Last Thursday night, country singer Lindsay Ell was getting ready for a busy weekend on tour in California opening for Brad Paisley. But first, on Friday, she was booked to perform three separate acoustic shows for the three country stations in the Sacramento market.
Then she got the news from her manager: One of the stations, CBS Radio-owned KNCI (105.1 FM), had rescinded the invitation. The reason? Because she was dating someone who worked for a competing company. Her boyfriend, country radio personality Bobby Bones, hosts a syndicated morning show that airs on iHeartMedia’s the Bull (92.5 FM), one of KNCI’s local rival stations.
Ell was taken aback — but at the same time, it almost wasn’t surprising. Before she and Bones went public with their relationship last fall, she was worried that in the competitive world of country radio, she would be “scrutinized” for being in a relationship with a powerful DJ. Bones wouldn’t even play her new single on air, for fear that it would look like he was giving her special treatment.
Now, it didn’t matter. It seemed that she was being punished anyway. Although it’s only one station, to Ell, it speaks to a larger issue of the challenges that women face in country music.
“It felt like, all of a sudden, you can’t be a powerful female with goals and dreams and date another powerful person,” Ell said in a phone interview on Monday. “It’s frustrating to me because I feel like it shouldn’t matter what a guy or a girl [does] in their free time — that shouldn’t affect their business.”
Ell decided to explain to her fans exactly why she would not be performing at…