It’s hard to avoid Matt Anthony these days. The 36-year-old is the host of not one, but two radio shows on 91.9 WFPK: “Friday Night Sound Clash” and Sunday afternoon’s “Jazz Pulse.” He operates Matt Anthony’s Record Shop on Franklin Street, and he’s an in-demand deejay who spins every Wednesday at the bar called Meat, on Washington Street.
“Matt has definitely created a niche for himself,” says Stacy Owen, WFPK’s Program Director. “Listeners are loyal to him because he offers them a chance to hear stuff that is different from the regular AAA format we play. We just got the latest ratings, and Sundays are up since he took over. He is attracting people who are not listening during the week.”
Anthony owes all his success to ear X-tacy – the record store where he worked off and on for nearly a decade after moving to Louisville in 1999 – and to his skill with a screwdriver.
In 2003, former WFPK Program Director Dan Reed bought a CD rack from ear X-tacy. Not being mechanically inclined, Reed asked store owner John Timmons to send someone over to put it together. Anthony volunteered for the job.
At the time, Anthony was pursuing a history degree at the University of Louisville and doing a show called the “Rock N’ Soul Revolution” on the campus’ radio station, where he played everything from Wilson Pickett to MC5. After assembling Reed’s CD rack, Anthony handed the program director a tape.
“I played the tape basically because he was a nice guy,” remembers Reed, who is now operations manager, music director and on-air host for 88.5 WXPN in Philadelphia. “The music was alright, but what really surprised me was his voice. That’s what makes Matt good at what he does, his voice and killer ears.”
In 2004, Reed gave Anthony the “after dark” slot, each night from midnight to 6 a.m. The following year, after ratings showed that people were actually staying up to listen to him, Anthony moved to Friday night, 9 p.m. to midnight, and “Friday Night Sound Clash” was born. The show features music from around the world and provides insight into how disparate forms of music fit together. Listeners will find everything from Dixieland Jazz to Latin Soul on the show.
“To me, playing music is like a social experiment,” Anthony says. “You create a feeling with a sound and kind of take people somewhere. What sounds do it? What rhythms do it? To me that is fascinating. When I’m deejaying I can look out at the dance floor and see how what I’m playing is affecting people. But it’s different on radio because people are sitting in a room listening to me. I do all my radio shows live because I want to be able to look outside. If it’s a rainy day the music is going to be different than if it’s sunny.”