FAIRBANKS — One of Fairbanks’ top music aficionados, a guy who runs a radio station, promotes bands, hosts touring musicians at his house and has music playing during all waking hours, has zero interest in picking up an instrument.
Brady Gross, a 30-year-old full-time University of Alaska Fairbanks student, is general manager of the the student-run radio station at UAF, a position that has allowed him to promote, share and listen to music he loves.
“It’s really great to not play music, that sounds really weird,” he said. “I can stand back and be a fan, and say, ‘Oh, I found this really amazing musician. I want to see them play and I want to share that music with other people.’”
On the Friday afternoon before classes start, music was piping from the speakers on his desk in an office overlooking the campus. He says his favorite rotation includes Death Grips, Grimes and, he admits, Beyoncé’s latest, “Beyoncé.”
His laptop screen is loaded with a news feed of dozens of music blogs that he reads religiously, admitting that he can’t remember the last time he read a novel.
“I grew up in Washington state, in Puget Sound, and I had always been interested in music,” he said. “In school I played an instrument and that was about it, and I never really found I had the ambition to practice a guitar for hours and hours, but I could sit at a computer or in a music store and listen to music for hours on end.”
It’s a love that has only grown since he’s grown older.
Three years ago, Gross came to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to study journalism after five years in the Navy as a radioman on the USS Augusta submarine, specializing as a crypto technician. He picked Alaska after seeing the documentary film “Alone in the Wilderness.”
“I started to get obsessed with Alaska,” he said. “My dad grew up in the Aleutians on Adak island and it seemed to work out and it was a good chance to have an adventure.”
He landed “one of the sweetest jobs on campus,” the music director position KSUA-FM, a job he held for two years before becoming the general manager last year.
He has since bought an off-the-grid house near Ester Dome, met local bands and encourages bands to come from Connecticut, where he was stationed in the Navy.
Last fall, he launched his booking company, Retrograde Media, which specializes in bringing up bands from Outside to play music and get the Alaska adventure he hoped to get when he moved here.
Fairbanks is also a treat for Outside musicians, said Gross. Bands can come and play three nights in a row and each night will be more packed than the last, he said.
But for Gross, he’s not quite sure what the future holds post-graduation, whether his promotion company will take off or not, but he says he’s planning on staying and continuing to share the music he loves.
“That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “I want to share as much music that I’ve discovered with other people around me and Fairbanks and Alaska as a whole is a great place to do that.”