Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Writing Assignment 5 - Post 6

Scott Paton lives in Columbia, Maryland, but his voice can soon be heard all around the world.

This year marks Motown’s 50th anniversary, and Paton, 51, wrote and produced a radio special for this milestone in American music, co-hosting with Motown hit-maker Smokey Robinson. The eight hour show has aired in many major cities across the country so far and has been sold overseas.

“I hadn’t planned on hosting or co-hosting the show at all,” Paton said. “But the people that hired me to produce it just said, ‘Why don’t you host it?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I could do that.’”

Paton began his career in writing and producing in Los Angeles when he was 18, but has been living in Columbia for the past 22 years, mainly working as a freelance writer. This project gave him the opportunity to do something he loved on a grand scale. For the show, Paton interviewed artists such as Otis Williams of the Temptations, Martha Reeves, The Supremes, The Four Tops, and co-host Smokey Robinson.

“It was a thrill,” Paton said of the opportunity the radio show presented. “Not only as a fan of Motown, but also the fact that it was so pivotal in helping accelerate racial equality. Getting to share the life stories of the people that helped that movement progress in the ‘60s was an added thrill because it’s such an essential component of American history.”

Paton calls himself a “lifelong music fan” in addition to being a professional music historian. He has interviewed hundreds of artists and predicts that he has produced thousands of hours of radio programs. Despite having met some of the most influential artists and songwriters around, Paton has never been intimidated by fame.

“Some of my favorite people to interview weren’t even the biggest stars,” Paton said. “They were just nice and interesting. Every now and then, someone big and famous would be wonderful, too. Fame does not impress me. But talent does.”

Though the interviews themselves and the completion of the Motown special provided a great deal of satisfaction for Paton, the production process itself proved to be grueling for him as well, especially on a tight deadline.

“It was hard to whittle things down to eight hours— I could’ve made it 24 hours,” Paton said. “Production-wise, it was a very complex job juggling all the different content I had and turning it into cohesive narrative.”

Now that the show is complete and on-the-air, Paton has other projects to which he looks forward. A three-hour Motown show with co-host Mary Wilson, one of the founding members of the Supremes, will go on-air Memorial Day weekend.

Despite the re-launching of his career in the music business, Paton currently has no plans to leave his Columbia home.

“Columbia is where my record collection is. It’s too big and heavy to move.”

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