A few firsts among the ACM Awards noms. (2/26a)
Rapino's ready for festivals to return. (2/26a)
Kamasi Washington answers our questions. (2/26a)
Radio giant makes a shift. (2/26a)
Social justice through the lens of jazz (2/23a)
A jazz chronicle of fighting the power.
After the snubs, the show.
In a phenomenal display of cowardice.
When vaccination schedules and touring schedules meet.

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By Karen Glauber

It’s been exactly two months since I tested positive for COVID. What remains is a constant headache, no taste or smell, low-level depression (gratefully thwarted by work) and brain fog. I am thankful that there’s an abundance of new music available to soothe and distract.

My son and I play AJR’s “Way Less Sad” every morning at 6am. He says it sums up how he’s feeling right now—not quite happy and certainly no less anxious but not as awful as he was feeling six months ago. This band has a knack for releasing music that matches its audience’s emotional temperature at any given moment. Alternative radio acknowledged AJR’s position as a core artist for the format with 50+ adds this week on “Way Less Sad,” which is already #19 on the Alt chart and #14 in audience.

I predict that the next wave of radio hits will be similar to “Way Less Sad” in mood—one year in, nobody wants to hear songs with apocalyptic themes of loneliness, isolation or the damage wrought by the White House. Cautious optimism, hope, light at the end of the tunnel et al. are the topics that will resonate with the Alternative audience.

This is a fantastic time for artist collaborations—I can’t wait to hear the new song Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen have completed, for example. And it’s been established that no song can be released at Alternative radio that doesn’t include Travis Barker—he’s the “secret weapon” currently propelling KennyHoopla’s “ESTELLA//” to the Top 10.

A band I love, Blame My Youth (featuring Sean Van Vleet from beloved Chicago outfit Empires), has a new single, “Fantastic”—as in “I feel fucking fantastic/ Hooray, hooray”—that’s been earmarked by deeply intuitive KRXP programmer Shawn Lucero as her secret weapon.

Based on research, chart success, streaming and single sales, the “sound” that’s working best for the format remains that exemplified by post-pop/punk Alternative artists like Machine Gun Kelly, All Time Low, KennyHoopla and now, MOD SUN, whose “Flames” debuted at #1 on this week’s Rate the Music. For those of you who can’t wrap your head around the Avril Lavigne intro (shame on you), there’s a version with MOD SUN singing that has been greeted with enormous enthusiasm by key rock-leaning programmers.

Are you paying attention to what’s been going on with Glass Animals? “Heat Waves” should be a lock for #1 at Alt in the next few weeks AND the song is crossing to Pop, bolstered by hundreds of millions of streams worldwide. Dreamland was my favorite album of 2020. If you’ve been a consistent supporter of Glass Animals since “Gooey,” congratulate yourselves on your incredibly good taste and clear vision.

Lisa Worden, the busiest woman in radio, has launched her passion project, “She Is the Voice,” on Alt 98.7 as host, producer and curator. The show features music from past and present female artists. Recent and upcoming guests include Ashe, Phoebe Bridgers, Arlo Parks and Aimee from The Interrupters. May “She Is the Voice,” which airs Friday nights at 8pm PT, inspire audience members, female and male, to start their own bands!

How can anyone lend credence to very strongly worded critiques on the state of Alt radio when those who express said opinions have never successfully programmed an Alt station? Shocker—the pandemic has affected ratings! Why NOT shake things up a bit and try something new? Playing armchair quarterback is unnecessary, self-aggrandizing and, well, downright toxic. Unless you’re devoted to the format’s health, shut the fuck up.

There are few songs more deserving of airplay than Black Pumas’ “Colors,” Phoebe Bridgers’ “Kyoto” and Backseat Lovers’ “Kilby Girl.” If you aren’t playing these records, please do so now.

Congrats to Marisa DiFrisco and her cohorts on the success at Alt of “Sofia” by Clairo, comfortably hanging with Billie Eilish in the Top 10… Lisa and Darice are about to have another smash with The Kid LAROI’s “Without You.” It’s what they do… SONG TO HEAR: “Greatest Enemy,” by Glassnote’s The Strumbellas, brought along under the watchful eye of the label’s new head of promo, Michael Starr. You know him; you love him—now play his record.


By Karen Glauber

Happy New Year! I have COVID! Since the pandemic began, I’ve been made fun of for never leaving the house—no grocery stores, no outdoor dining—or having repair people or anyone else over. All it took was my son’s father to infect my son, who infected me. (My ex continues to be the gift that keeps on giving.) My son is thankfully 100% better. As for me, I don’t know how I’m going to feel when I wake up. Still, I got lucky; I never had breathing problems, a fever, a cough or any of the symptoms that land people in the hospital. Lingering loss of taste and smell, a pervasive headache and brain fog aren’t much fun, but it will get better, eventually.

Since we last connected, Lisa Sonkin and Darice Lee went to #1 with Cannons’ “Fire for You,” which is a wonderful achievement for a brand new band. To recap, the song was first added at KKDO Sacramento after PD Andy Hawk heard it on the Netflix series Never Have I Ever in May. Shazams and streams ensued. Alt Nation added it, still unsigned, on 7/21. Columbia Records jumped in soon after, and now the band’s debut single is #1 thanks to the tireless efforts of Lisa and Darice.

Andy, refusing to be content with just one hit on his CV, chose The Backseat Lovers’ “Kilby Girl” in August as his next pick. He follows the aforementioned Alt Nation (where “Kilby Girl” is currently #1) as the song’s spin leader with over 600 spins. KKDO’s fantastic research on “Kilby Girl” has been the catalyst for other Entercom stations to come on board; Mick Music’s Amy Kaplan has tenaciously grown the record to its near-Top 20 status. A new add from WRFF was a joy to behold this week—how can you not give a shot to a song from a Salt Lake City indie band that has 55 million cumulative spins?

Speaking of Andy Hawk, his third pick to click is Mod Sun’s “Flames” f/Avril Lavigne on Big Noise Records. Mod, as his BFF MGK calls him, co-wrote the latter’s #1 Alt single “bloody valentine.” He connected with Avril through his producer and label co-head John Feldmann, whose tenure as lead singer in the band Goldfinger conjures up fond memories for all. I checked in with my favorite “emo kid” still in the Alternative demo, Caroline’s Marisa DiFrisco, who assured me, “This is SOOOOOO emo. Hahaha; I’m not mad at it. You can pick out that it’s Avril immediately.” The “Flames” video, released last Friday, is already at 3.6 million views, and the song hit 4.7 million Spotify streams today. If your career is based on being right, this is your next hit.

What an absolute thrill to have Lisa Worden choose Phoebe Bridgers’ “Kyoto” as the first iHeart “On the Verge” pick in ages! So what if the song was released in April? NOW is Phoebe’s moment. She has four Grammy nominations, an SNL appearance on 2/6 and a reputation as one of the funniest and most insightful observers of pop culture on social media: traitor joe @phoebe_bridgers 1/14: “I definitely had Tucker Carlson pretending to know who Ariel Pink is on my 2021 bingo card.” Longtime fan Bryce Segall at Entercom was instrumental in getting “Kyoto” added at WNYL, along with ongoing exposure via the radio group’s national programming. Bri Aab at Secretly Canadian is about to have a huge Alternative hit!

RE: Grammy noms, Black Pumas are everywhere! Alternative radio is following suit, with airplay on “Colors” at KROX, WWCD, WLUM, WKZQ and KRXP, among others. Like National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, Black Pumas will be playing the Super BowlNick Petropoulos, now at Arista, has the format’s most reactive song with carolesdaughter’s “Violent,” currently blowing out all competition with 1 million streams PER DAY. This song is the REAL gift that keeps on giving!


By Karen Glauber

On Nov. 10, 1975, Patti Smith released her debut album Horses, which is still, 45 years later, one of the five albums that “define” me. Should there be any question of her ongoing relevance, one of the most-shared social-media posts from Election Day was a video of Patti and her longtime guitarist Lenny Kaye performing “People Have the Power” on a street corner in NYC. My son overheard the song as I was watching the video, loved it and added it to his Spotify playlist. Thus, the legacy of one of the most important artists of my lifetime continues.

Will your audience be as passionate about Machine Gun Kelly as they are now in 20 years? How about in a year from now? Maybe not, but who cares? I hope that every artist I work with has a sustainable, influential career—whether it’s The Lumineers, AJR or beabadoobee, to name a few, I am confident that their art is impactful on the Alternative audience. Apple Music just made beabadoobee its “Up Next” artist, which will involve a late-night TV look next week.

Still, the balance of art and commerce is spectacularly off-kilter in the midst of the pandemic. Without commerce, there is no opportunity to expose art to the masses. The #1 goal of the Alternative format should be to stay on the air. The #1 goal of my radio and label friends (and myself) is to keep our jobs. We lost WFUZ in Wilkes-Barre this week, although we gained a new station, WNWV, located in my old stomping grounds of Elyria, Ohio. Alternative radio ratings are all over the place, and my ongoing belief that we should be developing artists for the “future” is a luxury at this stage of the game. You’ve heard me quote Lenny’s adage “There are still 10 records in the Top 10” a million times.

Alternative radio has become a reflection of culture, rather than the influencer of culture, and that’s how it needs to be right now. Still, for every streaming or TikTok record that bounds up the chart, there are hits emerging from the passion of programmers—Cannons’ “Fire for You” was signed by Columbia because Andy Hawk added it after hearing it used on the Netflix show Never Have I Ever and it showed up in Shazam after the first spin. Now, the song is nearing Top 5, and the metrics continue to demonstrate that it’s a smash.

Besides Cannons, the Top 10 has first-time Alt hits from Wallows, Peach Tree Rascals, Day Glow, Royal & the Serpent and Juice WRLD. This week, Lisa Worden added Island artist Remi Wolf’s “Hello Hello Hello” (Polo & Pan Remix), which is featured in Apple’s massive iPhone12 campaign and is already #2 on Shazam’s Discovery chart. How exciting! Also noteworthy is the new Bakar single, “1st Time,” pulling in 15 adds before impact week. Christine Chiappetta and Epic’s Rick Sackheim are leading the charge.

My son and I watched Foo Fighters on SNL this past weekend, and we loved it. Admittedly, I lost his attention while I was explaining how the new single “Shame Shame” was influenced by David Bowie’s “Fame,” since he is teetering on thinking that everything I have to offer is boring. And he’s the only other human I see these days—what fun! Anyway, a new Foo Fighters single deserves a shot at Alternative radio, and I expect “Shame Shame,” like every other Foo Fighters single, will go to #1, especially since the most-played artists at the format in 2020 include Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, blink-182, Linkin Park, and yes, Foo Fighters and Nirvana.

Nerf at KTCL added Saint Nomad’s “Nothing to Lose” on Curb this week. I have a strong sense that this song could be a hit.

My favorite new song of the week is “Change” by Pale Waves, whose sophomore record on Dirty Hit will be out in February.

While we ride the wave of insanity until our newly elected President is acknowledged as such, let’s support each other, keep ourselves healthy and hope that a night of interrupted sleep is in our near future.


By Karen Glauber

How are we going to get through these last few days before Nov. 3 without imploding? Oh yeah, and Mercury is deeply in retrograde, which is why my phone dies at least twice during every call and the shift key on this laptop stopped working this morning. It’s the musical distractions that power me through: Julian (my 12-year-old) and I danced in the kitchen during last week’s Glass Animals virtual concert—did you happen to notice when singer Dave Bayley dropped a ballot into a mailbox prior to “Tangerine?”

Tomorrow, I’m going to bend the rules on screen time for both of us so that we can watch Billie Eilish’s Where Do We Go: The Livestream. Thankfully, there are opportunities to feel connected to our passion for live music through these virtual experiences

I hope you will join me in giving Marisa DiFrisco from Caroline a virtual standing ovation for being #1 and #2 Most Added this week with Shaed’s fantastic new single “No Other Way” and Clairo’s monster smash “Sophia.” “The student has become the master,” read my text to Marisa on Tuesday, resisting the urge to call her Grasshopper.

 The most essential format-exclusive records right now are by female artists: Cannons’ “Fire for You” is #8 in Shazam in Los Angeles, single sales kicked in huge and cumulative streams are responding to airplay. Seriously, this record is yours and yours alone, so treat it with the reverence it deserves.

New York magazine proclaimed in a headline: “beabadoobee Is a Rock Star.” One by one, programmers are falling in love with her. “Care,” is now Top 20, and I expect callout to kick in soon. Of course, there’s no callout right now because there’s nothing else that sounds like it on the radio. The Mscores, however, are fantastic in airplay markets, which would seem to indicate that the Alternative audience is happy to hear “Care” on the radio. I can think of (at least) a dozen core format artists that radio didn’t want to play at the beginning.

My job, as I’ve chosen to define it, is to introduce new artists into the mainstream, with every ounce of passion and data in my arsenal. To be honest, some weeks are completely discouraging because the task seems insurmountable. Why wouldn’t radio embrace a new Alternative artist who has 825k Instagram followers with 30% engagement? Seems obvious, right?

Romy’s “Lifetime” is the Entercom “Pick of the Week” commencing 10/26. It’s profound exposure for a truly incredible song—I expect that programmers will love how it sounds on the air… Meg Myers’ newest single, “Any Way You Wanna Love,” is a one-listen add for her myriad programmer fans, especially on the heels of her #1 hit, “Running Up That Hill.” We all love Meg. You will all play this song.

Many of the songs that programmers are gravitating toward are TikTok hits and are fully launched in the marketplace before radio jumps on board. Two thoughts come to mind: Now that TikTok is being used to market classic artists—like Stevie Nicks’ recent appearance on the platform, which followed Mick Fleetwood’s “response” clip to the viral video that reignited Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”—is TikTok over? I know that its appeal is key among the 12-and-under crowd, but will the Boomers forsake Facebook for TikTok? Where will radio find its hits? How about a scenario where radio (all formats) develops its own hits from the ground up again? How much fun would that be!

The #1 best-selling song on the iTunes Alternative chart is “Bang!” by AJR, which is also #7 on the U.S. Shazam chart. An Alternative rock band broke this year—why wouldn’t you play the new format-exclusive single “Bummerland?”

Cheryl Broz at Curb has a wonderful record she’s working by a band called Saint Nomad. Give a listen to “Nothing to Lose.”

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