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07th Sep 2020

“No anti-female policy” FM104 respond to stark figures of 0% Irish female acts in top playlists

Niamh Maher

Are radio stations doing enough for emerging female artists?

Last week on Her, we covered a report commissioned by the ‘Why Not Her?’ campaign on gender parity across Irish radio stations. In the initial report, some stations – including 98FM, TodayFM, and Spin Southwest – had 10% or less Irish female musicians in their top 20 most played artists between June 2019 to 2020. Others such as FM104 and LMFM had zero.

Since the release of the report some positive action has been taken. In the capital in particular, SPIN 1038 is up by 35% to 45%, 98FM is up by 15% to 25%, elsewhere across the country LMFM is up 10% to 10% (they were at 0%), BEAT 102-103 is up by 25% to 30%. Despite this, FM104 continues to be at 0%.

                                                                                Why Not Her? Gender Parity Report

In their updated blog post on their site the Why Not Her? campaign said, “FM104 continue to play 0% of Irish females on their top 20 highest played acts on their playlist”.

Co-founder of Why Not Her? and music PR, Linda Coogan, spoke to us on the latest episode of Girls With Goals about the updated report findings, and FM104 in particular;

“Margaret Nelson is the CEO of FM104, Dave* and Mark are the Head of Music. They don’t return my calls, they don’t return my messages. They don’t have to respond, they probably don’t want to, but there’s no legislation there’s nothing in place that they should, or they have to and that’s why they don’t. They don’t bother because they’re like, ‘You know what? We can do what we want here, we’re gonna continue to play white, homogenised, same-sounding music on the radio station’ and they’re dictating the culture of the capital”

Linda went on to say it was encouraging that some stations are making change;

“We’re so happy that Spin and 98 are on the rise, it’s just wonderful. But then you see FM104, Today FM are on 5%. They haven’t responded either they haven’t returned anything that I’ve sent them… it’s really troubling”

Her reached out to FM104 and spoke with CEO Margaret Nelson on the issue;

“We had a meeting arranged with Linda Coogan Byrne and it never happened, a scheduling issue I believe, but we’re happy to meet and talk about what we can do”

When asked about the lack of gender parity on the station, Nelson said she leaves music decisions up to the music directors but that there’s certainly no policy in place against having women on the airwaves;

“There isn’t any policy that is anti-female, I’m one of the only female CEOs in this business, I wouldn’t have a policy like that. We don’t believe there should be a gender quota for music and it should be all about the artists, it should be the best person for the job the meeting with people from that campaign never happened but we’re 100% willing to look at it and welcome discussions on it”

When pushed on the popularity of FM104 in the capital and the influence it has on emerging artists making it, she admitted that 0% is a “stark figure”.

On Girls With Goals this week, we’re also talking to Shauna Watson of the We’ve Only Just Begun’ festival who have recently developed an online director for female and non-binary musicians working in the music industry.

Listen in to the full episode below:


Update on Gender Disparity report according to the Why Not Her? campaign

RTE2 FM is up by 35% to 45%
SPIN 1038 is up by 35% to 45%
Beat 102 103 is up by 25% to 30%
98FM is up by 15% to 25%
Corks RedFM 104-106 is up 25% to 30%
Highland Radio is up 5% to 15%
LMFM is up 10% to 10% (they were at 0%)
Radio Kerry is up 10% to 15%
C103 Cork is up 5% to 10%
Galway Bay FM is up 5% to 20%
Cork’s 96FM is up 5% to 10%
Kfm Radio Kildare is up 5% to 10%
KCLR96FM is up 15% to 20%
Limerick’s live 95fm is up 5% to 10%
WLR FM are up 20% to 20% (they were at 0%)
Today FM is up by 5% to 10%
Shannonside FM is up by just 5% to 10%
SPIN South West are up 30% to 35%

Her has confirmed that *Dave Kelly retired from FM104 and is no longer working with the company.

With regard to the report all data is based on Irish only artists, and those whose songs are registered on Radiomonitor.

Radiomonitor is the industry standard music airplay monitoring service used by all Record labels, Management companies and PR companies to evaluate the airtime allocated to artists/bands who have commercial releases in the Irish market and whose music is issued to Irish radio seeking radio airplay.