Here’s one cowboy who doesn’t believe in being gentlemanly.
A self-crowned radio expert, Keith Hill, has suggested the inclusion of female artists is what’s giving country radio stations such a hard time improving their ratings. Seriously.
“If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out,” Hill told Country Aircheck, a country music publication and website, on May 26. It does not appear that Hill is related in any way to mega selling artist Faith Hill, by the way.
But wait—it gets better. He also suggested that even women don’t want to hear women on the radio.
“I play great female records and we’ve got some right now; they’re just not the lettuce in our salad,” he said. “The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”
Can’t help wondering if he made that comparison on purpose, as “tomato” has been used as a slang term for an attractive women in the past. The entry for “tomato” on Urban Dictionary puts it more bluntly.
Anyway…Hill went on to say he’s “not advocating less females on the radio,” but rather taking information from “a dashboard of metrics and read a suggestion to an internal part of the industry.” Playing more songs from female artists drive down ratings, plain and simple.
And you should trust him and listen to his wisdom, of course.
“I’m the expert here,” he humbly told the Washington Post in a later phone interview. “I’m the one who spent years programming radio, I’m the one who spent years studying music scheduling. And I’m the one that has programmed radio stations. I know what works.”
He admits he might sound “arrogant,” but he doesn’t give a damn. “I share this information, and just because it doesn’t fall into the natural break of the gender that populates our country or the globe, seems like that’s an issue. To me, it’s not an issue at all. It’s a marketing issue.”
Naturally, his diagnosis has not been welcomed by some notable artists.
Taking to Twitter, Miranda Lambert, one of the top-selling country artists, pulled no punches.
“That is the biggest bunch of BULLSHIT I have ever heard,” she tweeted May 28.
On her Facebook page, Martina McBride asked her fans and followers what they thought.
“Because to me, country music is about relating. Someone relating to what you are really going through on a day to day basis in your life. Did you girls (core female listeners) know you were being “assessed” in this way? Is this how you really feel? Hmmm….”
Brian Phillips, president of CMT, isn’t going to be taking Hill’s advice when it comes to programming his cable network.
“Anytime you take an art form and draw narrow lines around it, you are always wrong,” he told The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville. “You never look smart in the long run by saying female artists don’t test.”
And now, unsurprisingly, Hill is saying he’s the victim of people not understanding him and all his expertise and fact-based advice.
“Right now, I am the victim of all this passion,” he said of the response to his suggestions. “I realize it is probably driven by a mix of a lot of things. You start reading tweets: ‘I want to hear more females.’ When I see a tweet, I know it doesn’t represent the mass country audience. Furthermore, then they start attacking bro country and Florida Georgia Line and how long songs are No. 1 and how they stay the same.”
He’s also reportedly receiving death threats.