10 Questions with ... Matt Perrault
April 26, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WSMN/Nashua, WINA/Charlottesville, WUMP/Huntsville, KXSP (Big Sports 590)/Omaha, KXNO/Des Moines, WGAM/Manchester-WEEI/Boston
1. You recently got to move back to your home area of Boston to do afternoons in Manchester and weekends at WEEI. What has moving back home meant to you? What did you miss the most while you were gone?
In May of 1999, I got my first professional job at WSMN in Nashua, NH as a board op and Saturday morning host. In August of that year I was hired at WINA in Virginia and set out in search of experience and finding out who I wanted to be in radio. This past March, I returned home to work for the sister station of WSMN - WGAM The Game and I am again a Saturday morning host, but this time I'm on the biggest stage in New England, the WEEI Sports Radio Network. I've literally gone full circle in many respects.
Moving home for a radio job has meant the world to me as I accomplished something so many people told me that I would never be able to if I left. I'm very proud that I achieved my goal, even if it took me longer than I thought it would.
I missed my family the most while I was gone. I have a brother who lives in western Mass and two teenage brothers and an 11-year old sister in Andover still. I missed countless birthdays, graduations, baseball games, plays, etc. Having my family back in my day-to-day life is a huge deal to me and I just spent my first Easter at home in over a decade.
2. Is there a difference in your approach to hosting in New England as opposed to how you did things in places like Virginia, Alabama and Nebraska and Iowa? Does the difference in fans and their interests translate into a difference in, say, how vehement you'll be on a topic or how you'll deal with callers?
Being home for just two months, it is a small sample size for this question but I will say that I'm watching Boston games much differently now.
Boston sports were watched for fun while I lived away but now, I have to examine a game much harder than, say, when I was in Des Moines. The intelligence of the New England sports fan is uncanny, and the media members are flat-out encyclopedias when it comes to the 4 major teams. I've had to ramp up my game for sure.
I am taking the first few months to develop my approach to Boston's sports teams and to the callers to the shows, as I have at every stop of my career. I'm laying the foundation for what will hopefully be a long career here in New England and developing into who I want to be on-air.
3. In moving to The Game in Manchester, you've picked up another partner, Justin Bastinelli. What has the adjustment been like in changing on-air partners? How much does having known Justin before help in that transition?
There has been no adjustment at all with Justin at WGAM. It's crazy. We went to high school together and Justin introduced my brother to his wife. When I heard it was him that I'd be working with, we started talking and texting like we had been communicating for years. The first day on the air sounded like we had been doing radio together for years. The show really works.
The real transition for me has been with my co-hosts for my WEEI show, "Sports Saturday." Rob Bradford and Kirk Minihane are two of the most knowledgeable sports professionals I've ever been on-air with, and getting my game up to speed with them is my goal right now. They are so talented and have already made me a much better host. We've done 5 shows together and there is tremendous potential for that show.
4. In your time in the South and Midwest, what was the biggest surprise for you about life away from where you grew up -- what experience was furthest from what you expected?
I think the my biggest surprise moving away was that there was so much going on outside of New England that never got any attention. I know that sounds ridiculous but when you grow up where I did; the bubble is pretty tight around you. I've changed so much because of the people I worked with and got to know. I'm so thankful for everything they brought into my life and I really had no idea what I was going to find when I left home but I've been very fortunate.
I'm often asked by certain individuals now that I'm back "Why would anyone ever live in ___ ?!" Well, I can easily explain the wonders of every place I've found myself living over the years.
Home is home and I'm so happy to be here but I will miss the people I met along this journey that helped to get me back here.
5. Who's been your best interview subject so far? The worst? Is there someone you haven't yet interviewed but would love to get?
My best interview subject, for me anyways, was Jack Nicklaus. I had to drive 6 hours into the plains of Nebraska to meet him at the opening of his golf course to get a 5-minute one-on-one. It was worth it, though, as the course put me up for the night in a lodge and let me play 18 the next day before I left.
The worst interview I've had is Gregg Marshall, head coach of Wichita State men's basketball. There is nothing worse than a coach who believes he is too big-time to take you off of speakerphone while on live radio.
As far as guys I would love to interview, Danny Woodhead of the New England Patriots is a guy who I had on my show in Omaha while he was in college. I'm excited to, hopefully, get to talk to him again now that he's a cult hero here in New England.
6. I think we asked you this before, but it's been a few years now, and you've moved a few times, so: Who are your mentors, inspirations, and/or heroes in the business?
Personally, I've always looked up to my uncle, who is a writer and teaches English now at a college in Boston. He always challenged me to chase after my dreams and to be unafraid of failure while I was growing up. He gave me the courage to follow my heart.
There is a quote from an Ani DiFranco song that I've used for years that I think describes my radio journey: "They can call me crazy if I fail. All the chance that I need, is one in a million, and they call me brilliant, if I succeed."
In the business, I still owe a ton to the former owner of Athens (AL) Broadcasting, Bill Dunnavant, for teaching me the business of radio and training me to be a talk show host. Without him, I would not have a career in radio.
7. Another repeat question, with a few more years of experiences under your belt: Of what are you most proud?
About 8 years ago, I began emailing Jason Wolfe, PD at WEEI to tell him that I would work for him one day. I wasn't overboard with it but I simply told him about 4 times a year that my goal in radio was to one day work him and that I was willing to do anything to achieve my goal.
Well, it took a long time but my plan finally worked this past December when I started to do fill-in work at WEEI and then was hired to be a part of the new "Sports Saturdays" show. While being on the weekends on WEEI is not where I would like to be forever, I'm very proud that I was able to show Jason Wolfe that I was talented enough to be on a station like WEEI.
8. What would you be doing if sports radio wasn't an option? You're deeply into music -- would that be part of what you'd have pursued?
I got into radio to be a part of the music industry but thanks to an internship (everyone should do at least 2 btw) at WFNX in Boston while I was in college, I realized that music radio wasn't my calling.
If I wasn't in radio right now, I probably would be involved with restaurants or a club. One day, I'd like to own a music club like the ones I practically grew up in.
9. What resources do you use to prepare for your show -- websites, publications, etc.? What websites do you read other than for show prep?
Things really have changed for me. I used to have a long list of websites that I go to but now, Twitter is the best resource out there. It's the quickest for breaking news and the stories that are linked are awesome for prep (my handle is @sportstalkmatt). I really think it's the best friend for any radio host. Facebook can be good for some things as well but that's more for an online high school reunion than breaking sports news.
Other than the show, I read a lot of entertainment web sites like Hot Clicks on SI.com or NME.com.
10. What do you expect you'll be doing, say, ten years from now? What's your goal?
My goal has been the same since I started in radio; I want to host a daily, weekday show in Boston. I think in ten years, I will have accomplished that goal as long as I don't screw it up!
I also now have interest in hosting a national sports talk show. My background right now is full of college football and college basketball content that I will not get to use in New England. I love college basketball (I work for Rivals.com as well) and doing a national show would allow me to draw on my 11 years of covering college sports.
Radio is changing so fast right now, I'm excited to see what the next decade will bring but for the most part, now that I'm home, I can finally settle down. I'm done moving for a while.