Paul is a verb; constant in all that he does. To meet fingers with him is the only time you will ever truly have him pinned down; even if for a fantastic fleeting moment. So meet with him on that index battlefield and experience being fascinated with the fascinated. A humble gesture from a humble man.
By Frank Reddy
A deep-seated love for music has led Paul Leslie on a life's quest. From a very young age, Paul’s interest in the art form instilled in him a desire to plumb the depths of the people who make music.
Though he’s met many others on his path – Gene Wilder, Woody Allen, Larry King, Walter Cronkite, Joe Franklin – who have offered glimpses of brilliance, the bulk of Paul’s interviews have been with musicians. Namely, those who fascinate this guy who was born in the fabulous 80's. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan most of his life has been lived in the Southeastern United States.
Paul has interviewed more than 400 people during his career of writing and hosting radio and online programming. In the beginning, he cut his teeth interviewing instrumentalists because of an interest in live performance and the collaboration and improvisation involved.
Over time, the interest evolved toward lyricists and composers – songwriters – who Paul felt effected “the birth of music.” These days, he could interview anyone.
His quest to interview every singer and songwriter who has ever made an emotional impact on him has been fruitful. Many talents have fielded questions from Paul as guests of a radio show he started more than 13 years ago. Willie Nelson, Jeff Bridges, Dr. John, Maya Angelou, Kathie Lee Gifford, Paul Shaffer, George Benson, and Fats Domino are but a few of the people who have shared their story with Paul. Where did it all start? Singer-songwriter and tropical tycoon Jimmy Buffett's radio station Radio Margaritaville was the first station to carve out an hour each week to broadcast his show. Currently, the show is heard on WOHM 96.3 FM in Charleston, South Carolina. Every interview is archived on YouTube.
His website, thepaulleslie.com, is an effort to archive all of the interviews with the sung heroes and the unsung – that span more than a decade.
This website contains streaming audio all for free. Using proper citation, Paul invites researchers, book authors and journalists to use the interviews in any way. They're there for you.
Because all interviews must be edited, remastered and transcribed, Paul has been blessed with a number of volunteers from all over the world who assist, because they believe in what he’s doing. As an interviewer, Paul says their assistance is invaluable.
Even more than making his living as an interviewer, Paul considers himself an archivist. His primary interest? The creative process and the human experience.
Talents like David Letterman and Elliott Mintz have most influenced him, followed by Charlie Rose and Larry King. If he had to describe himself, he's a mix between Joe Franklin and Studs Terkel. Actor and singer Robert Davi called him "a young Dick Cavett."
Although Paul has interviewed many people over the phone, he strives to improve communication through more in-person sessions. Whether it’s in person or over the phone, the ultimate goal is to “help people tell their stories”— his mission statement.
He has been successful, uncovering the stories of actors, authors, painters, sculptors, as well as television personalities and journalists.
Despite having completed hundreds of interviews, Paul feels he’s “just now getting started.” He hopes to one day reach the milestone of 1,000 compelling Q & A sessions.
As he moves toward that goal, this website will remain the best source to see and hear his latest efforts. Through the site, Paul said, he hopes “to reach as many people” as he can. The common theme is communication. In an age where everything is reduced to a sound bite, Paul wants us to return to truly listening to one another.
“I hope to share the essence of the person I am speaking to,” he said. “Showing that no matter what we feel…we’re not alone. Someone else has felt that way too.”