My New Gig in the World of Academia–Sort Of, Thanks to Ryerson University

I am a big disappointment to my parents. Having descended from a long, long of teachers, it was expected that I, too, would end up teaching young skulls full of mush somewhere above grade 7. Summers off, good benefits, plenty of vacation time and PA days–why would anyone choose any other vocation?

Mom sure loved it: 32 years as a grade two teacher. Dad? High school history and geography before moving to principal and then in the Ministry of Education. Add in a bunch of uncles and a few aunts and you ended up with Christmas dinners that revolved around the subjects of public schools.

I, however, would have none of it. It was that damn stereo system that I bought with the money I earning from my first job: flipping burgers and twirling ill-formed soft ice cream cones. By the time I got into junior high, I was determined not to be a teacher. Sorry, mom and dad.

But they never gave up hope that I might eventually see the light and see the benefits of an honorable teaching profession. And now, 35 years after I got into radio, they are breathing a little easier after this press release came out today.

The Allan Slaight Radio Institute Opens at Ryerson University

Alan Cross appointed Allan Slaight broadcaster in residence

TORONTO, February 3, 2016 — Ryerson University announced today the opening of the Allan Slaight Radio Institute at the RTA School of Media in the Faculty of Communication and Design. Named for broadcasting pioneer Allan Slaight, the new radio institute was created through a $3 million gift from The Slaight Family Foundation to support the next generation of radio innovators and entrepreneurs.

The Allan Slaight Radio Institute is a state-of-the-art broadcast and teaching facility that will strengthen Ryerson’s position as the educational leader in radio broadcast and production. The Slaight family gift is also fostering excellence through newly created student awards, support for independent student productions and hands-on practical experience at Ryerson’s digital radio station, ‘SpiritLive.’

Gary Slaight, president, The Slaight Family Foundation, said, “My dad started in radio at 16 in Moosejaw Saskatchewan and became a trailblazer in Canadian broadcasting. It is fitting that the Allan Slaight Radio Institute is the launch site for future careers and innovation in radio and broadcasting. Our family is very pleased to help make this happen for students.”

In conjunction with the opening of the Allan Slaight Radio Institute, Ryerson is also pleased to announce that award-winning broadcaster and program director Alan Cross has been appointed Allan Slaight broadcaster in residence. Alan is a nationally recognized broadcaster and rock musicologist, and will bring his experience and insight to the Allan Slaight Radio Institute as guest lecturer and student-project mentor.

Charles Falzon, dean, Faculty of Communications & Design, said, “An entrepreneur himself, Alan Cross will inspire our students to find new and exciting opportunities in the radio and broadcasting industry.”

Lori Beckstead, director, Allan Slaight Radio Institute, said, “the creation of the Institute has sparked new interest in courses on radio and podcasting. Students are excited to work in the well-equipped and leading-edge facility. The Allan Slaight Student Production Fund has already provided financial support to several students creating innovative radio programs, with another round of applications coming this month. The Institute is fast becoming a vibrant hub of production activity.”

Mohamed Lachemi, interim president and vice-chancellor, Ryerson University, noted that “we are grateful to the Slaight family for this inspirational generosity. It is from here that young people will continue the work of Allan Slaight, and take the industry in new and exciting directions.”

Ryerson University is Canada’s leader in innovative, career-oriented education and a university clearly on the move. With a mission to serve societal need, and a long-standing commitment to engaging its community, Ryerson offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Distinctly urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to more than 41,500 students, including 2,400 master’s and PhD students, 3,200 faculty and staff, and nearly 170,000 alumni worldwide. Research at Ryerson is on a trajectory of success and growth: externally funded research has doubled in the past five years. The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada’s leading provider of university-based adult education. For more information, visit .

Okay, so it’s not a full-time teaching position or anything with tenure track, but at least my parents can say that I worked for a university in a non-custodial position. That counts for something, right?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “My New Gig in the World of Academia–Sort Of, Thanks to Ryerson University

  • February 4, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Congrats Alan! Sounds like a cool gig. Let me know if you do part-time distance learning – I’d love to sign up :^)


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