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iGEN by Ted Volk
The Place Where Radio and Records come Together Without Talking

This is a true story. Sometime in late 2013, I get a call from Nerf who programs KTCL Denver. He quickly tells me that we’re choosing the wrong single for KONGOS. I go on to tell him that we have one station in America playing “I’m Only Joking” and they’re getting an incredible response to it. I’d be crazy to want to change that. He again insists that it’s a mistake and goes onto to say he’d prove it to me.

A week or so later, out of nowhere, he adds “Come with Me Now.” As we ended that year, it became clear from KTCL’s airplay that “Come with Me Now” looked liked something special. As soon as 2014 started, the buzz was on and we never looked back, and “Come with Me Now” became a #1 record.

Sometime around Labor Day 2017, our boss Lenny Beer says to Karen Glauber and me, “Have you noticed Nerf playing AJR’s “Sober Up”?” One call to Nerf was all it took to find out he loved the track and that it was getting an immediate reaction. He was indeed correct; the song actually ranked in the market with Shazam, and the local streaming looked great.

It was unusual. I couldn’t think of another band that started at Pop and made their way back to Alternative. Of course, that’s happened many times in reverse, just not this way. At this point, we all thought the song could really be something, and it looked liked Nerf found another jewel.

The big challenge was finding a couple stations that would give it a chance and prove it could be more than an isolated hit in Denver. If that could happen, we figured a run at the format may be possible. The buzz from KTCL’s airplay had started, and very quickly, a few stations started adding it each week. The response was immediate in markets all over America—from Buffalo, Corpus Christi, Philadelphia, Rochester, Kansas City, Sacramento, Springfield, Tampa, Miami Milwaukee, and San Francisco, to name a few.

As a promo exec you’re often asked to predict the outcome of songs you’re involved with. When it came to the conversation of AJR’s “Sober Up” at Alternative, I thought it could possibly be a Top 10 record if everything went right, but even that would be a successful run.

I’m happy to report “Sober Up” went #1 this week, thanks to Nerf and the Modern Rock community. We couldn’t be happier for the band and the format that decided to take a chance on them.