Two Issues Affecting Broadcast Radio Today

There are two issues at the forefront of news regarding broadcast radio:

  • The lack or perceived lack of country stations playing female artists
  • The mass layoffs of on-air personalities at iHeartMedia’s radio stations.

The following are articles about the lack of female country artists being played on the radio:

This Rolling Stone article addresses the recent pledge by CMT (Country Music Television) to play a 50/50 ratio of videos by female and male artists. The article claims that such a publicized gesture could prompt changes to radio programming. According to the radio program directors who responded to Rolling Stone’s question on whether they would change their format to include more women, many claimed that they will make an effort to the extent that the market dictates. As some program directors pointed out, they are in the business of playing hits and cannot predict which songs will become successful. But most agree that they can do more to expose listeners to female country artists.

I feel that this is a credible article by a respected magazine and gives a lot of space to quoting people in the industry, such as Leslie Fram, CEO of CMT and program directors from country stations in various major cities in the United States. The article does not merely state opinion of the author, but gives an overview of the issue and various perspectives of those working in the industry.

This article by Radio Ink journalist Ed Ryan features mostly quotes from program directors in major markets. The opinions of the program directors vary, with some agreeing that there needs to be more female representation on country stations and some disagreeing and saying it is the quality of the sings that matter most. Ryan also lists the artists played on their respective stations during a short window of time, with female artists in bold font to highlight the disparity between number of make artists and female artists being played. Where Kelly Clarkson come in is the quote by John O’Connell, program director for WKIS in Miami. He took umbrage to a quote by Kelly Clarkson from her talk show saying that stations are not giving airplay to females.

While Ryan quoted station program directors, I felt that this piece was more an editorial than a news article. The quotes chosen for the article are meant to be polarizing rather than informative. In contrast to the Rolling Stone article, this piece works more as an opinion piece.

The following are articles about iHeartMedia’s layoffs:

Rather than providing background about the topic, this Radio Ink article instead posts a letter in its entirety from Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman regarding the recent layoffs of on-air personalities. Senator Brown points to the salary and bonuses of top executives, including Pittman, coming right before the company filed for bankruptcy in 2018.

While almost the entire article is make up of the Senator’s letter, the article presented it without commentary or opinion by the author or Radio Ink. For this reason, I would rate this as news and not opinion.

Saving Country Music is a blog created by Kyle ”The Triggerman” Coroneos that covers country music and “roots, rockabilly, bluegrass, blues, and folk music.” This article takes aim at iHeartMedia’s recent decision to lay off hundreds of radio personalities. In Coroneos’ opinion, this will be detrimental to the industry by eliminating the local element that gives listeners a sense of community. As Coroneos states, “they’re replacing employees for algorithms.” Coroneos believe that these layoffs will only save iHeartMedia in the short term.

While this article was more opinion than fact, it was not gratuitous or overly provocative. Coroneos seems passionate about the topic and made good points about the impact these payoffs will have on local and regional entertainment.