Paul Amadeus Lane is a velvety-voiced brand ambassador, accessible gaming consultant, keynote speaker and TV and radio personality who, as a C6 quadriplegic, has climbed the ranks high enough within the broadcasting industry to call his own shots.
Always in the Zone
Lane, 49, was always a nerd. Even pre-injury, when he was a musician and an EMT, he spent his spare time gaming, indulging in sci-fi and comic books and drooling over the latest in futuristic gadgetry. Then, following the multi-car pile-up in 1993 that made him a quadriplegic, he taught himself HTML and started a business selling cellphone accessories and contracts.
“I’m a sci-fi guy. I was always into Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. I would see all the technology on those shows and I’d think how cool it would be if we could have it,” says Lane.
But how does a guy using a wheelchair go from selling cellphone accessories, to not just working in radio, but having his own show?
“I looked at my options and I thought, what can I do that wouldn’t take a lot of physical strength where I could just open my mouth and let it rip?” he recalls. “I have an older cousin, and she said I had the gift of gab. This always resonated with me, so I thought, let me just try. I wasn’t going to be denied.”
The radio bug bit him in 2000 when Lane heard that a friend had his own radio show. Lane asked him how he did it. Turns out, the guy just called up the station and was paying for time, so Lane tried that too, even though it quickly got expensive. He didn’t give up and enrolled in the Academy of Radio and TV Broadcasting in Huntington Beach, California, in 2006.
“They were kind of apprehensive about letting me go to that school at first because it wasn’t always wheelchair-friendly and they worried about my ability to do stuff as a low-level quad,” he says. “I talked to the administrator, and he said there was a module on the final where I’d have to cut tape with a razor blade. Let’s just say my GPA was so high, I didn’t even need that last module and I still graduated with honors.”
Coming out of school, Lane thought he was hot stuff. But he’d send in his demo and resume, and as soon as stations heard he had a disability, he wouldn’t get a call. Then CBS Radio KFWB took a chance on him as their part-time news production assistant.
“I worked there overnight from 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. It was crazy. I had to get up early and switch my bowel program,” he says. Then one of his classmates working at NBC radio affiliate KCAA 1050-AM in San Bernardino, California, told him about an opening the station had for an announcer. “So I had an opportunity to be on the air,” he says.
He got the job and worked for both stations at the same time before he really took off as host of KCAA’s morning show, eventually becoming its news bureau chief. In 2015, he moved to ABC KMET 1490 AM in Los Angeles, and in January 2016 he got the opportunity to start his own talk radio show. He called it The Tech Zone — a place where he interviews celebrities and industry insiders about tech, gaming and sci-fi news and how it affects all of us, including those of us with disabilities. The Tech Zone has since spun off into The Entertainment Zone, covering geeky pop culture, and The Ability Zone, covering adaptive technology.
“I’ve been blessed to have bosses who look beyond the chair and admire my hustle,” says Lane. “They always say, ‘Man, you work harder than everybody.’ The one thing I want people to know is I am dependable, and that’s what makes me really push in that area. Even if it is an emergency situation, I will be there.”
Breaking Into Show Biz
An Extra Set of Hands
Paul Lane details a creative way he overcame a barrier while interviewing for his first job in radio.
“My wife took me to the interview. When I met the guy he said, ‘Here’s an application, a clipboard and a pen — meet me in the quad.’ I looked down and thought, how the hell am I going to fill out this application?
The guy went upstairs, and while he was gone, I hurried out to my wife who was waiting for me in the van. I said, ‘Hey, look, I need you to fill this out really quick. Can you do it?’ She filled it out as fast as she could and gave it back — it must’ve taken her only a few minutes — then I roll to the quad, and the guy is waiting for me and says, ‘Hey, what happened? I was worried about you.’
‘Oh,’ I said. ‘I had to go to the bathroom.’
Well, to make a long story short, I got hired as a news production assistant for KFWB.”
Favorite Adaptive Technology:
My Mieron VR. It puts me in a virtual reality environment, so I can pop balloons and fight dinosaurs while I work out. No one wants to work out. But when it’s fun, it’s pretty cool.
Dream X-Men Movie Cast Dead or Alive:
Yul Brynner as Professor X, Jack Nicholson as Wolverine, and Iman as Storm.
Why I Joined United Spinal:
I joined the Triumph Foundation’s Golden State chapter in August 2019 to inspire others to never give up and keep reaching for great things.