Alan Cross: Reflecting on 40 years in the radio business – National

It is a story that begins shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 6, 1968. It was my sixth birthday, an enormous deal in accordance with my mother and father as a result of that meant I might begin Grade One within the fall. Among the many presents I acquired, I solely keep in mind one: a Lloyds transistor radio from my grandmother. I hadn’t requested for a radio nor had my mother and father instructed Grandma to get me one. But there it was, full with a 9-volt battery and single ear earplug.

Up till then, the one radio I knew was what Mother and Dad listened to within the automobile or what blared from the radio within the kitchen. To my astonishment, there have been different radio stations, many broadcasting music 24 hours a day. I quickly discovered the decision letters and dial positions of not simply all of the stations in close by Winnipeg but in addition these from distant. At night time, when the ionosphere cooled and thickened, it acted as an enormous mirror for AM radio indicators and I used to be quickly utilizing my little Lloyds to take heed to broadcasts from Minneapolis, Denver, Chicago, Louisville and Cincinnati. Generally, frenetic Spanish may very well be heard, in all probability from some 250,000-watt border-blaster station in northern Mexico.

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It was magical.

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I began pestering my father to take me to a few of the stations in Winnipeg so I may see radio being made for myself. And if we have been driving round and heard {that a} station was broadcasting remotely at, say, a furnishings retailer, I’d beg my mother and father to cease on the retailer so I may watch because the DJ bloviated about an awesome deal on bed room suites.

By the point I acquired to highschool, I had a fairly good concept that I needed to work in radio. I noticed myself changing into a capital-J Journalist, a dogged reporter, information anchor and international correspondent. As a lot as I beloved their schtick, I used to be actually not going to finish up as a kind of long-haired, fast-talking, dope-smokin’ DJs on the music stations.

My first style of sitting behind a microphone got here in 1980 in my first 12 months on the College of Winnipeg. Again then, CKUW was a minuscule closed-circuit operation, broadcasting to 1 hallway and one cafeteria. My shift was 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Friday mornings, which assured a listenership of just about zero. And since there was no newsroom, all I did was play information and sometimes work up the braveness to speak a couple of music. Hey, it was a begin.

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Extra necessary was my part-time job at a grocery retailer. I discovered by means of the native paper {that a} model new FM radio station was going to open about 20 km away in Selkirk. What’s extra, the proprietor of the station was from my little city and made a cease for milk each Friday afternoon at round 5:15 p.m., simply as I used to be filling the dairy case. Goal acquired.

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I launched a full-on assault, begging for him to rent me. After many weeks, I acquired a letter inviting all employees to a pre-sign-on assembly. I’d been employed!

And so it got here to move that I made my industrial radio debut at 3:04:20 p.m. on Nov. 13, 1981. The very first thing I did was learn some sports activities scores and a climate report following the Broadcast Information report that was piped in from Toronto. I used to be an expert radio announcer!

Frankly, it wasn’t a lot. CFQX-FM was then a 5,000-watt family-owned enterprise in the course of a wheat discipline that performed elevator music. By the phrases of its license, each vocal composition needed to be counterbalanced by two instrumental alternatives. And since the announcers acquired to decide on their very own music, the sound of the station was extraordinarily uneven. Few native retailers cared to purchase industrial time and if nationwide manufacturers knew we existed, they didn’t care. No surprise it will definitely went bankrupt. (CFQX-FM nonetheless exists however, underneath new possession, flipped to nation in 1986 and moved from 92.9 MHz to 104.1 MHz the next 12 months. It’s now doing very effectively broadcasting from downtown Winnipeg.)

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Issues have been extraordinarily analogue again then. Vinyl information, reel-to-reel tapes, commercials on carts (an industrial model of the 8-track). After I was requested to fill in for a night shift, I needed to shut down the transmitter at 12:05 a.m. after one final newscast and the taking part in of God Save the Queen. It could be the morning man’s job to modify it on once more at round 5:57 a.m. after which day out a recording of O Canada so it ended simply because the Broadcast Information report began exactly at 6:00:00 a.m.

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I remained at CFQX-FM by means of the remainder of my time on the U of W, shifting to CJRL-AM in Kenora, Ont., beginning on July 18, 1983. The final supervisor made me a promise: the information man was going to give up any second. As soon as he was out, I may take his place. Till then, although, I needed to play information and discuss them.

The phrase got here down simply earlier than Labour Day. The previous newsman was completed. The job was mine. And lo, I achieved my dream of being an expert newsperson at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 1983, on the age of 21.

I hated it.

I wasn’t only a newsman. I used to be the whole newsroom. That meant all of the newsgathering, reporting and studying needed to be finished by me. First, newscast at 6 a.m. Prime-of-the-hour newscasts till 1 p.m. Residence for a nap, then out within the night to cowl city council, a union assembly for the employees on the Boise-Cascade paper mill, or some males’s fastball league sport. In mattress by 11. Rinse and repeat 5 days per week.

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On day 20, I acquired a telephone name from this system director at an oddly progressive rock station referred to as KX-96 in Brandon, Man. I’d unsuccessfully utilized for a job again within the spring and had forgotten about that exact rejection. However now he was on the telephone providing me full-time work for the princely sum of $845 a month, an enormous step up from the $825 I used to be getting in Kenora.

I left city so quick and with so little discover that my landlord despatched the sheriff after me for non-payment of lease.

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My first day of labor at KX-96 was October 9, 1983. The ten months I spent there have been a few of the biggest of my life. I’ll always remember the individuals I met. I’m nonetheless in contact with a few of them.

From there, I moved to Q-94FM in Winnipeg for 2 years, first because the all-night man (brutal) and ultimately rising to music director. Then, after a disagreement over music coverage with my program director, I began searching for a brand new gig. By sheer happenstance, I ran throughout an advert in RPM Journal, as soon as the bible of the Canadian radio and information trade. A station in Brampton, Ont., referred to as CFNY-FM was searching for a nighttime individual.

After I learn the advert, I used to be within the strategy of making use of for work at Ok-97 in Edmonton and CFOX in Vancouver. I had another clean cassette for my demo tape and simply sufficient postage — 76 cents — to ship issues off. I by no means heard from Edmonton or Vancouver, however I used to be employed by CFNY 5 days later.

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Packing up every thing into my previous Honda Prelude, I made the trek to Brampton, arriving on the station at precisely 12 midday on October 3, 1986. The station was taking part in in reception with a reporter masking information of the groundbreaking for what would change into the Skydome. As the primary shovel hit the earth, I turned a CFNY worker.

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And I’m nonetheless right here. Exterior of a three-year hiatus when the station and I noticed different individuals (Lengthy story; purchase me a drink someday and I’ll let you know about it), I’ve been related to CFNY/102.1 the Edge in some vogue ever since that October day in 1986. If I’m sincere, I believed I’d stick round for 3 or 4 years earlier than leaping to a different station — possibly for giant bucks within the U.S. or one thing. As a substitute, I’ve spent greater than half my life with one broadcast outlet, one thing that hardly ever occurs as we speak.

I nonetheless love radio, too, even after all of the modifications and evolution. LPs gave approach to CDs and CDs have been jettisoned for onerous drive playback models. Carts? Gone. Reel-to-reel tape? Are you kidding me? I’ve survived dangerous rankings, a number of modifications in possession, studio strikes, a parade of recent bosses, weirdo consultants, modifications in my work schedule (and thus my life-style), the introduction of satellite tv for pc radio, the rise of streaming and a myriad of different issues.

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And for individuals who assume that radio is lifeless, you’re flawed. It’s nonetheless extraordinarily standard, highly effective and worthwhile. About 90 per cent of the inhabitants tunes into radio each week. What would we do with out radio within the automobile? And in the event you’re an artist, one of the simplest ways to unfold the phrase about your new music is to have it performed on the radio.

It’s tough, although. Radio has to evolve with the instances on this digital world, which is akin to altering the wings on an airplane whereas flying at 38,000 ft. The primary massive step was constructing a station web site within the late 90s and making a stream so that folks can pay attention by means of their computer systems. Subsequent got here the addition of on-demand audio and video by means of these web sites. (Radio with footage! Who would have guessed?)

Now we’re deep into podcasts, one of the best type of on-demand audio leisure we’ve seen to this point. Slightly than combat streaming, we’re discovering methods to adapt and co-opt that know-how. We’re defending our house in your automobile’s dashboard and providing issues just like the RadioPlayer Canada app. We’re very, very deep into social media, too. And a few very good persons are investigating different methods wherein radio can serve its audiences.

I can’t consider that I’ve now been doing this for 40 years. It’s been an awesome trip and there’s (fortunately) no signal that it’s going to finish anytime quickly. That’s good as a result of I don’t know find out how to do the rest. And I don’t wish to.

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