HITS Daily Double
By Karen Glauber It was announced last week that Mediabase will be bedfellows with Luminate, when they begin jointly reporting on radio’s music activity. Until this merger, BDS has been used to service Billboard’s radio charts and other charts incorporating radio data, including the Hot 100. At the helm of this big change is Mediabase’s EVP Global Music Marketing and Strategy Alissa Pollack, a respected and dear friend of all of us in the HITS career cul-de-sac. The transition from BDS to Mediabase will take effect by year’s end. The two radio formats most impacted by this switch are Triple A and Latin—both regard BDS as their radio chart of record. With regard to Triple A, the concern is that the BDS chart counts airplay from twice as many stations as the Mediabase chart, encompassing dozens of Non-Comm stations that have a considerable market impact but don’t meet the criteria for Mediabase reporting. As of now, there are 27 reporting Triple A stations and 19 “Activator” stations. Indie labels flourish at the Activator stations, which have “graduated” indie artists like Phoebe Bridgers, Sharon Van Etten, Spoon, The Lumineers, Japanese Breakfast, Father John Misty, beabadoobee, etc. to mainstream chart success. Brad Savage from WAPS was the first to express his concern that his station’s lack of Mediabase-reporting status will impact his ability to have access to artists, but his market impact is well known, and he will always have label support. Will Mediabase add some of these Non-Comms to the reporting panel, or will they separate the charts to a Commercial panel and a Non-Commercial panel? I expect there will be a solution that enables the format to survive, anchored by key heritage stations like KBCO, WXRT, WRLT, KCMP, WXPN and ratings juggernaut KINK. I choose to remain optimistic. The 1975’s genius new single, “I’m in Love With You,” was #1 Most Added at Alternative this week! I pointed out to Ted that exactly one year ago, the #1 Most Added song at the format was The Lumineers’ “BRIGHTSIDE,” which proves that Ted and I always forget to take any time off during the summer. Speaking of The Lumineers, we’re off and running with “A.M. RADIO,” the single Andy Hawk and Lenny Diana asked for by name, and I’m grateful that I was able to see the band last Friday night amid a swarm of 25,000 at Redondo Beach and managed to avoid a third bout of COVID (for now, at least). Back to The 1975: Did you know that their upcoming tour is completely sold out? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered for tickets (Marissa). Dan Connelly was very happy to receive the KROQ/Audacy Select add on Talk’s “Run Away to Mars.” This song is a monster. Capitol has signed Backseat Lovers, with WNYL adding their last song, “Kilby Girl,” this week. The pandemic has proven that linear time no longer matters. The urgency to be “first” on a record, which was the goal of most programmers in the past, has mostly gone by the wayside, as TikTok , TV shows like Stranger Things and other pop-culture flash points have reignited songs from years ago. The Cafune single, “Tek It (I Want the Moon),” is from 2019. Beach Weather’s smash, “sex, drugs, etc.,” is from 2016. Another fascinating example is the massive popularity of Cigarettes After Sex’s “Apocalypse” on Partisan Records, which is from 2017 (and which KROQ added in March, 2018), and is now streaming 7-10 MILLION a week and is on the Spotify Global Top 200 at #94. This is PIAS’ most-streamed track in the world, and the tour sold out immediately (I just helped my friend’s kid get tickets for the NYC show). Congrats to Michael Martin and his crew (some of whom still have my number blocked on their phones from last year) on the announcement of Audacy’s Beach Fest, Day One. The lineup includes Muse, Jack White, Jimmy Eat World, Phoenix (yay!!), Yungblood, The Maine, BoyWithUke, Half Alive, Beach Weather and more. Shana Tovah to those who celebrate. Happy 5783!
By Karen Glauber Like you, I spent most of last weekend watching the heart-wrenching performances from the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert in London. The performances were nothing short of historic, especially when Taylor’s 16-year-old son Shane joined the Foo Fighters for “My Hero.” Nothing could possibly mitigate the tragedy of Taylor’s death—but the concert amplified how loved and respected he was by some of the greatest musicians in the world. The Los Angeles tribute concert is on 9/27, and I expect I’ll see many of you there. The biggest story of the summer was the return of two legends to the forefront of Alternative music: Kevin Weatherly returned to KROQ, and Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” became the SONG OF THE SUMMER, thanks to Emmy winner Nora Felder’s brilliant work as the music supervisor on Stranger Things. One year later, Wet Leg is still the coolest new band on the planet, with “Chaise Longue” in Power on KROQ and “Wet Dream” now Top 30. I would think this band is a lock for Grammy acknowledgement this year, similar to the noms Japanese Breakfast and Phoebe Bridgers received last year. Speaking of Phoebe, whose iconic status continues to grow, she has a cameo in “I’m in Love With You,” the new video from The 1975, which is at 2m views on YouTube and 6m streams in the past week. Dirty Hit will service the song to Alternative on 9/12, while Triple A continues to have massive success with “Part of the Band” (currently #2 on the chart). I don’t often envy other’s concert experiences, but seeing Michelle Rutkowski’s photos from last weekend’s Lumineers concert at Wrigley Field made me feel like I’d missed a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For an indie-rock band to sell 40k tickets is an extraordinary achievement. The Lumineers also sold that many tickets in Denver, and their summer tour winds down with next week’s BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach, where they’ll be playing with Hall & Oates (side note: Daryl Hall’s first solo album, Sacred Songs, is one of the greatest albums of all time) and Pete Yorn, among others. After two Top 5 songs with “Brightside” and “Where We Are,” Dualtone (aka me and Ted) will be launching, BY POPULAR DEMAND, a radio mix for the programmer fave “A.M. Radio.” Lots of love for this song, and it’s been streaming 600k weekly in the States, with 21.3m total U.S. streams. The streaming juggernaut commanding your attention is Beach Weather’s “Sex, Drugs, Whatever,” which is the vibe song of the summer. Nick Petropoulos has the hits… Our old friend Nick Bedding, who, believe it or not, briefly toiled as a HITS employee, has landed at Nettwerk, where his first project is Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness’ amazing new single “Stars.” Nick can be reached at [email protected]. Say hi Everybody is talking about Rosa Linn’s “Snap,” which is a massive streaming hit. My boss thinks she sounds like Natalie Merchant. I disagree—but we totally agree that “Snap” is a smash. Dan Connelly has yet another hit to add to his repertoire with TALK’s “Run Away to Mars,” which my kid has known about for a month. This one will fly up the charts… Another super-buzzy song is “Insomnia” by The Moss. Amy Kaplan is at the helm, and this is definitely a song you will love. My newest favorite song is “Tonight” by Phoenix, featuring Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend, whose “This Life” is one of the greatest songs in recent years and should’ve been an infinitely bigger hit, but you guys fucked it up. Phoenix is a global treasure, and “Tonight” is a classic. SONG TO HEAR: BLACKSTARKIDS w/Beabadoobee “CYBERKISS 2 U,” which reminds me of De La Soul. BLACKSTARKIDS are from Kansas City and they love Lazlo.
It was a good day: I woke up to the news (I already knew) that Jim McGuinn has been named APD at WXPN in Philly. Jim (seen above with Jacqueline Saturn and yours truly back in the day) worked at WXPN prior to his tenure at KCMP, and also programmed Alternative station Y100 in Philly, as well as KPNT St. Louis, WEQX Albany, WPGU Champaign and, of course, his high school station, WDGC in Downers Grove, Ill., which is when he and I first met. Jim is a beloved programmer, and we’re all thrilled that he’s landed where his myriad talents will be appreciated. Also on the agenda was celebrating the 47th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, which is one of the greatest albums of all time. Because I’m a nerd (and because most men don’t want to talk about their feelings), a topic of recent social gatherings with the fellas has been, “If you had to skip one song on Born to Run for all of eternity, which one would it be?” The consensus answer is “Night” (still a great song), with daggers thrown toward anyone who dares to answer with “Meeting Across the River.” Also, I will never accept that the lyric in “Thunder Road” is anything other than “Mary’s dress waves.” I keep telling my music loving kid that they’ll always be able to bond with other kids over music. We went to Chicago last weekend to see Addison Grace at Beat Kitchen—the show was sold out, and both Addison and opener Sydney Rose spoke onstage about their love for Phoebe Bridgers. I told my kid that I worked “Kyoto,” which impressed them not in the least. I remain deeply uncool and embarrassing. The friends I saw in Chicago, Greg Latterman, Joe Shanahan and Jimmy Steal, are people I met through music. Joe gave Julian a tour of the Metro, which is where Joe and I met in 1982, when I was trying to get Bauhaus to do their scheduled interview with a local college radio station (and Peter Murphy yelled at me). Speaking of Phoebe, I’m excited to see her this weekend at the Ain’t No Picnic festival, along with Wet Leg, Shame, IDLES, Sparks and Beach House, among other favorites. As I congratulated Glassnote’s Michael Starr on his 11th anniversary at the label and his first Top 10 with Phoenix’s “Alpha Zulu,” we agreed that life would be infinitely better if Phoenix played on every show we see. Michael is also gaining traction with RIPE’s “Settling” (a certain call-out favorite) and the genius Two Door Cinema Club single “Lucky,” which SHOULD be as omnipresent as Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” Hooray for Scott Burton on delivering another chart-topper for Jack White and for reminding radio why Lovelytheband’s “Sail Away” deserves a slot on everybody’s playlists. It looks like Capone will have another #1 Alt song this week with Giovannie and the Hired Guns’ “Ramon Ayala,” which will be followed by Ayelet’s KillersThe Killers’ “Boy” in the top spot, likely immediately after the holiday. My favorite new song is “Maniac” by Macklemore, featuring Windser. Yes, the same Windser whose “Memory” is a bona fide hit at SiriusXM’s AltNation, as is his latest, “Friends I Barely Know.” Speaking of AltNation and Jeff Regan, check out a song he’s championing called “Insomnia” by The Moss, which you’ll be hearing more about from Buddy Deal, Amy Kaplan and me! Thrilled to see the new AJR single, “I Won’t,” vault towards the Top 10. Bravo to Amanda and Drew! Keep your eyes peeled for more new music from The 1975, although it would be spectacular to see “Part of the Band” reached its deserved spot in the Top 10. Jagwar Twin’s “Happy Face” is the sleeper hit of the summer. Stay the course, people! I’m excited to launch The Lumineers’ “A.M. Radio” in a few weeks, driven by the streaming story and the insane tour numbers (over 30,000 tickets sold for the band’s upcoming show at Wrigley Field). This is the song that Lenny Diana and Andy Hawk have been saying is the big hit from the band’s current album. I never question those two. SONG TO HEAR: Mod Sun’s brilliant “Battle Scars.”
It’s been a weird, isolated summer—two work trips to NYC but otherwise sequestered at home, liking other people’s vacation posts. There have been moments of comfort—the returns of Kevin Weatherly, Mark Hamilton, John Allers and Christy Taylor to the Alternative fold—all smart people who care about the format. Those work trips afforded time with Mike Kaplan, Christine Malovetz and Brad Steiner at WNYL—I adore them all. A trip to NYC isn’t complete without breakfast at Balthazar with Arista’s Nick Petropoulos, where we celebrated his second Måneskin #1 with “Supermodel,” and plotted the course for his next #1, Beach Weather’s viral smash “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” Sure, the song is a few years old, but who even knows what day it is? KROQ’s ratings have gone up in the past months, which I would attribute to embracing Wet Leg’s “Chaise Longue,” which sounds as vibrant now as it did a year ago—AND to playing Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” a masterpiece that transcends decades. The correlation between the uptick in ratings in other Alternative markets and the increased exposure of new music is immediate and direct. While the temptation to shift the format toward “Classic Alternative” remains, exposing the best new music should continue to be a priority—and the ratings prove it. Within moments, Phoenix’s “Alpha Zulu” will be Michael Starr’s first Alternative Top 10 since taking the promo helm at Glassnote. Phoenix’s sound paved the way for Glass Animals’ righteous perch at the top of the leaderboard, which, in turn, has helped “Alpha Zulu” become a call-out hit. Take note: Your audience loves this type of Alternative music. I understand the appeal of Classic Alternative—Gary Gorman and I (that’s us in the photo) went to see Superchunk’s sold-out show last Thursday night! I worked “Hyper Enough” in 1995, and have had the greatest honor of working with Merge Records ever since. Gary loved the band when he was in college, just as I loved R.E.M., Husker Dü and The Replacements at that age. As scary as it is to go to shows, it’s the thing that makes me feel almost normal. The kid and I are flying to Chicago next week to see Addison Grace. Like mom, like kid. Addison Grace, Cavetown and AJR are the artists we share. I also feel most normal when there’s a new AJR single to work. “I Won’t” is on the cusp of Top 20, and it feels like it could be one of the band’s biggest hits. Their June show/my kid’s b’nai mitzvah in Irvine was the greatest day of the summer. Tickets went onsale on 8/12 for The 1975 tour, with some shows already sold out during the presale. “Part of the Band” is solidly Top 20 at Alternative, and the goal is Top 10! Due to illness, Rage Against the Machine have had to drop out of Reading and Leeds festivals, so The 1975 have stepped in as headliners. Venues on the U.S. tour include Madison Square Garden in NYC and the Kia Forum in L,A,, as well as The Rave in Milwaukee for WLUM’s “Big Snow Show” and Kansas City for “The Church of Lazlo’s 20th Anniversary.” Glass Animals and The 1975 show up for Lazlo. He’s that important. Congrats to Team Island on the launch of the new Killers’ song “Boy,” which is definitely the band’s best song in years. It’s been stuck in my head since Ayelet played it for me and, if there is any certainty in life, you can bet on “Boy” being a #1 Alternative song. The Best Album of the Summer is Spoon’s Lucifer on the Sofa, especially “Wild” and “My Babe.” The Must-Read Book of the Summer is My Life in the Sunshine by Nabil AyersSONG TO HEAR: Windser’s new one, “Friends I Barely Know.”… Where should I eat in Chicago? Email: [email protected].
By Karen Glauber In the mid-’80s, there was no bigger TV show than Dallas. Every magazine ran a cover story with the question for the ages, “Who Shot J.R?” After the eighth season, Patrick Duffy, who played J.R.’s younger brother Bobby, opted to leave the show for greener pastures (a template for David Caruso a few years later). Both the show and Patrick Duffy’s career suffered, but his character had been killed in a car crash, and resurrections were not an easy sell in prime time. Cue to the final scene in the season finale: His wife Pam wakes up and hears the shower running. She opens the shower door and VOILÁ, there’s her husband, smiling. Turns out, the entire season was a dream. This time, the proverbial shower door opened and there is Kevin Weatherly back at the helm at KROQ, as though the past two years have been a pandemic fever dream. On Tuesday, I was the recipient of the greatest call there is—the call from Kevin and Miles, letting me know I had gotten an add on The 1975’s “Part of the Band.” It occurred to me this week that I’ve been doing Alternative-radio promotion for 40 years (!!!), starting as an intern at I.R.S. Records and then as a college rep at A&M. It’s the highest of highs and lowest of lows. This was an especially good week, with #1 Most Added on The 1975’s first outing on their own label, but there are plenty of weeks where Ted Volk and I are inconsolable, and I end the day in a fetal position, wondering if it’s too late to go to law school. Ted calls it a “vision quest,” whether it’s The 1975, The Lumineers, Girlfriends—whose “High Again” continues to perform like a smash for Andy Hawk at KKDO—or the priorities of our peers, which we support, however we are needed. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I couldn’t be happier that Kate Bush is about to have a Top 5 song at Alternative radio. The first time I heard “Running Up That Hill” was on an import that I bought from Pier Platters in Hoboken the week it was released. Of course, WLIR was playing it, as well as WHTG. For me, Kate’s performance on SNL in 1978 was the first time I’d heard of her, and I’ve been a huge fan since The Kick Inside. During one of my rare weekends with my father in the late ’70s, he tossed my copy of Lionheart into the incinerator in his building because I’d been playing “Wow” on repeat for an hour. Being a Kate fan during that era was also not for the faint of heart. There are some truly Alternative songs that will NEVER burn, no matter how popular they become; classics, if you will: “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals, “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers, “Electric Feel” by MGMT, “First” by Cold War Kids, “Feel It Still” by Portugal the Man—and now Kate Bush, the artist who influenced so many others, is owning the world. I’m confused by those who have decided to play the Meg Myers cover of “Running Up That Hill,” instead of the original, but you do you. A new Weezer song, “Records,” will be out on Monday (7/18). It will go to #1. AJR (now on Mercury) will soon release their genius new song, “I Won’t.” Yes, Ted and I are still involved with AJR (he as the unofficial fourth member). In fact, I just held my kid’s bar mitzvah (photo above) before the band’s show in Irvine—we did the ceremony onstage before doors, Jack played “Dear Winter” and then the kids played dodge ball with the band. L’chaim! Nick Petropoulos is moments away from another #1 Måneskin hit with “Supermodel.” The band is playing a special show for SiriusXM in a few weeks, and I suggested that Nick recreate the famous Nirvana show at Roseland when Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and the other “supes” were in attendance. Awesome new music from The Killers will be out on 8/5 (my birthday), and Michael Starr has set an impact date for the genius Two Door Cinema Club single “Wonderful Life” on 8/ 9, by which time Phoenix’s “Alpha Zulu” will be entrenched in the Top 10. FAVORITE SONG: Spoon’s “My Babe.”
By Karen Glauber Greetings from Day 437 of COVIDchella—it feels like forever. I tested positive on 4/13, four days after going to an indoor show, and now, after two weeks spent on my bed in a fetal position, I’m finally feeling much better. The one-year anniversary of my COVID/vaccination-related stroke is this Saturday, so I have a lot to celebrate, all things considered. Last weekend, in lieu of being there, I watched many of the Coachella performances on my laptop. I wish I could’ve been there, but it was thrilling to watch the performances by beabdoobee, Rina Sawayama, Idles, Phoebe Bridgers, Japanese Breakfast, Arlo Parks, Bishop Briggs and, of course, Arcade Fire, whose brilliant set was yet ANOTHER reminder that they’re the MOST IMPORTANT and BEST band in Alternative music. I have to make special mention of KROQ’s social-media coverage of Coachella, because Miles Anzaldo, Nicole Alvarez, Megan Holiday and the rest of the team captured the joy of being there with their photos, stories and interviews, all of which felt like KROQ in its prime. Phoebe Bridgers showed up to do an interview in the KROQ trailer close to midnight, following her career-defining mainstage set. That’s huge. I felt like I was being shown the highlights of Coachella by three friends who had absolute access. Their enthusiasm was infectious (and not in a COVID kind of way), and Miles and Co. should be hailed for their coverage. A lot happened in the radio world while I was praying for the bed spins to stop: WKQX’s Jon Manley exited the station, which was a shock to many. Also, it feels like we’re moments away from finding out the who’s been selected as the new PD at KROQ. I hate to admit it, but I legit have no idea who it’s going to be. I remember vividly when Kevin Weatherly was hired for the job—we were AGHAST that someone who had never programmed an Alternative station was now PD at KROQ. Adorable, right? The biggest stunner of the week was reading that Jim McGuinn, your friend and mine, was no longer the PD at KCMP Minneapolis, on the heels of the station being #1 18-34 in Minneapolis and having a 5.0 share in their most recent month. I refuse to speculate on what happened, and when I know, I won’t tell you. I’ve loved Jim since his days in high-school radio in the mid-’80s. He is a person of integrity, and he’s a huge reason why The Current is as impactful globally today as it has been for the past decade-plus. If you can break away from Love Is Blind 2, Bridgerton 2 or The Ultimatum on Netflix (welcome to my watchlist), check out the latest Florence + the Machine video for “Free,” once again brilliantly directed by Autumn de Wilde, which features Bill Nighy as the embodiment of Florence’s anxiety. Every song I’ve heard from this record is spectacular. The embodiment of my anxiety is played by Ted Volk. beabadoobee’s “Talk,” her best song yet, is currently streaming like an Alternative smash, while she is poised for another crowd-overflow performance at Coachella this weekend. Wilderado’s “Head Right” is now entrenched in the Top 10, while The Lumineers’ “Where We Are” is days away from sharing that designation. Not to jinx it, but this will be The Lumineers ninth consecutive Top 10 single, on the heels of the 10th anniversary of the band’s first record. I love celebrating milestones, even the ones that remind me of, well, where we were (like my stroke, for example). Marisa DiFrisco, whom I want to be just like when I grow up, is slaying with The Maine’s “Loved You a Little” and is now charting with Surfaces’ “I Can’t Help but Feel,” which is my kid’s favorite song. We’re so used to seeing Rob Goldklang dominating the chart that we won’t be the least bit surprised when Red Hot Chili Peppers is replaced by The Black Keys in the top spot. Rob and Ravikoff currently have three songs in the Top 10, but pay close attention to The Head and the Heart’s “Virginia (Wind in the Night)” because that’s also going to be a Top 10 song for them.
By Karen Glauber After two major anniversaries (my 30th sober birthday and my 32nd year at HITS), the only notable occasion last week was Rex Manning Day on 4/8 (for those who celebrate). It’s always fun to hear from Audacy’s Christy Taylor on this day, which, for the gratefully uninformed, commemorates the date of the Rex Manning (Maxwell Caufield) in-store in the 1995 movie Empire Records. It was the first soundtrack I’d ever worked on, and I’m grateful for my tiny contribution to an ongoing pop-culture phenomenon. I’ll be celebrating by taking Julian to see Cavetown, accompanied by Rob Goldklang and KROQ’s Miles Anzaldo. I’ll be the one in a mask. Congrats to St. Vincent for winning the Grammy for Alternative Album of the Year, a category she shared with Fleet Foxes, Halsey, Japanese Breakfast and Arlo Parks. One might surmise that the dominance of female voices in the Alternative category reflects a similar shift in Alternative radio. Currently, seven of the 40 most-played songs at Alternative have female lead singers. That’s an improvement from the usual 10% or less on a typical chart, but hardly reflective of the streaming power of female artists vs. male artists. I’m beyond “grateful” to The Sands Report for enlisting a male PD this week to tell other male PDs that it’s OK to play female artists. I’m a fan of the male PD, and it should be noted that he has supported songs by Snail Mail, Mitski, etc., but it felt like the female artists we champion on the radio and label sides can only be validated if a man does the talking. The biggest song in the world right now is “As It Was” by Harry Styles, which was added this week by Lisa Worden in Los Angeles and Laura Lee in Columbus. I’m rarely awake by the time the headliner is onstage at Coachella, but even if I’m nowhere near the stage, I’ll be there for Harry. Massive congratulations to Dan Connelly at Capitol for nearing Top 5 at Alternative with Bob Moses’ “Love Brand New.” Considering how packed the chart is with core artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Imagine Dragons, Muse, The Black Keys, Weezer, etc., this accomplishment feels especially extraordinary. Bravo! Props are also due Team Wilderado and our friends at Bright Antenna, as “Head Right” ascends to the Top 10. We love this song, and we love this team. Happy Wet Leg Day! Everybody’s favorite new band’s debut album, Wet Leg, is finally out! Last June, “Chaise Longue” was our collective answer to the question, “What new music should I be listening to?” The album’s other standout, “Wet Dream,” will be the next radio single, impacting 4/18. A song I’m obsessed with, Winder’s “Memory,” is this week’s Audacy “Pick of the Week,” hence its Top 35 debut. Looking at the boosted streams and Shazams from this exposure, this song should stick around beyond the feature. Next week’s “Pick of the Week” will be “Talk” by beabadoobee, which has over 3 million streams since release, and I know you’ll be with me when she plays Coachella on Sunday. Bishop Briggs, newly signed to Arista, has returned with a new song, “High Water,” written after the passing of her beloved sister Kate, whom many of us knew and adored. I cried at first listen. And second listen. And every listen since. DC101’s morning powerhouse, Elliot in the Morning, will now be heard on multiple Audacy stations, including WNYL NYC, beginning 4/11. Elliot, in addition to being a ratings juggernaut, has exceptional taste in music. The format needs to survive, by whatever means necessary, and I think it’s very clever of Mike Kaplan to incorporate a proven talent into his mix. I was thrilled to read about this summer’s Interpol/Spoon co-headlining tour. On the heels of the announcement, Interpol has released a new song, “Toni,” which you will love, while Spoon’s genius single “Wild” was added this week at 101X and WLUM. It was a big weekend of shows: Cavetown on Friday, Rina Sawayama on Saturday and Beach House on Sunday. I’ve been doing my best to feel “normal,” at least while I can.
By Karen Glauber As Women’s History Month nears its conclusion, I’ve been thinking about the women whose success, talent, leadership and generosity have been a beacon of inspiration throughout my life. My childhood idols were Gloria Steinem, Golda Meir, Billie Jean King and Patti Smith, who has been my self-designated “Higher Power” during my sobriety (which will be 30 years, as of 4/1). Once music emerged as my overwhelming passion (thank you, Patti and Todd Rundgren), my dream was to be either my favorite DJ, Meg Griffin (whom I still idolize, and am grateful to call a friend), or the late-great A&R genius Karin Berg, who not only introduced me to Alex Chilton in 1984 but was always generous with her time and stories, even though we worked at competing labels. My former A&M Records coworker Nancy Jeffries is a huge influence/guiding light, as are/were Rosemary Carroll, Barbara Skydel, Marsha Vlasic, Gail Colson Judy McGrath, Kate Bush, Lia Vollack, Michele Anthony, Jody Gerson, Michelle Jubelirer, Gillian Bar, Carole Kinzel, Solange, PJ Harvey, Gaby Skolnek, Amy Morgan, Jacqueline Saturn and many others. I’ve wondered, “What would (insert above name) do?” countless times during my career. During my tenure at a label, I’d wonder what my boss would do, and then do the exact opposite. This week, there was a luncheon honoring iHeart’s Lisa Worden, whom I’ve known since her days at RCA Records and EMI (somewhere, there’s a 1992 photo of Lisa and me in baby-doll dresses, flanking Tasmin Archer). Lisa segued from radio promotion to radio programming, just as Amber Miller—who’s also spent time on both sides of the conversation—now rules the programming roost at WRFF Philly. Columbia’s Lisa Sonkin and Virgin’s Marisa DiFrisco had successful radio careers before making the leap to the label side, while some of us (namely, me) programmed their college-radio station for four years and are confident that they are qualified to be the PD at KROQ. Listening to the Senate confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson for SCOTUS is a glaring reminder of how far we HAVEN’T come. Julian was in the car with me as I was screaming at the insulting and invasive questions (seriously, how dare they?) we were hearing, not to mention the pervasive mansplaining. Fuck those fucking fucks. I wanted the kid to hear it, since this is the world they will inherit. Are we (women) better off in the workplace than we were when I was coming up? Despite the post-#MeToo promotion of women to positions of authority, my gut still tells me that this was primarily done by men for the optics. Forgive my cynicism, but we women all know that the true mentoring is being done among each other. The rest of it is just talk and bravado. Since I’ve chosen to devote my career to the questionable pursuit of airplay for alternative artists, I want to acknowledge some of the women I’m proud to share the Modern Rock trenches with, including (off the top of my head) the aforementioned Lisa Sonkin and Marisa DiFrisco, Darice Lee, Amanda Dobbins, Christine Chiappetta, Amy Kaplan, my beloved Bri Aab, Julie Muncy, Risa Matsuki, Carlyn Kessler, Jen Daunt, Karen Moran-Thomas, Michelle Feghali, Tami Morrissey and Tracy, Bee Bop and Patti from Amplify, who are in the throes of setting up this year’s The Gathering. I haven’t been back to Cleveland since I left Oberlin College at the end of 1983 (way to go, Ohio), but I think a return to the “Mistake on the Lake” is in order this summer. The attendance should be massive, since enough time has elapsed for us to actually miss each other. My two favorite new songs this week are Beabadoobee’s “Talk” (excited to see her at Coachella) and Daisy the Great’s “Cry in the Mirror,” which Jenna was first to add at WSUN and WXXJ… I want to reiterate that Arcade Fire is the most important band Alternative radio will ever have the privilege to play. The shows last week in NYC reconfirmed this fact. On Saturday night, I finally met Brad Steiner, who will be moving to NYC from New Orleans to work with Mike Kaplan at Audacy. I have a new best friend.
By Karen Glauber A few weeks ago, I was on my way to pick my kid up at school, and I heard Windser’s “Memory” on SiriusXM’s Alt Nation. So what is this incredible song that reminds me of Peter Bjorn & John’s “Young Folks” but also is giving me the chills, like (and this is going way back) how I felt when I first heard Michael Penn’s “No Myth”? Turns out, Windser is a young band from Santa Cruz, and “Memory” is one of those extraordinary songs that Jeff Regan took a shot on that is now a hit for him. Because of this exposure, Windser’s agent was able to get them the first-of-three slot opening for alt-J and Portugal the Man. Nicole at KROQ played it during her show, and Jordan, the band’s singer and songwriter, was able to hear his song on the radio for the first time. Chills and thrills all the way around. I just heard Arcade Fire’s “The Lightning” on the radio for the first time! That band changed my life 18 years ago when I started working with them. After more than two years of self-deprivation isolation, I flew myself to NYC for the secret Arcade Fire show Friday night (3/18). Their new music will remind everybody why Arcade Fire is one of the most important bands in the history of Modern Rock. My last show before the pandemic was Patti Smith at the Disney Concert Hall on 3/6, 2020. Few performers are as quotable as Patti, and this was my favorite one from that night: “I read that it’s the month of the woman. That’s really nice and all, but being a girl myself, I thought, One fucking month?” So yes, Happy Women’s History Month! I will remind you, yet again, that it is the women in your audience who pick the hits. Also, the artists who shift culture, like Wet Leg and Phoebe Bridgers, were first championed by programmers like Lisa Worden, Jenna Kesneck, Amber Miller, Laura Lee, Michelle Rutkowski, Christine Malovetz, Shawn Lucero, Hilary Doneux, Christy Taylor, Tiffany Bentley, etc. (you know where I’m going with this). In honor of the strong, influential and charismatic women who drive this format, please give your undivided attention to new music from Florence + the Machine (“My Love” is an instant classic), Mitski, Snail Mail, Wallice, Metric and Beabadoobee, whose new single is out next week. Cannons had two Top 5 smashes this year, and girl in red has also had a career-defining year. It’s kind of terrifying to realize, but I’ve been promoting alternative music for almost 40 years. At no point, even when I was the only woman in the room (99% of the time), did it ever occur to me that I shouldn’t be there, ESPECIALLY when my presence unnerved the men (as it did during my tenure at a label). The advice I give to those half my age is “Be loud and take up space.” This is not a time for subtlety. Fuck that. The Lumineers’ “Where We Are” has become a serenity prayer for my kid and me, especially as the Covid numbers start to creep up again and the horror in the Ukraine continues. Uncertainty wreaks havoc on the central nervous system, as you’ve all experienced, and the repetition of the song’s chorus, “Where we are/I don’t know where we are/but it will be OK,” has had a soothing effect on my stressed-out household. Streaming numbers support my belief that this is the perfect song for the moment, as does early research from KKDO. By now, you’ve heard that Mike Kaplan is leaving his PD gig at KROQ to focus on WNYL and his role as Alternative Brand Manager at Audacy. Bravo to Mike for recognizing that his personal priorities carry weight. If anything, the pandemic has taught us that we are not defined by our jobs, no matter how hard we work or the gratification we feel from our successes. It’s the people in our lives who define who we are. Music is a vital outlet for our emotions, and this is an opportune time for programmers to focus on music that will make the audience feel something.
By Karen Glauber Armed with a negative PCR, two masks and a note from my doctor, I ventured out to The Echo on Wednesday night, in search of musical and emotional salvation in the form of a Spoon show, on the cusp of the release of their 10th album, Lucifer on the Sofa. “What a delight,” is the final line from the five-star review in The Guardian. “It’s the best thing they’ve ever done,” is included in the four-and-a-half star rave from Rolling Stone. How incredible to see friends in the flesh for the first time in nearly two years, including BeggarsBrien Terranova, SAM’s John Silva and Gaby Skolnek, Rob Goldklang from Warners and Greg Carr from Dirty Hit, plus KROQ’s Miles Anzaldo and Megan Holiday. “Wild,” the current single, sounded like an unmitigated hit, and another new song, “My Babe,” is one of the five best songs in Spoon’s extensive catalog. I went through the setlist this morning with 91X PD Garett Michaels, and he has had REAL radio hits with 13 of the band’s songs since I started working with them 17 years ago. Whenever I think about the artists who have defined me as a lifelong music fan and as someone who has done promotion since 1982, Spoon is always on that list. Do you ever think about the artists who define you personally and professionally? Shouldn’t you? Without them, what are we doing? Do I have to remind you that the format was founded on the concept of music discovery? Without discovery, or even the intention of building ongoing relationships with the artists you’ve chosen to champion, none of us will have jobs, because our format will be over. Obsolete. Label rosters are no longer robust with rock and alternative acts. Why make the investment when this genre doesn’t stream compared to others? The indie labels are releasing some of the most exciting music right now, but the costs of competition are prohibitive to most. Even when the proverbial playing field is relatively level, the opportunities for real airplay have been diminishing due to fewer slots for currents, the guaranteed failure of new music when subjected to a 10-second call-out hook and the abundance of new releases by “name artists.” I’m thrilled that the format’s biggest names have new music. Rob Goldklang couldn’t be busier right now—it’s like he’s running air traffic control at LAX during a holiday weekend, with Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Head and the Heart (I cried when he first played the new one for me), Liam Gallagher and the new Black Keys all poised to be chart-toppers. Meanwhile, new bands like Daisy the Great and Cannons are having a great run at the format, with Cannons positioned to have their second Top 5 single, driven by Lisa Sonkin and Darice Lee’s unwavering belief in the band. Scott Burton should also be heralded for steering Jack White’s “Taking Me Back” close to the top of the chart. Ted and I know the agony of peaking at #2 when either Imagine Dragons or twenty one pilots is locked at #1, and we hope our friend is spared this pain. Nearing the Top 20 is the best record from last year, which is, of course, Wet Leg’s “Chaise Longue.” The song is Top 20 Shazam in Los Angeles (of course it is). Spin leaders are 91X, WLUM, Music Choice, WEQX and KRXP, as one would expect. Big huzzahs to Lisa Worden for hiring Stryker for afternoons with Booker at ALT 98.7. Everybody loves Stryker. Everybody loves Booker. This is a glorious match. How cool is it that CD92.9 added IDLES’ “Crawl!” (on Partisan Records)? There are few bands as authentic and badass as these guys—it’s a much-needed mental palate cleanser. My favorite XMU song right now is “Walking at a Downtown Pace” by Parquet Courts. It’s a total groove. Parquet Courts has 1 million monthly listeners. Do you?
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