Country music is seemingly changing for better but radio stations are stuck in the past | Opinion – Tennessean – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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As women, queer artists, and artists of color increasingly change the fabric of country music, what will it take for radio stations to change with them?

Isabelle Bohn  |  Guest Columnist


  • Izzy Bohn is a student at Columbia University in New York, majoring in Human Rights and Political Science.

The dominant view of country music is of white men singing about trucks, beer, and pretty women. However, the genre is changing; minority artists like Kacey Musgraves, Lil Nas X, and Valerie June have gained prominence, meaning that country music audiences enjoy narratives from a variety of storytellers.

Regardless, the industry gatekeepers have systematically kept them from the spotlight. 

In February 2020, 98 KCQ, a country music station from Michigan, tweeted that the station wasn’t allowed to play two female artists back-to-back, prompting outrage amongst female country artists and listeners alike. The tweet was quickly deleted following the controversy.

More country radio programmers, alongside artists like Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini, however, began speaking up, revealing that for decades, American country radio stations operated under the unwritten rule that women should never make up the majority of a set.

In an interview with Vice, musicology professor, Jada Watson explained that “these unofficial rules date back to at least the 1960s… Without many songs by women to play, DJs spread them out to create a sense of diversity in their sets.…60 years later — at a time when there are more than enough female artists to spotlight—a number of p

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