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Wildcard on HBO

“We wanted the score to illuminate the duality of his life. A big, boisterous personality on air, but off, sad and lonely, with a dark past.”

Erik Blicker, composer

FLAVORLAB ยท Wild Card Soundtrack Teaser
Trailer for Wildcard: The Downfall of a Radio Loudmouth on HBO


Directors Martin Dunn and Marie McGovern of Street Smart Video created this in-depth documentary on radio host, Craig Carton. The film follows his fall from talk radio fame on the Boomer & Carton Show, his gambling addiction, Ponzi scheme, and ultimately, his arrest. Dunn, McGovern, and HBO hired Flavorlab Score‘s Erik Blicker and Glenn Schloss to score the film.


Initially, while the film was in editing, the composers only had access to a few pre-arrest interviews. They drew on the general tone of the subject and asked the team what music Carton liked to listen to. With this, they drafted a few options for the production team and network. In one direction, they presented rock. In the other, more minimal classical scoring, featuring driving ambient piano. Looking for a darker cinematic sound, the network opted for the classical direction. The story showcases Carton’s balancing act: the radio show, his family, and his secret trips to Atlantic City. It was imperative they strike the necessary contrast to highlight duality of his life. It was also important they maintain some consistency.

Melodically, the themes play heavily on contrast. The fun loving, radio personality featured a clownish chromatic run. However, the somber and regretful centered on a five note dorian theme. Looking to pull Carton into every side, they sampled pieces of his voice from the interviews. The samples were stretched and effected to create ethereal pads at various points in the film.


A distinct moment in the score is the “Gambling Suite,” featuring drums and piano. As the story covers Carton’s struggles with gambling, the score takes a turn. They took time to carefully tune the drums into the modal key. The suite follows the rise and fall of catching an addictive high: discovering gambling, winning, addiction, and losing. It features mallet on the floor toms and through-composed themes on the keys.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, all post-production went remote. Flavorlab Score continued writing for the film, but felt they needed to add more depth. The team called on cellist, Dave Eggar, to provide strings for the score. Minimal and haunting, the strings supply a fuller sound, providing slightly more intensity to this emotional journey. As the film was wrapping, it was announced Craig Carton would be released from prison. The directors jumped back into production mode, scrapping interviews predicting his fate. Instead, they replaced them with words from the man himself. The future looking brighter for our subject, Glenn and Erik, the composers got to work. The end of the film is accompanied by a redemption arc score.


Wildcard: The Downfall of a Radio Loudmouth premiered on HBO and HBO Max on October 7th, 2020. The team delivered an instrumentally minimal and emotionally rich score to the project.

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