What’s on my Zite? Featuring Alan Cross

Alan Cross is a professional music geek, Canadian radio broadcaster for the Secret History of Rock, writer, public speaker and consultant. Follow Alan on Twitter: @alancrossAlan Cross

Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to chat with us. Speaking of your busy day…what does a day in the life of Alan Cross look like?

Up at seven, two hours of writing blog entries beginning at eight (many culled from Zite links), then writing radio shows, working as a consultant for my radio station client, voice work in the home studio (or elsewhere), prepping for speaking engagements, working on assorted other contracts.

Talk about busy!

No two days are ever the same.

Now, tell us a little more about what gets you going. Where was your love of music born?

When I was six, my grandparents gave me a transistor radio for my birthday. It opened up the world to me. About six years later, my uncle (who had a job on the side, servicing jukeboxes) gave me a big box of forty-fives. From there, things just kinda went…crazy.

So it seems! You’ve worked with an impressive list of radio programs. Which experience was the most enriching in your career?

Working at the legendary CFNY/Toronto back in the mid-eighties was amazing. I’m so thankful to have been part of that crew. But more recently, my most enriching experience wasn’t with radio at all. In 2011, I had a chance to do a stage production with William Shatner—yes, him—on a cross-Canada tour. Each night featured me and him in armchairs chatting about his career. Unbelievable.

That’s tough to top. Where will your career take you next?

I was the Director of Content for a traveling museum exhibit called The Science of Rock’n’Roll, which just finished its first engagement in Kansas City. It’s now in the process of moving to the new Michigan Science Centre for a chunk of 2013. I’m also on my way to Singapore this weekend to talk to a science center about the prospects of them licensing the exhibit for Asia.

Speaking of Rock’n’Roll, have you met any famous musicians?


Who was your favorite?

The ones that really stand out are Bowie, Bono, Paul McCartney, Eddie Vedder, Pete Townshend, Jack White, Joe Strummer, Noel Gallagher, Dave Grohl, the Beastie Boys, Kate Bush, Robert Smith, the Chili Peppers, Chris Martin…

You got us beat there, hands down. What if you could meet any musician, from any decade, who would it be and why?

I never got a chance to talk to Kurt Cobain, so that’s a blot on my resume. I also need me a Rolling Stone. Mick or Keef—I don’t care.

You mentioned that Zite provides inspiration for your blog entries. Does your Zite cover any topics that aren’t related to music? If so, what are they?

I’m a huge science and technology nerd, so I use Zite to keep me up to date on what’s happening in those areas. I also religiously check Autos, Apple News and Travel.

If you could add one new category to Zite, what would it be?

Strange, but I’ve never NOT found a category I’ve needed.

Alan, that’s music to our ears. In all seriousness though, what are some of your favorite sources of content on Zite?

Mental Floss is fun. So is Brain Pickings. I also always look at material from Daily Galaxy.

We’ve seen that you’ve shared a number of articles via Twitter. How do you decide which articles to share?

I use anywhere from 10 – 15 articles a day when aggregating and curating material for my site, http://www.alancross.ca. When I find something that’s cool but doesn’t really fit the personality of the website, I tweet them just the same.

Outside of Twitter, what is your relationship with technology? Do you love it, hate it, does it inspire you?

My life is completely intertwined with technology. I love all the gadgets and toys—as long as they work (and work together) as advertised. Meanwhile, my wife is the exact opposite. She’s never sent an SMS message in her life—and has no interest in doing so.

OK, Alan, in closing, we’ve got two important questions for you…What is the single most interesting piece of music trivia that you wish the world knew?

Tough one. But here’s a bit people should share: Liam Gallagher of Oasis/Beady Eye has six toes on each foot.

Um, wow. How about this one: if you were to create a playlist of your top five songs, what would it look like?

“Head Like a Hole” by Nine Inch Nails
“I Am the Resurrection” by Stone Roses
“Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who
“Rock’n’Roll Star” by Oasis
“Transmission” by Joy Division

Rock on, Alan. Rock on.


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