Matt Skube celebrates 10 years with CTV Ottawa this year. He’s done a little bit of everything since joining the station a decade ago, including anchoring the CTV News at Six on the weekends, hosting a weekend radio show on CFRA, and being on the sidelines for the REDBLACKS’ inaugural season. Now, you can catch him on the desk weekdays on News at Noon, News at Five and for weather during News at Six. We caught up with Matt to discuss his journey to broadcasting, his career highlights so far, and his favourite moments off camera, including time with his family, and life in the Capital.
What was life like for you growing up in Thunder Bay? What are some of your favourite childhood memories?
Growing up in Thunder Bay was great. It’s a bigger city than many realize and for the most part, I stayed out of trouble.
I’m the oldest of four kids, so there was lots of family time. We grew up two doors down from my grandparents, with many other aunts, uncles, and cousins around for holidays and special events.
I spent countless nights running around the neighbourhood playing Cops and Robbers and Kick the Can. We spent time at camp (yes, it’s camp in northwestern Ontario, and the cottage in southern and eastern Ontario!) and hit up Intercity Mall, but a lot of my childhood was about sports.
Beyond that, one of my other favourite memories was being in my first musical. My parents took us to a number of national tours in Toronto, starting with Donny Osmond starring as Joseph in ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.’ There were also a number of high school and local shows, but being on stage for the first time was a thrill and led to a number of different opportunities over the years.
Who were some of the broadcasters you looked up to as a kid, what was it about how they performed their job that you admired the most?
I like to tell the story that when I was in kindergarten, I came home crying from the first day of school because I didn’t know who the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were. But my mom was quick to point out that I could’ve told her every score from professional sports the night before, and if there had been any trades. I watched TSN before anything else, including cartoons and Mr. Dressup.
I have vivid memories of watching Jim Van Horne and Michael Landsberg reading some of the first highlight packs on SportsDesk (now SportsCentre). I watched and listened to the legendary Bob Cole, Jim Hughson, Chris Cuthbert and Gord Miller do play-by-play. Sometimes I would mute the TV and try my own commentary and quickly realized how easy they made it look.
I continue to watch Jay Onrait to this day. I remember when he and Dan O’Toole would do and say what I thought were outrageous things on TV, but they worked! It was genuinely funny and felt authentic. I was impacted by their willingness to put themselves out there and be a little ridiculous at points. It’s always important to strike a balance, but bringing personality where I can during the news has helped a lot when it comes to the connection with the audience.
And don’t get me wrong – my mom has always been a news junkie, so Lloyd Robertson and Peter Mansbridge were both regular guests in our family room. It wasn’t until I started to get into the news side of broadcasting that I realized what a privilege it was to have grown up watching them as well.
Do you remember when you decided you wanted to pursue broadcasting as a career?
The day I turned 16, I got to tour the TSN studios in Toronto. My mom taught TSN’s Jennifer Hedger when she was in high school in London, Ontario. Jen helped me with a Careers class project and was kind enough to invite the whole family for a tour when we were all in Toronto. I got to sit at the SportsCentre desk with the lights on and do a quick read-through of the teleprompter. There was also a CFL game on that night, so the TSN panel was in the building. I’ll never forget walking into the studio to see Chris Shultz yelling about a holding call! We got to chat with him, Jock Clime (who had some Thunder Bay connections), Matt Dunnigan and Dave Randorf. It was a surreal experience that certainly lit a spark.
I would say it wasn’t until university at St. Francis Xavier in Antigonish, Nova Scotia that I knew I seriously wanted to pursue broadcasting. StFX was one of the first universities across the country to webcast all of its athletic games. After becoming the Sports Editor for the Xaverian Weekly newspaper, I became the play-by-play voice for just about every sport and I loved it! So I think that experience, along with my love of storytelling and amateur performing career, were enough to lure me into broadcasting. My two years at the College of Sports Media in Toronto solidified those thoughts.
Tell us about your first day at CTV Ottawa, what did it feel like the first time you were live on air? Were you nervous, did it go well?
I remember it well. It was November 28th, 2013. I had just been hired as the weekend weather anchor. Like many first days, there was a bunch of paper work to fill out and I was supposed to be there learning the ropes. In the afternoon editorial meeting (when we got over the stories and lineup for what’s going to be in the evening newscast), it came up that the Rink of Dreams at Ottawa City Hall was opening that day. Without another reporter to send, CTV News at Six producer John Ruttle asked me if I had my skates in the city with me. I told him I did, so he sent me back to my apartment in Sandy Hill to get them and I went live during the 6:00 news. I remember my heart beating out of my chest I was so nervous! But as I’ve learned in the news business and in my own life, there are certain moments when you have to jump head first. So I gave them my best 45 seconds, touched on a few quick points I had learned that afternoon and threw in a little skate towards the camera. It went about as good as it could’ve gone and I remember Graham Richardson texting me right after to congratulate me on a successful first hit!
Who were some of the people there that took you under your wing when you first started? Did anyone give you advice that really had an impact on you?
As I mentioned, being hired as the weekend weather anchor meant that I worked closely with J.J. Clarke in my early days on George St. He was an encyclopaedia of local knowledge and geography for eastern Ontario and western Quebec. Stefan Keyes and I became quick friends and he taught me everything I needed to know, not only in the newsroom but the community of Ottawa as a whole.
As I moved more into news, Graham certainly became someone I leaned on. He has a wealth of experience, having reported nationally and internationally for CTV News and other outlets. He has the ability to cut through the noise and find the crucial pieces of a story, something I found incredibly useful as a young anchor and reporter.
Beyond that, one of the most impactful parts of my broadcasting career so far was working with Evan Solomon. When we launched CTV News at Five in 2017, Evan was hosting the afternoon show on Newstalk 580 CFRA. He would come down to the TV studio every day to record a short hit on the political news of the day, before shooting the breeze with me on a related (or not-so-related) topic. Evan is one of the most well-read, intelligent and positive people I’ve ever met. He could seamlessly transition from talking about world leaders and politics, to asking me about something absurd or comical. He taught me how to be professional about things that mattered to people, but that it was okay to show off some personality at the same time. To this day, it’s one of the segments that people mention the most to me, especially after we do our annual Christmas vs. Hanukkah showdown!
I also wouldn’t be where I am right now without the guidance of CTV Ottawa Executive Producer Joanne Woo. The many long chats that we’ve had over the years have been invaluable on many different levels. She doesn’t like the spotlight, but I can say with full certainty that she has positively influenced a number of broadcasters and people in our industry across the country.
What is the most memorable segment, interview or moment that you’ve had that you will never forget?
Interviewing Ed Sheeran and bringing him a BeaverTail before a show he played at the Canadian Tire Centre is right up there. I also got to talk to Raffi virtually during the pandemic, which was a huge thrill, but overall, I think my experience of covering Disney’s Newsies musical is the most memorable.
A few months before Broadway Across Canada brought the show to Ottawa, I had the opportunity to go to Toronto to shoot with the cast and crew for two days. The access we had was incredible. We got to shoot the real printing press they use in the show, get dressed up as a newsboy and I learned one of the dances from the show (on newspaper no less) from a few of the guys in the cast. As I mentioned, I’m a huge theatre geek, so getting to go behind-the-scenes of a production of this scale was incredible.
To top it off, I was asked if I wanted to do a quick walk on role when the tour came to the National Arts Centre. It was essentially my Broadway debut! My mom and grandma flew down from Thunder Bay to be there for it. There were a ton of butterflies ahead of the performance, but everyone involved made it a great experience. And I didn’t mess up my only line!
Tell us what you love most about being a Father, what you hope your children learn from you… and what makes your wife such a great Mom?
I have to start with my wife, Tricia. For as long as I’ve known her, I knew that she was going to be a great mom, but watching her in action is so special. She’s the most loving, thoughtful, and patient mother. With boys that are 4 and 2, all of those attributes and more are tested daily, but she handles almost every situation with empathy and grace. She loves to be on the boys’ level, playing on the floor or being creative with colouring and drawing, constantly leading with love in everything that she does. I’m in awe of her every single day, not only for the strong mother she is, but how she manages to take care of everything all the time.
Apart from my wife, being a dad is the thing I love most in this world. Our boys are full of that toddler energy and wonder right now, blasting around the house or outside, playing in their own world and sometimes inviting us in. I love experiencing things from their perspective, the pride in watching them learn something new, being there for them when they’re upset or hurt, and the indescribable feeling of hearing
“I love you” from them.
Without much encouragement, our 4-year-old Asher has shown a love for sports. He’s a big Ottawa Senators fan, so we watch the Sens every Saturday night. We also play hockey in the basement or outside (while being sure to sing the national anthems beforehand), as well as playing and watching a number of others like golf and football. It takes me back to being a kid myself and getting to experience it from the other side now is special.
What are some of your favourite local shops or restaurants you like to visit that you would recommend?
We live in the west end (Kanata/Stittsville area) and my wife and I were just talking the other day about how much we love our food spots. Here are a few: Farinella and JoJos are our go-tos for pizza. JoJos is also a favourite for ice cream, along with the Carp Creamery. It’s only open during the summer, but The Original Souvlaki food truck on Stittsville Main St. is incredible! For Chinese food, we make the quick drive to Richmond for Chinon. Also, love Pad Thai and so many other things from Kanata Noodle House!
A few others: have always had a great experience and fantastic food at NeXT in Stittsville, the Ridgerock Brewery in Carp is a favourite for beer, snacks and a hangout on the patio, and Pure Kitchen in Kanata never ceases to amaze with their dishes. For those with families, we love going to the Barley Mow (in case you didn’t know, kids eat free on Sundays and our boys love their food!)
Can I do a couple of others from around the city?? (Can you tell we love our food?!) EVOO in Little Italy is fantastic for authentic Greek food, Duna Bistro in Bells Corners (schnitzel, enough said) and if you haven’t had a donut from Holey Confections, it will literally change your life! Ok I’m done…for now.
Greatest sporting moment you’ve ever seen live or watched?
As a lifelong sports fan, this is hard! Two come to mind immediately. The first is Sidney Crosby scoring the ‘Golden Goal’ for Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. I was supposed to be on a flight from Thunder Bay to Toronto during the gold medal game, but I somehow convinced my mom to pay the change fee for me to take a flight the next day (life of a struggling student). As a result, I was able to watch the goal happen live and lose it celebrating in our living room.
The other happened in October of 1993. I was watching game six of the World Series with my dad. I was sick as a dog, but nothing was going to stop me from watching that game. After the Philadelphia Phillies went ahead in the 7th inning, I told my dad that Joe Carter needed to bat for the Blue Jays. I was 6-years-old at the time and my dad (rightly) dismissed me. In the bottom of the 9th, with two runners on base, Carter came to the plate and hit the infamous walk-off home run that gave Toronto back-to-back World Series titles. I was so excited, I jumped up and down all over my parents’ room, only to have to run to the bathroom a few seconds later.
You do a lot of charity work around the city, why is community service important to you?
It’s something that comes naturally to me. From a young age, I always felt the strong urge and duty to help others. I’m also thankful to my parents for encouraging us to give back to our community in any way that we could.
For me, it ultimately boils down to trying to make the world a better place. I’m fortunate to have this platform and I’m going to do as much good as I can with it. That can mean raising funds for so many of the deserving organizations and groups in this city, volunteering in-person, talking to students and the young people about my experiences, and so much more.
It also doesn’t have to be something that grand. Spreading joy and kindness is something I try to do every day. In fact, it’s the small gestures that can lift people up more. Smiling at people, saying hi to the bus driver or really thanking someone for a service. You’d be amazed at how much those things mean to people and in turn, how much they can impact the community as a whole.
If you could go back in time, and talk to yourself the day you graduated high school while knowing all you know now, what would you tell yourself to better prepare you for what was to come?
There is a great video clip from an actor’s roundtable hosted by The Hollywood Reporter a few years ago. Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Adam Sandler, Jamie Foxx, Adam Driver and Shia LaBeouf are sitting around a table chatting. At one point, Hanks says “this too shall pass.” He goes to explain that when you feel upset or angry about something, this too shall pass. If you feel good, happy, pleased about the way your life is going, this too shall pass. Time is your ally, he says, and sometimes you just have to wait.
That has stuck with me from the first time I watched it. Everyone has ups and downs in their life and I’m no exception. There have been times that it’s been hard to see through the dense fog, knowing that something lies beyond. At the same time, there have also been points when I’ve been on cloud nine and thought that nothing could touch me. So I would tell my 18-year-old self that line, in the hopes that a little more patience and thoughtfulness could aid in many ways.
What is the key to happiness in life?
Firstly, being grateful every day for everything that you have. For a long time, I would find myself looking ahead, asking myself what was next without taking a moment to look around, take a deep breath and enjoy where I’m at. That approach has undoubtedly helped me in my career, but as I get older, I do my absolute best every day to find things to be thankful for. My family, a roof over our heads, a job, great co-workers, running water, a delicious meal, etc. These things can get lost in the hustle and bustle in every day life and the pursuit of all the “stuff” that’s supposed to make us happy, but they are truly the key.
Secondly, do things you love to do, regardless of what anyone thinks. I love musical theatre. I love pickleball (like…really, really enjoy it). I love fun socks. Life is too short to do things for other people or be in a job you don’t really like. I’m aware that sounds like a cliche and it’s not always realistic for someone trying to make ends meet, but there are so many opportunities out there, all you have to do is find them. It doesn’t matter what it is and it doesn’t matter how old you are. We’re living until 100 now, so there’s time to make that change, there’s a chance to take that shot or start a business, especially for something you’re passionate about.
Along those lines and as the final key, I’ll leave you with my favourite quote of all-time and a motto I live by: “Nothing great is ever achieved without enthusiasm.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson