10 Questions with ... "Neander" Paul Marshall
August 4, 2015
1) What was your first job in radio?
I snagged records (!) CDs, carts (get off my lawn!), coffee, and did what it took to get a foot in the door at WZLX. Early influences? First and foremost, the staff of WBCN. My horrible career decisions are the result of one great radio station. Specifically, Charles Laquidara, Eddie Gorodetsky, Billy West, Mark Parenteau, Carter Alan, and John Reilly. One of the highlights of my career was being able to say the WBCN call letters (coincidentally, also the only station I've ever sworn on). They started this for me, and a lot of others in our business. And I got to be one of them, if only for a moment. I also owe a massive debt of gratitude to former WZLX, and current WBZ/Boston Creative Super-Genius Michael Coleman. His inspiration and skewed work ethic are instrumental in how I present my radio show every day. Had I not been schooled and encouraged by Jim Fox at WMFS, and Curtiss Johnson at KRXQ, I would not be where I am right now. This is a fact. More recently, I owe Greg Solk, Trip Reeb and Jim Owen here at Hubbard both an apology, and extreme appreciation for the opportunity to do what many have said I've been long overdue to be part of.
2) What led you to a career in radio and was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
I won tickets to see "Beatlemania," from the late Dale Dorman from WRKO. Aldo Nova was George, and radio was the coolest thing ever! But ... I always go back to the "Walk-a-Thon" that was presented by the legendary WCOZ. I saw how the jock (who skipped out before the walk began. Let that be a lesson kids: Your listeners remember) got treated like a rock star. With no discernible musical acumen of my own at that age, I thought "Yup! That's for me!"
3) Before we talk about your new morning gig, can you give us some of the highlights of your radio career to this point?
I've really been stupid-lucky to have been part of some of the *best* Rock stations in the game. Whether we want to talk about WBCN, WAAF, KDKB, KRXQ, KQRC or just about everywhere I've been. Surrounded by professionals at every stop, it's really hard to pinpoint them all. I think building a home with the guys from Sevendust, and a few hundred listeners for Sgt. Peter Damon, who was injured serving our country, was probably the one that meant the most. Some things are bigger than radio.
4) You programmed KDKB for quite a few years before they flipped their format to Alternative. As the former PD of a longtime heritage Rock station, what are your proudest achievements during your time there?
We did what "they" said couldn't be done. We took a 40-year heritage Rocker that had fallen on hard times, and resurrected it. The staff bought in. The company believed. The audience reacted. And the results were successful. I'm proud to say that we said goodbye to KDKB on a high note. The company needed to make a change. As sad as it was to see it go, I know we wrote a great final chapter.
5) After years of programming KDKB, you recently made the transition to mornings on KSLX working with Mark Devine as the Mark and Neanderpaul show. How did this new morning team come about and how are things going so far?
When Hubbard made the decision to flip KDKB, they made it clear that my efforts were appreciated, and found a place for me at night here at KSLX. Everyone involved knew it wasn't a "forever" situation. I checked with a lot of friends, former mentors, and people I trusted. Everyone said to sit tight. Good things were coming. It wasn't easy to do by any stretch. However, anyone in the know will tell you that Hubbard is a great place to work. If there was a chance to stay and grow within this company, it was the smartest option to explore. So, patience became the prime virtue. Thankfully, the company is committed to developing talent, and recognizes that we need to be more than a jukebox.
(KSLX PD) Jim Owen had been tasked with putting together a show that could move the station forward. KSLX was doing okay. Okay was no longer the goal. The company wanted a high-profile morning show to start off the day. Jim had apparently been talking to Mark for a while, but they didn't have a co-host candidate who could complete the team. He mentioned me to Mark. Then, Mark to me. Everyone seemed to be open to the idea. So, we had coffee. I've literally known Mark for about six months. We had three quick coffee meetings, and committed to doing this. Total strangers, tossed together shotgun-wedding style. It's been just about five months, and the show is growing nicely. We're really humbled by how Phoenix has embraced us. The chemistry is palpable, and the reaction, encouraging.
6) Mark spent 15 years as half of the top-ranked Tim and Mark morning show on KDKB. What have you learned about doing mornings working with Mark?
The first thing is how to share. For most of my career, I've been self-contained. That's limited my scope of consideration. I've been part of ensembles before. But they were always spur-of-the-moment. Not a true "show." Mark has taught me how to be a more balanced entertainer. His viewpoint comes from a decade-and-a-half of success. No matter what I may *think* I know, Mark has seen it, and executed successfully. Therefore, I've learned to defer to his experience. Anyone who knows me will laugh at the notion that I'd concede the last word to anyone. Mark's track record is that of a winner. So, I listen.
7) Even though the Mark and Neanderpaul show is relatively new to the market, what are some of the early highlights you can share with us about the show so far?
We've really taken it slow and steady. You don't get a chance to make a second impression. The station has been fairly passive during morning drive in the past. That's not a slight. It's an acknowledgment that we've had to ease the audience into what we do. Lest we run the risk of scaring them off. We're really the first personality-driven show that KSLX has had. We've deliberately maintained a high song count. You *can* provide quality content and still play music. You don't have to make a choice. If the situation necessitates a longer break, we adjust accordingly. If not, we keep it tight. Just as every day in your life is fluid, so too is our playbook.
What we're seeing now, after just over four months, is a routine building. We're feeling the audience checking in with us. They reference what *we* thought were passing thoughts, as benchmarks for the show already. In other words, we're becoming part of their day. That's not something you can force. It has to develop naturally. We're feeling our listeners identifying with each personality. They're becoming cognizant of who we are as people, and choosing to come along for the ride every morning. The fact that each of us are established as credible personalities within the market to begin with, has certainly aided in that process.
8) How active is the Mark and Neanderpaul show with its social media presence?
Well, I have always maintained a high-profile online. Mark is adapting to the new environment with vigor, and proficiency. Because I'm the one with the experience when it comes to Facebook, Twitter, etc. Mark has embraced the video component of the show. The station has provided us with every tool we could ask for when it comes to being able to utilize social media. Mark is very good with video editing, and puts together several videos a week. We make sure to post them online, and keep them fresh. Usually related to whatever we've been doing on the air that day/week. We interact with our listeners every day. At *any* time they reach out. That's part of the gig. Whether you're on the air, or not, you must answer when they call. Or, they won't. It's not about us.
9) You've always been a passionate music guy. Now that you're working at a Classic Rock station, what's your take on the format in 2015?
I'm not involved in the programming at that level. I focus on how we present it on air each morning. That said, everyone knows that we're always evolving. But, just as I said earlier, it has to be deliberate. The stigma that "Classic" = "Old," is no longer valid. Classic is the *best.* We have to make sure that we are not only delivering the best songs our audience demands, but as a performer, that we are informed about every artist/song we play. That's an essential element in this format -- credibility. We've heard from our listeners, that for KSLX, music knowledge is extremely important. When you're dealing with the crème-de-la-crème of Rock, there's an expectation of expertise.
The evolution of Classic Rock is different in every city. What works in one might not in another. Some stations can play more recent music. Some, must remain extremely conservative. Classic Rock isn't assembly-line or disposable. It's the stuff that made it. Evolution is inevitable. The trick is to evolve *with* the audience -- not before, and certainly not behind. Being informed is only half of it. Being able to present that expertise with the kind of passion, which instills loyalty, is the key to success. We have the best music. We have to be the best at presenting it.
10) You recently made headlines and went viral with your compilation of AC/DC song endings. How did this idea originate and how many hits is your website up to now?
I suspect that every jock in the business has made the "What are the odds this AC/DC song ends with a power chord?" joke. Considering the band have yet to announce a Phoenix date, Mark and I are sending someone to see them in Toronto in September. As a goof, I decided to start assembling the endings as a little montage. Of course, for the air we only needed about 10 to prove the point. But anything worth doing is worth *over* doing. So, I decided to go through the band's entire catalog. Yes, it was laborious. But, it was really funny when it was all said-and-done. Interesting to note: Although *most* of the band's catalog ends similarly, some of their biggest songs fade ("Back In Black," "Long Way To The Top," "If You Want Blood"). I went through it all. Don't ask me how many ended up in the montage. Just know, it's *every* AC/DC song that doesn't fade. Pretty soon after posting it, Ultimate Classic Rock picked up the bit. Then, VH1, about a half-dozen Aussie music sites, Guitar World, Death & Taxes Mag (???), and dozens of radio stations around the world. We never intended it to be anything more than a fun joke. But ... It's been fun to read the trolling commentary. Reactions have ranged from "Metal Genius" - VH1, to "He should be fired immediately" -Internet Critic. As if I have somehow disrespected the band. Hilarious. Meanwhile, on a whim, I sent Angus Young, a Facebook friend request. He accepted. I'm expecting him to "poke" me any day now (WAIT! WHAT?). Between my site, and the KSLX page, we're closing in on 200k hits as of 4:30PM 7/23. Not bad for just over three days. Who knows where we end up?