As a female I am clearly not in Radio X's highly publicised target demographic stated ahead of their launch a week ago; added to that the fact that I'm also nearly outside the upper age range of 25-44 years and you get the idea that Radio X is just not for me. Or that's what social media would have us think. If you're a UK user of social media you can't have helped noticing the minor furore that erupted when Radio X stated that their target audience was males aged 25-44 years so according to the twitterverse my feminist sensibilities should be outraged and I should not be listening, right?
Wrong! Although I consider myself to be a feminist (and no, I'm not explaining what that means as it's different for everyone) I have no problem with a commercial radio station explicitly marketing itself towards men. This is for two reasons: one, I have no problem with products and services marketed exclusively towards women so why should I care about those marketed towards men and two, there are so many more important things for women to be enraged about.
Taking my first point, products and services marketed towards women. If a new radio station aimed specifically at women aged 25-44 was launched I would recognise it for what it would be: a marketing decision. Would I listen? Probably, if only to discover what the marketing bods thought a woman aged 25-44 is in the 21st century. If the bods were male it might prove quite illuminating. Then again, they would presumably have decided on this demographic after extensive market research and so a good proportion of women would listen and enjoy. Considering this point in relation to Radio X I think we can safely say that their parent company, Global, would have undertaken a considerable amount of market research and development prior to the decision to re-launch XFM as Radio X with a target audience of 25-44 year old men. At no point would they have decided to do this on a whim. In plain terms, however many women listened to XFM, the majority of listeners would have been 25-44 year old men who like a bit of guitar led music. I'm generalising because market research goes a lot deeper than that but you get the picture.
My second point is that there are so many more issues on which outrage should be the normal reaction. An example of an outrageous daily occurrence that passes almost unnoticed and uncommented on is the gender pay gap still in existence in all walks of life. I think that this issue is worth many more headlines and enraged tweets than it gets so forgive me for not worrying too much about the focus of Radio X.
Would the powers that be at Global have expected their decision to cause as much of a splash as it did? Of course they did; re-launching a radio station means a great deal of publicity is needed and the quickest way to get said publicity is to create a bit of controversy. Enter the easily outraged with the obvious headlines of women being excluded yet again by a male oriented business. As I mentioned earlier, there are much worse things for women to be enraged about and yet the issue that many women chose to be publicly enraged about is a marketing decision that resulted in yet more publicity for the station.
Besides, I would imagine that quite a number of women tuned in for the first time to hear a certain new presenter, one Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs. I have to confess that I was one of them, being a fan since their first album. This is what persuaded me to listen to Radio X and I liked what I heard. In particular, the exchange between Wilson and his producer, Neil, about the invisible intern was a gem that poked fun at the station's stated target audience. The intern was referred to as "she" by Neil which prompted Wilson to say "she? Surely that's not what we're about". Nice one Ricky. In another nod to the expected audience for his show, Wilson has a slot entitled 'Girls Allowed' in which women are invited to tell us what ridiculous things they've overheard men saying. Surely there's enough material out there to fill the entire show with that one segment....but that would just be sexist, surely?