One would be hard-pressed to find someone with more musical minutia crammed into their head than Alan Cross. And when it comes to music history lessons like the one that was given on Friday, October 1st, who better to deliver it than the famed Canadian radio broadcaster and creator/host of The Ongoing History of New Music.
Cross spoke to an audience comprised predominantly of student journalists from Ontario and Quebec, brought together by a conference organized by Wilfrid Laurier University campus newspapers, The Cord and The Sputnik, in collaboration with Ontario Regional Canadian University Press (ORCUPbeq).
Cross began his talk by speaking about the history of radio and the emergence of rock and roll after World War Two. He explained that the transistor radio paved the way for rock and roll, and it allowed people to listen to music privately and in a portable fashion. He defined the transistor radio as “that thing [that] made the revolution of the 1960’s possible.”
He spoke about the “rise of the curators” and noted that these people own large quantity music collections and have a hobby of organizing them. His point was that people are spending less time enjoying music and, instead, they are burning through it and becoming less concerned about the recording quality. He joked that, “just because someone makes a song doesn’t mean it has to be listened to.”
The radio show host ended his presentation by pointing out Canada’s tardiness on technological and consumer devices, such as the iPhone and peer-sharing music websites, like Pandora Radio and Spotify. Cross voiced his frustration regarding high charges for wireless and data services, as compared to the rest of the world. He also touched on the lack of encouragement for entrepreneurships and innovations in Canada.
Alan Cross is a regular host on the radio station 102.1 The Edge. He has been the host of The Ongoing History of New Music for almost two decades and was named Program Director of the Year at the Canadian Music Week in 2005, 2006 and 2008. Cross has also written four reference books on music and recorded four best-selling audio books.