Back

Kelsea Ballerini Keeps Focus on Country’s Gender Imbalance

Five years on and women are still played at alarmingly low rates on country radio.

Written by Chris Parton
Kelsea Ballerini Keeps Focus on Country’s Gender Imbalance
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 13: Kelsea Ballerini attends the 53rd annual CMA Awards at the Music City Center on November 13, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage,)

Kelsea Ballerini is doing her part to keep the fight for gender equality on country radio in the public eye, sharing her thoughts in a passionate post on Instagram Thursday morning (January 16).

Reposting a Twitter exchange between journalist Chris Willman and Michigan radio station 98 KCQ, Ballerini again calls attention to the simple fact that country radio has policies in place which put female artists at a disadvantage to their male counterparts. According to a recently published study by Dr. Jada E. Watson (Gender Representation on Country Format Radio), there’s been a 66% decline in songs by women artists on country radio since 2000, and the tweet Ballerini highlights helps explain why.

View this post on Instagram

I say this having been one of the few women who have been really embraced by country radio and having watched some of the bigger networks (and some of my friends that are pd’s and high up) make real changes in their programming to make it look more balanced. I am grateful. BUT. there is still inequality in airplay for women. And tweets like this prove it. And it’s my job to say it out loud and post about it, because of the girls moving to Nashville ( or wherever) that are ready to outrun and outwork and outplay everyone. They deserve to know that they have the same shot as the guys moving here to do the same. Country music- We have to fix this. For us and for them. How do we do it? Let’s talk. (Also- don’t lash out at this station, they are playing by rules set for them from their higher ups 😞)

A post shared by Kelsea Ballerini (@kelseaballerini) on

“We cannot play two females back to back. Not even Lady Antebellum or Little Big Town against another female,” the KCQ official account writes.

“There is still inequality in airplay for women. And tweets like this prove it,” Ballierini says, while acknowledging that she is one of the few female artists who has been embraced by radio and applauding stations who have made changes in an effort to help. “And it’s my job to say it out loud and post about it, because of the girls moving to Nashville (or wherever) that are ready to outrun and outwork and outplay everyone. They deserve to know that they have the same shot as the guys moving here to do the same. Country music- We have to fix this. For us and for them. How do we do it? Let’s talk.”

Ballerini goes on to say that it’s not necessarily the fault of individual country radio stations like KCQ, since they are only doing what they’ve been directed to do by the small number of corporations controlling the vast majority of the radio market. Although the problem first broke into mainstream consciousness way back in 2015, it’s clear the industry still has a long way to go — but it’s also now attracting outside attention.

This week on TBS’ Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, the comedienne and actress dives into the phenomenon for a national audience. She sends correspondents Sasheer Zamata and Amy Hoggart to Nashville to talk with Brandi Carlile, Tanya Tucker, Mickey Guyton, Margo Price and CMT’s Leslie Fram about what’s really going on, and what they find might surprise you.