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iGEN by Ted Volk
The Place Where Radio and Records come Together Without Talking
IGEN
1/17/23

MY DECEMBER TO REMEMBER: Part 1

27 cities, six countries and over 2,500 miles of driving!

12/2: As an aging record executive, I get the fountain of youth from my girls when it comes to music, who are 21 and 19. I’ve been rather impressed with their ability to hear songs before they become popular. When they found out I was going to Seattle to see The 1975 and hang with one of the best people and programmers, KNDD’s Christy Taylor, they insisted they come with me. The afternoon was great, but it was all just a prelude to the show. If you haven’t seen The 1975 live, I suggest you do when they come back to the states. It’s one of the best concerts I have ever seen (and that’s saying something). The show was sold out with over 7,000 in attendance. It was a night of dream demos if you’re chasing 21 to 34-year-olds. The 1975 also has the best-looking audience around. Speaking of audience, it was surprising to see the number of guys at the concert considering everyone tells me their fanbase leans toward more women. All in all, it was a perfect night and my girls got to hang with Christy, which they thought was rad as the stories were amazing.

12/3-12/4: I always giggle when my friends get to meet some rock stars every now and then as they tell me I have the coolest gig! We had an early wake up call to make our 7am flight on Saturday and I’m not sure why we even went to bed considering that didn’t happen until after 1am. It’s not easy calming down after a night of incredible music. The Southwest flight (more on them in Part 2) got delayed as we were connecting in San Jose. We missed our connection by three minutes. Southwest was nice enough (not) to hold the flight and then re-booked us for another connection three hours later and we ended up getting home at 2pm. I had a quick turnaround because of my red eye to Orlando that night. I’m not a big fan of late-night flights but I didn’t see a better option for me as I was on my way to 97X-Tampa’s Next Big Thing. Why did I fly into Orlando when I needed to get to Tampa? Well, it was the best option and it’s only about a 75 mile drive out.

I landed at 7am and needed to be at the show by11am, so I found a LA Fitness nearby and took advantage of my membership to regroup there. 97X has been putting on Xmas shows for 20 years. The station’s Jenna Kesneck and Dan Connelly do an amazing job with them. It’s also a great chance to see a lot of bands in one day. I got there in time to see Arista’s Beach Weather, who are having an incredible run with “Sex, Drugs, Etc…” The band has a lot of promise and I look forward to watching them grow. I saw The Maine for the first time (they’re quite good, by the way) and RCA’s half•alive, who put on a great live show. I also got to see The Orchard’s lovelytheband for the first time in a while and hang with a good friend Scott Burton. If you don’t know Scott, he’s a guy I would have work my records any day of the week. The effort and care he puts into his projects is second to none. I didn’t get the chance to see Phoenix while they were in L.A. so it was a treat to see them in Tampa as well. Surprisingly enough, it was their first time in the city after such a distinguished career. Many congrats to the band’s label Glassnote and Michael Starr, who currently have a #1 at AAA with their latest single, “Tonight,” and their second Top 10 hit at Alternative. The band brings it. They are so good live.

At this point, I’ve been up for 36 hours so I head to the hotel but stop nearby at an Outback Steakhouse and hang with some Dallas Cowboys fans for a bit at the bar. When you’re on the road, you always want to try to eat clean if possible and it was the only game in town at that point.

12/5: I have an early morning flight to Tulsa via Austin. I’m on my way to see another good friend Josh Venable, who programs KMYZ-Tulsa. It was Josh’s Xmas show with the Silversun Pickups, Wilderado and Cafune. If you’re a fan of music, then you know about Cain’s Ballroom. It’s a legendary club that holds around 1600 people. I believe every band has come through that market and club. It’s one of the best places to see a show. It’s no wonder why Tulsa is probably the best secondary market we have in the format. To make an Alt station work, you need a partner—KMYZ and Cain’s are in sync.

I always like to see who goes to these shows and on this night, I was rather impressed because it ranged from kids around the age of 10 to 50-year-olds. And no less, it was a sold-out show on a Monday night! That’s a tribute to Josh. He has an uncanny ability to make an Alt station for truly everyone. As always, Silversun put on a great show, but it was really cool seeing Wilderado in their hometown. I’ve seen the band a couple times now, but this was a special night for them. It’s great to see their latest single “Surefire” on its way to the Top 10! I guess it was an early night for me ending at 11pm (haha), but not much food is available on a Monday in Tulsa so it was a granola bar and some dry cereal.

12/6: I have another early morning flight to catch back up with The 1975’s tour in Denver. The band is doing an Xmas show with KTCL, programmed by Nerf. Karen Glauber and I have a unique history with Nerf. He was the first to play AJR at Alternative and as well KONGOS, who both went #1 at the format. In both cases, he did predict to me the songs would lead to greatness well before anyone else actually said it.

It’s a Tuesday, so I get to the hotel around noon and finish up the week with the add day. It always slows down at the end of the year so not much was happening. I picked up my son at the airport because he decided to fly into to Denver to see The 1975 after he heard how epic it was from my girls. I didn’t think it was possible for the show to be as good as Seattle was, but indeed it was. I also had the treasure to hang with Shawn Rock, who programs a wonderful station, KRXP in Colorado Springs. Shawn brought a few of her friends one who are 1975 super fans. It’s always really cool to hang with super fans—especially for this band. You get this inside look that’s truly fascinating. We say our goodbyes and look for food in Denver at midnight on a Tuesday. That’s not an easy thing, but we end up finding a Wendy’s. I’m living the dream at this point. My son needed to get back to L.A. as soon as possible so I agree to take the 520am flight back home. That was stupid. Just stupid. I made it back home at 11am. Oh, by the way, my son did say his sisters were right. The band was amazing!

Stay tuned for Part 2.

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