It started with a tweet. It ended with, well, we don’t yet. But here’s the middle, so far.
On Jan. 14, Chris Willman, a features editor for Variety, tweeted: “I turned on the 105.1 country station in L.A. just now, and they were playing the new song by Gabby Barrett, and then, without any pause or interruption at all, they went into a Kelsea Ballerini song. Can’t they get fined for that?”
In a since-deleted tweet, Michigan radio station 98 KCQ, which is owned by MacDonald Broadcasting, replied via Twitter: “We cannot play two females back to back. Not even Lady Antebellum or Little Big Town against another female. I applaud their courage.”
KCQ’s response—whether serious or sarcastic—was enough to open the floodgates of condemnation as the Twittersphere chimed in, including Kacey Musgraves and Kelsea Ballerini.
Check out Kacey and Kelsea’s responses below:
- Kacey Musgraves via Twitter: “Smells like white male bullshit and why LONG ago I decided they cannot stop me.”
- Kacey via Twitter: “And yet, they can play 18 dudes who sound exactly the same back to back. Makes total sense.”
- Kelsea Ballerini via Twitter: “To all the ladies that bust their asses to have half the opportunities that men do, I’m really sorry that in 2020, after YEARS of conversation of equal play, there are still some companies that make their stations play by these rules. It’s unfair and it’s incredibly disappointing.”
- Kelsea via Twitter: “AlEXA PLAY LBT LADY A CARRIE MIRANDA KACEY CARLY GABBY MAREN INGRID RUNAWAY JUNE M&T LAUREN. ALL IN A ROW.” “AND LINDSAY AND ASHLEY AND WHOEVER ELSE IM FORGETTING BECAUSE I NEED MORE COFFEE TO DEAL.”
“There has never been a rule against playing females back to back….ever!” said Brian Hatfield, spokesman for MacDonald Broadcasting. “We will continue to play the music that reflects our listeners.”
This ain’t over. Remember 2015’s SaladGate (aka TomatoGate)? See below for a refresher.
The debate over female artists being played on country radio has been raging for some time, but it certainly got a little extra flavor in May 2015. In an interview with trade publication Country Aircheck, programming consultant Keith Hill said that stations should take most female songs out of rotation if they want to get higher ratings.
“I play great female records and we’ve got some right now, they’re just not the lettuce in our salad,” Hill said, in part. “The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”
And so #SaladGate was tossed into the world. Naturally, there were many people who weren’t happy about the statements and made their feelings known.
photo by Tammie Arroyo, AFF-USA.com