When I landed in Houston, I was John Lander’s helper on the Q-Morning Zoo show on KKBQ FM radio. The show was extremely successful, but we always thought, “If the listeners could hear what we talk about while the songs and commercials are playing, that would be the best show.”
I moonlight in radio for ice cream and college tuition money. Over the years, I’ve been on a few shows, once a week with Michael Berry, same with Pat Gray and Lanny Griffith. Same thing: The conversations off-air were always more entertaining than what went out on-air. In “real life” (away from radio), Berry is wildly funny, Gray even more opinionated, and there's no helping Lanny.
That was before podcasts. Now anybody, even people who have on-air shows, can have off-air “shows,” too, where there are no rules. The Federal Communications Commission has no control, no authority over podcasts, which stream over the Internet. Podcasters can say whatever they want with no worry. I used to listen to all-night talk radio when I went to bed, now I’m tossin’ and turnin’ (great song by Bobby Lewis) to podcasts. The Jim Cornette Experience and Jim Cornette’s Drive-Thru top my list.
Two weeks ago, Sports Talk 610 (KILT-AM) morning host Paul Gallant left the station after eight years on the air. Now he’s off the air, but on the Internet with a podcast called Gallant Says. He unleashes a new episode each Monday and Friday. I’ve listened to the first two: let’s just say this is Gallant as listeners have never heard him before. You thought he had a big mouth and big opinions on the radio? His Gallant Says podcasts are streamed on iTunes, Sticher, Spotify, and other platforms.
I asked Gallant how he was enjoying life in the anything-goes, shackle-free world of podcasts.
CultureMap: How does it feel to have no restrictions on what you can say and how you can say it? Do you have a sense of complete artistic freedom? Is it a weight off your brain?
Paul Gallant: It’s hard to not feel a weight on your brain when you’re trying to find ways to entertain people. We all tend to get stale after a while, and you never want to be it. I’ve set some limits as to how far I’d go with things. But it is fun to be restriction-free.
CM: Not only are you free of FCC rules, you are free of 610 rules. What rules did 610 impose on you? For example, were you allowed to talk negatively about broadcast properties, specifically the Texans, or sponsors?
PG:  never really set many rules for us. Or at least for me. There wasn’t some ‘Texans directive’ coming from bosses or anything like some people have suggested. They left us alone. The Rockets (when we were their flagship station in 2011-12), meanwhile...
CM: You can use profanity now, and you certainly take advantage of that. Which is the real PG, the buttoned-up guy on 610 or the colorful language guy on your podcast?
PG: I think what’s great about this is that I get to be 100-percent honest about myself. I love opening up. So this has been a lot closer to who I am in real life. A lot of people think swearing makes you sound uneducated. They’re probably right, but I find they add a lot of oomph to anything you’re saying. That said, I think may have dropped a few too many expletives in the first two episodes. My mom sent me a text about it. So I’ll probably dial those back a little this week.
CM: You're not getting paid for your podcast, so why do it? Is the podcast an ego thing or just your nature to speak into a microphone because that's what you do?
PG: The plan is to figure out a way to eventually make money off it. I’m pretty late into the game, but whatever I do next, and wherever I do it, I want the ability to keep doing it [the podcast].
CM: When you left 610, did they impose any restrictions on jobs you could take or where or anything else?
PG: My contract was up and they chose not to renew it. There are zero non-competes.
CM: Explain how and where and when you do the podcast.
PG: For now, I’m recording in my apartment with a Blue Yeti mic and my laptop. My air conditioning is loud, unfortunately. I’ve got some audio editing skills and try my best to make it sound decent.
CM: Is this podcast meant to showcase your talent to prospective program directors? Is the goal to make your podcast profitable or a path back to a radio station?
PG: At this point, I’m not 100 percent sure. I want to stay in practice, and to keep my mind occupied with some sort of project while looking for work elsewhere.
CM: You work solo on the podcast, coming off working with two other guys in the morning on 610. Which is easier, which is more fun, which is more fulfilling?
PG: Talk radio is at its best with two people who have some chemistry. For now my podcast is all me. Down the road, I’d want to have someone to talk to. I might end up hogging the mic though. Classic Russell Westbrook syndrome.
CM: You do a couple of characters. My favorite is “Baseball Pawl.” Will they be a part of the podcast?
PG: I’m figuring those out. Basically they’re just different voices that’ll pop in and out sporadically. Hot Take Harry is me talking with an over-modulated, knock-off Jim Rome voice and saying some of the crazy stuff you hear on those debate sport TV shows.
CM: I’ve listened to you recently on the SB Nation network. Is this a fill-in deal with SB Nation, or will you be on regularly?
PG: It’s fill-in for now. I’ll be on next weekend 11 am to 2 pm on Saturday and Sunday. After that, who knows?