Job Title: Music director and assistant program director, Sonic radio 102.9 FM
Why He’s a Top 40: For being an ambassador to Edmonton’s rock music scene and expanding chances for local talent to succeed
There are bands that wouldn’t be where they are without Adam Thompson – or at least it would’ve taken a lot longer.
As music director for Sonic radio 102.9 FM, Thompson often goes above and beyond the call of duty to find the best new alternative rock available, giving Sonic its distinctive je ne sais quoi – part of a “new” wave of skinny-tie synth rock that changed the Nickelbackian radio paradigm about five years ago.
Motivated by a simple love of good music, Thompson finds particularly fertile ground on the local scene, declaring: “There are hundreds of bands in Edmonton, and dozens that are incredible.” He has made the Sonic Band of the Month promotion a mission to spread the word across Canada, unearthing acts like Christian Hansen & the Autistics, a Talking Heads-like group that he helped get national recognition and radio play, including on the XM Satellite network. There are other worthy local bands Thompson has championed: The Wet Secrets, Hot Panda, The Faunts and, on the national level, USS and illScarlett, which got their first big breaks outside Toronto on Sonic.
Having been on-air with Sonic since the beginning as an evening show host, Thompson was hired back after a year-long travel stint and named music director at the end of 2007. As he guides the tastes of young music fans while at work, Thompson serves up a deeper message for youth on the side by delivering talks in area high schools that deal with promoting healthy relationships. “Let’s face it, only a few of the 17-year-olds will be into why you’re there,” he says, “but that’s all you need.” It’s something he took on after an eight-month trip to Cambodia and other Asian countries.
“I’d been in radio my entire adult life. I wanted to take a step back, to see some different things with a new perspective. I found out that we have it really good in Canada. It became important to make better use of my time and do things for people other than yourself.” These include helping new immigrants at the John Humphrey Centre For Peace & Human Rights understand their rights as Canadians, a boon to the quality of life in Edmonton that can’t be properly measured.