Ahead of his debut as The Hits’ Drive Show’s new host, Matty McLean shares the best advice he received about coming out and his top tips for making your wedding authentically your own.
How was coming out for you?
Coming out was a process, as I’m sure it is for many people. I definitely knew from an early age that I was different, and certainly, when I was going through puberty, I realised I was attracted to men. But denial is a funny thing – I just so desperately wanted to fit in that I managed to convince myself that if I didn’t act on my feelings, it meant I wasn’t gay. Of course, that’s not true, and there’s only so long you can live that lie, and so when I finished university and entered the real world, I started to realise I needed to be honest with who I was. I had some incredibly supportive friends in my life at that time who helped me do that, and over the course of about six months, I started to tell my friends and family. It is such a cliche, but it truly was like a weight had been lifted, and it was a fantastic reminder that, often, the things we think are going to be difficult are only that way because we’ve built them up in our minds. Being able to live my life authentically was truly the most freeing experience of my life.
Was everyone important in your life supportive of your coming out?
I have the most amazing people in my life, so, truly, I had such a smooth coming-out experience. I feel so lucky because I know it’s not that way for everyone. I do remember some really wise advice from my mum, though, who reminded me that it took me 21 years to process it, so I did need to give others the chance to process it as well – but I was blessed to just be surrounded by love.
You started working for Breakfast in 2007 – before bouncing around a few other TVNZ shows and returning in 2017. What have been the most memorable highlights for you of working on the show?
Gosh, it’s been 16 years since I first started at TVNZ, and I’ve had some incredible, beautiful, intense, heartbreaking experiences as a reporter in that time. I’ve been front and centre for some of the biggest stories of my lifetime – I was flown to Christchurch the day of the February 22nd earthquake. I travelled to Tauranga when the Rena ran aground. I stayed on air for six hours to broadcast live following the shooting of two construction workers in downtown Auckland earlier this year. But I’ve also travelled around the world, and indeed, the country, and met some incredible people. I’ve absolutely loved the crazy, random mornings broadcasting live from small towns all across Aotearoa. I remember once asking a little boy – he would’ve been about 7 – what his favourite thing was about his town, and without hesitation, he said “the Value Village.” It just summed up the beautiful simplicity in life sometimes – that the thing he liked the best about his slice of paradise was the local $2 shop!
In that time, you also had a short stint overseas. What brought you back to New Zealand?
I’d been at TVNZ for almost 10 years, and I was about to turn 30, so I knew I needed to step away for a bit to see what else was out there. I moved to London for the classic New Zealand OE, and had a blast! But after almost a year, I received a call asking if I’d be interested in coming home to take up the weather presenter role on Breakfast. I adored that show – it was where I got my start – and this was a dream job, so it was a no-brainer. I immediately jumped at the chance, and I’m forever thankful I did. This has been the most amazing job. Plus, two weeks after I moved home, I met my now-husband – so everything happens for a reason.
You and Ryan got married this year. What are your top tips for any of our readers planning to marry in 2024?
Our wedding day was truly the most magic time. One of the first things we did was look at the general format of a wedding and strip it all away – what bits did we like, and which ones did we think we were only doing because everyone else did them. From there, we could rebuild the day to just feel exactly like we wanted it to. We got ready together, for example. We didn’t do a first dance. We started our ceremony with a tequila shot. Our rings were hidden under random chairs, so our ring bearers were chosen based on who was sitting in those seats. We just did whatever we wanted, so it felt like it was authentically our day.
Yourself, Chris Parker, and James Mustapic have all won Celebrity Treasure Island. Gay guys seem to do particularly well on the show. What do you think is the secret to that success?
Trust me, we’ve all laughed about this. I think there’s a few reasons – we all love the show, so we understand the game and how it’s played. We also have spent our lives creating bonds and relationships with people, which serves you well on Treasure Island. Plus, I truly think we were all helped by the fact that people didn’t view us as big threats – they were all far more focussed on the big physical players, and then these wiley blonde gays just weasled their way into the finale! James Mustapic jokes that they need to form a homophobe alliance on the next season!
You are now embracing a new start and presenting The Hits’ Drive show. How much later will you be getting up now?
The hours on Breakfast are brutal – my alarm goes off at 3.30 every morning. So anything later than that will be considered a sleep-in! I’d still like to maintain some sort of routine, otherwise I might never get out of bed. So I think I’ll be getting up at the same time as Ryan – get the gym out the way, take the dog for a walk, make a coffee, start the day right.
How did you cope with the early starts?
I found the early starts OK after a while – the getting up wasn’t the hard part. It was getting to sleep about 7pm on a Friday night, when most of my friends would have plenty of energy to go out for dinner and drinks, and I’d be ready for a cup of tea in bed!
What drew you over to radio, and why was now the time for a fresh start?
I wasn’t necessarily looking for a change, but I think when opportunity comes knocking, it’s always a good idea to take stock of where you are and where you want to go next. I’d been part of the Breakfast show for seven years, and it just felt like this was the right time to try something different. I’ve always loved the times I’ve filled in on radio, so why not dive into it headfirst? Plus, PJ is an absolute radio icon, so I’m truly so excited to be doing the show with her. We’re going to have so much fun – she cracks me up!