As faculty adviser of WRUW-FM, it’s no surprise Peter McCall has an extensive iPod playlist. But there’s more to this geology professor than rocks and rock music. For example: McCall, who joined the faculty in 1974 and is now a professor of geology and biology and the director of the Environmental Studies Program, estimates he’s spent more than 1,000 hours underwater as part of his research. (No wonder he’s unfazed by question No. 3!) He also holds a law degree and an abiding interest in dogs—he has three—and dog rescue.
Get to know a little bit more about this professor through his creative and always-entertaining answers.
1. What’s on your iPod?
Music and NPR podcasts (Car Talk, Keillor, Fresh Air, American Life). I mostly listen while traveling alone, because somehow it feels rude and self-indulgent to listen with earbuds around others. Music being pretty timeless, it’s mostly older, like the user: Talking Heads, Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan, Grant Green, Bob Marley, Emerson String Quartet, Tallis Scholars, King Sunny Ade, John Coltrane, Patsy Cline, Anita O’day, and a bunch of Phish and Grateful Dead live concert recordings.
2. What’s your favorite spot in Cleveland and why?
For time travel to early 20th century indoor elegance: the three downtown Arcades (Old, Colonial, and Euclid) at Christmastime. For the variety of outdoor entertainment and amenities: the Cleveland Metroparks that ring the city.
3. If you could only take three books with you to a deserted island, what would you take?
If I’m to be stranded on this island, I’ll take How to Build a Boat With Hand Tools and the above iPod, thank you. While I do read a lot, I don’t much like re-reading books, but I can listen to the same music again and again while I’m working on that boat. The deserted island reading problem has been largely solved by the Kindle people, but here’s three books that I have actually re-read on voyages over the years: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway and the Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens.
4. What one word would you use to describe yourself, and what one word would your friends use to describe you?
Maybe “curious.” And now I’m worried, because almost no friends have described me in their presence. Is that bad? I’ve been called “empathetic,” I think. I may be mistaken about actually having heard that first syllable. One person called me a “polymath.” I had to look it up. Turns out its really not about sex after all, and was way too kind.
5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University?
The unified architecture and bucolic setting. No? OK then. WRUW-FM, 91.1—best radio station in Cleveland and, like its owner, CWRU, “among the best” in the country.