How will the Grammys affect who follows Ariana? (2/14a)
Ari! Halsey! Billie! (2/15a)
Who wants a piece of this? (2/15a)
A pair of dynamic duos leads the pack. (2/15a)
These rainmakers are anything but all wet. (2/15a)
What the Grammys tell us about a changing landscape.
The biz players who are determined to get the volume back up.
Big changes among big acts.
The old pop rules just don't apply.

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By Karen Glauber

First things first—I hope my Midwest radio friends are safe and warm despite the polar vortex whipping through their markets. I can’t really complain that my thoughts are being drowned out by the cacophony of rain and thunder outside my office. Or that I left my umbrella in the car. Or that my basement will likely be flooded when I get home. Or that a crack of lightning woke me up at 4am (actually, that might’ve been a text from Dustin Matthews—I wasn’t awake enough to discern the origin).

Still, it’s a beautiful day for the format when a new Cage the Elephant song appears. “Ready to Let Go” is an insta-classic, the first single from Social Cues, the band’s long-awaited (four years!) new album. There isn’t a station that can’t play this record, although I’m sure there are a few knuckleheads who will fight it. This is not the year to be contrary; that would be my advice to you.

Congrats to our friend Mike Kaplan on being appointed Alternative Format Captain for the Entercom chain. He, along with a 12 other men (and one woman), will occupy the Captain position for a period of one year; he'll also remain PD at WNYL, NYC. Look for an announcement from Entercom regarding the previous Alt Format Captain, SVP Michael Martin, very soon. Chainwide initiatives from the Entercom Alt stations are being discussed, and today’s spin of the new Cage single every two hours should be a clue of what’s to come. iHeart is playing “Ready to Let Go” every hour today, in case you’re keeping score.

On the heels of a #1 single (“Sober Up”) and a #2 (kill me) single (“Burn the House Down”), Nerf’s best friends AJR (pictured) released “100 Bad Days,” the first single from their next album Wednesday at midnight, with early and avid supporters like Jeff Regan, PD of SiriusXM’s AltNation and KTCL, plus a select few others, finding the song in their in-box a few hours prior. The band sat down with Andrew Harms at Alt 98.7 earlier in the week—video of the interview is here.

Speaking of AJR videos, the new one has already racked up 300k views on YouTube in the past day. Response for the song from the public and our programmer friends has been unequivocally positive, which positively warms my cold, dead heart.

This year’s ALTerEgo show at the L.A. Forum brought out some of our iHeart friends from near and far, including the aforementioned Nerf and Dustin, as well as our bff John Allers, plus Aly Young, Casey Krukowski, DZL, Dubbs, newly promoted COO Brad Hardin, John Sykes, Harms and the woman who put it all together, Lisa Worden (who will certainly know the identity of the new DC101 PD before you do). It was an epic evening for all in attendance.

One of my resolutions for 2019 was that I was going to “act with intention” regarding everything I do. If I were to Google that phrase, an image of Spotify’s Allison Hagendorf (a constant source of inspiration/motivation for action) would surely pop up. I love her. My intention often turns to obsession, and such is the case with Vampire Weekend’s “Harmony Hall,” currently on repeat in my office. (And it just stopped raining!) After six years without them, this song is an event.

Harmony Hall, in case you were wondering, is the Columbia University dorm furthest away from campus. Ezra Koenig has said that the song isn’t about the dorm (incidentally, Adam from AJR also used to live in that dorm as a Columbia undergrad, and it’s rumored that Mac from Superchunk also trudged the mile to campus during his tenure there).

But whatever the song is about, it has my favorite lyric so far this year: “Anger wants a voice/Voices wanna sing/Singers harmonize till they can’t hear anything/Thought that I was free/From all the questioning/But every time a problem ends/Another one begins.” If I have any say in the matter (not that Lisa, Darice or Matt really need my help), this song will be an Alt smash.

Also on my “target list” is Shaed’s “Trampoline” (currently Top 20 and rising), Sharon Van Etten’s “Seventeen” and Seeb’s “Grip” (winner for Best Use of a Dan Smith Vocal), not to mention Flora Cash reaching its imperial destiny at #1.

E-mail me: Karen.Glauber@hitsmagazine.com


By Karen Glauber

Welcome back, my friends, to the release schedule that never ends! Since we last convened, the Top 10 at Alt radio hasn’t moved at all. One exception is lovelytheband, whose “broken” got even bigger—after 59 weeks on the chart!—while follow-up “These Are My Friends” fights for its well-earned spot in Top 10. I call this phenomenon the “Float On Effect,” named after the Modest Mouse song that was an even bigger hit after it had been on the chart for a year, thereby relegating the follow-up, “Ocean Breathes Salty,” to also-ran status. Panic! At the Disco’s “High Hopes” is currently #1 at Alt, Top 40 and Hot AC, so that appears to be a lock at #1 at Alt for a while, unless Mumford & Sons’ “Guiding Light” can surge to the top spot, as it deserves… The little record that could, Flora Cash’s “You’re Somebody Else,” was #1 at RateTheMusic this week in all cells, and it’s still showing signs of growth with over half the panel already in Power. Flora Cash will be opening for lovelytheband this year as direct support… During the break, I spent 10 consecutive hours watching the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, so my mantra for 2019 is “What would Midge do?” Lisa Sonkin was the first to suggest that Midge could become our beacon of strength for the year ahead, and I’m sure we’ll be texting when Rachel Brosnahan hosts SNL this weekend, with musical guest Greta Van Fleet. This is Greta Van Fleet’s year to shine, as Amanda and Drew drive their new single, “You’re the One,” up the chart on the heels of four Grammy nods! Their father, Robert Plant, is oh so proud of their success… Lisa Sonkin and Darice Lee will have a new Vampire Weekend single in the not-too-distant future. Like everything Ezra Koenig does, the song is perfect. In the meantime, MØ f/Foster the People’s “Blur” is gaining traction, as it appears to be a bona fide hit for SiriusXM’s Alt Nation, KNDD, WLKK, WWCD and KHTB, to name a few. Also on deck for Columbia is a smash called “Giant” by Calvin Harris & Rag’n’Bone Man… I have enormous respect and affection for Judah & The Lion (pictured). This morning, at 4am (I was awake), their new single, “Over My Head,” launched at radio. Caroline promo goddesses Marisa Di Frisco and Marni Halpern should close most of the Alternative panel in the first week. Their unbridled passion for the band is reason enough to add it this week, not to mention that it’s one of the best new songs out there!... Dennis Blair and Artie Gentile are on deck to have an incredible first week with “Timebomb”—the new single from Walk the Moon. Wishful thinking aside, it isn’t a Rancid cover, and, like everything DB touches, it will be a smash… Everybody’s favorites, Catfish and the Bottlemen, are back with a new single called “Longshot,” which is a lock for Most Added on 1/21. Capitol’s Gary Gorman, who’s still at the top of the Alt chart with Marshmello/Bastille, while Barns Courtney’s “99” inches towards #10, will also do exceptionally well with Catfish… Rob Goldklang is bullish on Rüfüs Du Sol’s “Treat You Better,” which is already on the air at KITS, Music Choice, WNYL, WLUM and KROQ before the official add date! Rüfüs Du Sol is listed with the second-biggest font size on the Coachella poster, so you know your audience knows more about them than you do… We know the format is frothing over the 1/31 arrival of new music from Cage the Elephant, but there are other songs that deserve your attention first, like “Ghost” by Badflower, who are grateful to be nominated for an iHeartRadio Music Award for Best New Rock/Alternative Rock Artist; new this week are WIVG and KNRQSHAED’s “Trampoline,” out via Photo Finish/Caroline, is an unmitigated smash, and I’m deeply in love with The Strumbellas’ “Salvation” (Glassnote)… See you at ALTerEgo next week? I’ll have the new AJR single to play you (Dustin) when we see each other… SONG TO HEAR: The Raconteurs’ “Now That You’re Gone.”


By Karen Glauber

Please allow me to introduce you to my good friend Lisa Sonkin, the newly appointed SVP of Rock Formats and Public Radio Promotion at Columbia Records, where she was most recently as the SVP of Triple A and Public Radio Promotion. Lisa has worked at Sony Music for the past 14 years, which followed a decade at Elektra, which was preceded by her “radio years” as MD at WTMX in her hometown of Chicago. Darice Lee is adding Triple A promotion to her CV and will remain in L.A., where she will continue to be both awesome and invaluable.

In addition to a pending Vampire Weekend record (can’t wait!), Lisa and Darice will have new music from MO featuring Mark Foster, Coin (produced by Mark Foster) and yes, new music from Foster the People, whose “Sit Next to Me” is the #2 most played song of the YEAR thus far at Modern Rock. I’ve told Lisa all about you—how accessible you are and how easy you are to promote—oh, and what a wonderful partner you are, not to mention those golden ears of yours! Truth be told, consider yourself lucky that you get to work with this team…

Every time a station is added to the panel of reporters, an angel gets its wings. No, that’s not it. What really happens is that the cost of promotion goes up exponentially with each new station because most of these stations have no ratings (I have more Facebook friends than these stations have listeners). But a spin is a spin is a spin, so the indie vultures descend and place an exorbitant bounty on each add. There are a few rakish fiends who are charging $2,000 per add for overnight airplay. I would blame them, but their fees are merely a reflection of what the market (namely, those of us seeking adds) is willing to bear.

At this time of the year, when most on-air real estate is tied into Xmas shows, adds on new artists are few and far between. Of course, it’s counterintuitive to overpay for a point of entry in a market where the airplay has zero impact. I’ll work with any station, reporter or not, if they want to play new music, as would most of my colleagues. Indie labels can’t afford to pay for this level of insanity, which is a definite barrier to their records having success at the format. The costs have escalated, but it isn’t like radio is breaking more new artists. What are we doing to change that?

The answer, my friends, is not the Xmas show. Oh, how stations are struggling to sell tickets this season. The bands you thought would sell out your show when you booked them six months ago have been through your market already (sometimes twice), and those songs of theirs—the “hits” you just knew were going to help you pack your show—have been off the air for a month. So it’s early November—now what? I know, let’s forget about the pending Xmas-show disaster and start getting commitments from bands for summer ’19!

90% of the artists I work with are grateful to be included in the radio-show conversation. Without question, they appreciate the impact radio has had on their careers, and the last thing they want is to be perceived as “failing” you by your show not selling out. From my perspective, the radio show as a profitable NTR line item needs to be reinvented…

What song is currently outselling Billie Eilish, Mumford & Sons and AJR? You’re right, it’s Badflower’s “Ghost!” You win Julian’s Halloween candy and my soon-to-be-received “I Voted” sticker. Also selling (besides a dozen Billie Eilish songs—don’t let call-out deter you—she’s the fucking future), is Flora Cash’s “You’re Somebody Else,” now Top 10 at Modern Rock!... Bob Moses’ “Back Down” and Mumford & Sons’ “Guiding Light” are two truly extraordinary songs. Please listen to each of them four times in succession, and then do the same with Tom Morello’s “Every Breath That I Take.” Congratulations, you’ve just taken a master class in songwriting…





By Karen Glauber

Many of us first met Sean Demery in 1992 when 99X Atlanta flipped to Alternative. In the years that followed, the programming team that included Brian Phillips, Leslie Fram and Sean was the standard to which all others aspired. Sean’s singular creative mind and quick wit, coupled with Leslie’s brilliance and enthusiasm, made every visit to Atlanta memorable.

In 2004, Sean moved to San Francisco to program Live105, returning the station to the cultural force it had been when Richard Sands had sat in the PD chair years before. Sean was obsessed with music and encouraged his staff to share their favorites with him. In early 2005, Sean’s unabashed love for Arcade Fire prompted him to add “Rebellion (Lies)” from Funeral (which wasn’t the song I was working at the time), and it turned out to be Live105’s most-played song of the year.

It became apparent that Sean and CBS corporate were not on the proverbial “same page,” and rather than toeing the line, he gave his DJs MORE freedom. Last week, current KROQ MD Miles Anzaldo and I were reminiscing about the “Miles the Intern” weekend Sean let him program. You can’t inspire people to perform to the best of their abilities by stifling their creativity—and Sean practiced what he preached. After a week of especially bold adds, I asked Sean why he was so brazenly defying “the suits.” His response was pure Sean: “If I’m going to go down, I’m going to go down in flames.”

Well, that happened. Sean went back to Atlanta to reteam with Leslie, but the evildoers then in charge made that situation untenable for both of them. During that time, I pitched the idea of a “Rock for Girls” station to Andy Schuon, who was at CBS Radio, preferably in an underserved market like Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, which Leslie, Sean and I could run. It would’ve worked.

Sean’s career/life landed him all over the place, usually for a less than a year, but we always stayed in contact. I last saw him in December, when I brought Lori Kampa to KINK to meet him. He loved Portland, he loved his job, and he loved that he and his wife Jenn were living in the same city. The conversation we had about focusing on the community, rather than engaging in a pissing match over which station in the markets got the presents on a show, is one I’ve often repeated, citing Sean as one of the few programmers who could take the big-picture view of his job. He was proud that they changed the call letters to PINK during breast cancer-awareness month, and was giddy over incredible public turnout the station achieved for their coat drive.

One month later, Sean had a brain-stem stroke, which left him paralyzed and unable to communicate. Last Saturday, he passed away at the age of 60. I am grateful to have known Sean Demery for over 25 years. It isn’t my habit to end too many radio calls with “I love you,” but merely saying goodbye to Sean at the end of a call wouldn’t sufficiently express how deeply I valued him, so it was always “I love you.” Next time you hear an Arcade Fire song, think about Sean…

When Nick Petropoulos told me that the new Mumford & Sons song was called “Guiding Light,” I wondered if it was a cover of the Television song of the same title from Marquee Moon. At first listen, it was abundantly clear that THIS “Guiding Light” is a one-listen anthem, certain to remind us that Mumford & Sons deserve their status as one of the biggest bands in the world. Welcome back, friends…

When was the last time a debut single from a brand-new artist (unsigned!) was added in NYC and L.A. before the song had even been serviced to radio? Say hello to “Loser” by Jagwar Twin, added this week at ALT 92.3 NYC, ALT 98.7 LA, KLLT St. Louis and KYRK Corpus Christi. On the next day, they sent out the song to radio…

SONG TO HEAR (AND THE BEST BAND TO MEET): Bob Moses’ “Back Down.” I’m obsessed with the new album Battle Lines.


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