Inaugural webinar will examine country music’s gender imbalance in two-part series.
Country Radio Broadcasters, Inc. has launched "CRS360," a new webinar series that addresses current issues and trends in the country music community. The monthly program will launch with “A Discussion of Gender Balance at Country Radio: Part 1” on May 23 at 2 p.m. CT.
The inaugural webinar will serve as a deep dive into the gender imbalance at country radio. Panelists will include Stone Door Media Lab's Jeff Green, Vanderbilt University Postdoctorual Scholar Rachel Skaggs, Ph.D., and Cumulus dir. Nash programming and WKDF/Nashville PD John Shomby. The program will be moderated by SummitMedia vp/programming Beverlee Brannigan.
CRB executive director RJ Curtis tells Billboard the plan for each webinar is to provide information and facilitate a discussion within the industry. Curtis further explains that the first topic will include Green providing historical information of percentages and performances of radio airplay from each gender while Skaggs, a professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University, will share how the cultural perspective can effect what is currently happening within the country industry. Radio veteran Shomby will also explain his measurables as a program director as it relates to the topic at hand.
“We're trying to come at you with three different aspects of information,” Curtis tells Billboard over the phone. “We're not going to be telling radio programmers what to do. We're not going to tell labels how to put out music. Our role is to take topics and bring them to our constituency, which is radio, labels and everybody else, and facilitate a discussion that can hopefully create actionable takeaways and let people listen and go, ‘OK, I know more than I used to and maybe this is helpful to me.’”
Panelists for the second part of the discussion on gender imbalance at country radio are expected to be announced following next week’s webinar. Curtis says the topic was initially discussed during the planning agenda for the 2019 Country Radio Seminar, but the agenda committee didn’t think they could come to a place where they could successfully have a conversation about it or solve anything. He remains skeptical that anything will be solved in the two webinars.
"If anybody is expecting us to reach a solution in a grand total of 90 minutes, they're going to be really disappointed. I want to set that expectation," he says. "What we want to do is provide information that maybe people haven't considered and that will be helpful."
He adds, "There's a 24/7 news cycle that never stops and that applies to the music business. Our constituents want to talk about this. It’s our responsibility to act quickly and to deal with [these] issues and challenges. I feel like that's a tremendous responsibility that CRS has, and we need to deliver it on a year-round basis in addition to CRS, [which] happens every February."
The webinar for the May 23 event is already at capacity with 100 people signed up to attend. Following the discussion, a link will be posted on CRB’s website and socials for others to listen. As the monthly webinar picks up steam, Curtis says they will consider opening more spots to the public on the Zoom platform. Additional "CRS360" webinar topics in the following months will include podcasting, a look at country radio’s mid-year ratings, and previous panel items highlighted at CRS 2019 like revisiting continuous measurement in diary markets.