By Ian Liberman
INTERVIEW WITH “PROFESSIONAL MUSIC GEEK” ALAN CROSS
Alan Cross is world renowned and respected writer, rock programmer, musicologist, author, and screenwriter. He has succeeded in a number of radio roles from disc jockey to program director. Cross is the founder of an outstanding website called A Journal Of Musical Things, has narrated numerous audiobooks, and has an informative podcast called The Ongoing History Of New Music.
The following is my interview with Alan Cross…
Alan, you are an internationally renowned musicologist who has written and produced a series of syndicated programs for radio stations all through the U.S., Europe, and Canada. Many of the series are almost three decades old (and still going strong). I have personally enjoyed listening to The Ongoing History Of New Music and The Secret History Of Rock. If you were to examine the effort and work that you put into these series, what, in your mind, has made them so successful?
No clue. Under the norms of radio, the show shouldn’t work. The host talks too much. He plays too much unfamiliar music. And he never mentions the name of the radio station during the show. The only thing that I can figure is that people (a) love a good story; and (b) have a need to know as much as possible about the music they love.
Who are your favorite rock, hard rock, and metal artists to listen to outside of work, and what other genres do you listen to?
Because I listen to music all day long, I kinda like silence during my down times. If I do listen to audio, it’s often audiobooks or podcasts. I’ll admit, though, to trying very hard to better appreciate jazz.
What rock star has impressed you the most during an interview?
My experience has been the bigger the star, the better the interview. The guys in AC/DC were super-gracious and humble. Tommy Lee was loads of fun. Bono is great because all you have to do is say “How’s it going?” and he’ll talk for a straight hour. John Paul Jones offered to make me tea. Dave Grohl comes across as your best drinking buddy. Eddie Vedder is chill.
As a program director for many FM Active Rock and Alt. Rock stations, does terrestrial rock radio have a future when competing with SiriusXM and streaming services like Spotify and Apple? If so, why?
Is the competition stiffer? Absolutely. A future? Definitely. With streaming, listeners get ZERO context with the music they hear. It goes in one ear and out the other. And because you don’t buy any of the music, you form less of a commitment to it.
SiriusXM is fantastic, but doesn’t always provide context—those reasons to CARE about music—like terrestrial radio should.
Smart radio group owners are investing in personalities, actual human beings that tell you why the music (and the stories around the music) matter.
Radio will simply continue to evolve in new ways. Who says that we’ll stay with FM and AM broadcasting? That’s just the delivery system. That could change.
Alan, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to share your insights with the Hard Rock Daddy audience.
ROLLING STONES COMPILATION
The Rolling Stones have announced a massive compilation career discography of their musical history from 1971-2016. All 15 records are digitally re-mastered, with original covers, including the Andy Warhol Sticky Fingers cover with the actual zipper included. The albums are pressed on heavyweight, 180-gram black vinyl, and individually numbered with limited-edition packages.
MICKEY MOUSE’S SECOND METAL DISNEY ALBUM
Last year, a compilation album of Disney-themed songs arranged and sung as metal tunes was released by Disney. It reached number one on Amazon’s metal chart. This month, Disney has released the follow-up album – Disney Super Guitar – an instrumental arrangement of classic Disney tunes with some of the most talented rock guitarists in the world. The album features a beautiful depiction of Mickey Mouse shredding on an electric guitar. The impressive list of participating guitarists includes: Zakk Wylde, Paul Gilbert, George Lynch, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, and more.
ROCK AND ROLL TRIVIA
APRIL TRIVIA QUESTION ANSWER
Which guitarist played the solo on Warrant’s 1990 hit “Cherry Pie”? Poison’s C.C. Deville