10 Questions with ... Paul Castronovo
February 28, 2012
1) What was your first job in radio?
WRUF-A/Gainesville, FL, while a student at the University of Florida. Playing Sinatra records and wondering how the heck I was going to get over to the FM Rock station. It took about two weeks until they realized I was somewhat of a lunatic.
2) You got started (with Ron) in 1990. How did it happen and where?
I was out of work in Birmingham and doing my best to bribe Brian Krysz, who was PD at WSHE, to bring me back to do mornings. I'd spent four years at SHE; Herman and McBean had left the market and it was pre-Stern, so I knew it was wide open. Finally, after way too many harassing phone calls, he invited me down to have dinner with "the midday guy," who also did news in the morning. That was "Young" Ron Brewer. We had everybody at dinner cracking up. Ron thought I was an idiot, and I thought he was a stiff, but we did have chemistry and I think it may have worked out for us. We didn't really take off until we left WSHE and went to WZTA in the mid-'90s. Rock Alternative was red-hot and we rode that wave until Stern left radio and we took over his position on WBGG, which was a Classic Rock format. That's been our home for a long time.
3) How would you describe the show?
Two guys (and a bunch of their buds) who you wouldn't mind sitting down and having a beer with under a Florida Tiki hut. We argue (like friends) over everything, but never mean-spirited, and hopefully with a smirk. We aren't serious, although can be if we have to be, but more often than not, we simply want to have a few laughs.
4) How many stations run the show now?
Key West, Key Largo, Miami, Palm Beach, Treasure Coast ... I guess that would be five. That's a nice start, be we'd love Orlando and the West Coast of Florida, Ft. Myers, etc. too.
5) How many people contribute to the show's content? Describe the process and how you come up with things for the show.
Years ago, somebody said to me, "I want everybody on my show to come in prepared as if you have to host it by yourself." Here's how we operate: Steve Harmon, our Exec. Producer/show director, is a prep machine; he's constantly sending me ideas and at the same time, running the machine. Ron and I operate separately; he brings his stuff in, and I do the same. Sometimes I will find things that I think will work in Ron's world, as he does the news, or he'll find something that I can turn into a bit. When something happens in our lives, or if I stumble onto something, Harmon and I will then flesh it out before (or during) the show. "Lets see if we can find this guy; is there audio of this," etc. Our behind-the-scenes audio guys are always hunting down the best sound of the day, so we sound fresh and on top of it.
We've also kind of reinvented the show in that, while the constants (Paul and Ron) stay the same. We've become like a variety show, where we bring in local icons and national comics on a daily basis. Ron and I have pretty much heard each other's stories a thousand times over the past 22 years, so having other people to play with adds to the fun and we get different angles. Dave Lamont from ESPN has been a part of our show on and off for years, so when he's not calling a game, he comes in and riffs sports; Kelly Craig, local news anchor, slides in one day a week; she's a local icon who can hang with the boys. When she's in we can get the female perspective (which we summarily dismiss!). Ralph Pagano, celebrity TV chef and a funny guy with a great N.Y. accent; Ron Magill from Zoo Miami; the World's Largest Cuban is a regular and because of his appearances on Telemundo, is internationally famous, and it doesn't hurt having a Cuban on in Miami; Filmmaker Billy Corben (Cocaine Cowboys, The U) is supposed to do film reviews, but he brings so much more each week, we love having him around. Toss all of that plus comics and guests and it's kind of the "chopped salad of talk radio".
6) What do you guys do with your free time? Do you spend time together off-air?
I've finally given up. Ron does not want any part of me outside of the show. Really, we're completely different people. He is content staying home and hibernating in a darkened room with a bottle of vodka and some Vaseline Intensive Care while watching documentaries about the Canadian Goose. That would make me insane. I'm out and doing things -- fishing, running my son everywhere, going to events, sitting on a couple of boards, football games, etc. Plus, my wife and I own a small vineyard and import our wine from Italy, so that keeps me busy doing signings and tastings, etc. The differences are what make the show click.
7) Who is a favorite guest of the show and why?
I could try and name every A-lister we've ever had ... and we've had a lot ... but some of our greatest moments have been with comedians who have become a part of our family. Dom Irerra and Richard Lewis ripping each other apart; Lisa Lamponelli is a great friend, we're the first radio show that took a chance with her and when she comes on and takes shots at us, it's fantastic. Billy Gardell (Mike and Molly) is another who can come on and let his hair down with us and those are some of the greatest moments. Big stars as real people just hanging.
8) Who would be your dream guest on the show?
Now we're talking. Let's go ahead and get Pacino in studio and wrap this thing up. At the same time, if we could bring in De Niro and David Letterman, I think we'd have a pretty good time. I'll cook.
9) You guys are very involved in the local community. What events and charities do you enjoy being involved with?
As a show, we've been "feeding South Florida" for about 20 years. It's our signature event. Each fall we do a "food drive," but it's evolved from "let's fill up this truck and stay on the air for a week" to three major fundraising events. With "Comedy for a Cause," we bring in a big name comic to the Improv; they donate a show, we get the proceeds; "Meatballs and Martinis" sells out in 10 minutes. We take over the coolest restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale, fill it with our celeb friends and charge $150 a head; and The Paul and Young Ron tailgate party. We partnered with the Miami Dolphins and a few local restaurants and have a huge tailgate party before a Dolphin game and charge a fee. All the proceeds from those events go to Feeding South Florida and we've topped over one million pounds of food every year.
I'm also chairman of the Miami Dolphins fishing tournament; sit on the board for RIDEDCC, a cycling event which raises money for cancer research (my wife is a breast cancer survivor); and I am on the Guy Harvey Ocean foundation board, we keep an eye on our oceans and make sure they are going to be clean and healthy for the future.
10) What's in store for the show in 2012?
A new four-year deal with Clear Channel and, hopefully, lots of laughs (and a few more affiliates). We're having a blast. In West Palm, we switched to the all-Talk station, RealRadio 94.3, from WKGR, the Classic Rock station and the audience has finally found us! We finished #1 men and #2 persons in January. That's exciting for me, as I grew up in West Palm Beach. Our Miami numbers have been rock-solid and top the 25-54 persons and #1 men for quite some time.