Ron Matz announced his retirement from WJZ-TV on July 1, 2019. Read our 2017 feature on the news reporter below.
Watching Emmy Award-winning reporter Ron Matz on WJZ-TV is like listening to your favorite uncle share the news of the day. But there was a time when he wanted no part of being on TV.
When Matz was a 13-year-old kid living just off Liberty Heights Avenue, his mother submitted a postcard on his behalf to the local TV game show, “It’s In The Name.” He didn’t find out until the show chose him as a contestant.
“The last thing I wanted to do was go on television,” says Matz, who describes his teenage self as overweight with glasses and little confidence. Looking back, he credits his mother with introducing him to the world of TV that immediately fascinated him 50-some years ago.
“I had great parents. They always said to me, ‘You do what you want to do,’” Matz says.
And so he did.
After graduating from the University of Maryland, Matz got a part-time job at a radio station as a news writer and on-air reporter. His first big break came, he says, when local newspaper pressmen went on strike. TV and radio stations saw the strike as an opportunity to expand their news coverage. Subsequently, Matz’s hours at the station increased to full-time. Matz calls it sheer luck.
But sheer luck doesn’t lead to a successful television career covering some of the biggest local news stories of the time, like Pope John Paul II’s visit to Baltimore in October 1995 and Hurricane Isabel in September 2003. Matz covered these big events, and many more. And while he refers to his proximity to the pope as “a thrill,” he seems to take equal delight in coverage about regular people.
He’s had plenty of opportunity to do that, especially as the host of “Manic Monday,” a live shoot that takes place in Fells Point every Monday at 6 a.m. in which everyday folks sing, karaoke-style, “Manic Monday,” the popular ‘80s pop ditty by The Bangles.
Matz says he never expected the segment, brainchild of his long-term colleague Marty Bass, to amount to much. But it’s taken off.
“We’ve had a cross-section of people from the state of Maryland, from Ocean City to Cumberland,” says Matz. “I see people having a good time. We certainly need that more than ever.”
Matz enjoys witnessing the camaraderie of others, and engaging in it himself. He professes his profuse gratitude to WJZ News Director Gail Bending who, by hiring him when he had very little television experience, allowed him to be a reporter in his hometown. Now in his 25th year at WJZ, he says, “I work with so many great people at the station. It does become family.”
Matz credits the station’s management for fostering this collegial environment. “They’ve been very kind to me,” he says. “I’m 71 years old. In today’s TV world, you don’t find a lot of 71-year-old guys doing television.”
Nor do you find many 71-year-old guys willing to get up at 3:30 a.m. to go to work. But for Matz, who lives a disciplined and quiet life in Cross Keys, working out at Meadow Mill Athletic Club daily, meeting with friends on occasion for an early dinner, and retiring by about 8:30 p.m., it’s a life well-lived.
“It’s been a crazy, wonderful ride,” he says.
Top photo: Ron Matz, Channel 13 anchor (Photo by Evan Cohen)
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