If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for music to sing to, movie tickets to win, or the latest on a chicken who ran around with his head cut off for nearly two years, look — or rather, listen — no further than “The Night Shift with Paul Crutcher.”
Crutcher is about a month into his newest gig as a night show radio host at Sunny 103.5. Listeners can tune in every weekday from 7-10 p.m. for what Crutcher considers “a community radio like community radio should be.”
Crutcher’s sense of community stems from years of working in the radio industry. At age 16, he whet his appetite in radio playing records for a friend’s parent’s radio station on Saturdays. Radio has come a long way since that time, when radio hosts had to have records on tap, he said.
After high school, Crutcher attended Lake Land College in Mattoon, Illinois and graduated with an associate degree in radio and television broadcasting. In 1998, he and his wife moved to Greenwood, a place he said “feels like home” after living here for 20 years.
Four years after moving to Greenwood, Crutcher was hired by Lander University, where he continues to work as a broadcast and emerging media specialist. He also serves as the general manager of the campus radio station, XLR, which had more than 100 active student DJs last semester. Being involved with this student organization, Crutcher said, has allowed him to watch a number of students go on to work at big-name radio stations like “Radio Disney” and “iHeartCountry.”
“It’s cool for me to be able to give back and watch students do what I did,” Crutcher said.
Brooke Taylor, a former student of Crutcher’s who now works at “Big 95.5” in Chicago, said, “If it weren’t for Paul, I’d have never even started radio. ... I’m so thankful for someone who is so passionate about radio, to have been able to learn from him at such an impressionable time in my life.”
Crutcher’s job as a Sunny 103.5 radio personality came about after Dave Fezler, another host for the station, asked Crutcher to fill in for him for a few dates in September. Crutcher countered with a proposition of his own: hosting a night show, and thus “The Night Shift with Paul Crutcher” was born.
Fezler said Crutcher’s show is doing well and has had “tremendous response” from listeners.
In the minutes before the clock strikes 7 p.m. at the Sunny station, Crutcher pulls songs for the evening’s playlist, reviews notes, checks weather updates and scrolls through social media for any song requests or funny stories to share.
When the countdown is over and the show begins, Crutcher’s energy is explosive. As the night gets started with a welcome, opening song and a preview of what’s in store for the evening, his whole body gets into the mood: foot tapping, head bobbing, lips humming, headphones on and the crowd goes wild — or do they? Although he said he never knows how many listeners he has — “it could be 100 or 1,000” — he believes “personality should improve the experience of listening.”
Personality, he explained, is something that an iTunes, Spotify or other automated playlist can’t offer. Local radio, he said, will always survive because of the personality it offers.
In addition to personality, Crutcher said, radio is about community. Part of his job as a radio host, he said, is to bridge the gaps between local advertisers, businesses and listeners.
One way of doing this, as he demonstrates during his show, is by talking and responding to his listeners as if they were in the room with him. On a given night, Crutcher might start off the show with a hearty “Welcome, it’s nice to have you here,” a greeting that immediately emits an air of hospitality on a personal level.
During the show, Crutcher laughs — sometimes at his own jokes to cue listeners in on his sense of humor — slides suggested songs from listener requests into the queue and answers calls for giveaways and contests such as the “Super Song Scramble.”
Though a large portion of Crutcher’s job as the host of “The Night Shift with Paul Crutcher” is to organize a good playlist — ranging from Barry Manilow to Taylor Swift — his energy in the radio room speaks to the joy he finds in interacting with his listeners.
Meghan Daniel is an intern with the Index-Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com or 864-943-5648.