Georgia News Network’s Matt Cook credits his wife for getting him into radio. “It was 1980. My wife and I were dating at the time. I was home from college and looking for a part-time job. My wife told me about a local radio station, and they hired me after I got my radio license.”
As a 35-year veteran of the industry, Cook has done countless interviews both as a talk show host early on in his career, and now as the News Director at Georgia News Network. “I do very little prep for interviews now. In the old days, I would have written some questions down. Now, I merely take an interest in the topic,” Cook says as he explains his interview style. “I try to learn everything there is to know about a topic, so the questions come quite naturally.”
When it comes to using social media for story ideas, Cook tends to use Twitter over Facebook. “I have my Twitter account set up to monitor news sites. I follow anyone that has information: local law enforcement, local newspapers in Georgia, the FBI…”
When Cook isn’t on the air, his priority is spending time with his wife and daughter, a student at Georgia Tech. “I have a weekly breakfast date with my wife at Waffle House on Saturdays,” he says. “Both of us work a lot, so time with my family is important.” Having spent the first 30 years of his life living in rural Georgia, Cook likes the diversity and availability of cultural activities such as concerts and museums in Atlanta. Cook’s favorite food is sushi. “I could eat it for every meal. I would love to have sushi for Christmas dinner.”
In Cook’s opinion, one of the biggest problems in the media today is context. “We live in a world where we have to tell what should be an eight minute story in 30 seconds. In this world of soundbites, the context gets lost” he says.
The one piece of advice he would give to young journalists is to not simply give a headline, but to make sure listeners understand the context of a story. “You have to give people information they can use so they won’t overreact.”