Martina McBride On Country Radio: “It’s Not What I Want To Hear… So I Don’t Listen To It”

Martina McBride sitting in a chair

Martina McBride is chiming in on the country radio debate.

She was recently on the Shady Ladies of Music City podcast with Susan Nadler and Evelyn Shriver to discuss the early days of her career, her Master Chef cooking skills, and all of the current problems at country radio.

And while this has been an ongoing debate for quite some time, if you’ve followed Whiskey Riff for a while or pay any sort of attention to the country music genre, you’re probably pretty well-versed in all of the nuances of radio.

Their conversation on this topic was fascinating. Susan and Evelyn are music industry veterans with a very unique perspective on not only radio today, but also how it was at country radio decades ago.

Martina said this about women in country now:

“It seems like some of the females are having to tailor-make their music to get played on country radio, which is a shame.”

And that has some truth to it, for sure. It’s really unfortunate that some of them have to water down their music to “fit in” with everything else in the radio line-up.

Of course, there’s a lot of males on country radio today who do the same thing. I mean, there are at least a dozen guys I can think of just off the top of my head who are still chasing whatever sound is trending on country radio at the moment.

They go on to talk about how there’s no true heartache on the radio, except for a few good ones that slip through every now and then like Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me.”

They all agree, even songs like George Jones’ iconic “He Stopped Loving Her Today” wouldn’t get played today.

“Substance is missing. I think a lot of it is because the female point of view is not being allowed, or not really being spotlighted. We’re missing the point of view of half the population. It’s crazy to me.”

And that fits right into their point about the way the entire genre has shifted,

“The music co-existed in such a nice way. It was easier for us females to fit into that soundscape. 

Now, it’s like who’s gonna record a song as a female that fits in between all of this bro-country and doesn’t sound and doesn’t make you go ‘What’s happening?’”

You mean not every girl relates to putting on her cut-offs waiting for a guy to whip up in a jacked-up truck with a six-pack of beer on Friday night ready to go drive around on a back road listening to Hank? News to me…

“Now it’s so consolidated that I think everybody gets the same playlist, pretty much. There’s no individuality, so it’s like what’s gonna work? They’re kind of judging what they think people want to hear. 

And it’s so skewed to me. As a country music fan, it’s not what I want to hear. What I want to hear is a song about my life. A song that I can relate to. I wanna hear a song that makes me go ‘Oh, man, that’s exactly how I feel!’

And, you know, without a lot of women’s point of view on the radio, it’s not there for me anymore. No offense to the guy artists, I’m just saying I can’t find what I need there, so I don’t listen to it to be honest. And I can’t really tell you what’s going on on radio.”

Martina with the honest, spot-on analysis. It’s so interesting to hear artists who came up in a different time talk about what’s going on today. They can see it, we can see it, how is the (mostly) garbage music you hear on your local FM station still being pushed?

I don’t understand how it’s not blatantly obvious. If they’re in it for ratings and want to play music solely based on numbers, they’re clearly not paying attention to places like Apple music or Spotify.

There are so many artists on there with huge followings that have never once had a song on the radio and probably never will. They’ve garnered massive fan bases (real fan bases) with little to no help from the industry that is country radio.

Think of Tyler Childers or even Kacey Musgraves. She’s built her whole career and become a massive star almost entirely without the help of radio, other than a few songs here and there. While they might play a song like “Rainbow” once a day, they’re certainly not pushing her the way they do Brett Young or Dan + Shay. Tyler Childers just secured a Gold record without an ounce of radio play, AND he sold out Red Rocks (back when touring was a thing).

In my opinion, it all comes down to pushing music that has substance and meaning. Of course, we’re not all going to relate to every song, but people can sense when a song is honest, sincere, and also sounds great.

Martina summed it up best:

“Maybe it’s just about content, really.”

Cue the “This One’s For The Girls”

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