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By Karen Glauber

I’m listening to the deluxe of the just-released Bleachers album. “Tiny Moves” continues to slay me, listen after listen. If you haven’t seen the video, featuring Margaret Qualley, I suggest you do so immediately.

Contemplating whether I’m going to the Just Like Heaven festival Saturday; I already gave my ticket to Derek Madden, who is visiting with his sister. The lure of seeing Death Cab for Cutie perform “I Will Possess Your Heart” and the brilliant Phoenix is deeply tempting, even if my hip hasn’t recovered from last week’s Cruel World. Goldenvoice’s Paul Tollett has us locked in from cradle (Coachella) to grave (Cruel World). 70,000 showed up at Brookside Park in Pasadena to see their favorite bands from the ’80s and some more recent bands that fit the genre, like Interpol, whom I loveand had the honor of working with on their first two albums. What’s interesting about this festival is how many kids came to see Ministry perform their new wave hits, which the band has long eschewed, crowd-pleasers Duran Duran and supergroup Dreamcar, featuring three members of No Doubt and AFI singer Davey Havok.

My biggest priority was to see Simple Minds. We spent the ’80s together, back when Alternative radio was in its infancy and served as the launching pad to other formats. KROQ was located in a motel in Pasadena, and 91X was across the border in Mexico. The first thing Simple Minds’ singer Jim Kerr (pictured above) said onstage was “Hi, Karen.” Even after 40 years, we still have a connection. The crowd was enormous, and the feedback was extraordinarily effusive, especially after the announcement that Simple Minds would be back in the States in May for a proper tour. What fun!

But back to reality: Ted and I received the Tuesday call from Kevin and Miles at KROQ letting us know they’d added Papa Roach’s “Leave a Light On (Take Away the Dark”) into Select rotation. It’s a great call to get on a Tuesday—it had been a while! I did my happy dance and gave credit to Ted, who picked this song as a hit last year. It’s the band’s first alt hit since “Last Resort,” although they’ve had numerous rock hits since. Very happy to be part of this, especially during Mental Health Awareness Month, which is key to so many people.

Sometimes you just need to be right. While I persevere with Cigarettes After Sex, which seems so damn OBVIOUS, I’d love to have an “automatic” to work at radio, at least as a palate cleanser, while we gear up for the next challenge. Will the new Beabadoobee be that record, or new Dirty Hit act Been Stellar, who remind me of early Interpol? Admittedly, Interpol was a huge challenge, and that’s the reward, I guess. How many radio programmers wake up and think, “Let’s shift culture today!” That’s not their gig, although it’s mine. There are days when we’re all bitching about how hard it is and how pointless (to our bosses) our efforts are viewed. But then you see bands like Royel Otis have hit after hit at the Alt format, with great callout and a sold-out tour! These guys are supremely talented and will have many hits in the coming years. I just love them so! Dave Lombardi and his team have done a masterful job breaking this band!

I pretty much only feel like myself when I’m at a show. I share that with KROQ’s Nicole Alvarez, whose passion for Arcade Fire I do my best to indulge. Assuming I’m not going to Just Like Heaven, the week ahead includes Jacob Collier at the Greek (I saw him during the pre-show at the Grammys years ago and fell in love), Kraftwerk at the Disney Concert Hall (doing Autobahn, my favorite) and Bleachers in Chicago next Saturday at the Salt Shed, following a Friday session at WKQX. My kid will be joining me, excited by deep-dish pizza and another chance to see Jack Antonoff. Let’s try to have a good summer. We could all use it.

Today, though, I’m listening to the new Billie Eilish single, “Lunch,” featured on both KROQ and ALT98.7. Oh, to be 22 and brilliant! She can do no wrong.

SONG TO HEAR: Blondshell’s cover of Talking Heads’ “Thank You for Sending Me an Angel,” from A24’s 40th anniversary Stop Making Sense tribute album.


By Karen Glauber

It’s been an interesting few weeks musically, at least for me. My dream/vision quest of having Peter Frampton in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame came true, although when I met him recently, the news was still a secret. I haven’t been to Cleveland since 1983—I’ll be back for his induction into the Hall of Fame in October.

Post-pandemic, I’m still skittish about being in crowded places, like, say, Coachella, but the kid wanted to go, and I wanted to see The Japanese House and Bleachers. I think it was overwhelming for both of us, but just as we were hitting our stride (I was able to see Blur), it was time to head home. My kid wants to go again next year. We’ll see.

Many of us who have attended Coachella since the first year have thought to ourselves, “I might be too old for this shit.” After you’ve attended 10 or more Coachellas, do they hand you a golden wristband and ask you to move on? Retire your bandana and segue into next week’s Cruel World? For the uninitiated, Cruel World is a Goldenvoice festival in Pasadena that features early KROQ bands and others that fit into the genre, like Interpol and DREAMCAR. I’m most excited to see Simple Minds, a band I brought to KROQ in the ’80s.

The following weekend, Goldenvoice is presenting the Just Like Heaven festival on the same site, with newer alt bands including Phoenix, Death Cab for Cutie, The War on Drugs, Alvvays and Be Your Own Pet, etc.; something for the indie kids who used to go to Coachella. This is my dream alternative lineup—basically the playlist for WWCD, may they rest in peace. Owner Randy Malloy pulled the plug on the station after 24 years. We did everything possible to keep the station on the air—the only thing missing was $1 million to keep it going. You can’t take these stations for granted—who else was making bands like IDLES and Fontaines D.C. as big as blink-182 and Green Day in Columbus? PD Laura Lee did an incredible job of programming, and MD Tom Butler was truly the heart and soul of the station. If you continue to play the best new music, your audience evolves with you, and the bands that might seem too left-field for a mainstream audience are already part of the fabric of the station, thanks to generations of programmers that included Andyman, Lesley James, Mase and Laura. I have to believe that Randy will rise again. Sigh.

Ted and I spend a lot of time talking to our label peers—the ones who are left, anyway—about the lack of room for new music and the frustrations of hitting a wall when you know you have a hit song. “There’s always next week” is the advice I’ve often given. No matter how defeated you are on a Tuesday, it starts up again on Wednesday. The key to one’s sanity, I believe, is staying interested in the process. What if PDs have lost interest in the process, we all ask each other? What if they all decide that Classic Alternative is the way to go? Smart for our promo friends to explore other formats.

I envy my friends who do Non-Comm radio. What fun to talk to people like Jim McGuinn and Matt Donohue about new music! How great to spend time in Philly next week at the Non-Commvention, seeing artists like beabadoobee, Lo Moon, Been Stellar and Red Clay Strays, all on the same night! I’m going down with the ship—I started at the beginning of the Alternative format and I’ll be rearranging the deck chairs when it all falls apart. Just give me another five years, please.

On the latest Taylor Swift record, there’s a song called “Guilty as Sin,” which begins with this lyric: “Drowning in the Blue Nile/ He sent me ‘Downtown Lights’/ I hadn’t heard it in a while... Am I allowed to cry?” My all-time favorite (albeit obscure) band is mentioned in a Taylor song! If I was a Non-Comm or Triple A programmer, I’d play the Blue Nile’s “The Downtown Lights,” which has had a million new streams since Taylor’s album release. Wild!


By Karen Glauber

I love new music. Nothing makes me happier than falling in love with a new record and convincing others to agree with me. And by “others,” I mean you, dear radio PDs, although most of you would rather have your limbs cut off than try to make a new song work on your radio station. Lucky for you, there has been a plethora of “heritage” new music for you to chose from—most of it won’t be real “hits,” aka library songs, but they will be familiar enough to test and won’t ruffle the feathers of your P1s. Yawn.

If you had seen the Mitski show in your market, you’d understand where music is going. Brilliant!

Thankfully, there are some new songs that stream like crazy and your work is nearly done. Michael Marcagi’s “Scared to Start” is streaming upwards of 3 million PER DAY, which should be enough for Rob Goldklang to have a massive hit. Grateful that Kevin Weatherly put the song into Audacy “Select” this week—another step toward a Top 10 song at Alt. Why does it have to be this difficult? This is the #1 question discussed among my peers.

Radio’s unwillingness to play much new music clearly puts our label friends’ jobs in jeopardy. This is a problem. Why wouldn’t radio play more new music? What if it actually worked, in combination with playing the library that we all know inside and out? What if radio were more than background noise? If I programmed a radio station, I’d feature currents, both new and tested, and do whatever I had to do to set up the next generation of listeners, even if it means I played Weezer every few hours to keep my kid happy.

What joy to spend the weekend listening to SiriusXMU, which featured Vampire Weekend nonstop from Friday through Monday. If only I had figured out how to get to Austin for the band’s performance during the eclipse! Only God Was Above Us is a genius album, with “Mary Boone” and “Capricorn” leading the way as my favorite tracks. The band is also playing songs that influenced them, including a selection from The Durutti Column and every music nerd’s favorite, “Outdoor Miner” by Wire.

The wishlist of people I’d like to meet in this lifetime is minimal. I’ve already met Neil Diamond, which was a huge thrill. I met Bruce Springsteen years ago, during a rehearsal for the Human Touch tour in 1992, along with Garett Michaels, who was programming a Top 40 station in Indianapolis. I happened to be at a party with him on Saturday night and politely reintroduced myself, mentioning that in 1973 I’d translated Greetings From Asbury Park into Latin. I wasn’t sure how to be a fan back then—pre-social media and camera phones. This seemed like an appropriate yet deeply awkward way to proclaim my fandom. I mentioned that I’d seen him in Cleveland, introduced onstage at the Richfield Coliseum by Kid Leo, who was wearing a long leather duster coat. Kid Leo was everything in Cleveland—I was a local college music director happily playing Wire records, but even I was struck by his presence.

Where are the larger-than-life radio personalities? I grew up wanting to be Meg Griffin, whom we also talked about. We had a nice chat about Bruce’s recent stint on Curb Your Enthusiasm. He was given the direction, “Larry gave you COVID,” and the rest was ad-libbed. The show on Sunday at the Forum was amazing—always happy to see The Boss, forever and ever.

On Monday, Amanda and Ayelet invited a bunch of us, including radio folks from San Francisco and Las Vegas, to hear the new Glass Animals album, I Love You So Fucking Much. I remember how then-KRBZ PD Lazlo championed this band during its earliest days. Gene Sandbloom too. Now, with album four, everybody is excited about what’s ahead, including the genius single “Creatures in Heaven.” What absolute bliss!

While you’re at Coachella this weekend, I’ll be seeing Peter Frampton at the Greek. When I was 14, Frampton was my Taylor Swift. I loved him as much as I loved Todd Rundgren and The Who. Next week, it’s off to Coachella to see The Japanese House, The Beths, Bleachers, RAYE, The Last Dinner Party, Blur, Faye Webster, bar italia and Jungle.


By Karen Glauber

Patti Smith played at the Disney Concert Hall four years go, the day before everybody’s world shut down from COVID. On the occasion of Women’s History Month, she had this to say: “I read that it’s the Month of the Woman. That’s really nice and all, but being a girl myself, I thought, one fucking month?” So here we are, one fucking month.

At SXSW this year (my 36th, but who’s counting), I was on a panel moderated by Ted Cohen, and when I brought up the fact that I was recently able to tell one of my more problematic A&M bosses from 30+ years ago how terribly and condescendingly he treated me (his response was, “Well, at least you got something out of it”), so many women attending the panel were telling stories about their problematic male bosses.

Years ago, I predicted that #MeToo would solve nothing and that gender inequality would always exist UNLESS it was the women in executive positions hiring other women and protecting them. A recently emerged feminist anthem, Paris Paloma’s “Labour,” is already at 100m streams on Spotify and has generated countless covers on TikTok. Liz Erman at Nettwerk turned me on to this song, and you should definitely be aware of it.

Honestly, there are several massively streaming songs that EVERY programmer should be playing right now. The first is Michael Marcagi’s “Scared to Start,” which will be at 100m streams when I wake up tomorrow, streaming over 2.5m per day. You should’ve played Noah Kahan months before you eventually capitulated. Stop fighting these huge streaming records that target your demo. Good Neighbours’ “Home” is another slam dunk for you. This London duo, now shepherded at radio by Robbie Lloyd, is everything an Alt programmer could want, including whistling. It’s easily one of the most programmable songs of the year, boasting a memorable sing-along chorus with a lyrical sentiment that even you can relate to. Another undeniable single, Djo’s “End of Beginning,” is already over 225m Spotify streams. Djo is Joe Keery from Stranger Things, a favorite TV show for the younger part of your demo. This song is two and a half minutes of perfection.

The other most-obvious song is Cigarettes After Sex’s latest, “Tejano Blue,” which is already at 11m Spotify streams. It’s certainly the sexiest song of this bunch, a testimony to singer Greg Gonzalez’s genius. When John Allers declares “Tejano Blue” to be a “radio” song and adds it at Live105, it’s time to take notice. The band’s two Kia Forum shows are nearly sold out, and the ticket counts overall are incredible. Josh Venable’s daughter told him that all of her friends are obsessed with “Tejano Blue,” hence his add this week at WZNE Rochester. Also on board are 91X, WEQX, KROX, WGBJ, WWWX, Music Choice, WJMZ and, importantly, Alt Nation. Here’s to our friends at Partisan on their continued success with this band.

At Kris Gillespie’s urging, I saw my new favorite band at SXSW. Fat Dog reminded me of classic Foetus from the mid-’80s, and I caught them at FLOODfest, hosted by our friend Aaron Axelsen. Also memorable was Partisan’s Angélica Garcia, whose single “Color De Dolor” reminds me of Kate Bush. What a gorgeous voice and stunning presence! It wouldn’t be SXSW unless I followed (stalked) a band during the time I was there. In the past, I’ve been obsessed with Calexico, The Polyphonic Spree, Aqualung, Patti Smith, Todd Rundgren, Aurora, The Airborne Toxic Event and Lo Moon. This year marked the return of Lo Moon, whose new record is coming out on Thirty Tigers. I could see this band play every day and be blissfully happy. Matt Lowell’s voice is reminiscent of Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis (RIP).

Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws played a few acoustic shows, including songs from the band’s upcoming album on New West. Nada Surf is invited to play the When We Were Young festival in Las Vegas in October. My kid now likes emo (and Weezer), but I’m hoping we survive Coachella first.

SONG TO HEAR (AGAIN): Nation of Language’s “Weak in Your Light,” which is now #2 on the Alt Nation Alt18 Countdown!

Post Toasted Index
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