CMT’s Leslie Fram leads the charge for diversity in country music


Fram clarifies that, while CMT is doing its part by guaranteeing 50% airplay on all its cable and digital platforms to women, it is perplexed as to why its former cohorts in the radio world are not following with efforts. even more modest to ensure a place at the table for women artists.

“I know we’re talking about terrestrial radio, but a lot of my friends in radio stations have their hands tied because they oversee multiple radio stations and can’t make decisions in their own market,” Fram says. “But the Kacey Musgraves story is one of the most disconcerting stories of all time, because if you’re on the radio, you should be jumping on anything pop culture. The fact that she won all those Grammys and still hasn’t been supported…there’s absolutely no answer. So she went out on her own and she had and always will have a career without radio. But the fact that she’s in a separate league and she’s taken the world format and she’s not being supported…I mean, that’s how you’re going to piss me off.

In the podcast, Fram — who, in addition to being senior vice president of music and talent at CMT, is also the newly re-elected governor of the Recording Academy’s Nashville chapter board — also talks about the its network’s franchise music specials and shows, such as “The CMT Music Awards,” which earned a prime-time spot on CBS this year following the release of that network’s ACMs, and “CMT Crossroads” To those complaining that outside of these specials the “M” is no longer very evident in CMT’s linear programming, she points out that CMT now has its own all-music channel on the free Pluto platform. parent company Paramount TV.And she says paid streaming service Paramount+ is increasingly serving as the home for CMT-branded music specials and even movies that don’t necessarily appear on the cable channel itself.

On the issue of parity for women, Fram says: “We cannot control the trust your radio gives. We can’t control what streaming services do. What we can control is what CMT does, and with CMT Equal Play, we looked at CMT Music, which is our 24 hour video channel, and launched another 24 hour video channel on Pluto TV, which is owned by Paramount, and what’s happened is we see the country music index is so high, especially with Pluto TV. And there we have this 50-50 parity of male/female videos every hour. Changing it to 50-50 was a bold move and quite honestly the ratings didn’t go down, and we were able to expose a lot more women, signed or not.

The disparity between being able to do the right thing at CMT and what’s on the radio is one of the reasons she doesn’t look too longingly at her former medium, even though on her social media she still posts photos of herself with former NYC Morning Jock co-host Matt Pinfield and the rock stars they used to hang out with.

“A lot of people in town remember when Mickey Guyton debuted at Country Radio Seminar 10 years ago, when UMG did their huge showcase at the Ryman,” Fram recalls, “and she walked out on that stage and got a standing ovation. Now remember, the people in this audience are all radio people – and it still wasn’t supported after that. I don’t know what the research said or didn’t not said, but I can tell you my ears on the radio said that song was a hit. Then she went back to it last year and got another standing ovation singing “Black Like Me” – and she really was largely ignored on terrestrial radio. To me, she has arguably one of the best voices, not just in country music, but just in music. And the fact that she’s been embraced by everyone from Super Bowl (where she sang the national anthem this year) to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame… that’s a huge point of i question, in my mind, for someone who held their head high and became the voice of everything these last years. »

If there’s a disparity between big country stars in how they’re portrayed on radio compared to all other media, at least you won’t see it on CMT, which is definitely putting the M back in its name… as in, C-Mickey-TV and C-Musgraves-TV.


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