Come back with me to a Wednesday in January 1993. (Cue the harp-y memory flashback music.)
Me: You wanted to see me?
Boss: Ah, Cross. Yes. Sit down. I have some good news! We’re letting you keep your job!
Boss: As you know, there has been quite a bit of restructuring around the radio station and frankly, we weren’t sure if you were worth keeping. But we’ve figured out a way that you can stay with us.
Boss: I understand you have a degree in history. Useless things, usually, but it’s going to save you this time. We were going to change the format of the radio station from alternative to country, but since there seems to be something going on with this new–what do they call it? “Grunge” music? Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and so forth. It’s all noise to me–that we’re going to try to ride this wave like an old mule. But if we’re going to do that properly, we’re going to have to explain to the plebes what this music is all about. This is where you come in.
Me: I’m fired?
Boss: No, no! Well. Not really. Sort of. We’re going to reassign you. Instead of doing afternoons–
Me: But I like doing afternoons!
Boss: –we are going to sever your employment as a full-time staff member and hire you back on as an hourly part-timer–
Boss: You will move from doing weekday afternoons to Saturdays and Sundays from 6am until noon. The rest of the week you will work as a hired contractor–no benefits, you understand. That saves us money and therefore saves you–on this new special program. For as long as it lasts, anyway.
Me: Weekend mornings? No benefits?
Boss: This new program will serve an educational function for those weirdo Gen X people out there, an attempt at making people actually like this new…whatever this crap is. Certainly isn’t like Springsteen. Now that’s proper rock!
Boss: We are going to call this program The Ongoing History of New Music. Terrible name, I know, but since it’s not going to last very long, why spend too much time thinking about it, right?
Me: The On-–
Boss: It will run one hour per week. And since we don’t expect too many people will really care about it–our research shows that these kinds of programs inevitably fail–we will schedule it at 7pm Sunday nights.
Me: Opposite 60 Minutes?
Boss: Yes, that we when you screw it up and whole thing goes down in flames, no one will notice. Maybe a few musical weirdos, but who cares about them. Am I right? Any questions?
Me: Look, I appreciate the opportunity, but–
Boss: Oh, and if you don’t accept these terms, you’re fired.
Boss: Yes. Out on your ass. But like I said, this isn’t going to work, so you won’t have to do it for long.
Me: And then I can go back to afternoons?
Boss: No, you’ll be fired. We’ll say we tried and end up saving money for the company. More for the bottom line. My bonus is looking good for this year! Thanks for dropping by. Now go away and figure out how to do everything I just told you.
Boss: Good day.
Boss: I said “GOOD DAY,” sir.
Me: I, uh. Right. Yes. What just happened?
That’s pretty much how it happened. Somehow, though, I’m still here. And the radio program is still here. And the guy who assigned me the gig? He’s dead. Heart operation complication.
What was supposed to crash and burn in six months is now an internationally-syndicated radio property that has spun off books, CDs, audio books, websites and–still hoping–a TV show. This is the story of how it all came together. At least as I remember it.
Songs featured this week:
- Sex Pistols, “God Save the Queen”
- Joy Division, “Transmission”
- Voice of America, “Story of Love”
- Billy Idol, “Mony Mony”
- Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Give It Away”
- Hole, “Celebrity Skin”
The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:
- 102.1 The Edge/Toronto – Sunday night at 7, Monday night at 11 with archives show Tuesday and Wednesday at midnight.
- Live 88-5/Ottawa
- 107.5 Dave-FM/Kitchener
- FM96/London – Sunday night at 7, Monday night at 11
- The Drive/Kingston
- 98.1 The Bridge/Lethbridge – Saturday night at 6, Sunday morning at 10am
- Rock 97.7/Grand Prairie – Sunday nights at 6.
- Sonic 102.9/Edmonton
- The Zone/Victoria
- Live 105/Halifax
We’re still looking for more affiliates in Vancouver, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor, Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.
If you’re in the US and you want to stream the show, I wish I could help. A performing rights organization called SESAC has made threatening noises about suing non-American radio stations who dare stream into the US without paying crazy fees. Most Canadian broadcasters had no choice but to geo-block their streams. But hey, if you know of an American station that would like to take the show, contact me and we’ll make it a priority.
Oh, and good news: The show will start running on OneFM in Singapore in May. From there. we’re hoping to go deeper into Asia and the make a run at Australia and New Zealand.
Anyone else? Love to hear from you. Just email me at [email protected].