Reflecting on my 40 years in the radio business

[I passed a milestone this past weekend. I covered it in my weekly column for – AC]

This is a story that begins shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 6, 1968. It was my sixth birthday, a big deal according to my parents because that meant I would start Grade One in the fall. Among the presents I got, I only remember one: a Lloyds transistor radio from my grandmother. I hadn’t asked for a radio nor had my parents told Grandma to get me one. Yet there it was, complete with a 9-volt battery and single ear earplug.

Up until then, the only radio I knew was what Mom and Dad listened to in the car or what blared from the radio in the kitchen. To my astonishment, there were other radio stations, many broadcasting music 24 hours a day. I soon learned the call letters and dial positions of not just all the stations in nearby Winnipeg but also those from far away. At night, when the ionosphere cooled and thickened, it acted as a giant mirror for AM radio signals and I was soon using my little Lloyds to listen to broadcasts from Minneapolis, Denver, Chicago, Louisville, and Cincinnati. Sometimes, frenetic Spanish could be heard, probably from some 250,000-watt border-blaster station in northern Mexico.

It was magical.

I started pestering my father to take me to some of the stations in Winnipeg so I could see radio being made for myself. And if we were driving around and heard that a station was broadcasting remotely at, say, a furniture store, I’d beg my parents to stop at the store so I could watch as the DJ bloviated about a great deal on bedroom suites.

By the time I got to high school, I had a pretty good idea that I wanted to work in radio. I saw myself becoming a capital-J Journalist, a dogged reporter, news anchor and foreign correspondent. As much as I loved their schtick, I was certainly not going to end up as one of those long-haired, fast-talking, dope-smokin’ DJs on the music stations,

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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.

Alan Cross has 38345 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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