OK, Boomers! (2/19a)
Bieber brings it. (2/20a)
"After Hours" has a tour. (2/20a)
Take a wild guess. (2/20a)
What's that buzz? (2/20a)
Also, don't leak the memo about not talking to the press to the press. Please.
How the sausage is made.
Changes changes the conversation.
So hard to decide...

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By Karen Glauber

I’m in NYC for the two sold-out Lumineers shows at the Barclays Center (capacity 19,000). Thursday night’s show, which I attended with my “adventure buddy,” Brady Bedard, was an emphatic reminder of the power of radio. The surge of audience recognition from the first notes of “Gloria,” “Ophelia,” “Life in the City” and, of course, “Ho Hey,” helped abate the anxiety I’d been feeling after the last few weeks of hearing my peers chatter about radio’s imminent demise. When “Life in the City” finally closes in on Top 5, they will be the only band to have their first SEVEN consecutive singles go Top 5 at Modern Rock. Not even Green Day, the most successful chart band in the history of the format, can claim that. This “achievement,” as such, may only be meaningful to a handful of colleagues, but, as long as there are “10 records in the top 10” (to quote my fearless leader), I want to take up as much of that chart real estate as possible.

Last night, I brought my niece to see David Byrne’s American Utopia on Broadway, which was even more inspiring the second time around. There’s a reason why NME had called the tour that preceded the Broadway run “the best live show of all time.” I’ve always said that the single best concert of my life was Talking Heads at Forest Hills Stadium during the Stop Making Sense tour in 1983, and I’m grateful that the next generation has had this opportunity to discover Byrne’s brilliance. At the onset of the show, he (somewhat) optimistically referred to the “plateau of stupidity,” suggesting that at some point a person will reach their “level” of lost brain capacity, which should more or less guide them through adulthood.

My take is (slightly) more cynical when it comes to my beloved Modern Rock format, because most programmers still think it’s 10 years ago, refusing to adapt to the realities of today’s marketplace. The question I ask myself every morning is, “How can I make what I do matter?” First and foremost, my job is to bring money into my company. Can it be assumed that we all share that priority? The next part of the equation is how do we invest our time and hearts into our jobs in a way that makes us feel fulfilled and, well, useful? Two words I tend to use more often these days with regard to some of my interactions with radio are “counterintuitive” and “futile.” My goals are (1) keep my job and (2) break artists.

I was having lunch with SiriusXM programming guru Steve Blatter, and he agreed with my theory that it’s absolutely critical to be dead-right at least twice/year. I mean from zero to 100 on the scale of rightness, with 100% conviction. For me, it’s about picking the artists to champion and helping them forge a path to success. Or we can define it as hiring the next superstar, or mentoring the potential superstars in the intern pool. We’re all working around the clock—I get that—but our focus and intention should be rebooted every day.

I’m truly excited by the bounty of exceptional music that has just been released or will be available for you momentarily. This week, all ears were on FINNEAS’ single, “Let’s Fall in Love for the Night,” bolstered by iHeart choosing it for “On the Verge.” The biggest buzz record of the week is KennyHoopla’s “How Will I Rest in Peace If I’m Buried by a Highway” on Arista, which is already on KITS, Alt Nation, WNYL, WQMP, KRBZ, etc. Could THIS be the song that radio gets “right”?

Our friends in AJR released a new single on Wednesday called “Bang!” to coincide with the announcement of their summer amphitheater tour. Two years ago, the band was playing 500-seat clubs. Alternative radio will have plenty of opportunities to be involved with this tour, and jump they should: In 24 hours, “Bang!” has had 600k Spotify streams, 600k video views and has been #3 on the iTunes Alternative single sales chart since release. No other song has launched this year with this kind of immediate reaction. So “Let’s go out with a bang!”

SONG TO HEAR: Alex Lahey, “Sucker for Punishment”


Here are the Mediabase year-end charts for Alternative and Hot AC.


By Karen Glauber

Fueled by my son’s Halloween candy leftovers (the kid hates chocolate, so it’s fair game) and the grande-est matcha latte Coffee Bean is willing to sell me, I’m doing my damnedest not to feel like the personification of Day of the Dead. Tyler, The Creator’s IGOR is helping diffuse some of the existential anxiety that woke me up at 3am (“Earfquake” should have been a Modern Rock hit). I didn’t need a calendar to remind me that Mercury turned retrograde today. In brief, I can’t be held responsible for anything I say until it turns direct on 12/20, but please accept my preemptive apologies.

Since news of Rage Against the Machine’s first concerts since 2011 surfaced on Friday, the band’s Instagram followers have doubled. Will their 2020 Coachella headlining gig mark a return of the rock music-loving crowd to this festival? The news has certainly piqued my interest, and the social-media chatter from radio friends suggests that the return of Rage could be just what the format needs (assuming that new music will follow). To quote my esteemed colleague Simon Glickman, “Considering what the erstwhile Machine has been up to, the decision to resume Raging against it is particularly timely.” Thank you, Tom Morello.

Yesterday, My Chemical Romance announced that their first show since 2012 will be held at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium on 12/20. As expected, the 30-to-40-somethings lost their proverbial shit over the news, much like my fellow 50-somethings did when the 40th anniversary Bauhaus tour dates were announced. I’m just grateful to have seen reunions from Patti Smith, Big Star and Television in my lifetime. While I would have loved to have seen Roxy Music with Brian Eno, or T. Rex circa ’70-73, I’d rather focus on what’s next, although it’s very exciting to see T. Rex on this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ballot.

Many years ago, Marc Bolan’s son Rolan Bolan used to visit the HITS bunker in Sherman Oaks, so I emailed him to see if he’d share his thoughts on his father’s first-time inclusion on the ballot. Here’s what he had to say: “It is truly exciting for my father Marc Bolan and his bandmates to be among this year's nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It has taken some time, but his music has influenced musicians all around the world. From the powerful guitar riffs and mystical lyrics, T. Rex’s music embodied the rush of Beatlemania and the feeling of finding the groove in your own beat. This will be a true honor and a chance to reach a new audience all around the world. Keep a little Marc in your heart.”

Coincidence or not, my favorite new song is “Good Luck” from Broken Bells, which liberally borrows the bassline from T. Rex’s “Mambo Sun.” This is a stellar time for upper-demo songs, whether it’s the new Coldplay, Mumford and Sons’ latest, The Lumineers’ “Life in the City,” Beck’s subtly brilliant “Uneventful Day” or Vampire Weekend’s “Sunflower.” These are the songs I want to hear RIGHT NOW. Also, if you have a spare half hour, listen to the new Rex Orange County record. There’s a reason why Dennis Blair and Artie Gentile are so passionate about this artist!

I hate to report format upheaval, but here goes: CumulusKHTB Salt Lake flipped Thursday from Alt to Pop (now simulcasting Power 101.9 with the moniker Power 94.9). Toby Ryan exited his MD/PM drive gig at 101X Austin after 23+ years. WRMR Wilmington PD Laura Lee was downsized out of a gig this week. WGMP Montgomery MD Emily Hayes exited a few weeks ago. KVIL Dallas MD Lindsey Martin will exit of her own accord to join Atlantic Records’ promo team, based in Charlotte. The future is female, although that doesn’t appear to be the case in Alternative radio. I’m counting on Lisa Worden, Michael Martin, Troy Hanson, Mike Kaplan and the other gatekeepers to “change the conversation,” as my friend Leslie Fram advocates.

SONG TO HEAR: Peach Pit, “Feeling Low” (see them on tour with Two Door Cinema Club)


By Karen Glauber

This was a banner week for announcements: First, iHeart announced the lineup for ALTer Ego ’20, to be held in L.A. on 1/18, and featuring Billie Eilish, The Black Keys, blink-182, The Lumineers, Rex Orange County, Shaed (“& more,” according to the poster). The first four acts listed could sell out the Forum in a heartbeat, so this show will be sold out before we wake up Saturday morning. Congrats to Lisa Worden and the iHeart team for another epic lineup.

Up the coast, where earthquakes have been rocking and rolling the region, ALT 105.3 announced the lineup for their annual Not So Silent Night, which will be in San Jose this year on 12/7, and includes Mumford & Sons, twenty one pilots, The Raconteurs, The 1975, Of Monsters and Men and White Reaper. Those are some major “gets,” and I love the proliferation of guitars in this lineup. Take that, “Dance Monkey.”

Thursday, 12/5, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, we’ll be celebrating ALT 92.3’s iteration of Not So Silent Night, where our beloved Mumford & Sons will be joined by Vampire Weekend (while “Harmony Hall” is definitely the best song of 2019, new single “Sunflower” is up there at the top), Cage the Elephant (soon to be #1 with their latest single, “Social Cues”), Jimmy Eat World, Of Monsters and Men, Judah & the Lion (whom I’m seeing tonight at the Wiltern, with openers Flora Cash) and Shaed.

That same week, I’ll be in Portland to see Spoon headline one of Mark Hamilton’s December to Remember evenings (while checking in on my former roomie Gene Sandbloom at Alpha Media). The following week, WKQX launches FIVE nights of The Nights We Stole Christmas with already-sold-out shows that include headliners Cage the Elephant, The 1975, twenty one pilots, Mumford & Sons and 311, and incredible bands like Angels & Airwaves, Bob Moses, I Don’t Know How but They Found Me, Local Natives and Highly Suspect as direct support. I have a hunch which bands might be playing KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas this year, but I would never spoil the surprise. So many guitars this year—very exciting!

More announcements from radioland: KCJK Kansas City flipped to Active Rock this week, which is great news for KRBZ, one of the most important Modern Rock stations in the country, which can focus on doing what they do best: supporting new music. Also, WWYY Allentown has flipped to Country. The station’s studios were less than a mile from my childhood home in Easton, Pa., but I also know that a week’s worth of airplay on a song had less of an audience than one spin in L.A. That is why I haven’t lived in Easton since 1980. Speaking of which, my 40th high school reunion is this Thanksgiving weekend. I bought a ticket to see David Byrne’s American Utopia on Broadway the same night.

Music was the only thing that got me through my high school years marginally unscathed. Todd Rundgren’s music was my greatest salvation, so, when the announcement of this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees was released, there was a great deal of kvelling on my part to see his name on the ballot. Also included this year are T. Rex, Pat Benatar, MC5, Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Nine Inch Nails, Motorhead, Thin Lizzy, The Notorious B.I.G., Kraftwerk, Rufus f/Chaka Khan, Judas Priest, Dave Matthews Band, Whitney Houston and my beloved Soundgarden. Based on influence, every artist on this list deserves to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (especially Todd!).

Beck, another hall of fame-level artist, released TWO new songs yesterday, the first of which, “Uneventful Days” is absolutely what you want in a Beck single. I’ve listened to nothing else in the past 24 hours. Radio should be all over this immediately.


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