Light had been an intern at Rolling Stone during their 20th anniversary year while still a student. He later joined the staff as a fact checker in 1989, becoming a senior writer in 1990. In 1993, he became the founding music editor of Vibe magazine, becoming editor-in-chief in 1994. In 1999 he became editor-in-chief for Spin magazine. He left Spin in March 2002. He then worked as music reviewer on radio station WFUV, and served as music correspondent on NPR show Weekend America. He writes regularly for The New York Times.
Light has worked as consultant for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He was a judge for the 4th Annual Independent Music Awards in 2005, and subsequently for the 11th, 12th and 13th Annual Independent Music Awards.
Starting in 2016 Light is one of the mainstay hosts of the newly created Volume music talk channel on Sirius XM.
Light has also been involved in assisting homeless people with the Housing Works AIDS charity.
^ ab"Light, Alan". Contemporary Authors. January 1, 2007. Retrieved August 20, 2014. During early career, worked as a freelancer, as a fact checker for periodicals Village Voice and 7 Days in New York, NY; Rolling Stone (music magazine), senior writer, 1990–93; Vibe (music magazine), founding music editor, 1993, editor in chief, 1994–97; Spin (music magazine), editor, beginning 1999; cofounder and editor in chief, Tracks Magazine.
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