‘As of now, I am retired.’ KISS 108’s Matt Siegel steps down after 41 years

He alluded to recent health challenges during his poignant farewell.

“This past year has been a little rough for me,” Siegel said during his announcement. “I had brain surgery. I had a broken foot. I started getting a little grumpy on the radio, which I hate because all I want to do is make people laugh. That’s my job, just to make people laugh. And I got off target, I guess you would say. ”

Family members helped steer him in the direction of retirement, he said.

“I’m a lucky guy for a million reasons, but five of them are a great wife and four great kids,” he said. “And my great wife and my great kids talked to me over the last several weeks and helped me come to a decision.”

Siegel thanked his colleagues at the station as well as his legions of loyal listeners.

“Not in a million years would I have ever thought I would have the following that I have with my silly jokes and my silly interviews,” he said. “I love you guys.”

In an interview with the Globe after Tuesday’s announcement, Siegel reiterated that he decided to retire because the job “got to be not that fun anymore.” He said the last few years, in particular, have been challenging.

“COVID hit and it just changed everything,” Siegel said, reached by phone in Florida. “My wife and I ended up staying down here, and there was a little disconnect between me and my team because I was here and they were there.”

Siegel was among a dwindling number of high-profile radio personalities whose influence has waned somewhat in the streaming era, with many younger listeners preferring the freewheeling podcast format to the more restrictive confines of commercial radio.

But Lance Venta, publisher of Radioinsight.com, a leading industry trade publication, said via email Tuesday that he believes some radio hosts can still wield the same broad influence a figure like Siegel had.

“Toucher and Rich [on 98.5 FM] have become that show for Boston, ”Venta wrote. “Their ratings in recent months show that they have become the town hall for the region. In terms of another show coming up and reaching those heights, it takes time. … Most radio operators do not have that patience anymore, making the talent interchangeable. ”

A number of local luminaries quickly took to social media Tuesday to wish Siegel well.

“The best in business will be missed,” tweeted 7NEWS reporter Steve Cooper.

“What a legendary career,” tweeted WBZNewsRadio anchor and reporter Jim MacKay.

Regular listeners also chimed in.

“My mom used to listen to him in high school and so did I,” one recent UNH grad tweeted. “One of the best morning radio talk shows.”

“Heard the announcement from @MattyShow retiring, ”tweeted a Fitchburg resident. “Well deserved and one of the nicest people in radio I met. I remember meeting him backstage at Kiss concert. Definitely going to miss hearing Matty when I turn my radio on in the morning. Grateful I was able to meet Matty. ”

Siegel, 72, has helmed the “Matty in the Morning” show since it first went on the air in 1981, and he was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcast Hall of Fame in 2012. His many accolades have included two Marconi awards for “Personality of the Year – Major Market. ”

Listeners for decades tuned in faithfully not for the Top 40 format, but to hear Siegel’s comforting chatter – a mix of sly humor, snark, and occasional sweetness. “Matty in the Morning” routinely ranked No. 1 among women in the coveted 18-to-49 demographic.

But more recently Siegel’s been dogged by controversy, due to unforced errors on the mic.

In May 2021, he abruptly stormed off the air after being told to stop discussing pop star Demi Lovato’s announcement that they are non-binary; Siegel previously told listeners, “It’s a joke, the whole binary thing.” The operatic mic drop – punctuated by Siegel declaring “Matty out” – stunned listeners and sponsors, but did not spell the end for the show. Siegel returned to the big chair the next day, telling listeners, “I’m here. Good morning.”

There was continued scrutiny the following month, however, when Rebekah “Bex” Maroun bailed from the show.

Maroun, a show co-host and executive producer, announced in June 2021 that she was leaving to move home to her native Philadelphia. During the earlier Lovato controversy, she’d been subjected to an abusive on-air rant by Seigel, who told her that “you work for me” after higher-ups advised her not to post show content referencing Lovato online.

Siegel apologized for his behavior on the May 21, 2021, episode of his show, but Maroun was not on air to accept the apology.

In his Globe interview Tuesday, Siegel said was stung by the criticism he took over his Lovato remarks, which he acknowledged were thoughtless.

“I’d never experienced negative heat like that before because it did not really exist before the social media thing,” he said. “I’ve said a lot of stupid things. The stuff that happened a year ago is my fault. I acted like a jerk and I got heat for it. But I do not want that to be my legacy. ”

Siegel had been off the air since April 20, and one day earlier he told listeners he visited the doctor the previous day to get his prostate checked. Lisa Donovan, one of Siegel’s long-time cohosts on “Matty,” has also been off the air since April 20.

Co-host Billy Costa, who’s continued to host the show in their absence, said Monday that Donovan remains “home dealing with a family matter.”

Material from prior Globe stories and from Boston.com was used in this report.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Mark Shanahan can be reached at mark.shanahan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarkAShanahan.

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