Texas radio station KUTX hosts all-female IWD takeover to promote women in music
Photo Credits: Salvador Castro for KUTX
As International Women's Day is a worldwide day of recognition and action for women and girls, public radio music station KUTX 98.9 in Austin, Texas participated in the best way they knew how: with music!
Music radio in the United States, particularly rock-format radio, has tended to be an industry dominated by men. While the presence of women in the industry has increased, there are still few women in leadership and decision-making positions. Ultimately, this impacts programming, especially when it comes to emerging artists - listeners still largely hear music made by men, and the careers of many women artists aren't getting the boost that radio is intended to provide.
Jacquie Fuller, Assistant Program Director at KUTX, says that music radio programmers, for many years, were cautioned against playing more than one female artist in a song set, or playing female artists back-to-back, for fear it could turn off listeners. She says many radio women, throughout their careers, were wrongly given that advice directly (often from male programmers/supervisors.)
For International Women’s Day, KUTX rearranged its schedule to feature women hosts – Elizabeth McQueen, Susan Castle, Jacquie Fuller, Deidre Gott, Laurie Gallardo and Taylor Wallace – for the entire day.
Busting the myth of women in music and radio
KUTX, jumped at the chance to use International Women's Day to bust a long-held myth that audiences can only tolerate voices of women on air in measured doses and for the whole day, women of KUTX each hosted an air shift - whereas a usual day on KUTX radio features a host roster of both women and men.
Additionally, the hosts programmed only music from women for the entire day and provided engaging stories about the women artists' careers and struggles for parity, as well as their own stories of struggle within the industry.
KUTX also hosted a number of live performances and interviews by women. They also promoted a range of International Women's Day events occuring in the town that celebrated women.
All day, KUTX contextualized all music and activities in relation to the celebration and aims of IWD.
Shining a spotlight on female artists and challenges women face
Further public radio stations participated in similar ways by scheduling women hosts and playing music by women but KUTX took the idea further. While some stations only played songs by female-fronted bands, KUTX played a handful of male-fronted bands (with context for listeners, of course) that featured amazing women guitarists, keyboardists and drummers to bust the myth that women's only contribution to music is a 'pretty voice'.
Furthermore, it was important to KUTX that its participation was IWD branded and aligned with the movement as its goal was not only to shine the spotlight on female artists, but to inform its audience about challenges facing women globally beyond the music industry.
KUTX wanted its audience to dig deeper. Therefore, on the air, KUTX drove listeners to, and linked to, the IWD website that explains IWD's overall goals and purpose.
KUTX also encouraged listeners to join them on social media where, throughout the day, the station shared the hashtag #BalanceforBetter on its social channels, as well as portraits of KUTX hosts and staffers - male and female - proudly sporting IWD selfie cards with commitments to help forge an equitable future.
KUTX also made use of IWD's blank selfie cards to bring light to issues specific to the music industry.
Around the world many media groups celebrated IWD
There were so many examples of great IWD activity coming from media groups worldwide - like BBC Africa's 'Focus On Africa' radio team that delivered special coverage on issues affecting women on the continent and asked their audiences 'What are you doing today to help build a more gender balanced world?'