TALKING A GOOD GAME
The inside word on Fox League’s Late Show with Matty Johns
WHEN they flicked the switch to go on Fox Sports’ new 24-hour league channel, chances are viewers almost instantly found Matty Johns on their box more often than not.
Not only is the former Newcastle and NSW playerturned-Triple M Sydney breakfast host one of the brightest ‘faces’ of the Fox League brand, he’s also one of its busiest.
Building on the popularity of his Monday night chat show, which offers a good mix of armchair criticism, with a heap of mug punter larrikinism, his bosses have now double-downed and let him loose with his own Thursday night program, The Late Show With Matty Johns.
Just don’t expect him to be the next Jimmy Fallon or crooning with stars, a la Carpool Karaoke king James Corden, Johns warns.
While the 45-year-old is looking forward “to letting our hair down” in the later timeslot – straight after each Thursday night NRL game – he’s keeping the one-hour show hard and fast.
“Let’s face it, everyone has ADD [attention deficit disorder] these days, so I want the show to move fast,” Johns says. “There’ll be lots of moving parts, lots of different people involved and lots of laughs.”
It was only a few years ago Johns made the strategic career decision to shelve his most famous comedy character, that biff-loving bloke Reg Reagan, to focus on sharpening his act as a host and presenter. Leaving behind Nine’s
The Footy Show – now his direct competition – he has developed his on-air skills both on TV and each weekday morning on radio.
“I’ve done it for a few years now and got myself into a routine,” Johns tells TV
Guide. “It doesn’t cause me the anxiety it used to because I feel like I’m prepared. I used to feel like there weren’t enough hours in the day. But now, I know all the segments, where they fit, how they work. I finish the breakfast radio. I might come home and have an hour’s sleep, then get the rundown for that night’s [Fox Sports] show, go do the show, get home, have a few hours’ sleep, get up and do the radio again.”
It was advice from former
Enough Rope and radio host Andrew Denton which helped settle Johns’ nerves and taught him one medium would ultimately help him with the other. “He said to me, ‘Radio really polishes you and sharpens you up because you learn to fill the air’. With TV,” Johns says, “pictures support the silence, especially in sport, so the less you say can be better. It’s about an economy of words; but in radio, silence, well, it’s just dead. People think you’ve gone off-air.”
The other secret to his success as a broadcaster has been to surround himself with the best players.
His hilarious team of TV offsiders on the Monday night show, including former Eels star Nathan Hindmarsh and ex-Roosters man, Bryan Fletcher, will be boosted this year by one-time Blues and Roosters rogue, Brett Finch.
Also adding depth to Fox League’s offering has been the signing of Nine’s former Origin anchor Yvonne Sampson and Hannah Hollis (of NITV’s League Nation fame), who will deliver their analysis of the game’s hot-button issues, alongside Fox Sports stalwarts Jessica Yates and Lara Pitt, each Wednesday night on League
Life (7.30pm). Closing footy’s gender gap, Johns endorses, “takes the game forward and makes it grow up”.
THE LATE SHOW WITH MATTY JOHNS
THURSDAY, 8.30PM, FOX LEAGUE
Dream team: TheLateShowwithMattyJohns stars Lara Pitt, Nathan Hindmarsh, Gordon Tallis, Matty Johns and Bryan Fletcher.