I walk into Dr. Matt Townsend’s office here at BYU Radio and my eye immediately is drawn to the painting in the top corner. The painting depicts a man standing on a pitcher’s mound, but only his legs are visible. I’ve heard the story before: one of Matt’s fans painted it for him as a gift, highlighting his best feature—his calves. He’s rather proud of it. Matt isn’t wearing the sparkly sequins he mentioned he would wear for this exclusive interview, but he is working diligently on two laptops. He greets me with a smile and we get to talking about the man behind the Matt Townsend show:
Morgan: So you’ve worked in several different jobs, including consulting some major companies, marriage counseling, and a segment on a local news station. What drew you to the morning show at BYU Radio?
Matt: Well morning was the time they wanted it so… But really I love the values, I love the principles, and I love the reach. I mean, Sirius XM is cool. That was a big draw. I have a lot of content and I wanted a bigger platform to bring the content out to. It’s cool because I get stories here and there—there was a lady out in California that just wrote me and we’ve had callers from about ten different states that I know of.
Morgan: You have so much communications and relationships knowledge that you get to share. What is most rewarding about being able to share that?
Matt: I have a lot of clients that have flat-out saved their marriages just because of the classes we teach, my book, and the workshops. I just did a cruise and we had about eighty people there total, but probably fifty of those were past clients that were nearly done with their marriages when they came to me. So that’s the coolest thing, when you get to see them as happy couples. And there was a fan from Ohio that came out here to visit and told me how much he loved my show and I’m just like, “You’re listening? People are listening?” It’s pretty cool.
Morgan: Do you believe that any marriage can be saved?
Matt: I don’t think every marriage should be saved. There are some marriages that are just unhealthy. But if there are two people who want to make it work, they can. They just have to change the way they’re thinking about it. I don’t believe in any of this “soulmate” stuff. You’re not going to find a perfect person. But if you’re willing to be a good partner and there are two people who are willing to work to be that, it can work. You can fix any marriage, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they always should be.
Morgan: So how do you come up with your content?
Matt: I’m very principle-oriented, so I think of everything as a principle—kind of a “law”—and then there’s a million ways to practice the principle. When somebody asks me for advice, I usually don’t give them advice, I give them a principle. And then we find a way for them to practice the principle. I get these principles from Buddha, from Ghandi, from Christ—from anywhere really. You really can’t run out of principles.
Morgan: What’s the number one piece of relationship advice you’d give to listeners?
Matt: Well first of all, don’t shave in the shower (he rubs the cut on his chin). That’s a good principle. Another really good principle would be “Get out of the smoke and down to the fire.” We tend to fight about smoke, but the smoke isn’t the real issue. The real issue comes down to one of seven things: Safety, Trust, Appreciation, Respect, Validation, Encouragement, or Dedication. When you fight about money, you’re really fighting about financial safety. When you fight about intimacy, you are really fighting about appreciation. So we need to stop fighting about the smoke, and get down to the basic human needs that are the real issue.
Morgan: What do you do when you’re with a couple that you can’t talk with because they’re fighting?
Matt: I just let them fight. It’s the easiest money I make! Sometimes I sit and wait until they stop. Or sometimes I’ll even tell them to stop and “shut their cake hole.”
Morgan: So tell us something your audience doesn’t know about you.
Matt: Well, I used to be an EMT on an ambulance and I’ve done CPR on fifteen or so people. My kids are more talented than me. I love learning—that’s all I do all day. I married my high school sweetheart. Hm...I’m an introvert. I’m probably a highly socially skilled introvert. When I have to, I’ll turn it on, but it drains me really fast. Speaking is the funnest thing I do, but it just drains me because you have to keep your energy up. My radio show, especially, because none of it is scripted—it’s all adlibbed—, so I have to think everything through. My parents divorced when I was eight, so my whole career probably stemmed from that. Now as an adult, I can see what my parents did and why. They weren’t bad people, they just didn’t know what they didn’t know.
Morgan: You stay pretty busy, but when you do have spare time, how do you spend it?
Matt: Well I don’t really have hobbies. When I do have spare time I probably just watch Netflix. Reading I do because of my job, but it’s also my hobby. Really everything I do for my job is my hobby. I usually read, write, learn, and teach every day. If I do all those things in one day, it’s been a good day. If not, I’ve probably just watched Netflix.
Morgan: And what do you watch on Netflix? Do you binge watch?
Matt: Well yes, I only have small periods of time so I’ll usually watch a few at a time. I love The Office and I love Arrested Development. I’ve seen Prison Break. I watch Sherlock and Parks & Recreation.
Morgan: What was the last song you downloaded?
Matt: There’s a bunch. I downloaded Bird on a Wire by Johnny Cash and Preacher Man by Aretha Franklin. I downloaded my son’s latest and greatest recommendation: Resolution by Matt Corby. There’s just so much good music. My son makes covers of a bunch of them and it keeps me young because I’m like, “Oh, that’s a good song.”
At this point, we got into a discussion about Spotify versus iTunes (I’m Spotify, he’s iTunes) and how incredible of a singer Ed Sheeran is (we’re in 100% agreement there—Ed rocks) and how Taylor Swift actually runs the world (Did you see how Apple Music just folded to her?). He committed to binge watch How I Met Your Mother, but only if I committed to Arrested Development.
So there you have it, dear listeners—an insider’s scoop on the man behind the microphone. Dr. Matt Townsend is one really awesome guy who actually knows what he’s talking about. Tune in to The Matt Townsend Show every morning from 7-9 am to start your day off right!
Written By: Morgan Lewis—BYU Radio Social Media Student Assistant