By Nicole Noechel
Calvin Crunkleton, a junior Spanish major and Portugese minor, was just a first semester freshman when he applied for a show at WMUC 88.1, the University of Maryland’s campus radio station.
Crunkleton has spent a large portion of his college career helping with WMUC, and it paid off — in spring 2019, he became music director of the entire station.
In addition to hosting the fifth season of his radio show, “Escape Philosophy,” with his friends Kyle and Anders, Crunkleton now has a host of other responsibilities around the station, including running WMUC’s music team.
“I really chose [music director] because I love a lot of things about music team, because it’s usually about 10 people sitting around just listening to music and judging it, that’s all my job really is,” he said. “It’s a lot of figuring out other peoples’ music tastes, making fun of music, discussing music and just making friends—the community aspect was really cool for me.”
Crunkleton also helps around the station by sending out a weekly newsletter, writing to promoters and artists to cut back on the amount of CDs the station receives and making dead air playlists to fill the time slots that aren’t currently taken up by shows.
“Music director is a really great position because it can be as much or as little as you want it to be,” he said. “My big end of semester project right now is making dead air playlists for FM. I’m just accumulating playlists — I have about 17 hours ready at the moment, my goal is going to be 20, and hopefully music directors after me will make four hours or more.”
Crunkleton says many professional radio stations have up to 70 hours of dead air playlists, so they can never run out.
The junior is thankful for his time at WMUC, and has learned a lot from the various jobs he has held, such as how to work with others and how to listen to and critique music.
“The best part of my position is building a community with people and making friends. Music team is a lot of that, springing into random conversations about “Spirited Away” or what you’re learning in class,” he said.
“Additionally, it’s been really important to just figure out things like what music I like. There’s very little that people could surprise me with; I get to be like a mini Anthony Fantano.”
Apart from changing time slots and adding a third co-host, Crunkleton’s radio show has not changed much in the five semesters it has been running. Named after the speed necessary to leave Earth’s gravitational pull, Crunkleton wanted the show to feature fast, loud, attention-grabbing music like grunge and punk.
“Our show is at 8 p.m. I picked it because my dad goes to bed at 8:30, and since my dad listens I would always try and put a song on there for him, usually something new wave,” he said. “He loves Talking Heads, the B-52s, Devo, The Police, so I would always put something like that in the playlist, and then I got really into Talking Heads and now every single show there’s one song by Talking Heads somewhere on the playlist.”
Since starting his show, Crunkleton has fallen even more in love with punk music, his favorite genre, than ever before.
“I like punk because it’s so much more than just music. You have bands like The Clash or The Ramones where you see them and you’re like, ‘that’s obviously punk,’ but then you listen to something like new wave or pop punk and you realize this is also punk, but a different type,” he said. “It’s energy, it’s a message, and I love it more than something like metal, because it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
“Music should just be fun. It can have a message, it can bring people together, you can have these moments of energy, and you can even say something cool — there’s a great band, Against Me, that’s super anarchist,” Crunkleton said. “Anyone who insults anything you like, that’s not punk. Punk is about positive chaos and raging against oppression.”
Crunkleton loves WMUC, and encourages any student with an interest to apply for a show.
“This place gives people the opportunity to really be themselves and express themselves creatively,” he said. “If you’re going to apply for a show, have some sort of concept. Have it be something different, not just classic rock like Nirvana.”
If hosting a radio show seems too demanding, Crunkleton advises every student, no matter what type of music they prefer, to simply listen to the station.
“You’re going to hear something you like. Even if there’s an hour you don’t think is that good, keep listening,” he said. “Every hour’s a different show, and there are two channels. Get listening.”
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Nichole Noechel.
Nichole Noechel is a junior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.