While driving to the UMFM station for his first show, Cretin Rob realized that he still didn’t have a name for his program. He was listening to The Ramones — who have become a staple on the show — and they have a song titled “Cretin Hop.” Figuring everyone needed a DJ name, he thought, “I will just be Cretin Rob.” The name of the show followed suit and Cretin Radio was born.
Cretin Radio has been a mainstay in the Friday 9-11 a.m. slot since UMFM’s inception nine-and-a-half years ago. “When UMFM started I was really excited by the fact that there was now university radio in the city. For years we lived in this drought without anything interesting on the air, it was either classic rock, modern rock or top ‘40s,” Rob said.
He recalls that there was never any underground, punk or metal music played on the radio. Bands like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. were pushed aside for mainstream hits. Rob decided to change this and applied for a show on the station, wanting listeners to experience bands from all genres otherwise absent on the air.
Cretin Rob plays a mix of “punk rock, metal, garage rock, surf, alt-country and some noise, indie rock, so stuff that is under the radar as well as some local music.” Along with those searching for something to break up the monotony of mainstream radio, his show attracts a lot of couriers, truck drivers , warehouse workers and, as Rob puts it, “people who are confined in their office.” He finds that people who listen to the radio all day are tired of “hearing another Led Zeppelin song, or another Tragically Hip song, ACDC or Nickleback. It is for those people who want something different instead of the commercial stuff they listen to over and over and over again every day”.
With this in mind Rob tries to deliver a steady mix of listener favorites, as well as new and local songs. “We get a lot of requests for Turbonegro,” Rob mused, citing the Norwegian punk rock band. “A lot of people want to hear the Ramones and a lot of old punk rock stuff like the Damned, The New York Dolls and Black Flag.”
When it comes to new music Rob says he likes to experiment. Each week he goes into the station with a core show and makes sure to leave 3 or 4 holes open to play new music. “I’ll just go to new racks and pick out stuff that maybe has a good name, the band name is good or I know of the record label and I have trusted their bands in the past,” Rob said. “So I’ll just pick a random CD and I’ll play it and I won’t have heard it either, so the listeners and I will hear it together at the same time. If it is good then I’ll play it again next week, and if not, then people will tell me not to ever play it again.”
Catch Cretin Radio on Fridays at 9 a.m. on 101.5 UMFM.