Campaigner for equality on radio determined to ignore threat of blacklist

Campaigner for equality on radio determined to ignore threat of blacklist

Linda Coogan Byrne said she would never be silenced by those trying to keep the status quo. 

A leading campaigner for equality in chart airplay between men and women on Irish radio has vowed to double down on her efforts, after being warned she was upsetting the powers-that-be in the industry.

Linda Coogan Byrne, founder of the Why Not Her campaign, was given a "heads-up and advice as a friend" by an anonymous email to stop "stepping on people's toes" or risk being blacklisted by the music industry.

The email claimed, without offering any evidence, that "DJs and jocks "have "heard enough about all this", and that any clients of the music consultant would be given "no coverage or airplay" if she continued.

The Why Not Her campaign compiled data from June to December 2020 on the top 20 most played songs by Irish artists on radio stations across the country, finding that 85% of artists in the top 100 airplay charts across all stations were male.

Led by Ms Coogan Byrne, global development executive Bernadette Sexton and researcher and academic Dr Brenda Donohue, Why Not Her launched an action plan for Irish radio stations to implement in order to tackle the inequality.

The campaign's momentum has been growing in recent weeks, with support across various industries as well as politically.

The campaign’s data-led research concluded that audiences want to hear more women and womxn on the radio and that artists wanted and needed it. Womxn is a term used to be inclusive of trans and nonbinary women.

Ms Coogan Byrne said she would never be silenced by those trying to keep the status quo. 

Such a hostile approach disguised as "friendly advice" made it all the more important that the campaign grows stronger, she added.

Supporters of Why Not Her flocked to offer their goodwill and encouragement after the attempt to silence her efforts.

After the publications of the Why Not Her report, the campaign said Irish radio stations now have an “exciting opportunity to become a global leader” by playing more high-quality music by women/womxn.

In order to do so, radio organisations need to commit to equal representation on air, regular reporting of reliable data with measurable targets, and a commitment to be leaders and champions of change within organisations, according to the plan developed by the campaign.

The first pillar of the plan involves radio station leaders committing to change, Why Not Her said.

“Leadership should set out key metrics as part of its organisational strategy and integrate regular reporting on progress into management meetings,” it outlined.

Data-driven decision-making should form the second pillar of action, the plan said, with the third pillar involving shifting a sense of change across leaders and managers.

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