By Paula “Patrick” Ryan
The Matt Patrick Show
HOUSTON — My husband and I could talk for hours about trends, ratings, monthlies, PPMs, diaries, blogs, bits, bumper music, and on and on and on. He could have me laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe as he tried to explain something as dry as radio analytics in his own, very entertaining way. Even when he wasn’t on, he was on. Radio was his passion. His calling. So much more than a job or career, it was his identity. Radio was ingrained in every ounce of his life and soul. Matt Patrick was a legend. A radio pro. A larger-than-life personality with a deep and keen sense of humor. One of the coolest guys you ever met. Definitely the most incredible man I’ve ever known.
In the 80s, 90s, and beyond, Matt reinvented the way radio was done in Northeast Ohio as a legendary hot AC morning drive personality for nearly 30 years. His real name was Michael Ryan, but when he arrived on the scene as a rough-around-the-edges DJ, there was already an on-air personality named Mike O’Brien. Too close, so he was told to pick a different name. Figuring he’d get the boot after a few months anyway, he quickly chose “Matt Patrick” not knowing this perfect name would survive for the rest of his perfectly imperfect life.
In 2008, it was a seamless segue for Matt to tackle talk radio. To say he tackled it is actually an understatement. For those of you who knew him, you know exactly what I mean. Full throttle with a “someone’s gotta be number one it might as well be me” attitude. He was an immediate success. A natural at being a talker. Even his license plate was, you guessed it, TALKER. He was all in. Matt’s audience, many of whom had literally grown up listening to him, turned the dial to talk radio yearning to hear more of what he had to say. In 2011, he was called to major market talk radio in Houston where he made his mark right away. Texas quickly approved and proclaimed to the world that Matt was now a Texan. Those who listened to him felt like he was a member of their own family or an old childhood friend. Matt genuinely felt the same way about his audience which is why he seemed so real. He was. Self-deprecating and humble yet smart, funny, cool, and confident. He would shake your hand, then go in for the big hug. Matt never met a stranger and truly loved building his radio family one listener at a time.
Every year we looked forward to the Heavy Hundred being published by TALKERS magazine. Many of Matt’s close friends in the business got the nod year after year. Matt would celebrate his colleagues, singing their accolades, and then quickly got back to working on his own shows in order to take it all to the next level. I knew it was only a matter of time before he would land on that list. Unfortunately, time was not on his side.
On September 11, 2015, after a long, emotional day hosting shows commemorating the anniversary of 9/11, we received the worst news of our lives. Matt learned that the heartburn he had been struggling with was actually Stage IV mucosal melanoma which had metastasized. Everywhere.
Matt underwent brain surgery in late 2015, followed by multiple rounds of chemo, immunotherapy, radiation, and clinical trials. He continued to work on the air hosting “Houston’s Morning News” on News Radio 740 KTRH, and “The Matt Patrick Show” on 950 KPRC, Houston and Talk Radio 1190 KFXR, Dallas, taking only minimal time off for treatments. Matt also maintained regular television appearances on Houston’s FOX 26 News, provided LIVE coverage of the 2016 GOP National Convention from his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, and made numerous public appearances to discuss “Overcoming Obstacles in Life.”
Although the odds of survival were not great, Matt’s invincible drive and spirit were. He was a brave and courageous warrior, leaving it all on the field. Matt’s final appearance on KTRH was July 5, 2017 where he mustered every remaining ounce of strength to publicly thank his beloved listeners and to say goodbye to this terrestrial world. Just a few days later, on July 9, 2017, Matt spoke his last beautiful words privately to me with that golden voice of his, and quietly slipped away to Heaven.
This is the first year Matt won’t be here to personally celebrate his colleagues as the 2018 Heavy Hundred is published. So, on behalf of my husband, congratulations to the 100 most important radio talk show hosts in America named as the 2018 Heavy Hundred by TALKERS. Although Matt Patrick’s name will never appear on a Heavy Hundred list, I know in my heart he was called to the most major of all markets and is absolutely crushing it up there. Is there a Heavenly Hundred? I think so. And I know whose name is on the list. Great job Michael Ryan.
Paula Ryan is the wife of late radio personality Matt Patrick. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.