By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Jun 01, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Though he's only in his early 30s, WTMJ-AM's Greg Matzek has already paid his radio dues.

The new co-host of "Sports Central," alongside Trenni Kusnierek, is no stranger to the station, having joined WTMJ is 2001. He started out as a producer of the "Green House" and worked his way up to sports anchor for the station's morning show. He also continues to co-host a weekend show, and, until this latest promotion, Matzek also held a full-time job in marketing.

In other words, Matzek works a lot.

We last spoke to Matzek in 2003, when the Brookfield native won ESPN's reality show, "Beg, Borrow & Deal 2." Since then, a lot has changed in his life, but even more has come full circle.

We caught up with Matzek in this latest Milwaukee Talks. I can't believe it was eight years ago that I sat in your cubicle at "Radio City" and talked to you about reality TV.

Greg Matzek: Did I have hair then?

OMC: Actually, you looked exactly the same. And surprisingly, you're still working at WTMJ.

GM: I don't know how many people knew that, but I always had a full-time job while I was at WTMJ, at least since 2005, anyway, working in the marketing world. Even when I started doing the morning show, I was getting up at 4 a.m., doing that until 8, then going to my marketing job until 6 or 7, sometimes traveling, then coming back home and trying to play softball or get in a workout or watch the game, then collapsing at 9:30. So the schedule was a bit rough.

OMC: When did you realize it was time for a change?

GM: I left one marketing opportunity for another marketing job, and it just wasn't a good fit. That came right around my last review time with my boss at the radio station. I inquired about the opportunity, and at that point, it wasn't really on the table. As time went on, they made it sound like the sports department was going to increase in size and I was a potential candidate. Ultimately, it ended up working out.

OMC: In the back of your mind all these years, were you thinking that someday radio would be your full-time career?

GM: There's a reason I never left WTMJ. When I was producing, and I left that gig, I wanted to make sure I stayed on Sundays. It was a very small shift at that time, but that grew into an opportunity to do a talk show with Jeff Falconio. Then it turned into fill-in opportunities during the evening show during the week. Then that turned into the morning show.

Everything kept growing and growing and growing. Had I left the station cold turkey, that opportunity never would have been there. I had to keep it in my back pocket. It was what I worked toward.

OMC: And you're still doing the morning show, too.

GM: Yeah. I go to work a little after 4, and work until 8:30. Then I pass out for a couple hours, then I get back online, chase stories for the day, cover the Brewers, go to the games, and then get with Trenni a little bit later in the afternoon and do our show. We start at 6, unless we're preempted by play-by-play, and we go until 8.

OMC: And you still have your Sunday show?

GM: Sunday mornings are still happening right now. Eventually, that will phase out when we get to Packers season.

OMC: I'm doing the math in my head. It sounds like you work non-stop, all the time.

GM: Honestly, it's a better shift than I had before when I was doing the marketing thing along with it. Now I have a pocket of time during the day to workout or go for a run and do laundry, God forbid.

OMC: Do you like co-hosting with Trenni?

GM: It helps that Trenni and I were friends for a few years going back. It wasn't like we turned on the microphone for the first time and were like, "I don't know who the heck you are." There was a built-in comfort about knowing each other. It takes time to find the nuances of each other and what makes people tick. The feedback we have received so far has been positive from people in the industry and outside the industry.

OMC: You were friends with and you worked with Bill Michaels for a long time. How did you feel about replacing him?

GM: Bill is an important part of how I developed on the air. It's hard to see him go, but look, it's a manager's decision that was made behind closed doors. Certainly, this is an opportunity that I wanted to grow into, to have an increased role. You never like to see it come at the expense of a friend, but Bill is a talented guy. He'll be just fine. He and I are still friends, which was important. Bill has been supportive.

OMC: Interesting that WTMJ went with younger hosts, considering their key demographic skews a little older.

GM: I think there's another aspect that I think is interesting. Trenni and I are both local. I grew up in Brookfield, and she grew up in Muskego. I think people here like that we're backyard kind of people. Honestly, Bill did what very few people can do, and that's come into a market from the outside and make a home. But there's a business side of it, too: we will be open to a new set of advertisers maybe that may have not have been interested in advertising because of a lack of a female presence, or our age, or our interests. Ultimately, I like to believe that they think we're talented individuals and can carry a show.

OMC: Last time we talked, there was no Facebook or Twitter. You're active in social media, though. Talk to me about its impact on your job.

GM: On the outside, we feel like we know athletes and the people who cover them because we see them every day, and we get a glimpse into who they are. Social media allows that to happen on a more personal level, and not as much as on a role model level. I feel like I know Ted Perry and Tim Van Vooren and Jen Lada more because of social media. I get their personalities, their senses of humor. It just opens that door. But five or 10 years from now, we're going to be laughing that we used Twitter as a serious form of communication.

OMC: Speaking of media, are you doing the media home run derby again next week? You're a back-to-back winner, after all.

GM: Absolutely. I was told that I have to use a wood bat this year.

OMC: Are going to do it?

GM: Absolutely. I don't do these things to lose. It's a kids event, but it's a lot of us media types getting together. I think it shows how tight-knit a community the media is, which I really appreciate and love. You fight each other for the ratings, but ultimately, you get along and people are supportive of each other.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.