Slacker Radio Channel Leads New Initiatives To Improve Women’s Country Broadcasting
Digital radio station Slacker has found a unique way to expose its listeners to more female country artists, joining a handful of new initiatives aimed at changing the long-standing and widely documented gender imbalance of the country format.
The new Slacker #WCE Country channel not only programs exclusively female artists, but company executives have also asked these artists – as well as other women working in the country music industry – to organize the music and animate DJ breaks that feature songs. Slacker launched the invitation to participate to many Nashville female singers, songwriters, industry executives and journalists through a proprietary app called Slacker Studio, which allows attendees to easily record and download intros and trivia from from their cell phone.
âWe want the people most passionate about these artists to tell their stories in a unique and fun way,â says the Slacker country format captain. Jess wright. âThe women in this company have stories our listeners will never hear elsewhere. Country artist Cam kicked off the initiative by recording over a dozen intros for #WCE Country.
The name of the new channel is an acronym for the social media hashtag “woman crush every day”, itself an outgrowth of the frequently trending “woman crush Wednesday”. (Slacker also launched an all-female pop channel of the same name.)
Slacker teamed up with industry group Change the Conversation to launch the channel at a busy party at WME’s Nashville office on August 7. The voice former Lauren Duski and Natalie Stovall, as well as female duo Post Monroe, each performed two songs at the event.
The channel has been in development for several months, Wright says, with the dual purpose of boosting female listening among Slacker’s more than 9 million registry users and shedding light on female country artists, many of whom struggle. to be broadcast on predominantly male terrestrial radio. stations. When a colleague suggested that Slacker might try to appeal to more women with a “Man Crush Monday” initiative, Wright laughingly pointed out that on country radio right now, “every day is Man Crush Monday”.
The idea of ââparticipatory programming #WCE was born from there. âAnyone can make a playlist of female artists and park it somewhere and say, ‘We’re good,’â says Wright. âWe wanted to be able to do more than that. One of the things that we’re proud of as a way to be different is that we combine music with great storytelling. So we thought we could use this station to tell the stories of the artists who play here, because no one else is telling them.
Stovall says she plans to record intros for the channel and calls #WCE Country “a cool and different way to elevate artists and bring in so many more people.” She also sees the channel as a way to help combat what she calls “this injustice, this inequality” seen in the strong favor of terrestrial radio for male artists.
New initiatives are also being developed in broadcast radio to address gender disparity. As previously stated, the personality of the national media Bobby bones will produce and co-host the weekly one-hour subscribed show, âFemmes du pays iHeartâ, starting in late summer. The program will feature music by new and established female artists and will air on all mainstream stations nationwide iHeart, according to a spokesperson for iHeart, which has more than 125 outlets nationwide.
For several months, Cox Media’s influential country media outlet, KKBQ Houston, featured female performers exclusively on the Wednesday edition of their lunchtime hour-long on-demand show.
Another recent action to boost the dissemination of female acts was organized by the fan clubs of seven current stars: Lauren Alaina, Kelsea Ballerini, Lindsay Ell, Maddie & Tae, Maren Morris, Carly Pearce and Carrie Underwood. Promoted through the artists’ Twitter fan pages, the August 1 âWomen Request Wednesdayâ initiative provided fans with detailed information on how to make requests, including links to Twitter pages and line numbers. request for more than 150 national stations.
The effort does not appear to have had a measurable impact, however, and the program directors of stations in four markets have been audited by Billboard – Chicago, Houston, Detroit and San Diego – reported no noticeable increase in requests other than some for Underwood at KKBQ.
Ballerini’s fan page, KelseaCentral.com, told fans several ways to hide where their requests came from, including removing the location from the fan’s Twitter bio, and noted that stations are “more likely to play the song if you don’t put your location if you ask somewhere out of your radio range.
Such moves are generally unsuitable for radio programmers, who are both wary and weary of organized campaigns. Says WEBG Chicago PD Lance Houston, âWhen we know there is a coordinated effort for things like this, the requests seem less genuine. “
Adds KKBQ Director of Operations Johnny chiangOften times, these fan club requests do artists more harm than good. “