You Should Know … Matt Galler

Matt Galler (Photo by Hannah Monicken)

Even if you don’t (yet) know Matt Galler, you’ve probably heard him. The 29-year-old Reisterstown native is the voice of WTMD’s “Afternoon Drive” and “The Saturday Alternative.”

Growing up, Galler spent most of his school career at the Franklin schools, and started in band in fifth grade with the baritone. That didn’t last, and Galler found himself drawn instead to the drums. His true passion for music was unlocked when his parents gifted him a drum set in the basement in middle school.

From then on, Galler formed different bands (including Gatsby Gets the Green Light and Brighter Shades) and toured throughout high school and college. He still plays, but his passion took him instead to WTMD, that voice in the car with good taste in music.

How did you get into radio DJing?
I knew I wanted to do something music-related, so I had been spending a lot of time in my bandmate’s recording studio for years. I decided to become an EMF major — electronic media and film — at Towson University.

Even then, I wasn’t thinking radio broadcasting, but then, I needed an internship. And I was in a class with someone who worked part time at TMD and suggested I apply for an internship here and I did.

It obviously changed my life. I interned for two semesters and was offered a Sunday afternoon shift, then started picking up more shifts. I really got into it and freaking loved it. What is more exciting, as a music lover, than when you hear something you like and go share with your friends? And I get to do that every single day to a bunch of people.

What’s the strangest call-in request you’ve ever gotten?
It seems some people call in just to see how far out you will go. We have a format as a radio station — it’s a very wide format and includes a lot music, but we have to stay within the lines. I’m not going to play death metal or a super ambient experimental thing. But I do have a lot of freedom to go out there and get a little weird at times. That’s what I really appreciate about this radio station.

What’s one especially memorable experience on-air?
When we just moved into this new facility [about three years ago] and we did the 24-hour Rock-n-Roll-athon. It was 24 hours of hour-long live performances from 24 different bands, most of them local. We were going all through the day and all through the night, and we were all here at really weird hours. It was a way of christening the station. It was really cool after the fact, and during too. Like, “I can’t believe we’re able to do something like this!”

Have you ever had something really embarrassing happen to you on-air?
Well, you know, when you mess up at a normal job or you flub or make a little mistake, the only person who knows is you and maybe the other person there. Well, here, when you mess up on-air, you feel like everyone knows and everyone’s listening. That was something that really took me a little while to get over. I mess up less than I used to, but it’s one of those things that was more difficult for me — I’d lose sleep over it, worrying that everyone in Baltimore heard me mess up.

You’re a musician too. What do you most enjoy playing?
I love rock ‘n’ roll. If it has a groove and it rocks hard, I’m usually pretty into it.

I like things that are challenging in some way — things that aren’t too formulaic, things that take risks. I especially like music that is more difficult to categorize. It keeps things really fresh.

Who are a few people you think everyone should be listening to right now?
[Pauses] Give me a second to think because this is a really important question. Anderson .Paak is one of my favorite musicians right now. Angel Olsen is pretty badass — really great songwriter who rocks out. Father John Misty, Ron Gallo, Sinkane — all recommended listening.

What does WTMD have coming up?
The lineup for First Thursdays should be coming out relatively soon. Our kids’ series, “Saturday Morning Tunes,” has been a super success. They’re all selling out. There’s a couple coming up [March 18, April 1 and May 20] for that. We realized it was difficult for people with kids to come out to TMD shows, so we wanted to create a family-friendly environment.

We’ve also got the Rock and Roll Chili Bowl [March 25] coming up, and that’s a chili contest with a rock band playing. We did it last year and it was awesome.

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