10 Questions with ... Matty Merrill
May 19, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
My first visit to a radio station ever was in college in May 2009 at Riverbend Communications in Idaho Falls, ID ... and I walked out of that radio station tour with a job offer in hand. I began working a weekend air shift/board op on Z103 (KFTZ). After about a year of weekends, the midday shift was added to my duties along with our weekend mix-show. Just before I graduated from college in July 2011, I was given the full-time night show position on Z103. I worked the night show from 2011 until March 2015, when I was promoted to afternoons! In January 2014, I began hosting a one-hour local Sports Talk show on KEIR 101.1 FM, which I still do to this day. Even though I've only worked for one company my entire career thus far, they certainly have made it easy for me to succeed and for my family to be comfortable!
1) What led you to a career in radio?
I've always been fascinated with radio, even though I was always too chicken to call in and request songs or try to win contests. When I was really young, my parents bought me a Little Tikes tape recorder with two microphones ... and they say that's where it all began. My sister and I would play radio while on road trips and we would record fake commercials for real clients (Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, NBC, etc.). I'd also turn down the volume on the TV and pretend to be the play-by-play man for whichever basketball game I was watching. In high school, when I wasn't playing on the court, I'd serve as the public address announcer for the games. People would tell me that I needed to do that as a career ... and, lo and behold, I somehow ended up here!
2) "Local, local, local" has always been radio's mantra. How do you keep your station visible and involved in the community?
I LOVE getting out in the community! We help host a lot of events each year, including Relay For Life, high school talent shows, etc. We try to hit the streets as often as possible with free soda/prizes/tickets with our 'Sticker Stops.' A couple of years ago, I helped come up with the idea for 'East Idaho Game Night,' where we teamed up with local TV station KIFI Local News 8 and Idaho high school sports website IdahoSports.com to promote a certain high school football game each week as the 'Game of the Week' (and, during basketball season, a game each night as 'Game of the Night'). It's TONS of fun and the schools love it. We throw out prizes, I hop on the mic as the PA announcer, the game is video broadcast online through our website ... it's a BLAST!
3) What is your favorite part of the job?
I like making people smile and just having fun with them, especially when we are on the streets. I feel like I have an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life, even if it may just be for a small moment. You never know what battles someone may be facing, but if you can help them forget about those battles even for just a little bit and help them smile, you've made a difference for good.
4) What artist would we be surprised to find on your iPod?
The Bee Gees, The Beatles, and Michael Jackson ... my wife says that I have an 'old soul.' Before I got into radio, those were my go-to songs on road trips. I've found more and more that I like hitting the scan button on the dash and seeing what other stations outside of the East Idaho market are doing in terms of imaging, playlist, promotions, etc.
5) What's one thing that would surprise many people to learn about you?
I'm a Canuck! (Eh?). I grew up in Alberta, Canada and moved to the U.S. in 2005 to go to college (sorry, I'm not that good at hockey, although it's fun to watch). If that doesn't surprise you enough, here's a different one: Once upon a time as a freshman in high school, I made a half-court shot during a halftime contest at a high school basketball game. The prize? $10,000. Needless to say, the insurance company that put on the contest that year didn't do it again!
6) What was your favorite station to listen to when you were a kid?
I listened to a lot of Rock 106 (CJRX/Lethbridge, AB) as a teenager. When my mom was in the car though, we'd flip it to 107.7 The River (CFRV/Lethbridge, AB). Later on, CJBZ flipped from Classic Hits to Top 40 (which, if I remember right, we didn't have any sort of Top 40 in the area at the time) and the new B93.3 (Lethbridge, AB) became my station of choice.
7) Who were your mentors? Who would you say has influenced your career the most?
I've been fortunate to work with a lot of great people early on in my career. Brad Barlow, my PD, has definitely been a HUGE influence in my career. He's helped me understand the business and how to help our clients get results while having lots of fun and maintaining the station brand! Mike Nelson, our OM and also of our sister station KLCE, has always been available to disperse his wealth of knowledge and help me focus on the big picture. Tara Moss and Adam James helped me learn the ins-and-outs of production and have been great to just talk about the industry with in general. I'm probably missing more people on this list, but everyone I have worked with has helped me in some way, shape, or form to elevate me to where I'm at today.
8) Do you have a favorite hobby outside of radio?
I love golf! I love watching golf on TV too (which probably seems boring to 98% of the population). On weekends (and sometimes in the mornings before work), you might find me on a local golf course. I don't know if my love of golf is thanks to my grandpa and dad who took me to play when I was younger, or if it's because of 'Happy Gilmore,' but either way, I just love playing.
9) What is it about our industry that keeps you wanting to do it for a living?
I think the old mantra, "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life" holds true. I love being able to come to a job that I'm passionate about and to work for a company that provides me with the tools necessary to succeed in the industry. I enjoy seeing the fruits of my work with our listeners and our clients. And I love being able to be the guy to debut that new hit song on-air. Let's be honest, we get to have more FUN in our jobs than most people do!
10) What advice you would give people new to the business?
You have to WORK. You have to be willing to LEARN. You have to be RELENTLESS in your desire to SUCCEED. You will never know how good you can be unless you work your hardest at it while being able to accept constructive criticism and learn from others along the way. You have to prepare to succeed, and then go out and do it!
What was your last non-industry job?
The last non-industry job I had was on the farm! I grew up on a crop and beef cattle farm. Changing sprinkler pipes, plowing fields, driving combine and sugar-beet harvest truck were some of the "highlights." I had always wondered if I should go back to the farm and help my dad out, but he told me, "Son, farming is my passion... I love farming. Your passion is to be in the media on radio and television. I want you to go achieve your dreams and live out your passion." I've always remembered that and I'm grateful that my dad could help inspire me.