28 March 2024

Departing Griffith radio host on Pauline Hanson, the ABC, doing 500 podcasts and launching career 'outside a dunny'

| Oliver Jacques
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radio host in the studio

Matt Collins has done almost 500 radio podcasts. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Triple M Riverina MIA breakfast host Matt Collins broke the sad news last week that he’s leaving Griffith, after spicing up morning radio with a mix of breaking crime news, edgy commentary and ultra-local guests and content over the past year.

On his final day, the 44-year-old caught up with Region to explain how he launched his media career from “outside a dunny”, the dark side of the ABC, his surprising revelation on Pauline Hanson, his time in Griffith and his plans.

READ ALSO Griffith business ‘fraudulently’ claimed to have bought $200 million worth of wine to get GST refunds, ATO alleges

You launched a media career after being at ”rock bottom” in your mid-30s. How did that happen?

I’d just lost my job, my shares were going backwards and my business went bust.

I was depressed for weeks, thinking ”I’m at the bottom of the barrel”, but then I had a moment of enlightenment and felt I could now do whatever I wanted, I had a clean slate.

I wanted to get paid to do radio, to talk on air. But I didn’t know how. I knew a woman who did mindset coaching, she had an interesting life story. I asked her if she wanted to have a recorded chat.

I didn’t have internet access, so I went to the library figuring I could use their Wi-Fi. But since you can’t talk inside the library, I recorded my first-ever podcast with her next to the public toilets outside the library.

How did you turn that into paid work?

I started transcribing five-minute interesting segments from my interviews and got them to put it in the local paper.

They said, “This is pretty good, have you thought about being a journalist?” and accepted their job offer as a gateway to get into radio.

I eventually landed a full-time paid afternoon radio gig with a local station, then went to work for ABC Radio in South Australia.

man holding a radio

Matt Collins made his dream of working in radio a reality. Photo: Supplied.

Working at the ABC must’ve been a career highlight.

I hated it. I’m a good fit for Triple M, being cheeky and colourful. At the ABC, you couldn’t have an opinion on anything, my hands were tied. Walking in every day, I felt I had to apologise for being a heterosexual white male.

There was one interview where a female meteorologist told me it was 42 degrees on her wedding day. I said, ”It was a hot day for a hot bride”. She laughed, so did I, but afterwards my boss gave me an official warning for making judgements about females.

I was told my ”tone” wasn’t suitable for ABC and they didn’t want me to continue after my six-month probation. In hindsight, I agree.

I then got a job in Dubbo, then the prized breakfast gig here in Griffith.

READ ALSO Griffith scholarship winner vows to use her skills to address ‘rural injustice’

What’s been your approach to radio in Griffith?

We brought in a lot of good guests, like the Mayor, Inspector Glenn Smith from the police, who has radio experience and speaks well, you from Region Riverina. You want to get as many passionate local voices as possible. We also have some great regular callers and listeners.

You’ve now done almost 500 podcast interviews; what’s the purpose of them?

I want to find out something about someone that nobody else knows. I interviewed Pauline Hanson, a lot of people dismiss her as just a racist, but I learned she knits each one of her staff a jumper every Christmas.

I interviewed my mum and learned things I never knew – like the fact her dad went missing for a decade.

I’ve talked to everyone – prime ministers, rock stars, celebrities, sex workers, former prisoners and footballers. It all came from a recorded chat outside a dunny. It’s called Coffee Chats with Matt Collins. About 50 episodes are on YouTube.

Why are you leaving town and what’s next for you?

I have Noah, my 21-year-old son back home in Queensland. I’ve been away for eight years chasing my dream. He’s accepted that but it’s time for me to be with him.

I think I’ll go to Queensland and chase a radio gig if I can. It’s hard, as presenters in Brisbane stay in their job until they’re dead or retired. There’s about 1000 radio positions in the country. There wouldn’t be too many industries that have such a small number of doors to open, but I’ll give it a shot.

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