Before joining the BBC, Askew 'had travelled widely and seen life and musical work in many places and capacities'. He was a master of the viola.
At the beginning of the First World War, he served in the Royal Marines in the Cameroons, where he was in charge of communications. Later he was on HMS Cumberland on the West African Station, and in 1916 on the Lion, Admiral Beatty's flagship, and was in the Battle of Jutland.
After the war ended he became a member of one of the best-known seaside musical combinations in Britain — the Llandudno Pier Orchestra, under Arthur W Payne.
Askew joined the BBC's Aberdeen Station Orchestra in February 1926, playing violin and viola. When the Orchestra was disbanded and replaced by an Octet in November of that year, as a result of the BBC's policy of centralisation, Askew was appointed Conductor. Records show that he officially became a staff member on 7 October 1926
and, in 1926, came to the BBC's Aberdeen Station Orchestra. In the same year he was appointed musical director at the Aberdeen station and also served as assistant station director. He conducted the station orchestra in most north-east towns, at the Cowdray Hall and Art Gallery concerts, and at concerts in connection with Lord Provost Lewis's Hospitals Fund. He also became familiar to Children's Hour listeners as 'Uncle Paul'.
With the effective closing down of the Aberdeen station, except almost entirely for relay work, from 1 October 1929, Askew and many others at the station lost their jobs, and the station octet was disbanded. Askew suggested to Aberdeen Town Council that they establish a municipal orchestra in the city in view of the growing popularity of Aberdeen as a holiday resort, but nothing came of it. Askew subsequently transferred to the BBC's London headquarters at Savoy Hill as a balance and control engineer. This was a highly technical role which required many years of musical experience.
From 2 September 1935, he was given additional duties as 'co-ordinator of all dance band broadcasts' under Eric Maschwitz.
- Ariel, June 1937, 35.
- 'Musical innovation for city', Evening Express, 18 June 1929.
- 'From Aberdeen to Savoy Hill: appointment of popular 2BD personalities', Press and Journal, 30 September 1929, 6.
- 'Mr Paul Askew's new post', Glasgow Herald, 26 August 1935, 8.