10 Questions with Paul Silvi

Paul Silvi will be the host of the weekly Sounders FC show on Belo Broadcasting’s KING 5 and KONG 6/16.

He’s been a part of the Seattle sports scene since before the Sounders resurfaced in the A-League. And he’s got more in common than that with the great game. In the future, Silvi will be hosting the weekly Sounders FC show on Belo Broadcasting’s KING 5 and KONG 6/16. Soccer’s also interwoven in his present and past, be it as a formidable forward throughout his youth (after one season of soccer at Oakland, he gave way to placekicking at Bowling Green), a coach to his own kids’ teams, or by inserting an extra goal scoring highlight into his nightly sportscast. He’s usually asking the questions, but recently he got a chance to answer some as well.

You are always interviewing people from a variety of sports for the various shows. Is there a topic most everyone feels relaxed in talking about?
The best thing to do, is something we called ‘Anything but.’ You talk to the player about anything but soccer or football or whatever. When you talk about pop culture with a player, all of a sudden they go away from those cliché answers. You ask them about their first car, their first concert. It takes them back to their youth, which isn’t all that far back. With a car, it’s usually about this clunker, and you get great answers. So, what we have the most luck with is ‘firsts.’ Those tend to tell you the most about someone’s personality.

If some guy back in your home state of Michigan (Bloomfield Hills, to be exact) reads this, what will he say about Paul Silvi being connected to soccer?
They would say, ‘Wow, what a surprise [sarcastic],’ because I played it into college and we always had a good [Lahser] high school team, always winning sides. So, if someone read I was involved with the Sounders, it wouldn’t be any surprise at all.

And how would they describe you as a player?
Pretty much a natural goal scorer, I would say. I was always a center forward, and I set the school record for goals in a season. I was pretty much a guy who had a nose for the net, with just enough selfishness to be a good center forward. So they would know me as a guy who was going to score goals.

I didn’t hear anything there about tracking back or getting a place in free kick walls.
[laughs] No way. Everybody went back. The one guy who would stay up at midfield was me, waiting for the ball and a breakaway.

Who’s got game down there at the broadcast house on Dexter Avenue?
I played this past spring in an adult league, for the first time in 20 years. My body just wasn’t doing what my mind wanted it to do. It kinda broke down on me. So, I think I’ll be picking sports like tennis and golf in my future. Lisa Gangel’s actually a tremendous athlete, and she played on my team as a guest. She shows up the first day and just tears it up. She plays basketball, takes kickboxing and plays pretty much any sport. She’s a great athlete and played college basketball, but I was surprised at how good of soccer player she was. Chris Egan was a tremendous tennis player in high school and a good basketball player too; a good all-around athlete. He coaches his little kids’ soccer team, but he doesn’t play. I’m surrounded by good athletes, they’re just 20 years younger than me.

There are only three of those Sounders FC adidas jerseys. Please tell us that those KING and KONG versions didn’t get put on Ebay.
No, we gave those back to the general manager of the station, Ray Heacox, and so he has the two jerseys, and believe me they watch those like a hawk. When they first brought those into the station, everyone was saying, ‘Oh, you’ve got to get me one.’ But, no, those went back to the bigwigs. It was nice while it lasted; I think I saw it for, like, 45 minutes that day.

How much soccer do you get an opportunity to watch?
Fortunately, because of my job, I can watch the weekly MLS game on Thursday nights on ESPN. So I can watch one game per week, and I get highlights each week. I watch those to see which ones I’m going to put on TV. I don’t watch Premier League, mostly because of when it comes on and my schedule. But when international soccer comes on, it’s awesome. As a consistent viewer, MLS is the easiest for me to follow.

This team is still several months away from even beginning training camp, let alone playing its first match. Do you get a sense for how the fans will respond, come the start of the first season?
From a fan’s point of view, the initial buildup was a slow roller at first. I remember doing the interview with Brian Schmetzer about a year ago now, and he kind of leaked it, that a team was coming. But then came the announcement, then the name, the sponsor, the jersey and the season ticket sales. Now people are really ready to explode. And I love the fact that I can put soccer highlights on the air. Soccer’s always been one of my all-time loves. That’s my niche. When I can put soccer highlights on the air, the fans tell me they appreciate it and that’s a great feeling.

You arrived in Seattle after the big crowds of the Sounders and Stars days. When did you first see that this is a great soccer town?
To tell the truth, when I really realized this was a soccer town was when I was coaching my kids throughout their younger years. I saw that there were more kids playing soccer in Washington [per capita] than any other state. I knew that all of these kids--with all of these coaches and trainers involved in the game at that level--I knew this would be a great place for them to go out and watch professional soccer, watch the big boys play. And those kids are only going to get older and hopefully more interested in the game. And then they’ll have kids. Also, when you talk about the international games coming here, when those guys like Man United, Celtic and Real Madrid showed up, I don’t know where they came from, but we proved that we have some hard core soccer fans around here.

With this agreement with the Sounders FC, what are the possibilities at KING/KONG?
Well, the beauty of it, whenever you get locked up with a partner like this, there’s a little extra push from the station to get some coverage on the air, which helps me out because that’s all I want to do, is put more on the air. We’re going to check out these guys, the players, individually. Everybody’s got a story to tell, and with 20-plus guys on the roster there will be good stories. You’re going to see more features on the air, not only from us, but the other stations in town, because big league soccer is arriving in Seattle again. It can’t be ignored any more. No way.

What’s the one or two things that you would like a weekly show to do for the team and the fans?
You’re going to see a colorful coaches’ interview. I’d like to see Drew Carey on twice a month. He’s really into this, so maybe there’s a way to get him on once a week, even if we have to pre-tape a couple segments. He’s a funny guy and would add a lot of color to the show. We are looking to come up with some weekly features, where we can get the players involved. It’s endless, like a blank canvass. In the sports office I know the most about soccer, so they’re looking to me for ideas as to how to make this show interesting. That’s cool, to be kind of a point man on it.