10 Questions with ... Paul Schadt
December 8, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Paul Schadt has spent his entire career in Charlotte and celebrated 32 years on the air in 2013. That makes him the longest consecutive on-air personality in Charlotte Radio History. Schadt has hosted the syndicated show "Racing Country" for the last 20 years. From 1981-1998, he worked at crosstown WSOC, mainly in mornings. In 1998, he crossed the street to join WKKT, where he has remained since. Schadt is a five-time Major Market CMA "Personality of the Year" Nominee and will be inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame on Tuesday, February 18th, 2014.
1. Paul, thanks for participating! You're another in a series of 2014 Country Radio Hall of Fame inductees for 10 Q's - so let me start by saying congrats on this honor and asking how you first heard the news, followed by your initial reaction to it?
Thank you! Tim McGraw called in for what I thought was a normal interview to push his latest single. It wasn't a normal interview; about seven minutes in Tim asked how does it feel to be inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame? Well when he said that I immediately thought he had heard I had been nominated and confused that with being inducted and how this is going to be awkward telling him that I had just been nominated. But by the looks on everyone's face in the control room I realized what was going on and was shocked! Never saw it coming.
2. You're a rare breed in that you've spent your entire career in Charlotte. How special is that, and did you ever come close to leaving for another job away from Charlotte?
It's incredibly special! This is a terrific area to work and raise a family, plus to get to see the city grow has been a lot of fun. In 1981 the local superstars were Ric Flair and his wrestling buddies. Dale Earnhardt was just getting the ball rolling and the NBA and NFL were just a dream. Charlotte is a major player on many levels and I feel extremely lucky to have had my entire career right here! And as far as coming close to leaving, nope.
3. Here's something else rare: You've worked for both Country stations in your city, WSOC and WKKT. While you didn't have to move, was it a hard transition back in 1997 when you segued to WKKT?
Yes, it was Christmas eve and I had to call my friend, mentor, and PD Paul Johnson to give him the news. Toughest phone call of my career. We were winning, life was good, but I saw this as a move that could change things for my family for the better. For some wacky reason I wasn't under contract so I took a two week vacation popped up on the Kat January 12th, 1998 and was extremely lucky that the audience didn't forget me over those two weeks and came along to the party.
4. And isn't it true that you are related to WSOC PD DJ Stout? How does that work at family gatherings? Awkward?
DJ is my nephew, and to avoid any awkwardness as soon as we both get to the gathering we hand each other a manila envelope with the latest music testing and any big promotions that are coming up and then watch football.
5. In 32 years with this format, you've seen many changes. Let's start with the music. Is 2013's musical landscape stronger, or about the same as the early 90's with Garth, Alan, Clint, Etc?
I think time will tell, we've seen some new acts pop up over the last year or so that have come on strong like FGL, The Band Perry, etc. But it's kind of hard to top what Garth had going back then. It's kinda like sports if you are there, right then, you probably feel it's the best.
6. Also, having interviewed virtually every artist during the past three decades, how does this generation of artists differ from say, 10 or 20 years ago? Do you notice, say, that THEY have different musical influences?
Yes, 20 years ago it was Haggard and Jones and Willie and Waylon and Tammy and Loretta as the big influences. Now you still get those names here and there but it's more Garth, and Alan and Reba and Brooks and Dunn and Randy and Strait. As people I think they're very similar, just pretty much regular people that were brought up kind of like us that became singers and really appreciate what they have. If there is any difference it might be a rock influence that only helps broaden the appeal.
7. Let's talk about radio now. Tell me how PPM has changed the way Paul Schadt does his show versus 10 years ago, or, has it?
It's definitely tighter. If someone can show you without a doubt that when this happens people say adios you're a fool to keep doing that. Mechanically you can be shown bow ties and that people get bored and take off after a two minute interview, but the bottom line is things haven't changed as far as your success equals how interesting, funny, topical, Etc. you can be within the guide lines of x amount of spots and x amount of songs you're required to play.
8. You've also had different co-hosts over the years, right? But right now, it seems like you and Meg Butterly have an amazing chemistry and friendship. What makes her contribution so critical to your show's success?
Really it's mostly me. I didn't even know her last name till I saw it in your question (Smiley face). I've had 6 co-hosts over the years and Meg definitely gets it and that is without a doubt critical to our success. We do a lot of picking and teasing on the show, kind of what you might hear at a dinner table or a road trip with a bunch of friends; people are in on the fun, it's casual and never mean spirited and if it seems like it's going in that direction I stun gun her. Plus I've been lucky enough to have the same excellent producer Geof Knight for the past 17 years who knows me inside and out. Sometimes he'll even yell at himself for a goof up so I can continue going thru prep. We all fit together like a puzzle, not the thousand tiny piece kind but more like a 3 piece infant puzzle of a cat.
9. I notice your bio material a great pride in your St. Jude fundraising efforts. Why does this cause mean so much to you?
Like many people on Country radio I've had the pleasure of going to St. Jude on three occasions and have personally seen the miracles that happen everyday at the hospital. Also, as a radiothon station you become personally involved with your local St Jude children and as you watch them grow and become adults and have families of their own you know this would not be possible without the money generated by donations and fundraising efforts.
10. Who were the mentors in radio during your early years that helped shape the kind of personality you are today?
My first PD was Don Bell who took the time to go over air checks and help with direction someone just getting started needs. After Don my second PD, Paul Johnson, helped get me to the next level and was the person that first moved me to mornings. As far as on air people, Bill Ellis was the one I wanted to emulate. I worked with Bill the first few years of my career and he is still one of the most talented people I've ever worked with and currently down in Greenville - and I predict you will be asking him 10 questions before his career is done!
1. If I came to Charlotte and you were my tour guide, is our first stop the NASCAR Hall of Fame?
No better than that I'd call in a favor and get Jeff Gordon to take you for a few hot laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Just don't eat first.
2. Assuming NASCAR HoF is a given destination, say I had seven hours to kill in your city. Where do you take me?
First Concord Mills where we would shop for matching outfits. Then over to Hendrick Motorsports where the guys in the shop would make fun of us. Lunch at Bojangles - I have a card. Then over to Charlotte Motor Speedway to take some laps in my pick up and then round out the day at the station where I'd show you how NextGen works.
3. If forced to choose just one: Panthers or Bobcats?
Panthers ... sorry MJ