Study: Country Fans Want More Women on Radio

Research indicates that 84% of listeners want equal play for female artists at country radio, and those findings coincide with the official launch of the year-long CMT Equal Play initiative.

Today, CMT and Coleman Insights today released first-of-its-kind research unveiling unprecedented insights into country radio listeners habits and attitudes toward female artists. Debunking long-perpetuated myths claiming both female and male listeners don’t want to hear female voices, CMT’s Equal Play Radio Research proves they want equal play for female artists on country radio, as well as more female artists in the genre they helped to build.

Commissioned by CMT Insights, data from Coleman Insights reveals that not only do 84% of listeners want equal play for women on radio, but 7 out of 10 want more female artists in the genre. Listeners reported they would even seek out country radio more if women were specifically highlighted, with 28% saying they would listen to radio more if additional female artists were featured, versus 11% who would listen less.

“The age-old myth that ‘women don’t want to hear women’ has led to a multitude of unproven public claims about female voices on the air, including ‘you can’t play two women back-to-back’ or ‘ratings drop when you play women’” said Leslie Fram, Senior Vice President, Music & Talent, CMT. “When we approached Coleman Insights about this specific line of research, we were shocked to learn no one had ever commissioned data on the listeners themselves. CMT took it directly to the fans and what we found couldn’t have been more clear: listeners want equal play and women do want to hear women on the radio.”

While it may be common knowledge among industry insiders that more male artists are played on country radio than female, listeners were polled for the first time to uncover whether or not they recognized the bias. The data proves the understanding to be nearly universal, with 72% of country listeners reporting they hear more songs sung by men on country radio, with no differences shown in gender or age.

Contrary to popular belief, CMT’s Equal Play Radio Research indicates that a majority of fans are indeed open to hearing female voices, with 53% reporting no gender preference when it comes to artists. Listeners also heavily acknowledge (88%) the pivotal role females have played in country music’s history, a theme that is reiterated in additional research released earlier this week by University of Ottawa’s Dr. Jada Watson.

Continued Fram: “This tells us country music fans want to hear good songs period. But it also tells us that we are training listeners not to hear female voices. Without creating an equal playing field, fans don’t know what they are missing. This is about a balance of gender and diversity. It’s essential for all voices to be heard.”

The specific findings of the study will be discussed at an industry panel ahead of Country Radio Seminar (CRS) in Nashville on Tuesday, February 18. The research overview will be conducted by Sam Milkman, Executive Vice President and Senior Consultant, Coleman Insights and will be followed by a panel moderated by CMT’s Leslie Fram with Milkman, Dr. Jada E. Watson, Cody Alan (Host & Executive Producer, CMT Radio), Cris Lacy (Senior Vice President, A&R, Warner Music Nashville) and Mike Molinar (General Manager, Big Machine Music).

This marks the official kick-off of CMT Equal Play campaign, the brand’s year-long initiative to create measurable industry-wide action to dramatically increase female representation in country music and create a path for parity in 2020. Last month, CMT pledged 50/50 video airplay parity for female and male artists across CMT and CMT Music channels.

CMT Radio followed suit by announcing CMT Radio Live with Cody Alan would also be implementing 50/50, a 100% increase in female airplay on their weeknight shows airing 7p-12midnight. Visit for more information and use #CMTEqualPlay to join the conversation.


Today’s country music listeners want equal play for female artists on radio stations, as well as more female artists in country music in general.

• 88% of listeners believe women play a large part in the history of Country music

• 84% of all listeners want equal play for female artists

• About 7 in 10 of listeners want more female artists in country music

Fans of all genders and ages are aware that male artists get more play than female artists on country radio, but contrary to popular myths about listeners not wanting to hear country songs sung by women, most fans actually have no gender preference when it comes to artists.

• 72% of listeners say they hear more songs by men on country radio than songs by women

• Majority of fans do not have a gender preference of artists (53%)

Not only do country listeners want equal play for women, but many would even seek out more country radio if women specifically were highlighted.

• 44% of all listeners would be very interested in a radio station that spotlights women

• 28% of listeners would listen to country radio MORE if more female artists were featured
o Vs. 11% would listen less
o Vs. majority said they would listen the same amount as they do now

METHODOLOGY: The CMT Insights study with Coleman Insights surveyed 1000 radio listeners ages 25-54, specifically screening for respondents who would rate a country station as “Love it and would listen all the time,” “Like it a lot and would listen frequently,” or “Like it and would listen occasionally.”

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