HITS Daily Double

By Karen Glauber

It’s been an interesting few weeks musically, at least for me. My dream/vision quest of having Peter Frampton in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame came true, although when I met him recently, the news was still a secret. I haven’t been to Cleveland since 1983—I’ll be back for his induction into the Hall of Fame in October.

Post-pandemic, I’m still skittish about being in crowded places, like, say, Coachella, but the kid wanted to go, and I wanted to see The Japanese House and Bleachers. I think it was overwhelming for both of us, but just as we were hitting our stride (I was able to see Blur), it was time to head home. My kid wants to go again next year. We’ll see.

Many of us who have attended Coachella since the first year have thought to ourselves, “I might be too old for this shit.” After you’ve attended 10 or more Coachellas, do they hand you a golden wristband and ask you to move on? Retire your bandana and segue into next week’s Cruel World? For the uninitiated, Cruel World is a Goldenvoice festival in Pasadena that features early KROQ bands and others that fit into the genre, like Interpol and DREAMCAR. I’m most excited to see Simple Minds, a band I brought to KROQ in the ’80s.

The following weekend, Goldenvoice is presenting the Just Like Heaven festival on the same site, with newer alt bands including Phoenix, Death Cab for Cutie, The War on Drugs, Alvvays and Be Your Own Pet, etc.; something for the indie kids who used to go to Coachella. This is my dream alternative lineup—basically the playlist for WWCD, may they rest in peace. Owner Randy Malloy pulled the plug on the station after 24 years. We did everything possible to keep the station on the air—the only thing missing was $1 million to keep it going. You can’t take these stations for granted—who else was making bands like IDLES and Fontaines D.C. as big as blink-182 and Green Day in Columbus? PD Laura Lee did an incredible job of programming, and MD Tom Butler was truly the heart and soul of the station. If you continue to play the best new music, your audience evolves with you, and the bands that might seem too left-field for a mainstream audience are already part of the fabric of the station, thanks to generations of programmers that included Andyman, Lesley James, Mase and Laura. I have to believe that Randy will rise again. Sigh.

Ted and I spend a lot of time talking to our label peers—the ones who are left, anyway—about the lack of room for new music and the frustrations of hitting a wall when you know you have a hit song. “There’s always next week” is the advice I’ve often given. No matter how defeated you are on a Tuesday, it starts up again on Wednesday. The key to one’s sanity, I believe, is staying interested in the process. What if PDs have lost interest in the process, we all ask each other? What if they all decide that Classic Alternative is the way to go? Smart for our promo friends to explore other formats.

I envy my friends who do Non-Comm radio. What fun to talk to people like Jim McGuinn and Matt Donohue about new music! How great to spend time in Philly next week at the Non-Commvention, seeing artists like beabadoobee, Lo Moon, Been Stellar and Red Clay Strays, all on the same night! I’m going down with the ship—I started at the beginning of the Alternative format and I’ll be rearranging the deck chairs when it all falls apart. Just give me another five years, please.

On the latest Taylor Swift record, there’s a song called “Guilty as Sin,” which begins with this lyric: “Drowning in the Blue Nile/ He sent me ‘Downtown Lights’/ I hadn’t heard it in a while... Am I allowed to cry?” My all-time favorite (albeit obscure) band is mentioned in a Taylor song! If I was a Non-Comm or Triple A programmer, I’d play the Blue Nile’s “The Downtown Lights,” which has had a million new streams since Taylor’s album release. Wild!

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