Paul Castronovo of Big 105.9 FM has been a radio personality in South Florida for decades. He also has another role that he is just as proud of — being a dad.
Now that Castronovo’s son, AJ, has become a teenager, Paul is experiencing the challenges of fatherhood that many parents of teenagers confront on a daily basis. We had a fun conversation with Paul in his radio studio to get a father’s perspective on raising a teenager. Here’s what he had to say on a variety of topics.
AJ is going to prom. This has taken Paul by surprise because AJ doesn’t have a girlfriend or a love interest. Yet, he asked a girl to prom. So, Paul is thrilled. Well, sort of.
“I’m glad he’s going. I would be bummed if he didn’t. It’s the after prom party that’s the problem.”
Paul’s son and friends are renting an Air B & B for the after party. “I’m a wreck over this. I know what can happen.”
AJ just turned 18 and he is graduating high school in June. “I told him, ‘you’re about to go to college, don’t screw up now.’ ”
As a dad, Paul says he walks the line between trying to be his son’s friend and being his father, the guy who makes the rules and enforces them.
“I’m a nagger, a big nagger. When you give a teenager a little bit, he is going to take every bit of it. If you tell him he can stay out until 11, he is going to push it to 11:45.”
Someone recently asked AJ what his dad is like. AJ responded that his dad is in his face all the time. “I want him to know that I’m not doing it not because I want to be a hard ass,” Paul said. “I’m doing it because I know how things can change like that. I try to balance being the best friend and dad. I can’t be both, and that’s the hardest part for me.“
TRACKING YOUR TEEN
Paul admits he tracks his son through the Find My Friends app. “I’m relentless with this thing. I torture my son. I’m like ‘Why were you in Delray when you said you were going Boca?” Every now and then my son turns the app off and we have a big argument.”
AJ has told Paul when he goes to college, his dad can’t track him anymore. “I said ‘Oh really who is paying for the phone?’
“I guess we’ll see what happens. I guess eventually I will have to relinquish control,” Paul said.
Paul waits up for AJ to get home. “If I tell him to be home at 12:30, he pushes it until 1.”
One night when AJ was about 16, he called Paul at 11:30 and said he was on his way home from a party. Paul fell asleep and when he awoke at 1 a.m. AJ still wasn’t home. Paul’s tracker app said AJ’s location wasn’t available and AJ didn’t answer his cell phone. So, Paul called every one of AJ’s friends and finally drove to the party to find AJ. The kids told Paul AJ had left the party hours ago. When Paul arrived home, he found AJ staggering in the hallway. AJ had been lying in the bushes sobering up so his dad wouldn’t find out he was drunk.
“Parenting is really is tough,” Paul admits. “They don’t know the level of love we have for them and why we are panicky about things like this.”
THE SEX TALK
Oh, the joys of fatherhood! Paul had the sex talk with his son years ago. Now, he will remind him to be careful at college.
“I have been telling him, ‘don’t ruin your life by having a kid at 17.’ He says, ‘I know dad.’ “
Paul said AJ gets extremely embarrassed when have they have the “sex talk.”
Now, as AJ heads to college, Paul plans to use humor. “I’ll say ‘Look I don’t’ want to be a grandfather before my time so wrap that rascal.’ ”
In the fall, Paul will drop his son off at University of Florida, Paul’s alma mater.
Paul is ready with some advice for him. “I’m going to tell him, ‘Don’t screw up your freshman year. A lot of kids come home, because they go crazy with the freedom. Don’t be that guy, don’t blow up your first year.’ ”
FACING THE EMPTY NEST
Paul faces the college drop off with mixed emotions. “For the last 17 years, all our focus has been on him. When he goes off, we will be more relaxed…We will probably be panicky the first few months, but after that we probably won’t worry as much because he’s not here for us to worry about.”
Of course, Paul will miss his son.
“He’s my best buddy, my fishing buddy…I can’t believe 18 years flew by so fast. The day AJ was born, I made an announcement on air. Listeners told me I would never be the same. I wasn’t. But it’s been a great 17-year run. We’ve had a ton of laughs. He’s a great kid. Getting him into college goal was the goal — and we did it.”