Runaway June Have Proof That Women Want to Hear Women in Country Music
In 2015, during a Country Radio Seminar lecture titled "Unlocking the Secrets to Successful Music Scheduling," Keith Hill delivered a now-infamous simile. Comparing country radio to a salad, he explained that a playlist needs to be well mixed. Female artists are the "tomatoes" in Hill's metaphor, which he continued to use over and over: good sprinkled in here and there, but to be used sparingly.
"The first thing is to cut females from the 20s to the teens," Hill said at CRS that year, speaking of the percentage of songs by female artists played on the radio. "Women want to hear males."
Artists and industry members alike railed against Keith's comments, inspiring the hashtag "#TomatoGate" and a wave of public outcry calling for greater gender parity on country radio. However, Hill did not invent the "women don't want to hear women" line, nor did the backlash against him put a stop to other industry members believing and espousing it. To this day, women face bias at country radio due to thought processes like Hill's.
Runaway June, however, aren't having any of it. On a break from the all-female Cry Pretty Tour 360, headlined by Carrie Underwood, the trio rolled their eyes at Hill's theory at an industry party celebrating the release of their new album, Blue Roses.
"We walk out on the first show, and it's an arena filled with women. Thousands. Little girls, older ladies -- it's just a sea of women," bandmate Jennifer Wayne recalled. "So [the line of thought that women don't want to hear women] is just not true. You walk out there, and it's like, 'Come see for yourself.' It's an entire arena every single night."
"It's so funny, because you hear people say, 'Oh, research shows, and so that's why we don't play two women back to back,'" Hannah Mulholland chimed in. "I don't personally know anyone who would go, 'Ugh,' and change the radio [if two women in a row came on], or say, 'I'm not gonna go to that show because she's a woman.' I don't know anyone like that!"
"Yeah, raise your hand if you would change the radio station if two women were back to back," Naomi Cooke added, scanning the room.
"Or just get out," quipped Mulholland coolly.
Blue Roses came out on June 28. Just a couple of weeks beforehand, on June 15, Runaway June became the first female country band or trio in 14 years to achieve a Top 20 single, thanks to their latest song, "Buy My Own Drinks." The milestone also means that Runaway June are the first all-female trio in more than 10 years to notch three Top 40 hits.
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