Matt Pauley grew up in St. Louis, with the Cardinals in the lead and KMOX paying the family bills before he was even born.
Now, 21 years after graduating from Ladue High School, Pauley’s long road down the broadcasting trail has finally brought him home. He was hired by KMOX (11:20 a.m.) to be the main host of its legendary “Sports Open Line” program as well as the main anchor for the Cardinals’ pre-game and post-game shows on the station as well than the more than 100 team outlets. radio network.
“It’s really special,” said Pauley, who debuts at KMOX next week. “There are so many factors that make this job amazing. It is in one of the most historic train stations in the country. It’s in the town where I grew up. I host on the radio network of the team I grew up on. And then you add family ties. I host a show that my dad produced in the 60s.”
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His father, Bill Pauley, played a variety of roles behind the scenes at KMOX, including producing “Sports Open Line” when Bob Burnes was host, as well as airing “At Your Service” shows hosted by others. station legends.
“My dad (now 80) has been my biggest supporter in my career,” Pauley said. “It made me feel really good to see how excited he is for me with this job.”
Pauley replaces Kevin Wheeler, who recently moved to a new KMOX general interest show airing 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays and also featuring Chris Rongey and Amy Marxkors. The trio talks a lot about the Cardinals and is a good mix, airy and entertaining.
Pauley’s most recent stop was in Milwaukee, where he had been for six years. He hosted pre-game and post-game shows for the Brewers on WTMJ and made other contributions to the station’s coverage of the team. But he was employed part-time and had to do a lot of other work to make the family profitable. He also appeared on the ESPN Radio affiliate there and was the play-by-play radio voice for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women’s basketball team, as well as having a role regular on the national SportsMap radio network.
So a full-time position at KMOX was a big draw.
“That’s a big part of what makes this job change for me,” said Pauley, who turns 40 next month. “My job at WTMJ was part time but with full time hours during baseball season and then very few hours the rest of the year. So to support my family and pay the bills I had to have a full time job 12 months a year, which was with SportsMap Radio (formerly SB Nation Radio, Yahoo! Sports Radio, Sporting News Radio) I worked as an anchor to prove localized updates affiliate stations across the country and I have also done replacement hosting.
“So during baseball season, I worked 85 to 100 hours a week and never slept more than three or four hours at a time. Also, my SportsMap job was Monday through Friday. The Brewers never had a day off on Saturday or Sunday, so I worked every day of the week from the first day of the season to the last day of the season with only the four days of the All-Star break , when I would take a vacation from SportsMap.
“I don’t dig ditches and had a great job, but it was a lot and I felt like I couldn’t be there for my wife and daughter like I should. My schedule was a little better during the baseball offseason.
The long road
Before reaching the big leagues in Wisconsin, there was a stop for Pauley in Colorado Springs to play Triple A baseball, preceded by stints with the Burlington (Iowa) Bees, South Georgia Peanuts and Evansville (Indiana) ball clubs. Otters after graduating from Kansas State. University.
“Matt’s extensive experience in professional baseball makes him an ideal person to carry the torch and lead ‘Sports Open Line,'” Becky Domyan, who leads the St. Louis operations of KMOX owner Audacy, said in a statement.
The Georgia team that Pauley worked for was the subject of the television documentary series “Playing for Peanuts”, and Pauley is considered the team’s broadcaster.
While in Colorado Springs, he also broadcast Air Force Academy men’s basketball games.
“It was inspiring to see what these young men went through every day and were still able to play basketball at a high level,” he said. “That job also gave me some really cool opportunities. We were flying to games in military planes and landing at various military bases. Just a lot of really cool memories of being around that program.
Pauley was steered towards a career in the media from an early age. While still in high school, he became a consulting operator at local sports radio station KFNS (590 AM), then spent time on the air. He also did high school sports coverage for the Post-Dispatch, ranging from compiling statistics to covering games.
“My parents were on Sunday PD and my dad added Saturday so we could see the box scores I grabbed the day before,” he said.
His on-air style has developed through all of his experiences, and he describes his approach as “thoughtful” now.
“I’m not a successful artist,” he said. “I don’t say things just to make people react. I am authentic. I share my life on the air and who you hear is who I am. I love to have fun. I like to laugh. I think the things I love the most are making people laugh and teaching people. … I like to have lively conversations. I know we live in a world where no one can get along with people they disagree with, but that’s not me. Let’s talk about it and listen to each other and see where it leads.
Pauley thinks working at KMOX will be the perfect fit, although he never really thought he’d probably ever get there.
“KMOX is the only station in St. Louis that I would have left Milwaukee for,” he said. “When I thought about it, I didn’t think the odds were particularly high because people don’t leave KMOX very often and the market doesn’t attract a lot of off-market talent. I’m a person of faith, and even though this is easier said than done, i really try to trust God knowing that he will place me where i am meant to be.
“Since I got the job, there have been times when I just quit and it kinda hits me that I’m now the host of ‘Sports Open Line’, which is really cool.”
He was asked what was the best thing about his move.
“Everything is good about it,” he said. “I’m coming home. I work at the station that I’ve always considered the best. I talk to some of the most passionate baseball fans in the country every night. Every game at Busch Stadium feels really important because of the fans.
“It was really fun to see the reaction on social media to this. I’ve had former middle school teachers, high school coaches, people I worked with on my various stops all saying really nice stuff and they understand the importance of this job, not that I was looking to prove myself, but it feels like something that everyone realizes is pretty special.