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TAYLOR FINAL
Another record, another record broken. (11/18a)
TIM & FAITH AND TAYLOR, OH MY
The supercouple are due to debut with... (11/18a)
THE FOUR: CW TO GET HIS CLOSE-UP (UPDATE)
Charlie is ready for prime time. (11/17a)
GERSON ON BREAKING THE GLASS CEILING
The trailblazer talks. (11/17a)
THE GRAMMY TELECAST WILL HONOR THE DEPARTED (BUT PLEASE, GOD, NO MORE)
Who will get a special tribute on the telecast? (11/17a)
GRAMMY SHOCKERS
You just wait.
WHAT WAS ON THAT PIZZA?
I think I'm hallucinating.
WHO WILL DOMINATE THE HOLIDAYS?
Stockings await.
MAJOR EXEC SHUFFLE
The deals aren't done yet, but when they are? Hoo-boy.
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POST TOASTED: HOW SOON IS NOW?

Just when I’d resigned myself to writing yet another column admonishing the Modern Rock format for its lack of commitment to new artists, Lenny appeared in my office with news of Lisa Worden’s new gig. “I have the biggest scoop in the world,” was his intro, which caught my attention even while I was searching online for a presale code to the upcoming Ian Anderson Presents: JETHRO TULL 50th Anniversary Tour. He told me that Lisa, my dear friend, was leaving KROQ to be the National Alternative Brand Manager for iHeart and VP of Programming for Alt 98.7 Los Angeles! This is a newly created position for the company, which gives Lisa oversight of 25 iHeart Alternative stations.

To say this is a game-changer for the format AND for women in the music business is a vast understatement.

Let’s acknowledge Lisa’s 22-year tenure at KROQ, where her loyalty to the station and to Kevin Weatherly was irrefutable. She, Kevin and now-departed APD Gene Sandbloom were radio’s strongest team, and the toughest to impress. The Tuesday afternoon call with the three of them on a speakerphone, informing you of your add at KROQ, was the single best call in the business. The power of KROQ is undeniable, and Lisa played a critical role in keeping the station’s brand at the forefront of the industry: She rightfully insisted that KROQ always deserved the seat at the head of the table and worked tirelessly on the station’s behalf—another vast understatement.

Tom Poleman and his fellow executives have often spoken about the impact of iHeart Alternative on music, culture and lifestyle, yet, in my opinion, a large chunk of those stations have been responsible (irresponsible?) for thwarting the success of artists who would’ve (should’ve) had #1 songs at Modern Rock. When Lenny asks me why a song didn’t go Top 10/Top 5/#1 at the format, the answer is always the same: There were 8-10 iHeart guys who wouldn’t play it. This is a format without a consensus—there is never that point where a song is a big enough hit to warrant format-wide support. iHeart’s On the Verge platform ensures support on a national level, and their success rate of picking hits is unparalleled. It’s just one of the many national platforms the radio group has in its arsenal, plus an incredible roster of exceptionally talented programming superstars like John Allers, Mike Kaplan, Nerf, Aly Young and Dustin Matthews, among others. I am so excited to see what Lisa will do in her new role, although not nearly as excited as she is! Did I happen to mention what a game-changer this is for the format?

This morning, Entercom proclaimed, “I’m back, bitch,” with the launch of TWO major market Modern Rock stations! ALT 92.3, New York’s New Alternative, flipped from AMP at 10:00 AM EST commencing with a playlist of 10,000 songs commercial-free. An hour later, ALT 103.7, DFW’s New Alternative launched in Dallas, also playing 10,000 songs commercial-free. I’ve heard Alice Merton, AJR, Bishop Briggs and The Lumineers’ “Angela,” among the currents being played. All hail Entercom’s David Field for his belief in the Modern Rock format! Will Boston be next? The other question that needs answering is who will be the PDs for NYC and Dallas? Also, who will replace Lisa at KROQ? Matt Smith occupied the chair when Lisa left to program WHFS for two years, but that was many years ago. Who is capable of stepping into the most coveted MD/APD gig in radio? Who among us hasn’t fantasized about having that job?

DO YOU APPRECIATE HOW MUCH THE LANDSCAPE HAS CHANGED THIS WEEK? Seriously, last week we were being told by our bosses that our format doesn’t matter—our “hits” don’t stream like hip-hop and pop, our bands don’t cross over (Portugal. The Man and Imagine Dragons were ALWAYS pop bands, in their revisionist view), we are the bastard stepchildren of radio, etc. It’s a new ballgame today: Two of the biggest radio groups have made a big investment in the format’s future, while Cumulus has been expanding its Alternative footprint for the past few years. ALSO, SiriusXM has named Chris Muckley PD of XMU, which is my absolute favorite radio station. So much more will be revealed in the days ahead…


 
 
PUT YOUR MONEY ON ME

If it’s a blustery Monday in October, and Arcade Fire is playing at the United Center in Chicago, then I must be there.

It’s been 13 years and a few weeks since my first Arcade Fire show at the Mercury Lounge in NYC. The occasion for the show was CMJ, but I had stopped going to the conference a few years prior after decades of perfect attendance. I was invited to see them by Mac and Laura from Merge Records because I had worked the Superchunk single “Hyper Enough” to Modern Rock radio, with some commercial success.

Since that night in 2004, Arcade Fire has been my favorite band. Mac said I could work the record at radio, and I picked “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” as the first single. I’m pretty sure I didn’t charge him (don’t tell my bosses), since indie bands weren’t having much success at the format during that time—Linkin Park, Green Day, our then-management clients Hoobastank, Three Days Grace, U2 and Incubus were the bands that dominated the airwaves. Nevertheless, we persisted (as the saying goes), and I will always credit Live105 PD Sean Demery, along with Aaron Axelsen, plus staffers Miles Anzaldo and Derek Madden, for loving this band enough to make “Rebellion (Lies)” the station’s most-played song of that year.

The signature song from Funeral, “Wake Up,” had little success as a radio single in real time. Rather, it became an “anthem” after its use in the trailer for Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are in 2009. The band’s biggest radio hits have been “Ready to Start” from The Suburbs (2011 Grammy winner for Album of the Year) and “Everything Now,” the title song from the band’s Columbia Records debut. I’ve worked at least 15 of their singles to radio and it’s always disheartening (heartbreaking, really) that Arcade Fire isn’t considered an “automatic” at the format. Radio matters. Failure to recognize bands that matter makes radio less vital. The new single “Creature Comfort” should get its due at radio because it’s fucking incredible, and, as WXRT MD John Farneda proclaimed to me at the show, one of the standout songs of the night. I joke with Brady Bedard that the radio guys are waiting for an engraved invitation before they play a record. Let me know to whom that invitation should be addressed, and I’ll send it out immediately.

After Ted or I have a particularly frustrating conversation with a PD, we’ll walk into the other’s office and express how we should find a station to program. Boston would be an opportune market to make an impression, while I’ve always wanted to run a Modern Rock station in the Chapel Hill/Durham area. Programming my non-existent station is comparable to my friends who play in fantasy football leagues, except I use the Mediabase chart to determine my stats. Unlike sports fans, I can “game” the system a bit by choosing the right songs to work/bet on.

 if you’re absolutely, on-the-money, unequivocally RIGHT at least three times
per year, your career will prosper.

Like I always tell you, if you’re absolutely, on-the-money, unequivocally RIGHT at least three times per year, your career will prosper. For the last few months, I’ve declared Alice Merton’s “No Roots” and AJR’s “Sober Up” to be the two singles by new artists that are smashes. The metrics are there: Shazam, streams and sales. “No Roots” is nearing Top 10 and “Sober Up” is touching Top 20, so yep, I’m right. I also told you that The Lumineers’ “Angela” was a fall song, and, sure enough, as temperatures dropped, call-out heated up. As of today, “Angela” is the #1 Greatest Gainer for the week, with a dozen bumps to Power. Ignore at your own peril…. Reading the tea leaves, I believe that Howard P. has a huge hit on his hands with Odesza’s “Line of Sight.” The group is currently playing multiple sold-out arena shows in every market. Ask yourself this: Would you rather have points on this record or the “radio” band that, even after months of airplay, can’t sell 300 tickets in your market?

The new Bishop Briggs single, “Dream,” which was co-written by one of my best friends (Dan Wilson), showcases her otherworldly talent and will be an even bigger hit than “River.”  Don’t doubt me.


 
 
YOU WRECK ME

By Karen Glauber

“It’s alright if you love me/It’s alright if you don’t/I’m not afraid of you running away/Honey, I get the feeling you won’t.” Who wrote better first lines than Tom Petty? I remember being completely enthralled by “Breakdown” when I was 16, driving to school in my ’72 Impala. His vocal cadence on that song reminded me of Peter Sellers as Inspector Closeau in the Pink Panther movies—a blast to sing along with while high, skiing on ice and rocks in the Poconos. I quickly claimed “American Girl” as MY song when my friends and I first heard it; it was important to have “signature” songs at that age.

My love of Tom Petty’s music never wavered, even at my most “indie.” As much as I hated arena shows, it was an unforgettable thrill to see two bands I was close to, The Del Fuegos and The Replacements, open shows for Petty. Nobody in my group was ever too indie or too punk to appreciate Tom Petty. Neil Young was the only other artist who was equally untouchable. “Even the Losers,” “The Waiting,” “Free Fallin’” and “Walls” helped me work through some dark times.

I became familiar with “Walls” fairly recently, when The Lumineers were asked to perform it at last year’s MusiCares dinner honoring Petty, which I attended as the band’s guest. The highlight was the six-song set Petty performed, ending with “Running Down a Dream.” I’ve listened to his music nonstop since Oct. 2, and this is the lyric I can’t get out of my brain: “Out in the great wide open, a rebel without a clue.” RIP…

Lesley James has been PD at WWCD in Columbus since 2010, after her first civilian guest-DJ shot in 2004. Last week, Lesley called her nearest and dearest to let them know that she was resigning as PD, due to reasons beyond her control, but would be retaining her afternoon airshift. Mase, formerly of WKZQ and current CD1025 staffer, will be taking on the PD gig soon. Lesley stepped into the seemingly impossible-to-fill shoes of Andyman following his untimely passing, and built the station upon his legacy to even greater heights, including sold-out shows in Columbus’s biggest venues, and having a series of A-list bands AND new talent performing in the “Big Room” for their loyal listeners. When Lesley jumped on a record, I trusted her research as a barometer of the song’s potential success in bigger markets: Her metrics on Tame Impala’s “Elephant” gave me the confidence to work the song at Modern Rock, where it reached Top 10. Whatever Lesley chooses to do next, wherever she chooses to go, she will be a star…

While you PDs are complaining about the lack of “hits” currently available to you, you might want to consider these, which are truly bona fide: 1) Alice Merton’s “No Roots.” This song is a certifiable smash, generating Top 10 Shazam stats in every market within the first week of airplay. It’s currently #13 on the iTunes Alternative chart—consider this your gift of the year, because “No Roots” is only going to get bigger. Please call David Jacobs at Mom + Pop and thank him profusely. 2) AJR “Sober Up." Gotta hand it to Nerf on this one—this single has been Top 10 in sales, streams and Shazams since he added it. Now, Nerf is 250 spins in, and WRFF PD John Allers has such confidence in this record that I anticipate an iHeart chainwide reaction to happen very soon. Whatever preconceived notions you may or may not have about this band, abandon them now. The same can be said about 3) Post Malone “rockstar.” The #1 streaming song on the planet hasn’t had a radio format “claim” it yet. Every millennial knows this song—what’s the risk in giving it a shot? The song is called “rockstar,” and isn’t that just what you claim the format is missing?...

Belated congrats to KNDD PD Leslie Scott on being selected as the inaugural “mentee” for the MIW-Nielsen Music Mentoring Program! This one-year mentorship matches Leslie with key mentors from both the MIW Radio Group and Nielsen Music. Leslie was selected from a field of 40 candidates. Go forth and kick ass, Leslie!

 


 
 
EVERYTHING NOW

By Karen Glauber

Win Butler (second from right) with SiriusXM’s Jeff Regan, Columbia's Brady Bedard and SiriusXM's Rob Cross 

Nan Fisher was the first one to tell me nearly two years ago that I would hit it off with Brady Bedard, newly anointed as Columbia’s VP, Alternative & Rock Promotion. “He’s a good kid,” she said, which, from her, constitutes high praise. I certainly don’t need to remind Nan that she once occupied the same position at Columbia—our friendship is too important to me—rarely mentioning the two weeks that “Butterfly” by Crazy Town was #1 because of her efforts. Sadly, 2001 was a bleak, scary time for many, many reasons, and the music played on Modern Rock radio was a reflection of that. Brady and I immediately bonded over our shared love of legendary Minneapolis radio station Rev105: I was at HITS, promoting records to Kevin Cole and Shawn Stewart.

Brady was still a teen back then, and his taste was formed by the music he heard on the station. Didn’t most of us grow up with a local radio station that sparked our love of certain bands? For me, it was WSAN, a progressive AM station in Allentown, PA, and WNEW in NYC. Were it not for WSAN, my ongoing Todd Rundgren obsession wouldn’t have been realized. Brady is a student of ’80s indie rock, and, hallelujah, I’ve found the one person who isn’t completely bored by my firsthand account of that era.

Once Arcade Fire signed to Columbia worldwide, Brady took command of my favorite band’s Modern Rock radio campaign, just as I had been for the previous four records. I like to believe that I’m still part of their inner circle, but it’s Brady who has been in the trenches. “Everything Now” is one of the band’s most successful radio hits, with the biggest radio chains supporting the song in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, the glaring lack of support from a certain radio consultant (whom I refer to as “the format killer”) kept “Everything Now” from its deserved place in the Modern Rock Top 10.  The album debuted at #1! The song is a legitimate hit at most of the stations playing it! Following the band’s Madison Square Garden show, the N.Y. Daily News posted this lede: “Arcade Fire prove they’re still the world’s best band at MSG show.”

It’s unfathomable that this band isn’t an “automatic” for the format. During one of our daily conversations a few months ago, after a particularly frustrating Tuesday, Brady was laughing when he repeated words I’d forgotten I’d said: “There’s no part of radio promotion that’s any fun. But radio is still, unequivocally, the number one way to expose artists. You sell more records through radio than any other means.” He was reading to me from Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, specifically the chapter about Arcade Fire, written by John Cook, with Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance, in 2009. Brady sent a photo (seen here) of him and Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, SiriusXM’s Jeff Regan and Rob Cross, taken after Win’s interview with Jenny Eliscu last Tuesday. That was fun to see. If Modern Rock embraces the next single, “Creature Comfort” en masse, that will be fun.

A year ago today (in fact), Brady and my favorite new band Lo Moon released their first single, “Loveless.” This week, Alt Nation added the band’s follow-up, “This is It.” Of course this song should already be on dozens of Modern Rock stations—now THAT would be fun. Almost as fun as falling into a pair of tickets to see Springsteen on Broadway, in fact.

So many “ifs” in this climate: IF ratings truly measured real audience. IF MScores measured anything empirical. IF programmers believed in the power of music discovery. IF there were more stories to tell this year about the power of the format, beyond Portugal the Man and, the soon-to-be-told story of Alice Merton. What if every conversation wasn’t an argument? IF, IF, IF…

SONG TO HEAR: LCD Soundsystem, “Tonite”


 
 
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