Matt Berry tackles the job of music director the same way he tackles his hobbies, with dedicated passion. But Berry didn’t always want to be a music director, and radio wasn’t his first field of choice.
“I originally always wanted to do film – like I wanted to do film writing, be directing, or something to do with film — but then I started doing radio,” remembers Berry.
One day while he was at work fitting rebar in his hometown of Edmonton, Alta., Berry heard an advertisement for the Canadian School of Modern Broadcasting. He went out on a whim and applied, wanting to do something more fun and creative like the ad suggested.
Berry was able to get the experience that he needed to get into radio.
After finishing his practicum at the now-defunct radio station Big Earl FM, Berry found work at 91.7 FM The Bounce in Edmonton as a board operator.
“I just fell in love with it. I started doing it and I just thought, ‘this is really cool.’ I haven’t wanted to do anything since, well, anything else,” laughs Berry.
While working overnight shifts at The Bounce, Berry saw a job opening pop up for X92.9 FM, Calgary’s alternative radio station.
The station liked Berry and eventually he rose the ranks to his current position as music director.
Mitch Bunda, a broadcast engineer at X92.9 and a local musician, thinks Berry is a great fit for the role of music director.
“He’s so passionate about the music. He’s always looking for new music and he’s always looking to help those bands too, which is something rare that you find in music directors,” says Bunda.
“A lot of radio stations will just play the hits, not make the hits. Matt tries to help those bands to become the bands that make the hits.”
Berry is also the host and organizer of Xposure, a program on X92.9 that showcases local and national music acts, with many listeners tuning in every Sunday night.
One of those listeners is Alex Baudais, a friend of Berry’s.
“It’s an awesome platform just to have that showcased, especially the local bands from Calgary, – cause there’s only a few – that if you wouldn’t have Matt’s program or X92.9 FM, you wouldn’t really recognize them,” says Baudais.
Berry works hard to get the word out about Canadian musicians when putting together the Xposure program.
“It’s something cool to check out for your new favourite band that you can actually go see. You can go see them on a Friday night, ‘cause I pitch a lot of local gigs going on that coming week or in the next month,” Berry says.
“If you love that song, you can see them live or go buy their record.”
Xposure helps local and national acts get radio play and, well, exposure. Bunda can vouch for that.
“My band had never been signed and we were just trying to get played on Xposure, like that’s all we wanted to do and Matt totally made that happen,” he recalls.
“It gives them [local bands] a platform to be able to share their music, and it’s a non-threatening platform too.”
Bunda has worked with music directors at multiple radio stations in Calgary, including CJAY- 92 and Virgin Radio, but Berry is one of the best in his opinion.
“Matt makes it a point to go out to shows, talk to the bands, to see the bands, and when the bands are done their shows he’ll go talk to them,”
When Berry isn’t at local gigs, he enjoys spending time with his friends and girlfriend, while also finding time for a few thirst-quenching hobbies.
“I like to make cocktails. So, I have an Instagram account where I just create cocktails at home.”
Both Baudais and Bunda agree that Berry makes amazing mixed drinks. Berry’s passion for mixed drinks shows when scrolling through his cocktail-dedicated Instagram. He recreates classics like “The Last Word”, a drink made with equal parts gin, cherry liqueur, green chartreuse and juice. Berry also invents his own signature cocktails.
One of his signature creations is called “Havin’ a Day,” which he created for his girlfriend, Kala. It’s a combination of her two favourite drinks, the Scofflaw and the Margarita.
Baudais is one of the people who has had the pleasure of trying a hand-crafted cocktail by Berry.
“He definitely makes a pretty killer cocktail, it beats some of the high-end bartending cocktails from Calgary,” Baudais says. “Some of them are just unreal – It’s amazing what he can create in the kitchen.”
Berry considers himself a perfectionist, not only with cocktails, but also when it comes to what music is played on X92.9.
“I’m like, ‘Well I need this to sound good,’ like I need this to sound tight and make sure that this sounds awesome, ‘cause if it doesn’t then what’s the point? What’s it for?”
You can tune in to Berry every Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. on X92.9 FM, for the Alt-20 Countdown and Xposure program. To see some of Berry’s hand-crafted cocktails, you can follow him on Instagram at @apartment201.
Editor: Whitney Cullingham | firstname.lastname@example.org