In a turning point within the Why Not Her? campaign to shift radio towards a more balanced and equal playlisting policy, that reflects the cultural vibrancy of the Irish music scene, it is announced today that BBC Radio Ulster + Foyle, Beat FM, Tipp FM, Clare FM and more commit to lead with Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in a landmark response to Gender + Racial Disparity. Following the path of Rte Radio 1 who are 50/50 Gender Parity.
Why Not Her? founder Linda Coogan Byrne commented
“We at Why Not Her? would like to thank everyone we have been working with over the past few months in Irish Radio who are leading the way as agents of change towards a more equal, diverse and inclusive landscape.
We also wish to thank Holly Cairns of the Social Democrats, Ivana Bacik of the Labour Party, Fintan Warfield of Sinn Féin and the Minister Catherine Martin and her Broadcasting and Media team for all their continued support in this campaign alongside the BAI who are committed towards positive change on the airwaves that represents and reflects the diversity of our Culture. It is our hope that legislative change comes fully into place to cement these positive transitions we are seeing across the broadcasting sector which will secure a solid restructuring that benefits us all and reflects the diversity of women and poc community in Ireland.
The below commitments have come in from various Radio stations across the country.
Martina McGlynn of the Playlist committee on Rte Radio 1 commented on Rte radio 1 being the only Irish station at total gender parity:
‘We strive for quality throughout our music schedules on RTE Radio 1. We really are spoilt for choice as there is so much wonderful Irish music out there right now. Nevertheless, we are acutely aware of and remain very mindful of gender balance and diverse representation across the music that we schedule. Ultimately, all of our presenters play a pivotal role in bringing a wide range of music to our listeners chosen for its distinct quality, and I’m delighted to see that quality represented equally in both female and male artists. Going forward, we will continue to strive towards equal representation across our music schedules’.
Paul McClean Head of Music from BBC radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle responded saying:
I’d like to once again place on record our commitment to increasing diversity across all of our playlists. We’re making progress but can always – and will – do better. Not just on playlists but also with the contributors we have on air.”
Niall Power Head of Music in BEAT 102-103 FM responded saying:
“I’m pleased to see our figures increase from 5% to 35% since the last report. It’s also very important to us that these are primetime plays so the artists are reaching as big an audience as possible. Variety and diversity matter. It’s been made somewhat easier by the quality of artists coming through like Denise Chaila, Lea Heart, Sophie Doyle Rider and Waterford’s Carrie Baxter!
Sarah Garvey Head of music in RTE 2XM and Pulse responded saying:
“I am absolutely committed to maintaining and improving our stations’ commitment to addressing both gender and diversity disparity as we move forward with RTÉ 2XM and Pulse into the future”.
Elaine Kinsella Head of music in Radio Kerry responded saying:
“I’d like to assure you of Radio Kerry’s commitment to supporting Irish female artists. As a full service station we play a diverse range of music across many genres including pop, rock, folk, country, classical and trad. Radio Kerry is committed to increasing airtime for new Irish female artists and will undertake regular self-assessment to ensure same.”
Kieran McGeary, 96FM and C103 Group Station Director responded saying:
“The station will continually strive to improve our diversity while balancing our licence requirements and the preferences of our audience highlighted through significant investment in ongoing music research.”
Stephen Keogh of Tipp FM and Clare FM responded saying:
I certainly commit to giving this new breed of emerging artists (male and female) plenty of increased airtime. We will continue to give heavy rotation to female Irish artists (as is currently the case) when releases are in keeping with our overall music policy”
CAITRÍONA NÍ BHAOILL, the Oifigeach Poiblíochta & Idirlín / Press Officer for RTE R na G responded saying::
We appreciate the huge importance of this topic, and we are supportive of female musicians. We have undertaken some analysis of our airplay data, based on IMRO returns. This showed that women solo artists, or groups with women members, accounted for 47.6% of the music played on the station over the period of one week.
Today FM, Rte 2fm, Fm104, 98FM and other stations chose not to respond publicly on this matter when approached by Why Not Her?
We welcome all in Irish radio to commit to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion on the airwaves across their music programming and current affairs shows. Please feel free to send in your commitment to change to email@example.com
This report update covers the last 4 months – from June 24th 2020 to Oct 24th 2020.
In late June, while Ireland was gearing up to return to some semblance of normality, many people were hoping that the pandemic would remain the major news story of the year. This wasn’t to be the case, as we have seen with the recent upsurge in human rights, domestic abuse, and racism concerns. Issues of inequality have come once again to the forefront of our collective conscience.
The Gender Disparity Data Radio Report released on June 24th, gained the attention of many major publications and ultimately reached over 20 million people, trended 5 times across social media and moved over to the UK where Womxn In CTRL and Linda Coogan Byrne carried out a UK Radio report that has been viewed and shared to over 40 million audience reach, starting a National movement towards Gender Parity on the airwaves in the UK & Ireland in the Summer of 2020.
If the appetite for such a study could have been doubted before, it certainly cannot now.
The analysis of airplay in the Irish report showed a dramatic disparity between the broadcast of male and female-identifying Irish artists in the Top 20 most played songs by Irish artists in Ireland from June 2019 to June 2020.
Four stations, FM 104, LMFM, WLR FM and South East Radio, had no female artists whatsoever in their Top 20 in an entire year. Of the remaining stations that did feature a female artist, most had just one woman in the Top 20. Womxn accounted for only 8% of the top 20 most played Irish artists across 27 music-oriented radio stations in the past year. The most played female act was also the only black artist featured in the entire report: Soulé. Yet her white male counterpart Dermot Kennedy received 80% more airtime that she did.
Those with the power in radio stations have been asked a simple question: what can be done to implement change across Irish Radio? Change that creates a level playing field for both male and female acts.
In the months since the report was published, we have seen a considerable groundbreaking rise in Irish radio playing Irish Womxn on air. The landscape of Irish music has considerably shifted. But how much?
Let’s take a look….
Read below for the full update and percentages of airtime across Irish radio.
We have seen some significant historic moves from Irish radio in their support of domestic female acts and we applaud this!
Across National radio we see:
RTe Radio 1 are still the leaders on Irish radio at 50/50 split of Gender Parity! Well done!
Let’s move on to the others….
Irish Womxn being played on RTE 2FM is up by 35% to 45% ! And the increase of plays by the National broadcaster has truly seen a huge change for womxn in music across the country. The 6 womxn featured on heavy rotation include: Denise Chaila, Fia Moon (x 2 songs) , Wyvern Lingo (x 2 songs), Irish Women In Harmony, Soule, Aimee & Laoise
Irish Womxn being played on Today FM is up by just 5% to 10% with Irish Women In harmony and Soule being the only 2 womxn played on the stations Top 20. They never got back to us when questioned about their lack of support and our request for them to do better.
On the Dublin Stations we see:
Irish Womxn being played on SPIN 1038 was originally only 5% and is now up by 35% to 40%!!! Irish Women In Harmony, Kehli, Jessica Hammond, Tara Walsh, FiCat, Gemma Bradley, Ruthanne & Aimee being the female additions to their Top 20 heavily playlisted.
Irish Womxn being played on 98FM is up by 10% to 20% – they have played 4 womxn over the last 4 months on their heavy rotation playlist – Irish Women In Harmony, Aimee, Soule and Tara Walsh.
FM104, for the first time in a 5 year period, have 2 womxn on their Top 20 most played Irish acts on heavy rotation across the playlist which brings their typical 0% of Irish females on their top 20 highest played acts on their playlist to 10%, with the remaining 90% being still predominantly homogenised male acts. The two female acts being Irish Women In Harmony and Sophie Doyle Ryder.
Regionally we see:
Irish Womxn being played on SPIN South West are up by 30% from 5% to 35% – playing Irish Women In Harmony, Jessica Hammon ft Marty Guilfoyle, FiCat, Kehli, Gemma Bradley, Ruthanne & Aimee.
Irish Womxn being played on Beat 102 103 was originally only 5% and is up by 25% to 30%!!! playing Irish Women in Harmony, Sophie Doyle Ryder, Aimee, Jessica Hammond ft Marty Guilfoyle, Stephanie Rainey ft John Gibbons & Denise Chaila, Sorcha Richardson & co.
Irish Womxn being played on Corks RedFM 104-106 is up 10% to 15% – they have 3 womxn on their Top 20 most played Irish acts on their heavy rotation playlist; Irish Women in Harmony, CMAT and Stephanie Rainey Ft John Gibbons.
Irish Womxn being played on Highland Radio is up 5% to 15% – they have 3 womxn on their Top 20 most played Irish acts on their heavy rotation playlist; OLivia Douglas, Una Healy & The Cranberries.
Irish Womxn being played on LMFM is up 15% to 15% (they were at 0%) they have 3 womxn on their Top 20 most played Irish acts on their heavy rotation playlist; Irish Women in Harmony, Una Healy and Sophie Doyle Ryder.
Irish Womxn being played on Radio Kerry is up 5% to 10% they have 2 womxn on their Top 20 most played Irish acts on their heavy rotation playlist; Irish Women in Harmony and Roisin O.
Irish Womxn being played on C103 Cork is a non change at 5% – playing Irish Women In Harmony and no other female acts on their Top 20. They don’t seem to think here is an issue of gender disparity do opted not to change and be part of the solution.
Irish Womxn being played on Galway Bay FM remains at 15% with no change- playing Irish Women In Harmony, Cathy Davey & Clannad ft Bono.
Irish Womxn being played on Cork’s 96FM is up 15% to 20% playing Irish Women in Harmony, The Cranberries (x 2 songs) and Moloko
Irish Womxn being played on Limerick’s live 95fm is up 15% to 20% playing The Cranberries (x 2 songs), Sharon Shannon Ft Mundy and Sophie Doyle Ryder.
Irish Womxn being played on WLR FM are up 25% to 25% (they were at 0%) they have 4 womxn on their Top 20 most played Irish acts on their heavy rotation playlist – Irish Women in Harmony, Carrie Baxter (x 2 songs), Luz and Rachel English.
Irish Womxn being played on Shannonside FM & Northern Sound is still at 5% – Irish Women In Harmony being the only womxn on the Top 20.
iRadio are up 5 % to 20% – playing only 4 female acts on heavy rotation. – Irish Women In Harmony, Kehli, Jessica Hammon ft Marty Guilfoyle & Fia Moon.
Irish Womxn being played on Midwest radio drops 5% from 20% to 15% – The three womxn being Carmel McLoughlin, Lorraine McDonald and Brid Shaughnessy on their heavy rotation playlist.
Irish Womxn being played on Clare FM rises by 5% to 10% – playing Heathers and The Cranberries old catalogue releases.
Irish Womxn being played on Tipp FM remains at 5% – Sinead O Connor being the only womxn on the Top 20.
Irish Womxn being played on South East Radio rises 5% from 0% – Mary Black Ft Rte National Orchestra is the only woman on their Top 20.
Irish Womxn being played on EAST COAST FM remains at 5% – Sinead O Connor being the only womxn on the Top 20.
Irish Womxn being played on Midlands 103 rises 5% up to 10% – Irish Women in Harmony and Trudi Lalor ft Mick Foster being the only two womxn on the Top 20.
Irish Womxn being played on Kfm Radio Kildare is up 5% to 10% – playing Irish Women In Harmony and Sinead O Connor.
Irish Womxn being played on KCLR96FM is up 5% to 10% playing Irish Women In Harmony and Ruthanne.
Editors notes: For all future reporting: The term Womxn, used by some feminists, especially in the intersectional feminist movement, is one of several alternative spellings of the English word woman. It is used to avoid the spelling woman, and to foreground transgender, nonbinary, and women of colour.
We are delighted to announce that after talks with RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, despite the station not being in the overall Gender Disparity Report (as there was no available data from the station to draw from) they have been super supportive and active in getting to us a recent study done by the station and the results look fantastic and they have just made a commitment to continue to ensure that women get a fair representation in the music they play! This is a great moment for women in Ireland who make music, especially our indigenous, native language music and music from our folk and acoustic female musicians and acts.
CAITRÍONA NÍ BHAOILL, the Oifigeach Poiblíochta & Idirlín / Press Officer said the below statement and we are delighted to share with you:
We appreciate the huge importance of this topic, and we are supportive of female musicians. We have undertaken some analysis of our airplay data, based on IMRO returns. This showed that women solo artists, or groups with women members, accounted for 47.6% of the music played on the station over the period of one week.
– CAITRÍONA NÍ BHAOILL
This analysis is based on IMRO returns for one week, from 29 June 2020.
That week, there were approximately 35 music programmes, 55 hours of airtime.
Logs were not available for 3 programmes, which covered 6 hours, so the analysis is based on 49 hours of music shows, 90%.
573 tracks were played in total, and 273 of those were from solo women artists, or groups with women members.
RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta did not include the 3 request programmes in this analysis as it wasn’t necessary.
We understand that the period in question in the analysis here is short, but this work had to be done by hand, within limited resources. We are confident that it paints a picture of the airplay situation on the station in terms of gender balance on any given week.
– CAITRÍONA NÍ BHAOILL
On a related matter, based on the hours of music shows, the gender balance for RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s music presenters is 49% women 51% men.
We are very pleased that this analysis affirms that RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta are doing well in terms of airplay for female artists, and we are committed to continuing to ensure that women get a fair representation in the music we play. We would like to wish you well with your work to draw attention to the lack of representation for women musicians on the airwaves, and hope it will lead to a change for the better.
– CAITRÍONA NÍ BHAOILL
Why Not Her would like to extend our thanks to RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta for taking the time to put this data together and for being so open to supporting women in music in Ireland, joining in their sister station Rte 2fm in showing clear signs of support for women in Music in Ireland in the last number of weeks since the Gender Disparity report was published outlining the massive disparity towards women from Ireland’s music scene.
GENUINELY – from the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank all our supporters in the press – online and in print – who have ran articles on this very important Data Report, including podcasters who have had us on to speak as no radio station has invited us on yet (would you believe it?!).
You are part of the SOLUTION.
The reactions on the Gender Disparity Report were of shock and dismay from the general public, and then not so much from the women in music – they were used to being rejected. But it has given them an amplified platform of unity and the desire for change and they are speaking up for the first time; in unison.
Will they be heard?
So far, only 3 radio stations, out of all those listed on the Data Report got in touch and responded ‘privately’ and said they will be ‘mindfully aware’ and will chat among their teams at the stations and will ‘try do better’. None of them made any pledge.
Here is the thing: It’s been over a decade since a commercial Pop act of the female origin broke in Ireland that lead on to even a semblance of commercial success and was adequately backed by Irish radio. Heck, let’s go one step further… The Cranberries were formed in 1989, the Corrs in 1990, Laura Izibor 2004 (Shine was her hit in 2009). Yes, it’s ‘COOL’ that Soule and Aimee are doing ‘good’ but its still nothing close to that of their male counterparts and the support they receive. Dermot Kennedy gets 80% more airtime than Soule.
Why is there a massive timeline of a gap in Irish radio supporting its women in music? And how do we fix this gender gap?
I asked some of the men in music from Ireland what they thought about the report and we’d like to thank those who have been brave and supportive enough to make their statements public. We appreciate your solidarity:
We want to know why radio turned it’s back on our female creators of music, our passionate talented storytellers, our powerful banríon’s.
Thank you for your time and support in this movement.
SEE BELOW FOR THE RESPONSE STATEMENTS FROM MEN IN MUSIC FROM IRELANDS MUSIC SCENE UPON VIEWING THE REPORT. THEY STAND IN TOTAL SOLIDARITY WITH THE WOMEN WHO CREATE MUSIC IN IRELAND.
“The findings of this report present an opportunity for Irish radio stations to become a force for positive change in society. Radio has the unique position of controlling the measures of content which reach the ears of the public on a day-to-day basis. When this content is written and performed almost exclusively from the male perspective it perpetuates an industry which is already male-centric and it actively fuels the cycle of gender inequality in all aspects of the trade.
I’m slightly ashamed to admit that, as a 37 year-old man, I’ve had to really dig deep in the last couple of years to truly comprehend the privilege I’ve taken for granted; I did not see it in my 20s and early 30s because patriarchy and its psychological consequences are insidious and omnipresent and ignorance on such matters is rewarded. I’m still on that journey and I see this report as an invitation for one of our most important cultural institutions to do the same.
Mainstream Irish radio is a commercial enterprise but it needs to fully recognise its potential as a cultural establishment too; unfortunately that establishment is currently giving a voice to only half of the population and the societal ramifications of this, both conscious and unconscious, are monumental” – VILLAGERS, (CONOR O’BRIEN), Musician & Artist
“I’ve always been aware of how few Irish female artists there are on line ups, on stages and on radio and I’ve felt hugely uncomfortable many times realising I’m on an all Irish line up or playlist with not a single Irish woman on it, I’ve tried to call it out but it’s not enough.
The people in charge and all the lads benefitting from this need to talk about it and do more to change it, myself included.
This report highlights how unfair it is on the airwaves and its sad and It doesn’t make sense considering how many great female artists and musicians there are in this country” – Alfie, HUDSON TAYLOR, Musician & Artist
“There are so many really talented and exciting young acts in Ireland at the moment. We have had the opportunity to work with some very talented female acts over the past couple of years and fully support Irish women in music.” – Sean & Conor Price, Band
“The effect that gender exclusivity has on all of us cannot be underestimated.
My single mother raised me by herself on an income solely from music. She lost countless job opportunities to male counterparts of equal qualifications to herself. The stress this created is immeasurable. Misogyny strangles a woman’s ability to have a chance to make money, put food on the table, and in our case resulted in 3 months of homelessness during my childhood at age 5.
The radio stats prove that very little has changed and that is insane. There is no shortage of incredible female musicians/artists in Ireland who all deserve the same opportunities as men.
Change needs to be made right now” – Sam Killeen Guitarist // Composer // Producer // Mixing Engineer // Musical Director
“A lot of my friends and peers are within the Women in Harmony project and I just wanted to show my solidarity. I wanted to say that while the results were disappointing, I am also sadly unsurprised. I also want to add that this statement is not intended to diminish the incredible talent and successes of the Irish men shown there. Their accomplishments are completely just and deserved. I have the utmost respect and admiration for them. This data however, as you can surely agree, does a huge injustice to the diverse and worthy talent that Ireland has to offer.
Ireland has been the face of real change and progress worldwide for the last decade or so, and the music pouring from this country needs to be represented by more than the straight white male.
I fear that radio stations believe that they can only play what is requested, but I think that that mentality insults the intelligence and tastes of the Irish population. Music has to be more than a straight white male perspective. It is a shame to not see more than one woman, Black/POC or a single member of the LGBTQ+ community on that list. We owe it to those exact people unrepresented, that they can one day soon see and hear people like themselves in Irish media. If you were to ask Irish men and women what their Spotify/Apple etc streaming artists were, I don’t think it would reflect what those analytics showed. This country has a wide and eclectic taste in music that spans far beyond what is presented to us.
I am aware that this is all coming from a gay white male perspective who has been lucky to be played on the radio. But I also feel I have been given more opportunities than my female peers. I wish to send on my solidarity and support to the female artists of this country. We need to support our own and “our own” means everyone. We truly have the power to make tsunami level waves in the worldwide music industry. However, these waves need to be ones of diversity and inclusion” – Tim Chadwick, Musician & Artist
“The findings in this report are shocking but not surprising. It highlights an industry model that needs immediate reform. It is not acceptable that in 2020 this kind of inequality continues to exist on Irish radio. In fact, it is shameful. The Irish music scene is diverse and wonderfully creative. It is disgraceful that this is not reflected on air. Instead, a boring homogeny reigns supreme. We stand in solidarity with female musicians in their efforts to ensure equal representation on Irish radio.” – Jamie Coughlan, Overblown Magazine
“As an independent Irish record label, Rubyworks has long been aware of the challenges female artists face in the Irish music industry. The Gender Disparity Report provides a much-needed insight into one of those challenges. While radio is part of the challenge for female artists in Ireland, there is a wider context that also needs to be addressed, with a number of complex elements that dictate whether or not an artist will succeed. Rubyworks is committed to defining, understanding and overcoming these challenges to level the playing field for female artists in Ireland.” – Niall Muckian, Rubyworks (Rodrigo y Gabriela, Hozier, Hudson Taylor, David Keenan, Wyvern Lingo, Little Hours, Eve Belle, Ruby Sessions)
“Writing about gender equality in music from a male perspective is a strange feeling. Because in order to truly acknowledge the huge divide between men and women, as a man, I have to first admit that I didn’t notice it at all.
When I think back now, I wonder how that could have been. That’s what privilege is. I used to think that privilege was just some buzzword that people used in order to sound smarter, or to elevate a point. But I was ignorant then, and privilege is very real. Privilege is flipping through a music magazine at age 15, and not even noticing that there was no women in there. Privilege is thinking that its normal to place a band in a genre called ‘female fronted’ or to go on tour for 3 weeks. and to only ever play with one band with a woman in it, and then to sit there while guys have a discussion about whether women playing in bands is cool or not.
I allowed this to happen, and I stood by and did nothing. So before I can point the finger at the music industry, or at the radio, or at the whole system, I have to acknowledge that I too have contributed to this inequality. I have contributed to it, and I have benefited from it. Maybe this was unconscious, and it was conditioned by a system that’s setup in such a way that men are always on top. But nonetheless it happened, and it makes me sad that I spent a lot of my life not noticing that. I think the reason that Linda’s report hit so hard, is because when it’s presented to you in such stark analytical detail, it’s impossible to ignore. Its embarrassing for Ireland, and for all the amazing musicians both women and men.
The radio is dominated with male voices. The charts are dominated with male voices, and even when a woman’s voice is heard, often times it’s only a certain voice that the industry allows in order to shift units.
My Mam fought in the 90’s for equality in her sport. Women were not allowed to be full paying members in the club she played at. She fought hard for that, and lost a lot of friends over it, and had many arguments with men. But she fought her corner, because she believed that it was unjust. She set a great example for me to think about the world we live in, and how skewed everything is in favour of men. We have never had a woman be the leader of this country. That’s where the bar has been set for us by the generation above.
We have no choice, we have to change that right now. The gender disparity takes the magic away from the whole music scene. It’s uncomfortable to look at. But if it’s uncomfortable for me to look at for a few minutes, I can’t even imagine how uncomfortable it has been to live with that for your whole life. The problem with inequality, is that the person in a better position, can never truly empathise with the person in the worse position. So all I can really do is listen closely and promise to do better. All I can do is say today is that I stand with you, and that I am here to help in any way that I can. My inbox is open.”- NEALO, Artist, Singer, Rapper
“As a male musician, I’ve always known that there has been inequality ingrained in the Irish music scene. I work with a lot of female artists, and hearing their stories and experiences always upset me, because it often seemed like a different world to mine, which in reality it is. When I saw that there was a report on Gender Disparity in Irish Radio, I could have given an educated guess as to what it would contain, however upon hearing the sheer extremity of the numbers I was shocked. There’s very obviously an oversight here.
You can get into the weeds here and begin to explain it away with phrases like ‘Industry wide problem’, but the radio stations have a brilliant opportunity here to lead the charge in making genuine lasting change. I would love to see the stations themselves make a report like this every 6 months, and really celebrate the change they are going to make. Its a win-win situation: The stations lead the charge in correcting the scales, and we all get to hear loads of class tunes from brilliant under represented female artists from one of the most vibrant music scenes in the world. It’s time for the radio stations to turn this negative story into a positive one.” – DAITHI, Music Producer
“For too long we have accepted that radio-playlisted music runs in correlation to what’s popular. We now have proof that conscious & unconscious non-musical decisions are favouring the radio play of male musicians, to the detriment of our music scene. Despite what is said about streaming, radio still plays a huge role in our every-day soundtrack and there have never been more brilliant women making fantastic music across many genres.
It’s time for us men to consciously push their music and art because this is fundamentally a male problem, perpetuated by conservative choices and inherited biases”.- PAJ, Musician & Artist
“I would love to state that Linda’s recent report of the shocking under representation of female artists on Irish radio was eye opening, but unfortunately it wasn’t a surprise. The shameful shunning of the incredible female talent that Ireland has to offer, across the board, through every facet of the industry, is something that needs to change and change now. Women don’t deserve to be played on Irish radio because they are women, they deserve to be played because they are talented and horribly under represented” Dara Munnis, Music Photographer
“The report is shocking, and it is not. The only thing worse than the stats themselves are the badly theorised justifications I’ve seen from some men over the past week. It proves we have a long way to go. The best music in this country right now is being made by female artists and we’re not giving it a chance to blossom. The good thing is that it is easily fixed – Play more female artists on the radio. Today” Danny Groenland(Danny G & the Major 7ths) Musician & Artist
“Where to start with the results of this report? Unfortunately it’s no shock to me to read the findings, for far too long daytime commercial radio across this country has erred on the side of being ultra safe with a reluctance to promote Irish talent and when it does as the report cleary shows, that time and time again commercial radio plums for the same safe options which results in the sort of gender disparity we see in clear black and white in this report.
I’ve presented on commercial radio in the past so I know this to be the case all too well. The recent all-Irish trials by 2FM show that there is more than enough talent & high quality songs in this country (as I well know) without having to go to the same names everytime and certainly not as much as you see in the report – frankly the number of plays afforded to some acts is embarrassing, even if they were the most talented acts in music history – which allows no space for others and as the report shows especially if you happen to be female.
RTE Radio 1 have shown that there is a path that can be followed and I’d imagine that is down to their very knowledgeable producers and presenters that really care about promoting the wide and varied talent in this country, and of both genders !! I was very lucky to have a female radio mentor when I started off in radio and her guidance has stayed with me all these years later when looking at my own playlists for every show I do.
The likes of Ruthanne, ROE, Sodablonde, Orla Gartland, Ailbhe Reddy, Soulé, whenyoung, Emma Langford, Tolu Makay, Farah Elle, Ceev, Jess Young, Roisin Murphy, Zapho, Indian Queens (and many, many more besides) all deserve far more airtime than they currently get. It’s about time that commercial radio in this country began to wake up and reflect modern Ireland and all the wonderful variety of musical artists and flavours that are on offer in this country”. – John Loftus (presents Sounds from a Green World on 8radio.com and writes for goldenplec.com) was speaking in a personal capacity
“I had always been aware that there was a male bias in the music played on radio but – naively – had not realised it was as outrageously bad as this. I’m a pop act myself. Independent/unsigned. Male, Irish, white. I fully recognise my privilege. I can’t even begin to imagine how much bigger my obstacles would be if I were a woman.
First of all, where any broadcaster is in receipt of State funding – including by tax exemptions – applicants should be required to ‘equality proof’ their output. If France and Canada can successfully legislate for a 40% quota of nationally produced music on air, there’s no reason why Ireland can’t follow suit and – crucially – build a 50% gender balance into the requirements.
We have a brand-new government now and Ministers will shortly be appointed to oversee the arts, justice, equality, broadcasting. There may be overlap in some of those roles, depending on how Departments are divvied up. They can write and progress such a bill quickly. Yes, there will be pushback from luddite broadcasters but a cogent, transparent, unequivocal and public argument should be required if there’s some attempt to evade balance. Where these guys (and, let’s face it, they will be guys) expose their bias, they should be publicly challenged. They’ll blame the punter, of course. But they already tout themselves as taste-makers: so let them influence public taste so that an artist’s gender is never a barrier to a career. If RTÉ Radio 1 can do it, so can they.
Clearly, the gender imbalance on radio is replicated in festival line-ups and, to a large extent, in print media/blogs. I’m convinced that a greater gender balance on radio will help improve this organically. But it shouldn’t be left to chance. Again, the terms and conditions of State grants/supports need to be proactive. It would also help to create a climate that also improves the gender balance of our radio and TV presenters” – Tony Kavanagh- Musician & Artist
“In response to the recent light Linda Coogan Byrne has gave us all I feel the need to further that light as a male songwriter. The statistical percentage of radio play for the women in our industry is disgraceful but what was more heart breaking was seeing comments by these exact women saying “Disappointed but not surprised”.
We are absolutely blessed in this small country that the Irish music community is tight knitted and extremely supportive of the talent that goes beyond our individual counties so its baffling that these individuals don’t get the radio play and opportunity that is adequate to the time, effort, professionalism and money it takes to be a functioning artist in this modern age let alone thriving.
There IS room for us all in this industry, it’s not a competition for radio play, we are all carriers of unique stories and backgrounds and differences, but the stories and backgrounds and differences of our ladies are not getting the chance to be heard. We are a country of immense diversity, culture and acceptance so let us be that for the women that are setting unbelievable standards of talent and music. See the figures, then change them” -Conor Doyle, Musician & Artist
“For anybody who knows even one Irish female artist – even just one – it’s simply inconceivable to think for even a second that Irish male artists are as vastly superior in terms of quality as this report reveals Irish radio to believe. It’s impossible. It’s just not true.
The depth of creativity and expression of Irish female artists – as songwriters and performers – is on a par with female artists anywhere else in the world. That Irish radio is not recognising this, and therefore not even coming close to giving female artists the same support via airplay as their male counterparts, is a huge problem.
It may have been unproven up until now, but it’s not in the shadows anymore. Linda and Aìne’s report shines a light on what is as much an injustice as it is an imbalance.
The answer to the question of why this situation is, and has been, the reality for female artists is definitely one that needs to be found. But perhaps more importantly at this stage, and in this moment, is finding the answer to the question of how this situation can be addressed as soon as possible so that airplay on Irish radio more accurately reflects the brilliant music that so many Irish female artists are – and have always been – creating.” – Anthony Sullivan‘On The Right TRAX’ columnist, Tullamore Tribune/ Midland Tribune
“As the co-founder of Andrson, a company that fundamentally believes every voice deserves the chance to be heard, it’s disappointing to learn just how severe the gender disparity is in Irish radio. Music is the beating heart of Ireland, and we owe it to ourselves to make that heartbeat as strong as possible. That can only be done with fair representation and a far-better balanced gender distribution.
To my mind, that requires a rapid switch in mentality, from creating more intentional programming to pushing back on playlisters and media owners. And it means meaningful representation: putting deserving female artists and female-led bands in rotation, not just spot playing. “….For a female [or Black, or Asian, or LGBTQ] artist” is not a phrase that should ever act as a justification for quality or inclusion. Worthwhile music knows all genres, creeds, races, orientations, and certainly genders. It’s time Irish radio showed up for our female artists” – Zach Miller-Frankel, Andrson.
‘In many ways, this report is confirmation of the suspicions of many people: there’s been progress, but Irish music media still harbours problems with representation in many ways, and gender disparity is outlined in stark, uncompromising terms here.
‘As this conversation opens up further in the coming weeks and months, and so many of us would be well-advised to examine our attitudes in this respect, this report will hopefully be something of a turning point’ – Mike McGrath-Bryan, Music Journalist
“Recently, the world came together for equality. The whole music industry blacked out for a day, and we united to fight for human rights. We are making progress and have achieved so much as a human race since the death of George Floyd and the BLM movement is still a force to be reckoned with.
However, our own country still is not equal!
There are countless inequalities when it comes to gender in Ireland and if you think that statement is false, the recently released radio reports will change your mind quick enough! We are not here to spread hate, we are not here to be aggressive, we are simply making Irish radio aware of their massive blunder.
There are radio presenters and behind those radio presenters are programme directors and producers. These are the people who have the power to make Irish radio equal. RTÉ Radio One have set the example by having 50/50 gender split for Irish artists played on their station. The rest of the stations stats were absolutely mind-blowing and it needs to change.
There are countless incredible female Irish artists who deserve to have their art heard.
To all the radio stations in Ireland, this ends now. We are standing up once more to fight for gender equality in Ireland. Go raibh milé maith agat” – JaXson Musician, Co. Wexford.
The findings in this report outline the Gender Disparity that is present on the Top 20 most played songs by Irish artists on each individual radio station in Ireland over the period of June 1st 2019 to June 1st 2020. It also shows the Top 5 most played songs on each station and the Artists and Songs in that Top 5 within the annual year from June 1st 2019 – June 1st 2020.
This Report is based on Irish only artists, and those whose songs are registered on Radiomonitor. Radiomonitor is the industry standard music airplay monitoring service used by all Record labels, Management companies and PR companies to evaluate the airtime allocated to artists/bands who have commercial releases in the Irish market and whose music is issued to Irish radio seeking radio airplay.
In relation to this report, Radiomonitor will not always have 100% of what is released in the Irish music scene if it is not registered by a label or company, therefore we recognise some songs could be missing if not received by Radiomonitor. However, it would never be the case of artists like Dermot Kennedy or those listed below not being registered, it is part of a music industry practice to monitor plays. So with that said, this report can be looked upon as a reflection of the biggest commercial artists who are on the Irish Music Scene with music being released to radio and stands as a solid factual based data report that is available on the airtime allocation across Irish radio for its homegrown Irish acts and bands across male and female acts showing the most played Irish artists across each station.
The findings on the Gender Disparity that exists across Irish Radio are a staggering and shocking display of an industry model that needs drastic changes. This is not an opinion-based report. It is based on data. Facts. We ask what can be done to implement changes across Irish Radio that creates an equal opportunity playing ground for both male and female Irish acts?
Thanks to everyone who have shared, written about, posted about and supported this campaign so far. We have almost 20 million of a reach in under two months! If you’d like to read and subscribe to any of the papers/sites who featured – feel free to click the links below.