The seeds were planted during the pandemic.
In late 2020, on a Zoom call with Carmel Holt and Chris Sanley, the idea to work on a project on representation on AAA radio emerged. We didn’t get our ducks in a row just then, but the idea never went away. Two years later, Carmel reached out to ask if I had time and would be up for taking on non-commercial AAA radio. She and Chris, along with Jen Daunt, wanted to put on a data panel and engage in conversation with their community about perceptions versus reality in radio programming. I immediately agreed and dove in and began curating different types of datasets to allow for conversation about the big picture of AAA radio, with more detailed and granular discussion about non-commercial AAA stations.
With the goal of evaluating representation on AAA stations, I began pulling the year-end reports for all monitored AAA stations (80% commercial, 20% non-commercial). Preliminary analysis of gender identity and race/ethnicity revealed significant inequity within the top 150 songs played each year on the format.
I then dug deeper. I built a portfolio comprising the 12 non-commercial stations monitored that included time-of-day airplay for the first week of each month in 2022. Finally, I pulled the daily logs for those 12 stations for Tuesday, November 8, 2022, to enable analysis of back-to-back airplay.
The songs of 8,126 artists were featured in this study, with artists from across dozens of styles from around the world, spanning one hundred years (fitting, given it’s the centenary of broadcast radio!).
The results of the first stage of this study were presented on Thursday, May 4, 2023 at the annual meeting of NON-COMMvention at WXPN-FM in Philadelphia, PA. Chris Sanley moderated, Carmel and Jen developed an interactive audience survey to gather perceptions of the industry, then I shared this study’s data on the reality of representation at radio. We had two program directors on the panel – Margot Chobanian of Colorado Sound and Stacy Owen of WFPK in Louisville, KY – who reacted to the data presented and shared their stations’ strategies for programming in a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive way.
The results of the interactive survey are now available for download. They are included at the start of the slide deck available here to be downloaded.
The next stage of this study will expand on the dataset for the 12 non-commercial stations and write a report that will be shared with the Non-Comm community.
If your station was included in the non-commercial portfolio, and you are interested in seeing your station’s data analysis please reach out at info@SongData.ca.
A big thank you to Carmel, Chris and Jen for organizing this panel, bringing us all together, and for doing a survey of staff at the 12 non-comm stations studied in the programming data. The results of their data curation are included in the slides.