10 Questions with ... Matt Walling
December 2, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started off at age 14 doing promotions work with KWYD (Wild 101)/Boise, getting to dabble in various aspects of the station with growing duties as the years passed in both promotions and programming.
A little after halfway through my time there, Tony Tecate expressed interest in having an intern. Long story short, I showed up the next week and caught the radio bug.
Having a desire to take on some new challenges, I went over to what was then Peak Broadcasting in Boise for a short time before moving up to Spokane to be an undergrad at Gonzaga University. Quickly after arriving here in Spokane, Toby Howell saw enough in me to bring me on board as a part-timer.
Here at NOW-FM I hosted the night show prior to some management changes, and I have been doing middays for the past month now.
1) How would you describe your first radio gig?
Less than glamorous. I started off working in the trenches of the promotions department. I remember day 1, I was told to meet up in a Wal-Mart parking lot, where a station van swooped by and picked me up. I sat in the back of that thing with no seats, air conditioning, or windows on a drive to a remote with some promo guys I had never met before and after working about six hours longer than I was told I would be working, I quickly realized that, despite my pre-established belief, I was in for a lot of work.
2) What led you to a career in radio?
I was a freshman in high school trying to raise money for our school newspaper. I reached out to Chris Loos on MySpace, who was doing nights at the time, and he got me linked up with the promotions director, Joe E. King, in order to get Wild 101 out to host a dance. We made record profits, and Joe E hired me on as a street teamer. That's when it all started.
3) What is your favorite part of the job?
Being able to connect with people and essentially walk in to an automatic sense of trust with your listenership. It's an amazing and daunting task. It's what keeps me wanting more, though. I love that I can make someone's day with a pair of tickets or even just a phone call. I had a high school kid who was getting bullied call in to my night show once or twice a week just because he needed a friend. It was so moving that the minute or two I would hear him out over the phone and toss him a shout-out seriously made a difference in his life. It's also the beauty of live and local radio
4) What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
I was once just months away from entering the seminary and beginning the process to become a Catholic priest. You could say radio saved me. Pun intended.
5) Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
I have recently been turned on to Charlamagne from Power 105.1. He isn't afraid to speak his mind, he makes you think, and can run a mean interview.
6) Who would be a "dream guest" to have on your show?
Jay Z. If you know me, you know the man crush is real!! I love his music, his story, and his philosophy ... which is essentially to stay true to yourself. I re-tweet a quote from HOV probably twice a week.
7) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
I love the fast paced, ever-changing landscape of our industry. Things are always changing and there is never a dull moment. I'm 21 years old, working on a bachelor's degree, and everything I've learned in life as well -- as the best friendships I have made --all come from radio ... not academia. Some things can't be taught in a classroom.
8) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
That attitude is everything (yes, that includes dropping the ego) and that I'm really not needed. Tony Tecate taught me how important good vibes are. It sounds minuscule, but whenever I was in a bad mood he would tell me to snap out of it or leave the studio because he really didn't need me there. Sounds harsh, but what a pep talk! Because of that, I try to remind myself before getting into the studio that my vibes really do project over the airwaves and that nobody really NEEDS me ... there's always someone out there eager to take my job! It's humbling.
9) Who would you consider your mentor(s)?
SO. MANY. They know who they are ... they frequently get random 'thanks' texts from me because sometimes I have to pinch myself when I realize how cool my job is ... but just to give a few quick shout-outs...
Mikey Fuentes while at KWYD immediately made me fall in love with the industry. Seeing how much the boss believed in our product made me, a measly promotions kid, REALLY motivated to go above and beyond for what WILD was doing. Talk about contagious leadership.
Joe E. King by far is one of the greatest human beings alive and I always turn to him for career advice. He has evolved over the years from my boss to one of my best friends. The same can be said for Tony Tecate ... the guy broke me out of my shell, and it wasn't easy. He gave me the radio bug, let me be a part of his show (which is really saying something), taught me how to be confident in my work without the ego, and will be a life long friend.
I have a handful of other mentors that I trust enough to ask 'How high?' when they tell me to jump. DJ Complex has remained a good pal over the years and is always a call away. I still remember when I slipped up on one of my first board op shifts and he blew up my phone asking what happened....he was out of town at the time...I quickly learned he really was ALWAYS listening like he said. Ryan Dillon tossed me my first handful of small programming chores and has always welcomed my airchecks when I want good constructive feedback. Speaking of airchecks, Rick Moorten is one of the first people to hear my updated airchecks and I always know to expect invaluable replies. I print and tack his critiques next to my desk and read them before jumping on the air. I envy the way he can connect with an audience.
Last and certainly not least, Greg Tillotson ... the guy put me on the air not even a month after meeting me, trusted me with a night show not even three full months later, and let me run with it. It's always nice to know someone trusts and believes in you like that.
10) What advice would you give people new to the business?
I'm not any sort of seasoned radio guy so my answer is limited! However, I would definitely say to always be willing to learn ... from anyone! I get so annoyed when I meet people from the younger end of the talent pool like myself, trying to work our way up, who think they know it all already! We're entitled to do our jobs well, but not much more than that. Nobody owes us anything. Make yourself a perpetual student of the game, there's ALWAYS someone who can teach you something.
Which character on a current TV series most reflects your personality?
I asked around on this one ... turns out I'm Phil Dunphy from Modern Family. I guess I can see it. Actually, I'll take it as a compliment!