What a … gallant fellow.
It’s an easy joke but emulative of the brand of lowbrow/highbrow badinage one experiences in speaking with Sam Gallant, 38, who can be heard concocting his own unique attempts at wordplay on 89.7 WTMD five hours a day (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), five days a week (Monday through Friday).
When called upon to do so, Gallant — as a representative of WTMD — also makes for a dime store chicken soup competition judge in a pinch, he’s ever-present at other community events around the city as emcee or miscellaneous personnel, and he can produce quick on-air promos with tunes ranging from Frank Zappa to Thelonious Monk faster than you can say “Jazz from Hell.”
He’s even been known to call pig races in the past. “That’s been a highlight,” said Gallant, thoughtfully.
Though Gallant persists that he is a “boring guy,” his rocket-powered, circuitous life path around the country from Seattle, where he was born to ping-ponging back and forth between Baltimore and Alaska (with a pit stop in California along the way for good measure), belies any sense of the banal in an otherwise humble story.
You’ve spent time in various places around the country for long stints at a time. How has this led you to where you are today?
I’ve been settled in Baltimore for the past 15 years now. Even when I was living in Alaska or other places, I would tend to come back here, because this is where a lot of my family lived and lives. I really enjoyed branching out and coming back here. Baltimore is not a bad place to have as your home base so that you can explore the world and always come back to a family and community that is supportive and “entrenched” as well. I received my bachelor’s degree from Alaska Pacific University, where I studied journalism and radio broadcasting, in 2000. It was a very liberal school, and I basically spent my senior year working at a radio station. I have a face for radio, as the old saying goes, and a voice for print. So, I’m sort of out of luck, but in this modern era, I had to choose one or the other, I guess. I cut my teeth as a reporter covering, like, oil spills and lots and lots of plane crashes and bear maulings. If you didn’t die of a plane crash in Alaska, you died of a bear mauling. I also worked at a small pirate radio station, where I had a thrash metal show. And then I didn’t do music radio again until I came to WTMD four years ago. At first, I was an arts and culture reporter. Three years ago, I became the midday host. I do other things too [such as scheduling the music for himself and other hosts and guarding pizza at in-studio events], but that’s my title.
Do you play any musical instruments?
I’m actually just now teaching myself to play the guitar finally, because my son really likes it. I’m definitely just sort of teaching myself a dumbed-down version of some hum-and-strum songs. I’ve been doing it since he was a month old, and he’s now almost 6 months old. I also have a 180-month-old daughter. She’s a gem. I can play the drums, though I don’t play professionally or even casually anymore. But I can sit down behind a kit with anybody and play.
Now that you have a new son, are you revisiting your Jewish heritage?
I was raised Jewish, Bar mitzvahed. My son had a bris, and we are planning on raising him in the Jewish faith. Unaffiliated right now, but looking. I enjoy all the cultural aspects of Judaism, of course. That’s easy to love: the food and the festivities and the holidays and the lights and everything else like that. The more dogmatic religious aspects of things are important, and they’re a part of it and they’re going to be more important while raising Lazer Elias — named after my grandfather Louis whose Hebrew name was Lazer; “Elias” is “Elijiah” in the Greek, and my wife is Greek — in the faith, and I’ll be relearning a lot of prayers, and I’m actually excited for the opportunity to sort of reindocrinate myself to Judaism moreso than I have been for the last 25 years of my life. I’m such a boring guy. I do nothing cool except play music on the radio and spend time with my son.