HITS Daily Double

By Karen Glauber

Let’s start off with the ch-ch-ch-changes in Modern Rock that occurred this past week. Mike Killabrew is the new Director of Rock Programming at Alternative DC101 and Classic Rock WBIG, replacing James Howard, who made the move to Chicago. Mike’s departure from Indianapolis, where he wore many hats, leaves a hat-rack-sized hole that many will be vying to fill. Also in iHeart-land, we were disappointed to hear that ALT106.7 in Detroit is now WLLZ, a well-known rock brand for decades. Gone is the Alternative format, but Casey Krukowski will stay on as PD of “The Next Generation of Classic Rock,” (a moniker that could be applied to half the reporting stations on the Alternative panel), and, fingers crossed, there will be another Alt station in the market before too long.

We also hear that WFUZ PD Phil Kukawinski is exiting for a new gig in a market where many of us will be gathering in June. There is now an opening in Scranton, Pa., which we referred to as the “big city” when I was growing up in Easton...

ALT SF’s Aaron Axelsen just added midday duties, along with diaper duties, as the new shift was announced just weeks after the birth of his son, Max Austen. No word if he’s branded his nights at home with baby Max as “Poopscene.”

Lots of chatter about a certain indie’s “land grab,” as he’s now controlling seven stations, each with a bounty of at least $1k for the add, with additional tiers for real airplay. With the format playing so few currents, he’s merely capitalizing on what the market is willing to bear for call letters on a Tuesday. It’s simple economics. As long as overnight airplay counts the same as regular dayparts, and as long as a spin on an HD2 station in a market without an airport counts the same as a spin in a Top 10 market, there will be labels willing to pay, even in tertiary markets, where the station’s dream of a 1.0 share is an unattainable fantasy. This is truly the sound of one hand clapping, folks. Either the chart-makers need to recognize that overnight spins mean nothing (except as a boost for MScores), or our label friends need to stop spending like drunken sailors on shore leave every week.

At the end of the day, the songs that stream are the ones that have the best shot of becoming radio hits. My friend Richard Sands, who I truly adore, gave up his column this week to a consultant who cited Lord Huron’s “The Night We Met,” a song that came out almost four years ago, as an example of a streaming success that deserved airplay. Said consultant will likely weep when lovelytheband’s “broken” falls off the chart this week after 68 weeks. Too soon! Too soon!

Maybe next year he’ll realize that Billie Eilish, who I first saw last year at SXSW (because my friend’s 13-year-old daughter was already obsessed and demanded that we go), is the future of the format. It’s a fucking slap in the face when this guy is quoted as saying, “I feel like Alternative music has been struggling lately.” Kiss my ass. Or better yet, meet me in Austin next week and see the artists who are already defining the future.

The Alt format was built on the foundation of music discovery. Streaming is one of the best tools we have to identify future hits, but it’s also absolutely the case that airplay boosts streaming: AJR’s “100 Bad Days” is generating more than 2 million streams a week, and we’re just hitting the Top 20 at Alternative. The streaming for Flora Cash’s “You’re Somebody Else” exploded after John Allers gave it the nod at WRFF.

To celebrate Sharon Van Etten’s sold-out run in Chicago, Bri Aab from Secretly Canadian, Amy Kaplan from Mick Management and I invited women from the format for the first-ever female-only Alternative radio junket (pictured above). It was an incredible event that I expect will be the first of many. The following week, there was a Rock/Alt radio convention whose activities included machine-gun shooting at a range. This was in Las Vegas, the site of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Unbelievable.

SONG TO HEAR: Dominic Fike’s “Three Nights.”

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