Peter Stanwick: Management professor by profession, punk rock disc jockey at heart

Published: January 14, 2019
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It’s Friday morning and The Clash are punk rocking their way through your radio’s speakers. Why? Because Doctor Punk likes it that way.

Peter Stanwick might be a mild-mannered professor at Auburn University's Harbert College of Business by trade, but on Friday mornings he trades his briefcase and PowerPoint presentations for control of the WEGL microphone and assumes his fun persona—Doctor Punk.

Stanwick’s 90-minute radio show, “80s Rewind,” features some of the industry’s punk rock favorites—including the Sex Pistols, Go-Gos, The Ramones and, of course, Stanwick’s favorite…The Clash. “I always put a Clash song on first before I introduce myself,” he said. “Even though people know The Clash, they don’t know all of these different songs that they have, so I’ll play some of their obscure stuff, too. I’ll usually play some punky stuff during the first set, then some melodic 80s bands like the Talking Heads, REM and Blondie.”

When Stanwick made mixed cassette tapes for his buddies growing up in Toronto, Canada, there was little doubt he was destined to become a disc jockey. “I think of my regular show as a big mixed tape,” he said. “That’s why it’s 90 minutes, because I bring a boom box in with me and record it on cassette. I always bring in my own music from home for the show.”

Stanwick said he has every show since 2004 recorded on cassette tape. “It’s getting harder and harder to find cassette tapes to record with,” he said. “Thank goodness for eBay.”

“I love being able to show people different music. A famous DJ in England, John Peel, shared the same philosophy that I have. He said, ‘Play what they want to hear, but also play what they will love to hear in the future.’ I look at it like, ‘Here are songs that I know you like, but here are songs that you might not have heard of but they could be as good as the ones you like.’ I always try to play songs that are very popular, but I also like to play the more obscure stuff, which are as relevant as Top 40 songs, but got lost in the shuffle. Many groups that I play never got the recognition they deserved.

“A lot of these artists have great songs that were never singles. Devo had a huge hit, ‘Whip It,’ but to me that’s a very weak song compared to many other songs they have that never made the charts in the United States. There’s this perception that a lot of these artists are one-hit wonders, but in reality on the U.S. chart it’s a one-hit wonder. My reality is they have a lot other great songs that didn’t have the opportunity to get to the charts.”

Stanwick was introduced to the punk rock scene growing up in Toronto.

“By the late 1970s, when the New Wave and punk era came in—which is what I really love—there were a lot of outlets for me in Toronto,” said Stanwick, who mentioned he was just 10 feet from the stage for his first Police concert. The Police later struck it big with the power ballad, “Every Breath You Take.”

“What happened was the up-and-coming British artists would showcase in New York, but would come to Toronto first. A lot of artists who had not hit North America would come to Toronto first and I would get to see them.”

Stanwick’s love for the microphone might be second to his love for collecting music. His Auburn residence is home to roughly 12,000 albums and 5,000 compact discs. “I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve forgotten what I’ve bought,” Stanwick, whose first album was a Beatles production, admitted. “I’ll buy stuff again because I forgot that I had it.”

Stanwick, who teaches strategic management, international management and business ethics for undergraduate business students and Harbert College’s MBA-level team resource and applied consulting class, enjoys offering music appreciation lessons over the mic.

“I’m assuming that the people listening like the songs but have no idea about them, especially now with so much streaming,” said Stanwick, whose wife, Sarah, is an associate professor in the School of Accountancy. “What is lost today is the ability to have a physical copy of the music where you can look at the liner notes, who wrote the songs and who produced the songs. Those things are valuable, especially in the 1980s when you had certain producers that you could really tell how they left their mark on different groups. Being a DJ has become a lost art.”

Stanwick is proud to share his passion for music with his son, John and his daughter, Olivia. Both John and Olivia have been co-hosts of the show during the summer and Olivia, who is a freshman at Auburn in special education and a WEGL DJ, joins him as a co-host throughout the year. “I can safely say that we are the only father-daughter radio show in the nation. She will talk about the songs and helps me pick out the songs. It’s neat that someone who was 3 when I started on the radio is now helping me as an Auburn student.”

The 80s Rewind show can be heard each Friday from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on WEGL-FM locally at 91.1 and at www.weglfm.com.

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Auburn University's Harbert College of Business provides its students with an innovative-yet-practical education focused on career readiness. The college's degree programs in accountancy, business analytics and supply chain management lead the nation. Its research centers in supply chain management and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology guide the Fortune 100. Harbert's pioneering online education programs offer value and flexibility. The college's nationally recognized faculty produce research that informs and responds to today's business trends. Learn more at the Harbert College of Business website.