It's no secret that women aren't getting a fair shot at country radio right now, but now it's official. In a new interview with Country Aircheck, one of the top programming consultants in the business asserts that not playing women is part of the pathway to success for a country radio station.

“If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out,” Keith Hill tells the industry publication. “The reason is mainstream country radio generates more quarter hours from female listeners at the rate of 70 to 75 percent, and women like male artists. I’m basing that not only on music tests from over the years, but more than 300 client radio stations. The expectation is we’re principally a male format with a smaller female component. I’ve got about 40 music databases in front of me and the percentage of females in the one with the most is 19 percent. Trust me, I play great female records and we’ve got some right now; they’re just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”

It didn't take long for some of the top women in the genre to respond.

"Wow.....just wow." Martina McBride posted to Facebook. "Just read this from a major country radio publication. How do you feel about this statement? I especially want to hear from the females. Do you not like to hear other women singing about what you are going through as women? I'm really curious. Because to me, country music is about relating. Someone relating to what you are really going through on a day to day basis in your life. Did you girls (core female listeners) know you were being 'assessed' in this way? Is this how you really feel? Hmmm...."

Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles responded even more bluntly to a tweet about the article:

Country Aircheck explores the topic of women at country radio in-depth in a roundtable discussion with Little Big Town singer Karen Fairchild, songwriter Natalie Hemby, WSIX/ Nashville OM/PD Michael Bryan and BBR Music Group EVP Jon Loba. Check that out here.

Startling Facts About Women and Country Music

More From Taste of Country