The Ongoing History of New Music Podcast

One of the best podcasts is a show you likely already know and love. The Ongoing History of New Music, hosted by Alan Cross (hear his episode of Toronto Mike'd here), has been heard on CFNY (and other Corus radio stations) for almost 25 years. Ok, it went on hiatus for a while when they let Cross go in 2011, but it returned in 2014 and is still in production.

The Ongoing History of New Music has also been available as a podcast these past few months. I've been listening to it and it's the exact same show you hear on the radio with one exception. Instead of playing the whole song, they play a small portion. How small seems to depend on the episode.... the recent episode about Pearl Jam included about 20 seconds of each song but the Beastie Boys episode contained significantly shorter samples. Nevertheless, all the non-musical content is there, and that's the key to the program.

The editing for the podcast is being done by Rob Johnston and I chatted with him about when older episodes will find their way to the archive. He tells me he typically puts the podcast up on the Wednesday after it airs on the stations and he's getting to older shows as he finds time. Rob, by the way, was my guest for episode 159 of Toronto Mike'd.

So when you're sampling new podcasts this summer, you might want to subscribe to an old favourite. Search for Ongoing History of New Music in your podcatcher of choice.

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I listen to the podcast and then when they reference a song, I go to Spotify and play it. it works pretty well.

I really enjoy Ongoing History. in my single days on Sunday evenings I used to turn the radio on, grab a glass of wine, and just listen to it. great end to my weekends

June 12, 2017 @ 9:42 AM

WestCoast Irv

I find it baffling that 102.1 would even bother producing this show anymore. It's a perfect example of "old out of touch radio guys". Edge's primary market is millennials so why are they playing a show that appeals to the Gen X crowd? And why do they have a host that really has no appeal to that demo. And before you get all pissed off at me, that's not a slag against Cross. It's just a reality. Wolfman Jack was pretty big at one point with baby boomers. My generation doesn't care.

The real proof in the pudding is the low number of listens on social media. Given the platform and the supposed "fame" of this show, it's numbers are insignificant. Millennials LIVE online and views/hits are their ratings system.

The past is over. Do they really believe shows about about the Beastie Boys appeal to the Snapchat generation? Does the Millennial crowd even care about music documentaries? And how many times can you rehash history?

And what's the future of this show? The "rock stars" of today are not musicians, they're technologists. My guess is they could host a show called "The Ongoing History of Technology" and that would attract the same audience (or higher).

June 12, 2017 @ 11:48 AM


Full disclosure: I am a millennial. I like that this show introduced me to The Smiths and Ministry and other bands that never belonged to my generation. It's made me listen to bands I never would have otherwise wanted to listen to. Whenever I heard this show on the edge, when I would be driving my first ever car, it was something I wanted to crank up.

That being said, I'm not a huge fan of his on-air persona or opinions on music. I prefer facts. I remember him once saying he didn't like Fleet Foxes and some other band because they were boring.

June 12, 2017 @ 5:00 PM


The man just reads Wikipedia in a decent voice. You're being conned.

June 12, 2017 @ 7:02 PM

Greg W.

Also, Alan Cross and Michael Hainsworth announced that the Geeks & Beats podcast is starting up again in July.

June 12, 2017 @ 8:23 PM

WestCoast Irv

I don't think it's bad to have Cross reading Wikipedia (which I don't believe that's what he does). Who cares where he sources his information? He presents it in his own fashion and that works for a certain segment of the market.

Where it doesn't work is with the Millennial audience. In fact I'd argue that the typical radio listener cares so LITTLE about music they don't have much use for this type of stuff . Same goes for those listening to Classic Rock radio. This type of product is better suited to being on Spotify or on Beats 1 or even Sirius XM. FM radio listeners in this day and age aren't music fans. They listen to a preset number of songs on perpetual repeat that they've heard several thousand times in the past.

Alan Cross is a Generation X guy in a Millennial world. Nirvana was a long time ago.

June 12, 2017 @ 8:42 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

As a Generation X guy, I enjoy the program. I listened to the Oasis episodes on my ride today.

June 12, 2017 @ 8:46 PM

WestCoast Irv

Yes, you are Generation X and that is who this show appeals too. Thing is, 102.1 is a station that wants to appeal to Millennials. Don't you find it odd they went ahead and cancelled Spirit of Radio Sundays (highest ratings on the station) yet they continue with this show? And what's Alan Cross working at a station like 102.1. Doesn't he belong on Boom?

And it's not that Gen X or "old" people can't get it. They can. Zane Lowe on Beats 1 is a music programming legend and about the same age as you Mike. Ebro, the PM drive guy on Beats is too. They get the old AND the new. I use Beats 1 because they're an excellent example of where classic meets modern. A live DJ classic sounding radio station which accepts the modern reality of music. There is no format. Modern festivals don't have a specific genre of music. Why should modern radio? At least radio that appeals to music fans. Imaging 102.1 appealing to a "music fan" is like imaging Taco Bell appeals to Mexican food purists.

Finally, what future does 102.1 have? Why is Apple Beats 1 called "Beats" 1 and not "Rock 1". Because Beat based music is what's popular. Much the the chagrin (and to my personal joy) the "rock snobs" of yesteryear are finally realizing no one cares about their music. Oh they'll find some kid that wears a Beatles shirt as proof rock is alive and well. It's like me telling you that smoking is OK because my Grandpa smoked 70 years and was fit as a fiddle.

102.1 is a failure for many reasons. One major reason is there is hardly any alternative rock music left that's even "OK". There certainly isn't enough to create a viable format. If 102.1 wants to survive, it needs to adopt more of a Triple J style format. Expand it's format and styles of music (which is really what it was from 85 to about 92 (minus the shitty year). They could even play Chance the Rapper.

But they won't.

June 12, 2017 @ 10:42 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@WestCoast Irv

I'm just glad the podcast exists.

June 13, 2017 @ 8:29 AM

WestCoast Irv


Honestly I think they should go beyond the podcast format (it's so dated) and offer it up for streaming as well. This way they could include the entire song (though it requires a payment). I used to love the show myself to be honest. But, unlike many, I've no interest in music from the past except in very small amounts.

June 13, 2017 @ 10:40 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@WestCoast Irv

I personally prefer podcasts to streaming... but everyone has their own preferences.

I'm at a point now where if your podcast isn't available on Google Play Music, I most likely won't keep up with it. I'm sure others are the same with iTunes, etc.

June 13, 2017 @ 10:49 AM

WestCoast Irv

Oh, if you're not on Google Play or iTunes then you're not likely to get listeners unless they're really committed.

One side note though. "Subscriptions" on something like iTunes are meaningless. I subscribed to a bunch of CBC podcasts for years but rarely every listened to them. Even "downloads" has no real measure as a lot of people download but don't listen. Streaming..on the other likely an active listener.

June 13, 2017 @ 5:18 PM

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