HITS Daily Double


Dear Kevin,

Congratulations on your return to KROQ. The timing is auspicious; present conditions provide a huge opportunity to revitalize the Alternative format you previously helped pilot to greatness.

A wave of strong new artists is combining with meaningful releases from format superstars. Capitalizing on this to cultivate upper-demo listeners feels like the right formula to breathe life into Alternative radio.

Emerging format stars include Måneskin, The Walters, Girl in Red, Wet Leg, Stephen Sanchez, Japanese Breakfast, Beabadoobee, Phoebe Bridgers and Vundabar. Alternative mainstays like Nirvana (whose “Something in the Way” soared thanks to a sync in The Batman), Arcade Fire, My Chemical Romance, Florence + the Machine, The Black Keys and Arctic Monkeys all have compelling new (or newly prominent) material.

This confluence of the new and the returning presents an interesting challenge: getting 30-40-year-old listeners. This potential audience largely consists of men and women who have jobs and families but still want to know what’s hip and relevant. They may not have time to sift through Spotify and want a trustworthy music filter. What they don’t want is to feel like the music they loved in their youth is now in the oldies bin.

KROQ’s challenge, it seems to me, is to be that filter and rebrand itself, as it did in decades past when it was The ROQ of the ’80s and ’90s, to cater to this vital audience. It’s not just about ear-picking anymore—as your time at Spotify surely underscored, the data to determine which songs people in the demo care about is plentiful. The sweet spot would appear to be a hybrid of credible new hits and established acts, keeping the most effective new material from the latter firmly in the mix. With the proper blend of outreach (including thoughtful use of the socials), the new KROQ could bring a lot of former devotees home—and cultivate a new and faithful listenership.

The format has always followed KROQ’s lead—and if anyone can thread the needle to reenergize Modern Rock, you can. We’ll certainly be tuning in.