Everyone likes the sound of a familiar voice. Nowhere else is that more true than in the world of radio.
But what happens when the familiar voice that gets you to work, drives you home or helps you party it up suddenly disappears from your life, replaced by the sound of another that’s just not as friendly or funny?
Where do those voices go?
In many cases, they simply move on to other radio stations. After seven years rocking the airwaves on Toronto’s Classic Rock Q107, on-air host Alex Hindmarch left his highly-rated evening show last month to host afternoons on K-Rock 105.5 FM in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Colleen Rusholme, another former Q107 personality and most recently of Astral Media’s Boom 97.3 FM, successfully found work on Hamilton’s Vinyl 95.3 FM as co-host of the morning show with Darrin Laidman.
For others, the next career step takes a little more innovation. Jason Barr, the long-time co-host of The Dean Blundell Show on 102.1 The Edge, found himself out of work in August of 2010 when he was let go by parent company Corus Entertainment. Teaming up with fellow Toronto radio veteran Chris Biggs (laid off from Virgin 99.9 in June of 2010 by Astral Media), the pair started a website to find work together. The gambit paid off: In January of 2011, they became the new morning men on St. Catharine’s hard rock station, 97.7 HTZ-FM.
Others teams, broken up by the sharp blade of the corporate axeman, find themselves back together and blazing new trails. After “Humble” Howard Glassman was released from his morning duties at Boom 97.3 FM in May of this year, his former Edge, AM640 and Mix 99.9 co-host Fred Patterson received the same treatment in July as program director for Corus’ Wolf 101.5 FM. The two have since teamed up again to launch the internet-based HumbleandFredRadio.com, set to debut an online show on October 15th.
And then there’s the story of Alan Cross.
The long-time host of The Ongoing History of New Music on 102.1 The Edge, Cross was let go by Corus Entertainment this past June. Suddenly unemployed after almost 25 years with the station, the radio veteran found himself in very unfamiliar territory.
“Having worked 10-12 hour days for years, I didn’t know what to do with myself,” said Cross in a recent email interview with Biff Bam Pop! “That’s why the dog got walked and the garage got power-washed so many times in the first week.”
He didn’t remain inactive for long. By July 20th, the famed musicologist had launched the website AlanCross.ca. Billed as, “A Journal of Musical Things,” it boasts news, reviews and videos filtered from the web through Cross’ informed musical taste.
“I figured I’d better do something to keep the brand alive. Besides, I had the time.”
That extra time also allowed Cross to find a new on-air opportunity with Astral Media, as host of a new two-hour long weekly show called The Secret History of Rock with Alan Cross, set to launch next month across Canada and in Toronto on Boom 97.3 FM on October 16th.
“It’s been a little tough getting back into the writing habit (and the discipline required) plus it’s a new format,” said Cross. “After 691 shows (of the Ongoing History of New Music), it’s hard to start thinking in new ways.”
Cross also remains busy with speaking engagements, a weekly column with the Metro commuter papers and this fall, will act as moderator on stage to former Star Trek captain William Shatner for his How Time Flies tour, singing songs and telling stories about his career. The cross-Canada trek will have stops in Vancouver, Regina, Edmonton and Winnipeg before coming to Toronto’s Massey Hall on November 3rd.
For radio folk like Alan Cross, Humble & Fred and Biggs & Barr, finding new opportunities has meant embracing the online world to create new paths, as well as building and maintaining an audience no matter where life takes them.
Turns out that DJ you knew and loved hasn’t moved so far away after all.
JW Ward is a Toronto-based writer, media personality and professional cynic. Follow him on Twitter at @jasonwardDOTca, through his website at www.jasonward.ca and every Thursday here at Biff Bam Pop!
3 Replies to “Life after airtime: Where your favourite radio DJ could be right now”
Legitimately thought about this yesterday.
Also, Barry Taylor, formerly of CFNY (http://www.torontomike.com/2009/07/barry_taylor_reveals_all_-_cfn.html), is now working for Y108 in Hamilton on Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 6pm. Ironic he’s back working for the company that fired him…
Yeah, I know the initial hearing your favourite mourning dj was let go really plays with your head when you’re growing up. But don’t forget it takes more than jocks to make a station run “profitably”. With places like Ryerson & Humber pumping out classloads annually of eager young radio wannabees willing to do the jobs of copywriters, salesmen, traffickpeople, etc. at a fraction of the salary, it makes it hard for anyone to maintain a career in the field.