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POST TOASTED
THIS LIFE

By Karen Glauber

At every moment of the day, someone else’s lyrics are running through my head. More often than not, as I recently told Todd Rundgren, they’re his words (“Same here” was his not-unexpected response).

I was thrilled to relinquish the role of my life’s music supervisor this past weekend to Chris Muckley, whose SiriusXM/Pandora “Indie 500” countdown on the XMU channel was the most compelling radio I’ve heard in years. The Top 500 was based on more than a decade of XMU airplay and “thumbs up” ratings from Pandora listeners (Pandora is now under the SiriusXM umbrella). I recognized about 90% of the songs on the countdown within the first 30 seconds and could easily warble along to the Top 100. Every time a song that I worked came on the radio, I excitedly told my son, “Mommy worked this song!” Julian, who thinks about Minecraft most of the time, ignored me (although he does recognize Britt Daniel’s voice by now). So many Spoon songs on this countdown—I’ve worked at least 15 Spoon songs since “I Turn My Camera On” was released in 2005.

Because I know you’re wondering, here is the Top 10 from the Indie 500 countdown: #10 Vampire Weekend “A Punk,” #9 Arctic Monkeys “Do I Wanna Know?” #8 Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Maps,” #7 LCD Soundsystem “All My Friends,” #6 The Strokes “Last Night,” #5 Pixies “Where Is My Mind,” #4 Franz Ferdinand “Take Me Out,” #3 The Shins “New Slang,” #2 Modest Mouse “Float On,” and #1 Arcade Fire “Wake Up.” You can listen to the countdown on the SiriusXM app, which I still haven’t figured out how to use.

This week’s race for #1 at Modern Rock will likely go to Shaed’s “Trampoline” by a photo finish (pun intended) over Catfish and the Bottlemen’s “Longshot.” Congrats to the Caroline team, especially Marisa DiFrisco, for a job well done! Capitol’s Gary Gorman repeatedly proves that he’s the best at what he does.

Ted is on his way to Philadelphia for John AllersWRRF 12th Birthday Celebration. Instead of ponies and cupcakes, WRFF has assembled its biggest lineup to date, with The Lumineers, Death Cab for Cutie, Grouplove, Phantogram, The Revivalists, and more (including current U.K. chart-topper Lewis Capaldi). Ticket prices ranged from $39.50 to $100, and the show will be a sell-out at 24,000 tickets by tomorrow. If you build it, they will come. It helps that The Lumineers, moments away from another #1 Alt song with “Gloria,” haven’t played the market in two years, not to mention an incredibly strong lineup. Tiered ticketing for radio shows is key. WKQX’s upcoming Picniq, which also has The Lumineers headlining, is at more than 20k tickets sold. Keep in mind that both shows are coexisting with huge festivals coming to their markets: Firefly in Philly and Lollapalooza in Chicago. Give your audience what they want.

Speaking of Phantogram, Republic’s Amanda Dobbins and Drew Hauser dropped their brand-new single, “Into Happiness,” this morning! It’s soooo good!

Why are there no direct flights from LAX to Louisville? On June 12, I’ll be on a 6am flight (connecting in Dallas) to join you at The Gathering, which has replaced SXSW as the must-attend radio powwow for programmers. As the alcohol flows, so does the conversation, although I’m not sure what anyone remembers at the confab’s conclusion. I’m most excited to see these two bands: Cherry Glazerr and Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes. The latter's new single, “Crowbar,” is a one-listen smash. You will love them both. Last Wednesday, Andrew Harms, Chris Muckley, Spotify’s Allison Hagendorf and legend Matt Pinfield stood front-and-center with me at the sold-out Fonda Theatre to watch Ireland’s Fontaines D.C. open for recent Ivor Novello winners/Partisan Records labelmates Idles. Some of you might have seen Fontaines D.C. perform “Boys in the Better Land” on The Tonight Show, or, like Jeff Morad, caught them at SXSW and immediately added the song at WEQX. Remember seeing Arctic Monkeys on their first tour? The energy is comparable, and singer Grian Chatten is also a star, a la Alex Turner. They’ll be back in September for a headline tour.

SONGS IN MY HEAD: The Echo in the Canyon soundtrack from the Andy Slater-directed documentary of the same name. The Mamas & the Papas’ “Go Where You Wanna Go,” covered by Jakob Dylan f/Jade Castrinos, is one of the many highlights.

 


 
 
SAW LIGHTNING

By Karen Glauber

Dammit, the CBD pen my boss Lenny gave me rolled under the bed, and then I lost my grip on the hanger I was using to retrieve it. Maybe I can use a shoe to grab the hanger, but the only pair I brought with me to NYC is on my feet. I’m supposed to be at a cocktail party for the iHeart Rock and Alt programmers in 30 minutes—I have to find something more substantial to eat for dinner than the candy apple in my purse before I leave the apartment.

In the past few days, I’ve answered the question, “What do you do?” more than a few times. The answer is always some variation of “I try to redefine the mainstream by promoting left-of-center artists to radio programmers.” The follow-up response is usually, “Radio? Hmm… Is that still a thing?” Of course it is, I respond, always defensive about my beloved Alt-radio format.

Looking at Mediabase RealTime en route to the party, it’s heartening to see Billie Eilish’s “Bury a Friend” on track to be #1 this week. She’s the most important new artist in ages, without question, and this #1 means that the format got it “right” this time. I hope this is the first of many #1 Alt songs for Billie Eilish.

I’m stuck in traffic, so what else is interesting on RealTime? Two indie-label records are in the Top 10: The Lumineers’ “Gloria” and AJR’s “100 Bad Days,” the latter of which is a call-out smash for KTCL and KKDO, two stations with massive ratings. Also, “100 Bad Days” is streaming 2.5 million a week with only ONE format playing it, so pat yourselves on the back for a job well done, and put the record in Power now…

Vampire Weekend’s latest album, Father of the Bride, debuted at #1, selling the equivalent of 138k+, bolstered by rave reviews, a pending tour and radio support for “Harmony Hall,” which is still my favorite song of 2019. Their new single “This Life” is out now and should be an automatic at the format. Columbia’s Lisa Sonkin and Darice Lee were #1 Most Added this week with “Blame It on My Youth,” blink-182’s first single for their new label. If I ever get out of this Uber, I’ll be toasting Lisa and Darice, because Dominic Fike’s “3 Nights” was just announced as iHeart’s latest On the Verge record! What an incredible week this has been for our Columbia friends!

My pal Matt Malone is the new PD at WQMP Orlando, where he will continue to post photos of his cat on social media. Matt is a giant among men and a super-smart programmer.

I can’t get Panic! At the Disco’s “High Hopes” out of my head—or “our song,” as I refer to it with WRDA PD Aly Young… How much do you love Of Monsters and Men’s “Alligator?” It reminds me of Sinead O’Connor’s “Mandinka,” which was a hit when you were a toddler… On the cusp of breaking wide open is Smith & Thell’s “Forgive Me Friend” on Arista. The signs are all there, although we know what a slog it is trying to break a new artist during radio-show season. Or any season, for that matter.

Earlier today, John Varvatos (a true rock star) and Heather Luke (a rock goddess) presented Badflower to a room filled with our radio partners. After the band performed “Promise Me,” the response was unequivocally, “I get it now.” What the programmers in the room didn’t see was Johnny Galecki standing side stage to support his favorite band, mere hours before the series finale of The Big Bang Theory aired. Promise me you’ll give this record a shot!

Secretly Canadian’s current and upcoming release schedule includes an array of incredible artists, most of whom happen to be women: Sharon Van Etten, Cherry Glazerr, Bleached (which Allers said did well during a test spin on WRFF!) and Alex Lahey. As I told Secretly’s Bri Aab: Behind every great woman is a great woman. Go forth and kick ass, my female friends, and don’t ever let men decide what you do with your body, your career, your choice to have children (or not), or how you should present yourself to the world. I’ve got your back, always.


 
 
ABOUT A GIRL

By Karen Glauber

Twenty-five years ago today, I called my boyfriend in NYC from a pay phone at Burbank Airport, moments before boarding my flight to Seattle for a Sub Pop weekend. He worked at Gold Mountain at that time, and, through tears, told me that Kurt Cobain had died. My next call was to Bob Waugh at WHFS—we’d attended many Nirvana shows together, including the taping of MTV Unplugged, and he was the first station in the country to play “Heart Shaped Box,” which I’d hand-delivered from the U.K., days before the U.S. release.

The weekend in Seattle was surreal and so sad—my own history with Sub Pop involved loaning Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt money ($40k) to keep the label afloat, which went toward the making of Tad’s 8-Way Santa and Nirvana’s Bleach. The Tad album cost four times what Bleach did, for whatever that’s worth. Ted Volk and I worked “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at radio—he was at the label; I was at HITS. The Modern Rock format was borne from the youthquake incited by Kurt, Mark Arm, Chris, Eddie, Andrew, Billy, Layne, Mark Lanegan, etc.

I knew Kurt—not well, but we’d circled the same orbit for years—somewhere there’s a photo with his hands around my neck, while the band Eugenius made goofy faces in the background.  Now, it seems mandatory that Modern Rock stations have to play a Nirvana song every hour, thereby turning the music that once defined a generation into background sonic wallpaper. So much for our “edge.”

Dave Grohl, whose daughters are superfans, compared Billie Eilish’s impact on her audience to the early days of Nirvana, whose fans existed outside of the mainstream but kept growing exponentially as Kurt’s music provided the voice for a generation. Half of the Top 20 on the iTunes Alt singles chart is made up of Billie Eilish songs. It’s unfathomable to me that the format hasn’t fully recognized that she, and artists like her, are the key to radio’s future. I feel like a broken record, but most PDs (and consultants) have lost the plot.

This week marks my 29th anniversary at the “career cul-de-sac” known as HITS. I remember when the format didn’t want to play Pearl Jam, or countless other bands now considered core artists. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you will eventually “come around to my way of thinking,” to quote Urge Overkill, but damn, you sure make it soul-crushing sometimes.

Also this week, I celebrated 27 years of sobriety. The key to navigating social situations while clear-eyed was easy—plan an exit strategy immediately upon arrival.

Thursday at midnight, Dualtone launched “Gloria,” the first Lumineers single from their upcoming album III. Lori, Ted and I shared radio airplay “first alerts” until way past our bedtimes, beginning again early this morning. The response to the single has been unequivocally enthusiastic, which is always a relief.

Heather Luke and Allison Smith are out with a new Badflower single called “Promise Me,” which is already being played on WEBN, KROQ, KITS, KTBZ and KPNT, among others. It’s one of those rare rock records that can also flourish on the West Coast as well as the “Red States.” Even the PDs whose taste aligns more to the left (like mine) see the potential of this song. Very exciting!

Two songs out now should make you feel like winter is finally over: Dominic Fike’s “3 Nights” (nearing 900 spins at SiriusXM Alt Nation) and Smith & Thell’s “Forgive Me Friend.” Now, if I wasn’t stuck in bed with the same flu that has plagued me since January.

Mumford & Sons’ “Beloved” is already Top 20, on the heels of their massive sold-out tour, during which they’ve done radio sessions, in-store performances and myriad meet-and-greets with radio dignitaries. Last Friday, Marcus Mumford and CumulusTroy Hanson exuded greatness as they posed for a snapshot (at top) prior to Mumford’s sold-out show at the United Center. Glassnote’s Nick Petropolous was on hand to capture the magic.

SONG TO HEAR: Judah & the Lion “Why Did You Run?” 


 
 
HEAVENLY POP HIT

By Karen Glauber

I returned from SXSW with the same crud that has kept many of my coworkers bedridden for weeks. We were commanded to stay home at the first sign of sickness, but I’ve been feeling crappy for almost a week, so I’m in the office, loopy from a half-dose of my 10-year-old son’s cough medicine. I pride myself on being a linear thinker. Not this week.

A radio programmer was heard complaining about this year’s SXSW because they had to pay for their own meals on one or two occasions. If I didn’t see you at the C3 party, or at Lynn Barstow’s 101X party at Buffalo Billiards, then we likely missed each other. Lynn has been curating a showcase for his listeners for many years, and this year’s lineup of Belle MT, Judah & the Lion, Mobley, Mansionair, Sam Fender and Flora Cash packed them in. It’s incredibly valuable for what we do as promotion people to see the response from listeners—Judah & the Lion were the clear stars of the showcase, but the audience knew every word to Flora Cash’s “You’re Somebody Else” (always gratifying), and newcomer Belle MT’s breakout song “Hollow” left an indelible impression on those in attendance. Also, I love Lynn Barstow.

For me, SXSW is about music discovery. God bless Jeff Morad from WEQX, who returned home from Austin and promptly added two of the bands he fell in love with: Melbourne’s Amyl and the Sniffers and U.K. band Squid. I fell in love with Partisan’s Fontaines D.C. on my first night out, and my passion for them grew with the other three sets I managed to see them play. “You remind me of going to see The Fall when Mark E. Smith still had teeth,” was the comment I made to Fontaines D.C. singer Grian Chatten. They’ll be touring the States in May with IDLES. I spent all day Friday at The Current’s day party with PD Jim McGuinn, happily falling in love with Dylan Cartlidge, Cherry Glazerr, The Beths, Sam Fender and the aforementioned Fontaines D.C. The artists’ sets were being broadcast live on The Current’s website, available to the world, and, according to a friend who was listening, my laugh was audible (for that I apologize).

The anticipatory anxiety kicks in the night before my yearly panel, even after decades of moderating. Sleep? Not a chance. Thankfully, Matthew Caws from Nada Surf has assumed the role of wingman/co-moderator after 10 years of being by my side. Mac McCaughan from Superchunk (taking a selfie with me above) is another regular, and Clem from Cherry Glazerr, Andrew W.K. and Martin Phillipps from The Chills agreed to perform on the panel, the topic of which was songwriting. Having Martin there was a thrill—I’d tried to sign The Chills at A&M Records when Kaleidoscope World was out, to no avail, but I’ve remained a lifelong fan. After an extended break to deal with nearly life-ending hepatitis C (now untraceable, thanks to a miracle drug developed in New Zealand) and alcoholism (now sober), Martin and the band received a hero’s welcome in Austin, including being named the 2019 SXSW Grulke Prize winner for Career Act. We closed the panel with an audience singalong to The Chills’ biggest radio hit, “Heavenly Pop Hit,” followed by the Andrew W.K. classic “Party Hard,” and a wonderful time was had by all.

The Grulke Prize for Developing Non-U.S. Act was awarded to Dualtone’s Angie McMahon—her incredible set on Friday night was my first glimpse of an artist I’m excited to champion.

Remember when radio programmers were the REAL “influencers,” instead of a 19-year-old whose parents bought her way into USC? (How dare you question that I got into Oberlin on a football scholarship.) Seriously, radio friends, you’ve lost the plot. Where is your influence? You’re letting the streaming services lead the way—I guess you figure that you’ll take credit for breaking the record, regardless of when you add it. Still, I’d be doing my best to avoid being one of those stations that gets flipped to “The New Generation of Classic Rock,” as that appears to be a real threat. Take the reins, dammit!

I remember seeing The Lumineers for the first time at SXSW in 2012. “Ho Hey” had a few spins at Alt radio when the band headed into Austin, most notably from KNDD, which was the first commercial Alt station to play the band. On April 5, The Lumineers will release the first single from their new album. I can’t wait for you to hear it.


 
 
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