HITS Daily Double

Thirty years ago today, my best friend Jill and I attended Live Aid at JFK Stadium in Philly. We both worked at A&M Records, and two of the label's acts were on the bill: Simple Minds and Bryan Adams. Given that we worked in a department called “Special Projects” (another phrase for “You Matter Not”), we were allocated one VIP pass and one hospitality pass, between us. Within a few hours, and through the generosity of Simple Minds (for whom we mattered a lot), Jill and I had upgraded our situation to all-access onstage passes. The highlight of my day was cupping Robert DeNiro’s backside in the “Artist Elevator” (it was crowded—he never suspected it was me). Thirty years later, my best friend is married to Elliot Easton from The Cars, one of the musicians we watched from the side of the stage…

My desk is covered with photos from the past 25 years of my HITS tenure; I’m waist-deep in assembling a special issue commemorating this milestone. Besides my shrink, HITS is my longest L.A. relationship. Mike Tierney is a constant presence in these photos—he’s worked everywhere and has done everything; his CV is as impressive as his wealth of knowledge. I’ve always assumed that I was the Zelig of Modern Rock, but I have the photographic evidence that proves otherwise…

Nine years ago, I had a meeting at CBS Radio in NYC to pitch my idea of a “Rock for Girls” format (although not at the exclusion of male listeners—I pitched a 60% female/40% male target demo). At that time, the CW network had launched, providing programming for the consumer demo with the most disposable income: Ffemales 18-25. The ads that ran during Gilmore Girls, America’s Next Top Model, Veronica Mars and later Gossip Girl were for items that cost less than $20—makeup, hair products, soft drinks, with the exception of Honda, which had introduced a line of cars specifically targeting that demo. I wanted to launch the station in the “Research Triangle” of Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, with Leslie Fram as PD, Sean Demery as MD and I’d be the van driver/sales manager. One point I kept emphasizing was how this audience was the first to embrace new artists and, through word-of-mouth, the true “hits” quickly emerged. Death Cab for Cutie and Vampire Weekend could sell out huge venues, packed with high school kids, before they even had radio success. Needless to say, I wasn’t particularly successful in persuading a group of men to embrace the idea of programming rock music for women. Sigh…

With the arrival of YouTube and iTunes, the early-adopters are now even younger: females 12-18. My 14-year-old niece was telling me about Halsey months ago. My 11-year-old cousin is already OBSESSED (her words and emphasis) with Aurora, a new Glassnote signing. Although the Modern Rock format remains targeted at males 25-34, with the proliferation of pop-leaning songs being played, it’s now the females that determine the hits. Halsey’s new song, “New Americana,” was first played by Zane Lowe on Beats 1, followed quickly by KTCL, 98.7, KROQ, Live105 and WLUM. Just as Beck surges towards #1, the Capitol gang has another smash on its hands. Here’s the thing: If you, male PD, heard “New Americana” in your office, you’d probably say it was, “too young, too pop, too this, too that,” thereby dismissing the song that will probably be the summer’s biggest hit. Personally, the mention of “medical marijuana” in the song makes me feel ancient. Why? Go ask Alice. Regardless, I can read the fucking tea leaves (social media) and know how big this will be. Remember, it’s about being right…

How thrilled were we to learn that our beloved Glass Animals’ “Black Mambo” had been chosen as the music for the new iPhone commercial? We were so excited, that we immediately texted Jacqueline Saturn from our flip phone!...

Congrats to Rob Goldklang on his incredible launch of the new Atlas Genius single, “Molecules.” You guys like it, you really like it!! I remain OBSESSED (my emphasis) with Phases’ “I’m in Love With My Life.”…

I’ve kept this column rumor-free, but many changes are afoot in the world of Modern Rock. That’s it, for now.

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