WXPN’s NonCommvention Spotlights Challenges for Women in the Music Business
The Non-Commercial Radio industry rolled into Philadelphia for four days at the 18th Annual NonCommvention 2018. Along with industry producers, station managers, radio hosts, and a cadre of other professionals, came over thirty bands in a show of unity and promise that seems to be missing in our country these days.
During the daylight hours there were several panel discussions on everything from “The Connected Car and Smart Speakers” to “Staying Engaged with the Young Audience” to “Music and Conversation.” My favorite panel, however, had to be #ShePersisted — Women Pursuing and Achieving Success in Radio and the Music Industry.
The Current’s Lindsay Kimball moderated the panel which was comprised of Jessi Whitten of Colorado Public Radio, Liz Felix of BirdNote Radio and Shannon Kurlander of Terrorbird Media. This assembly of four women on stage spoke bluntly of the status of Non-Commerical radio stations and it was eye opening. Everything from pay gap, man-speak, and glass ceilings were discussed and I was saddened that these issues are plaguing women even in a progressive and accepting industry like public radio.
The discussion was frank and open and although no one had a cure-all solution, several common-sense approaches were put forth and had most of the men in the room taking a hard look at themselves.
For instance, men will often take young talent under their wing and subsequently promote that talent because they see something of themselves in that person. Unfortunately, men don’t often see something of themselves in young women. Just recognizing this dichotomy can often bring about change.
Also, men have to realize that assigning the administrative, often clerical-type tasks too often to their female junior staff will stifle not only their availability for tougher assignments, but their capability to handle those assignments due simply to lack of exposure.
Additionally, there was some somber news on the pay gap for women musical artists. On average, they make 36% less than their male counterparts while performing at the same festivals. Also, according to the Chicago Tribune “Females are missing in popular music,” their study bluntly states. Another study found that women only make up 28 percent of the music recording workforce.
Although the discussion during this segment may have been a cold slap in the face to many senior people present, it obviously created a significant awareness jump. Only time will tell, but I have to believe it will pay dividends in the future.
And to that end, one measuring stick was planted firmly in the ground during this discussion. After the panel declared that of the forty public radio music stations in the country, only one had a female Station Manager, that very same station manager was in the audience and was coincidentally given the mic to ask the first audience question. Hopefully, at NonComm 2019 she won’t still be the only one.
Take a look at the artists who caught our attention at NON-COMM 2018.