Questions for Alan Cross

Questions for Alan CrossI will be sitting down later this week with legendary broadcaster and writer Alan Cross. He'll be dropping by to record an episode of my podcast Toronto Mike'd, and I get an entire hour to ask him anything I want.


I know what questions I'll be asking him, but I'd love to know what you would ask him. What questions would you like me to ask Alan Cross?

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Here you go Mike,

1. Why does Indie repeat so much? In fact, they are more repetitive than most other stations.

2. Why is the programming on Indie so rigid? Same loop over and over. No room for originality, it seems.

3. Why not take a request or two an hour?

4. I thought independently owned would make a difference. It is no different than every other computer programmed station in Toronto. Nothing ground breaking at all. How does Alan feel about that?

5. What happened to Throne of Glory?

6. What exactly is the strategy at Indie? Why are all radio stations horrible in Toronto? Why is everyone so afraid of a little risk???

I'm guessing you will get the standard answers anyway. I hope you probe a bit. Andrew in his assessment was right on.

January 27, 2014 @ 9:47 AM


Where can I hear The Ongoing History of New Music? I loved that show.

January 27, 2014 @ 9:53 AM

Ryan G

I echo Sammi's comments completely.

Tell Alan that ironically, the station is actually pissing off the core audience they're chasing. This core group of listeners is extremely passionate and generally quite knowledgeable about music, so hearing tame impala, arcade fire and vampire weekend ad nauseum is cringeworthy. Often these are decent songs - they're just killed to death with repetition.

Now when I switch on Indie I can predict one of 10 songs i'm guaranteed to hear, and i immediately switch stations when I do.

Ya I know I know..first world problems, but they promote the hell out of the idea that listeners shape the sounds of the station. Tell 'em to practice what they preach.

Alan will tell you that it's a formula - that they need to play these songs repetitively because different people listen at different times. But the core audience tends to listen longer throughout the day, and thus they hear the repetition. So if they're going after a larger mass market, which I assume they are given their latest billboard/transit ad campaign, they won't change their sound.

Also, it would be nice if they expanded the back catalogue - instead of playing Clash forty times a day, how about 1 clash song, something from Roxy music, something from echo & the bunnymen, something from the stone roses, and so on.

I do like Bookie's Sunday night show - just to hear the variety and his insight. I'm not a fan of simon and garfunkel but he played that last night.

January 27, 2014 @ 10:13 AM

Ryan G

oh..and i don't know how much Alan is involved with the dj's, but if he is, have him aircheck Raina - she's very smooth, but she over does it with the clever segues. Too predictable now. I also find the bryan guy on the morning show a bit repetitive in his delivery. That show is better than it was, but i find it a little too formulaic compared to say, Bookie's show - at least he sounds more organic, but that's probably a testament to Bookie's talent.

January 27, 2014 @ 10:19 AM


1) The term "indie" is well established in the music industry. For music consumers, the expectation of the word is "independent artist". Calling the station "Indie" created a significant amount of confusion for listeners. How does he (and the station) respond to listeners who (rightfully) confused "indie" with independent artist, vs. independent ownership?

2) What was it like touring with William Shatner? Any interesting stories he can tell without burning any bridges?

3) Everyone will be asking about the OHMN, so I will too. What hurdles are in place to get ownership of the back-catalog of OHNM from Corus to play on Indie? What about producing new episodes? If it came down to just a financial issue, would the dollar amount be achievable by a Kickstarter-type fundraising?

4) The ultimate end-goal for music lovers would be to have 24/7, non-revokable, unrestricted, instant access to every song in their collection, if not every song ever made-- no matter where on the planet they are. What do you think the next, realistic, can-be-done-now step towards this goal is?

5) In this day and age, how does a new, unsigned artist a) get themselves on the radio and b) effectively promote themselves off the radio without being an annoying spammer or getting lost in the noise?

January 27, 2014 @ 10:41 AM


Big name artists often spend millions to record an album. Michael Jackson's "Invincible" was said to cost $30 million to record. Gun and Roses "Chinese Democracy" over $13 million.

Why? Where does that money go?

January 27, 2014 @ 10:49 AM


Where does Mr. Cross think terrestrial radio is heading? Does he believe like H&F that the future is in a talk radio format? Or is there still room for talk (intelligent & informative) and music?

January 27, 2014 @ 11:01 AM


What happened to Amanda Marshall? Afew really great songs then nothing.Did she morph into Joss Stone?

January 27, 2014 @ 11:37 AM


I don't think he could really answer this, but does he have a relatively short-list of all-time favourite bands?

How much time does he spend listening to older favourites vs. all the new stuff he must be exposed to?

How much of his typical day is structured around listening to music?

January 27, 2014 @ 11:41 AM

this guest

whatever happened
p.j. proby

January 27, 2014 @ 11:47 AM


For all you people complaining about Indie 88 repetition and unoriginality- all you have to do is look or listen to COB flagship station Rock 95. indie is a carbon copy, with a few genre substitutions. It's a proven model for COB. Alan Cross isnt going to change that.

January 27, 2014 @ 12:26 PM

Gary (sammi's brother)

@ Anon&on

You're right. No-one wants to take even a slight risk today. There are no breakthroughs without risk.

It is just frustrating as they hyped themselves as a lot more than what they have ended up being. Even all the billboards I see around the city are hype and they don't follow through. One billboard says something like....we play the underplayed. They overplay everything!

January 27, 2014 @ 12:59 PM

A Friend

Pls ask Alan about his CFNY days... working with Martin Streek and Bookie and what he really thought of Dean Blundell.

January 27, 2014 @ 1:04 PM


Ask Alan if there's any way to stop airing that annoying McDonalds Egg MuMuffin "Whaaaaat?" commercial. I realize that they have to sell airtime, but that spot was annoying the first time I heard it. Never mind the next 431 times.

January 27, 2014 @ 1:16 PM

Ryan G

@NW - you just sold a thousand more egg mcmuffins.

I too cringe when i hear that spot, but it stands out, and in a cluttered media environment, that's what they want...despite the annoyance.

And on the same topic, there' another ad currently airing that i can file under the Let's Trash Idiotic Men department. It's the guy singing a lullaby to his kid, and then the wife jumps in and sarcastically sings "i'll be glad when you leave the house for a while".

If it was the other way around, shit would be hitting the fan.

January 27, 2014 @ 1:20 PM


Ask him about the greatest song ever made. The Motors, Love and Loneliness

January 27, 2014 @ 3:09 PM


Ask him why he gave an overwrought, over-earnest speech during his Throne of Glory referencing The Spirit of Radio and alluding to the little yellow house and waxed bombastic about how Indie is going to save music when it's simply a heavily formatted modern rock station.

Recent additions to their playlist: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Adele, Gotye, Jack Johsnon, Dave Matthews, No Doubt, U2, Ellie Goulding, last year's American Idol winner. As well they're starting to play novelty hits like Pass the Dutchie and Bust a Move.

I guess, in short, ask him why Indie is such a joke.

January 27, 2014 @ 3:45 PM


I'm just going to take a guess here and say that Alan is just an advisor, and I bet he can't officially say much about the problems with Indie without burning any bridges.

The Throne of Glory set of his I heard was awesome. It seems to me that he has very little influence over the playlist, if any.

January 27, 2014 @ 3:56 PM

519 Rob

I'm curious if he would ever consider any offer that would put him back behind the mic monday - friday.

January 27, 2014 @ 4:46 PM


Hey Mike,

Ask him why he hates U2?

That is all.


January 27, 2014 @ 6:14 PM

want you

Ask him if Indie plans on hiring Dean blundell. I miss him in the mornings and i want some station to give him a show again. Fearless fred is awful on the edge, and I guess they fired Ajwoa because she is now On z103.5, they welcomed her to the show this morning

January 27, 2014 @ 6:30 PM


Can we have CKLN back now? Please?

January 27, 2014 @ 6:43 PM


Putting aside the huge disappointment that is Indie 88; here are a couple of Howard Stern type questions for Alan....

1. Who was the biggest jerk he ever interviewed?
2. Who was the dumbest in an interview?
3. Would Alan ever go back to CFNY?
4. What was his favorite interview?

January 27, 2014 @ 6:45 PM


1. In the March 2012 Macleans article, Dave Farough (Corus manager) said "It's not radio's job to break new music".

2. In that same article you said (to make radio relevant to the current generation, the powers) "need to think of a long term digital strategy and be damned with quarterly results. It's going to take an investment of time and money with a payoff that's a few years away."

This was 6 months before Indie 88 was granted the last fm license, beating out a bid that you had some involvement with. Were you referring to that unsuccessful bid in the Macleans article?
Now that you've attached yourself to Indie 88, could you revisit or comment on that quote?

3. I would say almost 0% of the tracks on your weekly Top 11 list have ever been played on Indie 88. What, if any, music input does Indie get (or take) from you (aside from your vinyl feature), or are you basically selling them your name and voice recognition?

January 27, 2014 @ 10:38 PM


With satellite radio, podcasts and smarts phones creating better in car entertainment than traditional radio, how does Indie 88 intend to compete not with other radio stations but rather the other ever growing popular technologies?

January 28, 2014 @ 6:49 AM


With satellite radio, podcasts and smarts phones creating better in car entertainment than traditional radio, how does Indie 88 intend to compete not with other radio stations but rather the other ever growing popular technologies?

January 28, 2014 @ 6:49 AM


What was he paid by CFNY and Corus over the years? (Not looking for a coy answer, the actual answer.)

January 28, 2014 @ 7:48 AM


I had high hopes for Indie to be an innovative station, but the music is too repetitive, and a carbon copy of the Edge's music.

January 28, 2014 @ 9:29 AM


So Indie is now playing Blink 182.

January 28, 2014 @ 10:56 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I will ask definitely ask Alan about his role at 88.1 and raise some of your concerns.

January 28, 2014 @ 10:58 AM



I can answer this one. She got royally screwed over by her label - Sony Records. She got trapped in a lockout and she walked away and her career got railroaded after that. Her debut album is in my top ten Canadian albums of all time. She has a raw, powerful voice and it's too bad they tried to make her poppy, which just wasn't her.


January 27, 2014 / 11:37

What happened to Amanda Marshall? Afew really great songs then nothing.Did she morph into Joss Stone?

January 28, 2014 @ 11:59 AM


I think it's painfully obvious that indie is simply an alternative formatted station, nearly identical to all other modern rock stations. However, it's worth noting that the playlist -- right down to the 'adventure' picks -- is 99.9 percent identical to Sonic 92.9, the Alt station Adam Thompson, Indie 88 PD, came from. I think it was a big mistake hiring a guy not from Toronto as PD.

January 28, 2014 @ 12:57 PM


Thanks JJ (12:57).
Since Lou Reed's passing - oft noted at Cross's site last fall, had 88.1 played anything of Reed's (including from Velvet Underground) beyond an iconic early 1970s 'hit'?
Has 88.1 played a Spoons song - either then or from a current 2010s decade CD release.? Same for a song from 'Grapes of Wrath's recent CD? How about recent 'Men without Hats' which I discovered via an AC blog posting?

Why does his own voice seemingly appear within every 8 minutes and 10 seconds of airtime at 88.1? I gave 88.1's station five varied listens after 102's morning show firing; I figured it was an excuse to plug the stereo back in. I also ended up hearing an alt 90s song in every block of under 25 minutes. It might have been 10 min. and 20 back with the Edge during their second half of the 2000s.
Is there room for modern Christian Rock within Toronto's radio market? This would be either as a stand alone station or as a Sunday morning programming block. 88.1 blocks out 88.3 (Family Life).

January 28, 2014 @ 2:57 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


"Is there room for a modern Christian Rock within Toronto's radio market?"

No sir, this isn't. There's likely far more demand in Toronto for a country music station, but not enough demand to actually have one.

88.3 is Kitchener.

January 28, 2014 @ 3:00 PM

Mike from Lowville

What was the name of the first live band he saw in a bar?

January 28, 2014 @ 5:42 PM


@ CQ and Toronto Mike,

'NY used to be big players of Switchfoot, which I think is currently the highest grossing Christian rock band out there. I own all their albums - I like their music. The new album is good.

I agree with your statements about the bands and playlists.

I checked out Sonic's playlists like @ JJ mentioned and holy crap was he/she right. Jeez. I pass the station every time I'm driving to downtown Edmonton although I've never listened to it. Not sure that I will either.


January 28, 2014 @ 5:46 PM

Mike from Lowville

@Mike I think if you look at the success of KX 94.7 out of Hamilton, Toronto could have had a country station but somebody making the big bucks chose not to.

January 28, 2014 @ 5:47 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


The only Switchfoot song CFNY played was Meant to Live, but they did play the hell out of it.

And nobody knew (including me) that they were a Christian rock band.

January 28, 2014 @ 6:07 PM


@ CQ Try Barrie's "Life 100" on 100.3. I don't know how much modern Christian rock they play, but they definitely have some.

January 28, 2014 @ 7:37 PM


A lot of the power players in the "glory days" of GTA radio came from western Canada, including Alan, why does he think that is?

But a lot of them have gone back to where they came from and he's still here.

I think with the morning show and program director and that Carlin guy on 88.1 we are seeing it's a drawback these days more than an asset...

January 28, 2014 @ 9:42 PM


@ Toronto Mike.

Yup and the other single from "The Beautiful Letdown" - "Dare You To Move" but it didn't get as much airplay as "Meant to Live".

I don't think most people would know that they are a Christian rock band. They certainly aren't Stryper and handing out Bibles at their concerts. Stryper did have awesome costumes though…


January 28, 2014 @ 10:44 PM


Ever since the demise of CKFH's country format (I can't even remember how long ago that was - early 80s? NW probably knows), country music has simply not succeeded in the Toronto market. It seems that the combination of KX94.7 Hamilton and KX96 (95.9) Ajax suffice. 94.7 doesn't get much past Yonge Street, and 95.9 pretty much the same, but going in the opposite direction. Both are owned and operated by Durham Radio Inc., though. An American friend, who actually does know a fair bit about Canada and has been in the country music radio industry for 20+ years, told me that Toronto is the only market in the top 100 in Canada and the US to not have a country music station. Even New York City and Los Angeles have (reasonably successful) country music stations. Toronto is many things, but apparently "country" is not one of them.

January 29, 2014 @ 2:14 PM

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