Grammy’s for quite a few years. The Grammy’s and American Music Awards in addition to the above also had many female US and UK artists in the award nominations as well.

    Same with radio, if you listen to top 40 or adult contemporary stations there is an abundance of female artists, and I am sure at some point country music radio will see a return of more female artists like they have in the past. Basically it’s supply and demand and not much else.

  5. I am currently in INDIAN Wells California and my Wife and several Friends have just spent the past weekend at “Stagecoach” .

    She and many of her friends tell me that contrary to what hs been written above Women in Country Music are doing just fine thank you !

    Hopefully we will soon be rid of the silly Juvenile Sophmoric Politically Correct SJW Imbesilec Whining Whoa Is Me Movement. It is time to Grow Up!


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