Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: Radio funnyman Paul Castronovo gets personal.
As half of South Florida's most popular morning show duo, Paul and Young Ron, Paul Castronovo has become the radio equivalent of a double shot of Café Cubano.
Whether he's playing the foil for his partner's astute observations on BIG 105.9, or waxing euphemistically about fishing, boating or their seemingly unending stream of celebrity guests, Castronovo comes across like everybody's favorite chum, someone you could bond with over a brew and share some goofy guy talk.
We talked to Paul and asked him to share words of wisdom. He bragged about drunkenly interviewing Tom Cruise and reading lines with Robert Duvall.
New Times: First, give a little history. How did you get started in the biz, what was your first gig? Where did you work previously? Did you always want to be in radio?
Paul Castronovo: Nah, I wanted to be on Saturday Night Live, but they didn't offer that at the University of Florida, where I was in pre-law. So I slid over to the TV station and wanted to be the "funny man on the street guy." The news director said, "That's not what we do here," and I moved upstairs to WRUF, Rock 104 where they said, "Heck yeah, be funny." I've worked in Gainesville, Orlando, Nashville, and Birmingham (where they hated me, being a Gator fan and all), and thankfully in Miami for the past 22 years.
What do you enjoy most about your job? What do you enjoy least?
I get to sit in a room full of funny people and get paid to crack on each other and laugh all day. I've gotten to meet heroes of mine from all walks of life, from entertainment to sports, and actually got paid for it. Do you know anybody else that has read lines from The Godfather with Robert Duvall? This whole thing about waking up at 4 a.m. has got to stop eventually. It never gets easy.
Other than a salary, what is the most satisfying thing about your gig?
Watching my wife spend my salary. Look, I realize that I'm at the fringe of the entertainment business, but it's very rewarding to: A) meet people who say that you make them laugh everyday, and B) when huge stars such as Billy Gardell from Mike and Molly text me to congratulate me on my weight loss. That's cool stuff.
What would you be doing if you weren't in radio?
I'd be in TV, but making less money. Local TV hasn't figured out how to use a talent like me. The stations are crushed for minutes, and so much of it is hard hitting, and that's not what I do. What I do is entertain, and uh... It seems to be working. Somebody will figure it out eventually.
Who was the coolest celebrity you've ever met?
Coolest? That's tough. Funniest? Dom Irerra and Richard Lewis. I interviewed a drunk Tom Cruise. Hillary Clinton spent 20 minutes on the show with us and I asked her if she inhaled. Robert Duvall sitting across from me doing the "Godfather" was nuts. Steve Spurrier made me nervous, then became a friend. One-on-one with John Travolta... And he didn't hit on me? Hell, hanging with Tony Curtis and Kevin Spacey? Yeah, that's pretty cool. Anybody you know, other than a football player, that has caught a pass from Dan Marino? I have.
In that same regard, with all the evolving technology, especially in the area of mass communications, why do you think radio continues to be so resilient? Why do you think people still listen?
When satellite radio showed up, everybody was like, "Oh no." Guess what? It's just another button in the car. We're your buddies and we don't cost a red cent to listen to. We're there every day, and have been since you were a kid. There's a comfort factor in knowing that. Stations that show consistency with their talent are the ones that have the most success. TV has blown it over the years by getting rid of high-priced talent, thinking they can get away with a hot chick right out of college for a tenth of the money, but you know what? I call it b.s. It takes years to build up trust with an audience, and I think we've done that and no podcast or satellite show is gonna take radio down.
Witty, wacky, and exceedingly affable, Paul and Young Ron hold court every weekday morning from 6 to 10 a.m. over four radio airwaves stretching from the Keys (Sun 99.5 and 103.1) to Broward and Miami Dade (BIG 105.9) to West Palm Beach (91.3 Real Radio).
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