Matt was born in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, and has also lived in Minnesota, Virginia, upstate New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Despite his rapidly changing home addresses, he has always cherished living in the Delaware Valley where he has now resided for more than three decades. He attended Saints Philip and James Elementary School in Exton and Bishop Shanahan High School in West Chester and went on to graduate from the University of Delaware with a degree in English/Journalism and a Political Science minor.
It was the extra stuff that Matt always points to in explaining how he managed to find a job in broadcast journalism. While in high school, his creative writing teacher, Victor Kryston, convinced him to write as often as possible, without a filter. He did. While at Delaware, Matt was a reporter, editor and columnist at The Review, the campus newspaper, plus he served as news director for the campus radio station WVUD-FM where he interviewed then-Senator Joe Biden. Matt remembers asking one question, listening to the senator speak for a half hour, and then having to sign off. Matt also found time to add a few bylines to his resume by reporting for the Daily Local News in West Chester, PA. And wait, there's more...
Two television internships filled Matt's summers during college. One of them was at WLYH-TV in Mount Gretna, PA. The other was at ... drum roll ... WPVI-TV in Philadelphia! It was then that Matt really started dreaming about ending up at that very same station as a full-time reporter one day, and admits he was a bit overwhelmed during those days as a Channel 6 intern.
Matt's first real TV job was in Binghamton, NY at WICZ-TV. He was an on-air reporter/news photographer/video editor/line producer/TelePrompTer operator/news tape operator/script-ripper/copy editor/studio camera operator/fill-in anchor/etc. Matt was elated to be doing so much all by himself in the "Parlor City" but felt he needed to work in a larger TV market. So he took another job even farther north.
WSTM-TV in Syracuse, NY was Matt's second stop in his news career. This is the same station that once listed NBC's Bob Costas and ESPN's Mike Tirico on the employment roster. Matt's duties slimmed down a bit to street reporting, fill-in anchoring (with news and sports) and line producing. To this day, Matt is still astounded by how much snow he saw during the winter he spent in Syracuse (190+ inches in the city) and promised himself he would never complain about the snow if he ever returned to Philadelphia.
He did get that chance, coming to 6abc in late 1996. Matt spent eight years as a street reporter, and swears he has done at least one story in every single community in the viewing region.
Among his favorite assignments: joining members of the Philadelphia Zoo in Brazil to track golden lion tamarins, taking flight in a Blue Angels FA-18 to experience 7.5 G's and Mach 1 speeds (sadly, the pilot would later die in a crash; Matt did a story on that too, spending the night in Ventnor, NJ when Hurricane Irene made landfall at the Jersey Shore, boarding a KC-10 with Air Force reservists on a mission to Europe right after the September 11th terror attacks, covering the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, interviewing Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin, the GOP 2008 presidential ticket, side-by-side, interviewing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton when they were presidential candidates...there are so many.
Oh, Matt also interviewed Peter Mayhew, who portrayed Chewbacca in Star Wars. Thought we'd throw that one in.
Fast-forward to 2004, when 6abc asked Matt to co-anchor the morning news. That was back when he thought 5am was pretty early for a newscast to start. Now, of course, he thinks it is too late (the broadcast begins each weekday at precisely 4:26:57am).
Matt lives with his family and pet dog in the suburbs and would like to think he has a variety of interests: golf, music (he plays drums in the local rock band Champs), books, politics, pop culture, good and bad movies, craft beer (he's brewed a few batches) and researching quantum theory. That last one has been hard to crack.
Here is a summary of what you just read. Sorry for not putting it on the top, but admit it - you wouldn't have made it this far if it was! "Matt O'Donnell: Action News Mornings anchor, admirer of awesome things, fan of good times, gets up earlier than most so you don't have to."
The Pennsylvania primary is in just seven days. The biggest race is for the Democratic nomination to run for governor. Action News is profiling all four of the candidates this week.