Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011 Oscar Picks

It’s Oscar night. Tonight, Hollywood will reward the work of the talented men and women who work to entertain us on the silver screen. The field is extremely deep this year for the golden trophies and I really had a tough time picking winners in certain categories. 

I was a film minor in college so I’ve often taken the opportunity to see all the nominated films for best picture and try to see as many of the performances of the actors and actresses who have been singled out by the committee. It's one of my hobbies that I really enjoy. 

However, it’s gotten a lot harder to see all the films because we now have 10 films selected for the category of Best Picture. That’s a lot. I try to see about a movie a month but having 10 pictures nominated has bloated the category. I’m sorry but Toy Story 3 should not be nominated. It should be the winner for animation but it’s not in the same category of a movie like The Social Network.

After getting off my soap box, here are my picks and predictions for tonight.

Best Picture:

This was extremely difficult for me to pick. Winter’s Bone is a tough look at life in the Ozarks in Missouri and wonderfully acted. True Grit takes you back to a time of cowboys and sheriffs. The Kids Are Alright tackles homosexual families and the challenges that they deal with. The Fighter dives into a family of boxers dealing with the drama that comes out of the struggles to get to the top of the sports world.  

All amazing movies and I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. But they aren’t going to win.

In my opinion, I chose from The Black Swam, The Social Network, Inception, and The King’s Speech as legit contenders for the award tonight. This was really hard to pick but I have to go with my first blush reaction to the movie after screening it and only one completely blew me away after viewing it.

My Pick:   Inception
Runner Up: The Social Network

Who will win: The King’s Speech. (correct, damn it)

Best Actor:

This is a two horse race in my opinion. Colin Firth vs. James Franco.

Firth did an amazing job of bringing you into the world of a stutterer and stammerer and made you feel the frusration that comes from not being able to get words out of your mouth. Franco took you into the horror of being trapped and being forced with unbelievable choices. As someone who overcame a speech impediment, I love what Firth brought to the role but Franco was just tremendous, carrying the entire movie. 

My Pick: James Franco for 127 Hours
Runner up: Colin Firth for The King’s Speech

Who will win: Colin Firth  (correct blah) 

Best Actress:

This is isn’t even fair. The race has been over for a weeks.

My Pick: Natalie Portman for The Black Swan 
Runner up: Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone

Who will win: Natalie Portman (correct!!)

Best Supporting Actor

Again, we have a two horse race but this is one is going to be VERY interesting to watch. For most of the year, Christian Bale’s gritty performance was thought to be the pick here but The King’s Speech popularity has rocketed Geoffery Rush into the conversation. I think the momentum of Firth helps Rush here. 

My Pick: Christian Bale for The Fighter (winner!!!!)
Runner up: Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech

Who will win: Geoffrey Rush (wrong)

Best Supporting Actress:

This a tough category because the names do not jump off the screen. I was only really moved by one performance and that’s why she is my pick.

My Pick: Hailee Steinfield for True Grit
Runner up: Amy Adams for The Fighter

Who win will: Helena Bonhamn Carter for The King’s Speech (wrong)

Best Director:

This is going to be a REALLY tough pick. So many good movies to go with here.

My Pick: David Fincher for The Social Network
Runner up: Darren Aronosfky for The Black Swam

Who will win: Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech (correct F!)

Cinematography: Inception (correct)


Friday, February 25, 2011


It’s not everyday that you get to write about achieving something that you have been working towards for 11 years but today is one of those days. First, thank you for all the interest, emails, twitter messages, and phone calls. It means a lot to me that people care what is happening with my career.  

Thanks to the pieces falling into place finally, I can now say that I’m going home to take a run at big time radio in New England.  

When I was 22, I was working in the basement of a news/talk station in Nashua, NH for my first professional radio job. I was the board op for a conservative talk show for 2 hours everyday and I got to host a sports talk show from 8 to 9 am every Saturday.  I did that for 3 months after I graduated college and my college buddy Brett reminded this week that I used to put him on as a guest so I had someone to talk to during the show.

Little did I know that I would be returning to that city over a decade later.  

In August of 1999, I left my newborn sister with my mother, stepfather and 3 brothers back in Massachusetts in order to get the experience needed to one day get to work on the radio in Boston. I went to Virginia, Alabama, Nebraska, and Iowa and had a blast covering some amazing sporting events and cutting my teeth in the sports talk business.

When my contract was not renewed in Omaha in 2009, I thought that I was going to have to start over from scratch because I wasn’t sure that I was going to reach my goal after being passed over by several major market jobs. I even thought I was going to Seattle right up until my contract expired in Nebraska but I lost out to someone who worked for ESPN in the final hours.

Then Ken Miller called me and asked me to join the afternoon show on KXnO.

A man named Joel McCrea runs KXnO. I didn’t know it at the time but he would become the second greatest boss of my career, behind only Bill Dunnavant who hired me with the sole purpose of turning me into a talk show host. Without Bill, there is no career but without Joel, there is no announcement right now.

Over the past 2 years, I have been allowed to fill-in on sports talk stations in St. Louis, Kansas City and most recently, my dream station of WEEI in Boston. Being able to show off my talents in major markets has opened so many doors for me and put me in the position to be coveted. I would like the audience of KXnO to know that I was not actively looking to get out however. From 25 to 30, I applied for as many jobs as I could but for the last 2 years, I have honestly not applied for a single position. Every opportunity was presented to me, not pursued by me and I turned down 2 job offers in just the last year.

I will now be hosting afternoon drive on WGAM in Nashua/Manchester, NH beginning in March. Being in the area will open so many doors for my career but I'm so excited to be joining an awesome organization. Mike Winn, my new GMhas been someone that I have wanted to work for for years and I can't wait to get going with him. 

It was the combination of working in market 11 while getting to talk Boston sports every weekday on a great station that was just too much to pass up when it was offered. Plus, I’ll be 20 minutes from my family after living over 1,000 miles away the past 11 years. My sister is now 11 and I've missed countless birthdays, plays and special moments. Now, I get to tape more "Matt and Maggie Movie Reviews"!!

This opportunity would not have been possible if it wasn’t for Joel McCrea letting me spread my wings and grow. I was not pushed out at KXnO. I was not told to find another job and I sure as heck was not fired. Anyone saying as much is lying and trying to take away from the hard work I put in to earn this opportunity. Yes, Joel has taken a ton of heat for me but he believed in me as a broadcaster and has tutored me through some very tough situations.   

There is more to this story too. Justin Bastinelli is co-host of the new show in New Hampshire. He and I went to high school together and Justin introduced my brother to his wife. Having him to work with everyday only increased the attractiveness of the job and I can’t wait to get started working with him.

However, I want to thank Ken Miller for telling KXnO that I was the guy he wanted to work with and going to bat for me to get the job. Without Matt and Miller, there is no way I ever get the chance to be on WEEI. I grew as a talk show host by working with Ken and learned a ton about football from him. His sports knowledge and ability to breakdown games is truly remarkable and I hope I stay in touch with him for years to come. It was truly an honor to get to work with him and he is first class all the way.

I’ll start on the air in March on WGAM but you can hear me this Sunday on WEEI from 4 to 7 Eastern Time if you want to hear some Boston sports talk from me before I head to New England officially. And for those wondering, the Rivals site ( that I run will still be part of my day-to-day job.   

Thanks to everyone who has been a friend to me along as this journey. I have met so many amazing people. It’s been a wild ride but after a few more days ….

it’s time to go home.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2011 Grammys Were Awesome

We always hear it barked out in bars from half conscious jukebox listeners or from a parent while you are driving with them in a car as they scan the radio.

“Nobody makes good music anymore.”

I think some people just say it now because it makes them sound cool or retro. My retort to them is pretty simple: Open your ears to the 2011 Grammy Award show.

I was blown away at the talent displayed on Sunday night and I realized that we are getting to experience and enjoy some amazing music right now. I love all genres of music and I know I’m not normal but I really thought that the artists who were selected to play were awesome. There was so much diversity yet all were so talented and skilled at the art of performing.

As someone who has been going to shows since I was 15, I thought the 210-minute show wasn’t long enough and didn’t want it to end.

The show started off with a tribute to Aretha Franklin sung by 5 women: Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera, Florence Welch, Yolanda Adams, and Martina McBride.

Talk about a cross section of singers!

But the power and beauty of their voices reminded me that we didn’t always have singers like at the Grammys. Remember the 2000 show with the Britney Spears disaster?

Speaking of pop music at the Grammys, you might hate Lady Gaga but she can flat out sing. You might despise Justin Bieber but the kid played guitar on stage, sang his own song, and danced along side Usher, maybe the greatest dance artist of our time. You might think that Katy Perry is a bimbo but the girl can sing the hell out of a pop song and “Teenage Dream” is an album full of catchy, radio friendly hits.

Country took center stage as Miranda Lambert performed the multi-nominated “House That Built Me”. If you don’t know Lambert’s music, you should. She played in Des Moines a few months back opening up for Brad Paisley and did a very nice job. She is one of the young stars of country music that doesn’t get talked about enough.

Mumford and Sons, The Avett Brothers and Bob Dylan stole the show in my opinion and if you don’t have Mumford’s “Sigh No More” or Avett’s “I And Love And You” albums BUY THEM!! Like RIGHT NOW! The Alt-Country movement is exploding and I could not be more in love with the sounds and songs coming out from it.

Memo to all you 1970 retreads – Rock music is not dead. Muse and Arcade Fire blew the doors off the Staples Center. Arcade Fire’s electrifying rendition of “Ready To Start” ended the show after the band had been awarded the Grammy for “Album of the Year.” I’ll admit it, I was way late on Arcade Fire but the band has really grown on me and their sound is so unique that I think it scares people away. I love the huge number of members and double drum sets that they display and any band with a fiddle is worth checking out in my book.

Rap/Hip-Hop/R&B accounted for two of the most interesting moments of the night when Bruno Mars, B.O.B. and Janelle Monae sang four of their songs together on stage and when Eminem came out, teaming up with Rihanna and Dr. Dre to blast out “Love The Way You Lie”, we saw the true skill of the best rapper in the game.

Rihanna’s performance of “What’s My Name” with Drake was memorizing also and highlighted the depths of her talent.

Lady Antebellum owned the night by winning multiple awards including the coveted “Record of the Year” for mega-popular “Need You Now”. I don’t care what you say, you like that song. It’s heartbreaking, powerful and honest and exploded across genres this past year. The harmony singing of the band is something we are going to hear more of in 2011 from acts like The Civil Wars.

There were some fun moments like when Cee Lo Green sang “Fuck You” with Gwyneth Paltro with puppets as back-up singers, making the Grammys the unique show that it is.

I think the 2011 Grammy Awards were the retort to anyone that asks, “What happened to music?” I say to them: what happened to you that you are so lazy that you can’t recognize the talent that we current have to listen to?

Yes, Katy Perry is the perfect combination of beauty, sex, singing, and dancing and pop radio plays her to death but what do you say about Mumford and Sons performing or Arcade Fire playing two songs? There is something for everyone out there right now and at high quality. Lucky for me – I like it all.

Espranza Spaulding winning best new artist was joke but that’s ok. Every award show needs a little controversy and sometimes I actually like when my favorite bands don’t win Grammys. Keep ‘em hungry for that win.

Sunday night showed me that great music is alive and well. If you disagree, you just have to open your ears….and maybe your mind.

Sidebar: Just read that the A.P. called this year's Grammys "The Year of the Indie" ... no wonder I loved it :)