DJ Paul ‘Knight’ on HOT 101 air

Alex Russell

When Paul Schillig came to Kent State he knew exactly why he was attending college: He wanted a degree in broadcast journalism.

His desire for a career in radio broadcasting began when he was just an average pre-teen listening to the radio and trying to get on the air.

“I was one of those annoying kids that always called the hotlines,” Schillig said laughing.

Besides tying up the request lines, Schillig saved up money working at his father’s grocery store to buy his own disc jockey equipment when he was only 14 years old. He began DJing at friends’ parties and observed local DJs at an oldies radio station.

When Schillig called the Youngstown station known as HOT 101 one evening, he was invited on the air by DJ Jay Kline to come observe their station. Schillig took up the offer and met with HOT 101’s then Program Director Tom Pappas.

“Pappas kept asking a lot of questions,” Schillig said. “I thought we were just talking, but he was really sort of interviewing me without me realizing it.”

At 14 years old, Schillig was offered an internship at Hot 101. He decided to wait until he was 15 to accept. As a freshman in high school, he took on a lot of responsibility at the station.

Although he referred to it as “pushing a lot of buttons,” his job as board operator left him in charge of turning the CD players on and off and cueing the music. “You basically move the station along,” Schillig said.

When current Program Director John Trout offered him an on-air spot at age 16, Schillig realized one of the most stressful parts of DJing: “knowing that lots of people are relying on your performance.”

“Your performance on the air is the delivery that the clients hear … all the sales reps and everyone else back at the station are relying on you,” Schillig said. “You’re broadcasting to thousands, possibly millions of people.”

Trout believes that Schillig has the essential characteristics needed to be in the industry.

“Paul has a passion for radio that you don’t find in a lot of people starting out,” Trout said. “He has drive and enthusiasm and always makes radio his first priority. I run into a lot of young people who want to be on radio or TV, but don’t want to give anything up. It takes sacrifice. You’re competing against a lot of others.”

Trout explained that it’s not all about talent in the broadcast industry either. Perseverance and persistence are both necessary, Trout said. “There’s a lot of talented people without perseverance.”

At HOT 101, Schillig is known as Paul “Knight.” He chose this name for his radio personality because he enjoyed King Arthur stories growing up. He decided that with a name like Paul Knight, he’d be thought of as a gentleman to the ladies.

Although it’s now obvious to Schillig that he made the right choice, his decision to go to college was not an easy one. He was already being offered DJ jobs while still in high school, and although $40,000 a year at age 16 seemed very tempting, he still decided college would be the better choice.

“Job opportunities, I feel, are becoming limited. I figured I’d get a degree to fall back on,” Schillig said.

Besides hosting a radio show on Saturday mornings, Schillig is also a full-time student, Delta Chi fraternity president and part-time employee at the Student Media office.

Schillig also does the weather for TV-2 and worked for WKSR his freshman year. He plans to get involved with WKSR, now Black Squirrel radio, again in the fall with encouragement from Jeff Fruit, director of School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“Paul’s already got great experience at Youngstown,” Fruit said. “He’s a strong performer. He’d be a great addition (to BS).”

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Alex Russell at [email protected].