Women in music group calls for policy change across radio stations

Women in music group calls for policy change across radio stations

The ‘Why Not Her? Collective’ is calling on Minister Catherine Martin to support the shift towards “equality, diversity and inclusion” on the airwaves. Picture:Gareth Chaney/Collins

A group is calling for a complete reset of the music playlisting policy across Irish radio to ensure there is fair play and fair pay for Irish artists.

The ‘Why Not Her? Collective’ is calling on Minister Catherine Martin to support the shift towards “equality, diversity and inclusion” on the airwaves.

According to the collective, research shows that gender bias and a lack of diversity is a huge issue across Irish radio, and in particular, regional radio.

“It reaches out into every crevice of Irish society and our culture, preventing the voices of women and diversity from being heard,” a spokesperson for the group said.

The ‘Why Not Her? Collective’ says that from its previous Gender Disparity Data Reports, those who are given a platform to be heard on the airwaves are the same people who gain access to positions of power.

“The person that is heard is afforded the chance to grow in their career, craft, or art, and to shape the society that we live in; it is typically a white cis male,” a spokesperson said.

According to the report, Cork stations were among the worst when it came to the top 20 most played songs by Irish artists on each individual radio station from June 2020 to June of this year, as they continue to playlist predominantly white male artists.

National radio and some individual stations have made considerable strides towards a gamechanging moment in Irish music history, WhyNotHer? said, with some stations going from 0% to 20% airplay and more.

The data-driven report shows that Tipp FM went from 100% all-male artists on their heavy rotation playlists to 25% female; Beat FM towards 40% gender parity, and Waterford-based WLRFM, who were 100% male, are now at 35% female.

Linda Coogan Byrne, from ‘Why Not Her?’ says "there seems to be a lot of work yet to happen until we reach one of the biggest challenges we face in this country — gender inequality".
Linda Coogan Byrne, from ‘Why Not Her?’ says "there seems to be a lot of work yet to happen until we reach one of the biggest challenges we face in this country — gender inequality".

Linda Coogan Byrne, from ‘Why Not Her?’ says that Ireland still has a lot of work to do in the area.

“For a country that was so ahead of the race with marriage equality and the abortion referendum, there seems to be a lot of work yet to happen until we reach one of the biggest challenges we face in this country — gender inequality,” said Ms Coogan Byrne.

Winnie Ama, also from ‘Why Not Her?’, said it was a real shame that there was a “muted desire” to create change.

“What we have discovered is that Irish radio chooses to proactively amplify, promote, and essentially employ one section of society to the detriment of another. Women and people of colour contribute to society just as much as white men,” said Ms Ama.

“Plus, our music is just as good, we are just as talented, we get gigs, we get streaming, we have fans, and outside of Ireland we get radio play, but the Irish radio part of the music industry ignores us. 

"Just as a radio listener, it gives the impression that if you aren't a white man, you aren't important,” she added.

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