Sunday, March 25, 2012

Would you pay to support sexism? (Ava and C.I.)

It's bad enough to hear sexism on the radio, but to be expected to pay for it to be on the radio?


A number of readers and Common Ills community members in the Dallas area have e-mailed regarding KXT. It probably didn't help that the station did a fundraiser recently. That appears to have driven home how sexist the station is.

KXT is one of Dallas' two public radio stations. (There may be other community radio stations that are public radio and play a few hours each day. KXT and KERA both are 24 hour stations.) KXT plays music. That's all they do.

Except ask you for money.

And strangely, they appear to think they deserve your money. A few of their programs are syndicated ones. (No surprise, they carry the very sexist Undercurrents which we wrote about last January.) Their local ones are what we focused on after the seventh Dallas-ite e-mailed us the first week of February (many more e-mails followed in later weeks).

We sampled the programs. That means, for example, Gini Mascorro's Monday through Saturday four hour daily program is something we caught in full twice a week*. The same with Mark Abuzzahab's five hour daily Monday through Saturday program, Joe Kozera's four hour daily Monday through Sunday program, Allen Roberts' two hour daily Monday through Saturday program and his four hour Sunday program and the dreadful two hour program by Paul Slavens.

You might already notice that women in Dallas are only represented on air by Gini Mascorro. They're not represented any better when it comes to songs played.

Sadly, Gini Mascorro isn't carrying the banner of equality when she's on air. She basically plays two women an hour -- and remember, this is commercial free radio. And if that strikes you as bad, it does us, meet Allen Roberts who often enjoys playing a woman every hour or sometimes one woman every two hours. Women fair best when Joe Kozera's anchoring the hours -- they can often be played as many as three times an hour. It's a shame they don't fair better under Mark Abuzzahab -- twice an hour is his average -- because he is KXT's program director.

At their website, they have a little faux Platonic dialogue
going on, asking why anyone should donate money to KXT and then answering, "KXT 91.7 is listener-supported public radio. 100% of the station’s financial support comes from listeners and businesses who pledge their support and make a tax-free donation to keep the station on the air. Make your contribution today to support the musical diversity and discovery that KXT 91.7 provides every day."

Musical diversity? There's no diversity in the solo artists or front men they play -- mainly men. And we question the notion of diversity as much as we do their claim (see illustration at the top) that donating to KXT is a way to "SUPPORT INDEPENDENT MUSIC." Bruce Springsteen's new album and his back catalogue are heavily featured on KXT and he's not an independent artist. He's a big money maker for the Sony corporation. Other staples of the station's programming -- Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, U2, Coldplay and Adele -- aren't exactly selling CDs out of a trailer they pull from show to show behind their Chevy Aveo.

We mentioned creepy Paul Slavens earlier. He deserves special notice for claiming on air to be playing requested songs. No, he's playing the requested songs he likes. He ignores the rest. Especially true if you're suggesting a woman be played. Slavens doesn't like the ladies. And seems to take it as a point of pride that he's never played Carly Simon on KXT (he's been heard on KXT since November 2009). He'll play the Monkees, he'll play Porter Wagoner, he just won't play Carly. He doesn't play many women. It's not uncommon to hear one each hour or just one for both hours. Again, this is commercial free radio. They should have plenty of airtime.

As 1999 was winding down, Elysa Gardner (Billboard, December 18, 1999) would speak with radio consultant Dennis Constantine who explained "that as recently as the mid-90s, radio programmers would generally aim not to play two songs by female artists consecutively" and how, "Of course, they never had the same rule for men. Only in the past few years has that barried broken down, so that now you hear women back to back on radio stations. I think a lot of that has to do with Lilith [Fair]." That was commercial radio. And the problem there wasn't one woman an hour, but dee jays afraid of playing two women in a row. And Constantine and Billboard were thrilled that fear had been put to rest.

Except, over a decade later, KXT wants to bring it back and then some. Their playlist isn't just pre-Lillith Fair, it's pre-1960s. That should cause them embarrassment and shame but instead they think they've earned the right to your money. It's 2012 and there's no excuse for the programming KXT has been offering.

In honor of Women's History Month (and to wipe the stench of KXT off your bodies), you can check out WOS Radio (Women of Substance Radio) which broadcasts online and explains, "We broadcast 24/7 on the Live365 Network and iTunes Radio garnering fans from all over the world. WOSRadio plays the BEST female artists, both label and Indie, in all genres. We hand-pick all of our music starting with icons of the past like Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Tracy Chapman, Mariah Carey, No Doubt, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, Michelle Branch, Kelly Clarkson, Sara Bareilles, Colbie Caillat, Adele, Carrie Underwood, Amy Winehouse, Feist, Christina Perri and so many more." And you can check out Girls Rock Radio (you can also stream it here if you have plug-in problems).


* We frequently listened to recordings that a friend made for us and that allowed us to speed through a four or five hour show.
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