If you've been to any local concerts, listened to jazz music on the radio, or watched internet videos featuring Rochester musicians in the last three years, you've probably caught Dan Gross at work. The majority of that work has been behind-the-scenes, but the 26-year-old journalist is getting harder and harder to miss — both as a music reporter and as a digital content reporter at News 8 WROC-TV.
While his job at the television station is full-time, his career as a multimedia content creator spans several freelance gigs.
- Photo by Josh Saunders
Gross hosts a Monday radio show on Jazz 90.1 from 6 to 8 p.m. each week, regularly records live concerts at Bop Shop Records, and hosts an ongoing video series highlighting Three Heads Brewing's "Rochester Residency," in which a different local musician curates and performs in multiple concerts each month.
"I started one thing and that led to the next thing," he said. "But the reality is, each time I've gotten an opportunity, I really had to be a pest, and be very determined and hard-nosed, and basically stuck my foot in the door."
With myriad projects percolating at any one time, Gross sets a high bar for himself. "If you're asking what personally motivates me," he said, "I'm just intrinsically motivated to do as much as possible, as well as possible, as fast as possible."
But Gross's signature contribution to music coverage in the area is his "Rochester Indie Musician Spotlight," a roughly hour-long online show featuring a concert performance and interview from an intrepid musician or band making waves. Since he started producing and hosting the series in 2016, he has churned out nearly 80 episodes featuring everyone from singer-songwriters and jazz musicians to rock bands, Americana outfits, and soul-funk groups.
- Photo by Josh Saunders
Gross is no stranger to playing music. A trombonist prior to attending SUNY Oswego for broadcasting, he learned the upright bass from scratch while jamming with friends, and went on to get a second degree in music performance while at college.
Although a career as a professional musician wasn't the right fit, he gravitated toward music and musicians and retained the inquisitive mindset of the student. Gross said he constantly asks himself: "Where is the opportunity? Where is a good place for me to learn?"
Indeed, the "Rochester Indie Musician Spotlight" arose from a single question he had: "What opportunity can I give someone to talk about what they do and to showcase what they do, that I didn't have?"
"When I'm interviewing the musician, it's all about them," he said. "I love seeing the joy that they put into it, and how much they care about their product, and how they love being a part of the process."
By giving Rochester music fans the opportunity to learn more about artists who may be unfamiliar to them, Gross also learned some things about the local scene that surprised him. The series opened his ears to the sheer volume of quality Americana and folk music in the region. In the process, he fell in love with the genre.
As for the Rochester music community as a whole, Gross is impressed by its strength. "It's competitive in a healthy way," he said, "and it's also very cooperative."
No matter what direction Gross's career as a journalist takes him, he knows he wants to continue with "Rochester Indie Musician Spotlight."
"I want it to be the thing where people come on it, and they know they've made it," he said. "They know they've made it in Rochester."