The ongoing History of New Music started as a radio program on a Canadian alternative music station in 1993. A reluctant broadcaster named Alan Cross hosted it. He had a vague mandate from his bosses to create a show about the history of alternative music. He was sure it was going to fail. Twenty-seven years and 880 episodes later, Alan Cross continues to teach listeners the Ongoing History of New Music on the radio and in podcast form. His passion for sharing knowledge as well as his experience as a music journalist and radio program director make him an important teacher on a subject that often lacks knowledgeable and reliable sources.
As a podcast, the Ongoing History of New Music spends about 20-30 minutes unpacking a topic, band, or person related to the alternative music genre. The radio show stretches to an hour as Alan Cross plays songs as musical examples. Past episodes include the following:
- “Why Punk Happened” (Mar. 22, 2017)
- “The Truth About Concert Tickets” (May 9, 2018)
- “Mumford and Sons” (Jun. 24, 2019)
- “Musicians With Disabilities” (Dec. 27, 2019)
Alan Cross’s passion for music quickly shone through the shaky mandate and lack of support he initially received. He diligently researches each episode to provide passionate music fans with a serious look at the music they love. Even after many of the obvious topics have been covered, Alan Cross continues to dig deep into his own curious music fandom to create fascinating show topics.
Along with his passion, Alan Cross is also one of the most experienced music broadcasters in Canada. As program director of an alternative radio station in Toronto, he chose the playlist that shaped the alternative music movement in Canada. He also interviewed many of the hottest bands as they toured through Toronto, receiving first-hand knowledge and unique insight into this genre.
While alternative music has faded in dominance recently, the Ongoing History of New Music continues to contextualize the impact of the genre’s golden era and track new developments. The most recent series topic explores alt rock revivals from punk, ska, emo, and garage rock, to New Wave. Alan Cross reveals that musical tastes are cyclical, and though alternative rock is currently on a downward trend, there are ways it continues to be relevant.
While this show is not presented from a Christian perspective, Alan Cross seeks to fairly present the motivations of the musicians he is covering. For example, he spends several minutes unpacking the faith of Marcus Mumford, and his parents' involvement in several healing movements. He explains how this background affected the music Mumford and Sons created. While some shows glamourize the celebrity lifestyle, Alan Cross is careful to present an accurate account of those involved in the creation of this music. Band members open up about mental health and addiction, debunking some of the myths that are perpetuated elsewhere. The Ongoing History of New Music is an excellent podcast for those who want to learn more about the cultural impact of alternative music. (CuriousCast)