Alan Cross (l) with Kayvon Zahedi.
Alan Cross is a Canadian radio broadcaster and a writer on music. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he is best known nationally and internationally as host of the syndicated radio series The Ongoing History of New Music, The Secret History of Rock and ExploreMusic.
Originally from the small prairie town of Stonewall, Manitoba, Cross began his radio career with the University of Winnipeg's campus radio station, CKUW, in 1980. He subsequently joined radio stations in Selkirk, Kenora and Brandon before returning to Winnipeg's CHIQ. He then joined CFNY on October 3, 1986 as an overnight announcer. Cross had always wanted to work at CFNY and says on his website that he had, “first heard about [CFNY] through Rush’s "Spirit of Radio" when I was still in high school and remember thinking to myself ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to work there one day?’”
In 1989, Cross became the station's afternoon drive time host. The following year, he moved to the 10 a.m.-2 p.m. slot; in 1993, he returned to afternoon drive and remained there until 2001. Beginning in February 1993, he also became host of The Ongoing History of New Music.
Cross left CFNY in 2001 to become program director of CJXY in Hamilton, where he oversaw the station's frequency switch to become Y108. During this time he continued to host The Ongoing History of New Music. He subsequently returned to CFNY as program director in mid-January 2004, remaining in that role until moving to Corus Entertainment's interactive media division, Splice Media (now called Corus Interactive and Integrated Solutions), in 2008 to launch the ExploreMusic project — although CFNY still aired The Ongoing History of New Music until 2011. He also hosted the television program ExploreMusic on aux.tv.
Cross was fired from Corus Entertainment in early July 2011, after the company restructured their online content department. In an interview with the Toronto Star, Cross said that there was no ill will between himself and Corus. Cross’ departure effectively brought an end to The Ongoing History of New Music, because Corus Entertainment owned the show. He then began working on a different show, The Secret History of Rock, for Astral Media.
In 2013, he also joined Rock95 Broadcasting's new CIND-FM as a music consultant and part-time on-air personality. As of fall 2014, he has returned to CFNY and relaunched The Ongoing History of New Music, as well as a new weekday programming feature called Adventures in Vinyl.
The Secret History of Rock
The Secret History of Rock is the syndicated radio program that Alan Cross hosts, writes, and produces. The show is similar to Cross’ old syndicated show, The Ongoing History of New Music, in that Cross will provide information on a topic and then play music from a band that is related to the topic that he is talking about.
Unlike The Ongoing History of New Music, Cross rarely does entire episodes dedicated to one band. Rather he will discuss in depth about a few bands, and how they relate to the larger music world. The Secret History of Rock also differs from The Ongoing History of New Music in that it's two hours (instead of the old one hour program), and there is focus on classic alternative rock.
Cross begins every episode of The Secret History of Rock by telling the listener a “secret” they may not have known before. These secrets range from the life span of a CD to how gondolas are made. These facts are things that Cross finds interesting, and the purpose of this intro is to end with the tag “so there’s a secret about (blank), and here are some secrets of rock. Each episode also ends with Cross listing off what he calls “useless information.” He warns the listener that he is not responsible for what they do with this information, but he hopes that they use it wisely.
A Journal of Musical Things
AJournalofMusicalThings.com is the website owned and operated by Alan Cross. Cross uses this website as his main platform to communicate to the world. On the site people can stream The Secret History of Rock on demand, contact Cross, and read his blog posts.
The posts that Cross makes range in content, from links to new music, to interesting articles that he has read on other music websites. In these posts Cross is normally opinionated and gives his views openly. Cross is especially critical of the current status of radio stations and culture. He often comments that companies will need to make great changes if they are to stay competitive with online streaming services.
Cross uses his website to help promote new music. He takes music submissions, and posts songs that he likes, or thinks are worth listening to. The mission statement of AJournalofMusicalThings.com is “[f]iltering what’s happening in music to save you time, money and effort.”
Cross has made a variety of public speaking appearances. These public speaking events usually involve him being a keynote speaker on a topic. Cross has given speeches at university graduations, and music festivals. Cross has presented, and participated in panel discussions at Canadian Music Week, and helped judge CILV-FM's 2012 Big Money Shot Battle of the Bands contest. Cross can be booked for public speaking events at his website.
- The Alternative Music Almanac (1995)
- The Making of Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral (1996)
- Over the Edge: The Revolution and Evolution of New Rock (1997)
- 20th Century Rock and Roll: Alternative Rock (2000)
- The History of Alternative Rock, volumes 1-4 (audio book series) (editorial and research by Nathalia Ribeiro)
Cross was the host and quizmaster, for one year, of a regional broadcast of Reach For the Top. The show was broadcast on CHCH-TV in Hamilton during the 1990/91 school year and included teams from Hamilton, Niagara, Toronto, Peel & Halton. Ancaster High and Vocational School was the winner of the tournament in that year.
- "Alan Cross hired back by Edge 102.1". Toronto Star, July 17, 2014.
- "Radio sweethearts share a love of tunes and travel". Post City, January 2013.
- "Alan Cross joins Indie 88.1 as station readies to air". BlogTO, May 24, 2013.