With Halloween approaching, I decided to add a bit of spook and mystery to my step, so I summoned the mighty content wizard known in this world as Ben DeCastro.
DeCastro has been seen and/or heard on just about every radio, television and new media platform in the southern New England market, has left a spooktacular mark (in a very good way) on much of the content that Rhode Islanders have been consuming for decades, and now is fully emerging as a top multimedia talent in his own right.
Every day is like Halloween for Ben DeCastro as he rotates through different roles, except his roles are real — TV star, morning-drive radio host, accordionist and perhaps most importantly, a person who places family and friends first.
He’s contributed to just about every trick in the RI media playbook. And he treats people really well!
It’s not too often that a retired circus musician and volunteer firefighter winds up as a key contributor to the market’s top outlets, while developing a YouTube series, podcast and a children’s book and serving as the stadium voice of the PawSox. (After double-checking the historical records downtown and consulting a few old timers, DeCastro appears to be the very first Rhode Islander to achieve such a feat, and at a youthful age.)
Relatively recently times, he became a contributor to NBC10’s new lifestyle show, Studio10, as well as a long-term fill-in host on Cat Country 98.1FM, one of the regions most popular radio stations.
During a recent interview with DeCastro, we talked about how he balances it all. Like, does he have to balance a camera case on his head while carrying microphones and firefighting equipment in his hands?
Ben DeCastro: What really what got me a start here in Rhode Island was Cardi’s Furniture and working there for 15 years. Unfortunately, in August, we lost Nick Cardi.
When I started out at Cardi’s, I had a front row seat to how three legends and a legendary family in this area had control and worked so hard. The one thing that I was always told, and three of them felt this way, but specifically Pete would always tell me, “You’ve always got to have a mix. There’s no one silver bullet out there. You’ve always gotta have a mix when it comes to advertising. You’ve got to be on television, you’ve got to be on radio, print, billboard.”
Everybody would say, “Print is dead, print is dead!” Well, print is actually still very important and it still plays a role. The question is, how do you adapt? How do you adjust in when you’re starting to add different methods to the pie, so to speak, now that it’s sliced into additional pieces? There’s digital, there is social media, there is podcasting, because there are listeners for everything.
So, having that wide range, multi-tool approach is something that Cardi’s really helped me to understand firsthand.
I was doing stuff at WPRO for a while. It’s an excellent medium. Then I had an opportunity to do 15 straight weeks over at Cat Country mornings.
Bill Bartholomew (Motif): You were hilarious on Cat Country, by the way. I found myself legitimately flipping over there and really enjoying some of those segments, just the gags and so forth. I think Cat Country is the number one station, right?
BD: Right now, yeah. But in this business, you’re only as good as your last (ratings) book. Just like you’re only as good as your last podcast or I’m only as good as my last whatever I’m doing.
There is a lot of content in southern New England. It’s funny because I was just at Roger Williams University speaking to a group of students, and I said, “Listen, content is key but contacts are king.” You’ve got to have the contacts, you’ve got to have the right people. You’ve got to know how to make those connections.
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