I produce The Matty & Nick Show on WAAF, hosted by Matty Blake and Nick Stevens on weekday afternoons. It’s been more than a year since they started, and the whole time I’ve been curious about Matty’s other life as a TV host. I knew that he’s a Massachusetts native and that he moved to New York City for 15 years to pursue comedy and acting, and he has appeared on screen with icons like John Goodman and Sean Penn, but still there’s more. So with his new special, Drilling Down: The Curse of Oak Island, airing this month on the History Channel, I asked Matty all about his gig in which his team searches for treasure on an island up in Nova Scotia.
After 15 years in New York City, how does it feel to be back home with your own show?
It’s another example of how crazy the career I chose can be. I never expected to be back home in Boston doing radio at this point in my career. But someone once said to me, “You ride the horse in the direction that it’s running.” I’ve always tried to follow that advice.
Did you come back specifically to host this afternoon radio show, or had you planned on coming back regardless?
I had planned on coming back anyway. I had gotten to a point in my career where it didn’t really matter where I lived. Also, I think the industry has changed a bit. Before, you didn’t necessarily have to have a home recording studio to land voice-over work. Then it became that if you didn’t have a home studio, they wouldn’t even read you for work because they didn’t want to pay for the studio time.
What do you think it will take to make The Matty & Nick Show successful in a market as competitive as Boston?
We’re in a tough spot. This market has been fed a steady diet of straight sports talk largely done by beat writers and ex-players that they put on air. That’s what has dominated thus far, and Nick and I will never win that game because that’s not what we are. We both love sports, but we have built our careers outside of that world and have many varied interests. So we’ll just continue being true to who we are and hope that enough like-minded people get what we’re doing and want to join along for a fun ride home.
Had you ever heard about Oak Island and the mystery surrounding it before you became involved with the show?
I had a book as a kid, I think it was called Strange Mysteries From Around the World. There was a chapter about a mysterious island off Nova Scotia called Oak Island. I remember I was so amazed by it, I got my mother to buy me Treasure Island, and she would read it to me every night. I forgot about that, though, until Oak Island came back into my life much later.
What exactly is Oak Island, and how did you become involved in the show?
Oak Island is a real-life treasure hunt. It’s an island off the coast of Nova Scotia that for over 220 years people have been trying to figure out what’s buried there. Somebody, at some point, spent a great deal of effort to bury “something” deep underground. It was then concealed with a system of booby-trapped, chambered vaults. People have died looking for whatever it is that’s down there. I became involved because now there is a television show on History Channel that follows the current group of treasure hunters, Rick and Marty Lagina and their team. They decided to do a companion show for Curse of Oak Island, which is called Drilling Down, and I’m the host of that show. I auditioned and got the job.
The show is called Curse Of Oak Island. What is this curse? Is it real?
Nobody is quite sure where this idea of a curse came from. It seems to be some sort of oral tradition passed down by generations. The curse says that seven people must die before the island reveals its secrets. It’s not something that I give much credence to. There’s enough high strangeness and paranormal things going on at Oak Island, but the curse is not something I spend a lot of time thinking about when I’m there. That being said, if there was a place that would have a curse, it would be Oak Island.
One of the complaints about reality television is that it’s not really reality. With Curse Of Oak Island, is what you see what you get?
I can tell you that everything you see on the show is absolutely real. The team at Prometheus who produce the show have so much integrity. And so do the Lagina brothers. They didn’t want cameras in the first place. They’d be hunting whether there were cameras or not. In fact they were hunting before the cameras came, and if the cameras left, they’d still be hunting. I’ve watched them film: What you see is what you get.
What are some of the discoveries that have been made on the island?
Years and years ago, they found a piece of parchment paper and little gold flakes on a drill bit over 100 feet down. That begs the question, Why are there pieces of parchment paper with some sort of writing on it over 100 feet down? To me that was very compelling. And as the hunt progressed, the brothers have found little things here and there that beg a lot of strange questions. But I think these past two seasons, seasons four and five, they have found things that absolutely, in my estimation, prove that “something” happened on Oak Island many years ago that we aren’t able to explain yet. They dug out an area called Smith’s Cove and found a man-made French drain system. Now why would people, a very long time ago, be building a French drain system on what is essentially a man-made beach? This season they found human bones that are very old, and what we think to be of Middle Eastern descent. What is that doing over 100 feet down in a chambered vault?
A lead cross was also found this season, which seems to be medieval. This might point to a Templar connection. There are different theories on Oak Island. Along the way, searchers have found things that fit almost every theory. So when people ask me what I think it is, be it pirates, Templars, British military, I usually just respond with “yes.” Because I think we are finding evidence that it may be all of those things. Someone a long time ago hid something there, and then that island got the reputation of being a good place to hide things. And I think different people have been hiding things there for a long time.
Have you had any what you believe were paranormal experiences on the island?
I think anyone who spends a significant time on Oak Island will experience things that even if you don’t want to call them paranormal, you’d at least have to call them unexplainable. Strange things happen on Oak Island, and they happen all the time. Now maybe these things can be explained by some sort of magnetic shift or some anomalous, scientifically explained feature of this particular part of Nova Scotia. Either way, it’s fair to say that this is a place where the unexplainable constantly happens.
I personally have experienced what I believe to be paranormal occurrences on the island. And you look at someone like star of the show Dave Blankenship, and he’s one of the most practical guys you’ll ever meet. A real straight shooter. He admitted to me on season one of Drilling Down that he saw what he believed to be a ball of fire floating right off the island over the water. He described it as almost a UFO sighting, where he saw this thing almost hovering above the water and then taking off at a rapid speed. There are people who report seeing a black mass, and also people who will never go back on the island again because of what they experienced. Even Marty Lagina, one of the treasure-hunting brothers, reported to me that he got so spooked on the island one night that he immediately got into his truck and took off. He told me that whatever it was, it “made him feel unsafe.” Marty is one of the biggest skeptics I know. When he tells me something like that, I don’t take it lightly. So I do believe the island has some paranormal aspects to it. But I don’t think this is a paranormal show. This is a show about family, faith, and discovery. It’s a treasure-hunting show. It’s even about technology. How they dig, using construction equipment and so on. There’s a lot to Curse Of Oak Island that makes it very interesting and compelling.
Will there be a season six?
I can neither confirm nor deny; however, I will say this: Every year I have worked on the show, I have privately said to the people around me that they might not come back for another season. After this last season, with the introduction of Gary Drayton, who’s made significant amount [of] finds on the island, it’s like a lightning rod has gone off and they continue to keep making all kinds of discoveries. I would be absolutely shocked if there wasn’t a season six. If I could find the treasure on Oak Island, I would make a bet with it that there would be another season.
Matty Blake hosts The Matty & Nick Show alongside Nick Stevens, which airs weekdays from 3 pm to 7 pm on WAAF. Matty’s one-hour Drilling Down special airs Tuesday, March 13, on the History Channel.