Matt has stepped into just about every community in the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys in his many years of street reporting, plus tackled assignments that took him across the country and around the world: California, Brazil, Nevada, England. He also headed into the skies in a life-changing flight with the Blue Angels. He has covered three political conventions (St. Paul and two in Philadelphia), interviewed two presidents (President Obama and President Trump) and covered countless pivotal stories that have shaped our region over the last two decades.
Beginning his career in upstate New York just days after graduating from the University of Delaware, Matt served as a do-it-yourself news reporter at WICZ-TV in Binghamton covering local news and politics - including the 1994 New York governor's race where he interviewed George Pataki, the eventual winner, twice. His next move brought him to WSTM-TV in Syracuse, New York where he tracked down an accused murderer for an exclusive interview, visited a community that saw 300+ inches of snowfall in one season and provided daily coverage of a gruesome series of deaths that one day became the basis of the cable series "Village of the Damned."
Matt's big break was when he was called back to Philadelphia to join the Action News team, a place he has worked at proudly ever since.
He joined the Air Force National Guard on a trip to England shortly after 9/11. He flew supersonic with a member of the Blue Angels over Atlantic City. He lived in the Brazilian rain forest for four days with experts from the Philadelphia Zoo to help protect the golden lion tamarin. He interviewed Barack Obama, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump when their presidential campaigns brought them to the region. He spent two days along the Jersey Shore awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Irene, which nearly became the first hurricane to hit New Jersey in more than 100 years. He has greeted Kevin Bacon, Morgan Freeman, Naomi Judd and James Brown during their visits to town. He has joined the Eagles on a playoff run, he was there for the Eagles and Phillies championship parades. He has visited nearly every town in the region, covering the triumphs, tragedies, highs and lows of Action News viewers throughout the years.
Matt joins Tamala Edwards, David Murphy and Karen Rogers every weekday morning from 4-7am to help the sleepyheads of the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys wake up, a news anchor position he has held since 2004. Matt and Tam also alternate as host of Inside Story where they engage panelists to debate the important issues we face and challenge newsmakers who make the decisions.
The True Philadelphia Podcast is Matt's most recent project where he sits down with the people who help mold the ongoing conversation on what is great about the Philadelphia area: Jay Wright, Madeline Bell, Larry Krasner, the original Phillie Phanatic David Raymond, Elena Delle Donne, Preston Elliot, Sharon Pinkenson, Tom Wolf, Charlie Dent. The podcast can be streamed on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and YouTube.
Matt lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with his wife, two children and dog Bailey. He plays drums in a local rock band and competes in a number of local golf tournaments. Matt still hopes to be the first reporter to do a live shot from Mars.
John Baizley of Grammy-nominated local band Baroness on the True Philadelphia Podcast
Baroness is one of the most critically-acclaimed and internationally successful bands that fall into the "extreme" metal category (even though they are much more complex than that) and yet few people seem to realize they are based in the Philadelphia area
Adam Weiner of local rock band Low Cut Connie serenades Action News morning team
Adam Weiner, the frontman for the high-energy South Philadelphia band Low Cut Connie, stopped by the 6abc studios to promote an upcoming performance at Union Transfer and talk about his appearance on Matt O'Donnell's True Philadelphia Podcast.
True Philadelphia Podcast: Matt O'Donnell interviews new head of Philadelphia's Republican Party
Philadelphia's Republican City Committee is putting its hopes on Rep. Martina White (R-PA) to help it maintain relevance - and maybe even survive. The party was embarrassed again in the 2019 mayoral race - Mayor Jim Kenney didn't even campaign against GOP.
True Philadelphia Podcast: 'Three Really, Really, REALLY Big Ideas'
We are thinking BIG in the latest True Philadelphia Podcast. Nia Meeks, communications strategist and frequent Inside Story panelist, joins me to share three things that both of us think should happen to make the Philadelphia region a better place to live
Previewing Tuesday's local Pennsylvania elections
Election Day is almost here and our panel handicaps the races for Mayor and City Council. Plus, local celebs put community policing in the spotlight and the NCAA's bold move.
Mayor Kenney endorses Elizabeth Warren for president
Mayor Jim Kenney announced Wednesday morning that he is supporting Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren for president. The move is surprising given that early Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden selected Philadelphia as his 2020 campaign headquarters.
Legendary Big 5 basketball coach Fran Dunphy on leadership, legacy and learning in the True Philadelphia Podcast
Fran Dunphy spent 48 years coaching basketball at the collegiate and high school level: Temple, Penn, LaSalle, Malvern Prep, Army, American. What was the most important game he ever coached? As it turns out, Dunphy says it was the worst loss of his career
True Philadelphia Podcast explores cost of higher education
Dr. Donald Generals has been running the Community College of Philadelphia for five years now. It is the largest institution of higher learning in the city. We gathered in his office in the historic Mint Building (which was once the home of the Third Phil
Matt O'Donnell interviews DA Larry Krasner in the True Philadelphia Podcast
Larry Krasner is unlike any district attorney Philadelphia has ever seen. He campaigned on reducing mass incarceration and revolutionizing criminal justice.
Rowdy teens and Philly PD vs. Larry Krasner
Philadelphia teens get rowdy after chaotic party. Billboards put up referencing Larry Krasner and other local political news.