It's the first night of his new radio show, and Thaddeus Matthews is experiencing technical difficulties — specifically, his voice is echoing in his headphones. But the chatty, controversial blogger doesn't seem to mind.
"I love to hear myself talk, so it's really not a problem," Matthews says to the radio audience of Express Yourself, a politically themed show on KWAM 990. "I say so much good stuff."
When Matthews isn't talking, listeners are calling into the show, the on-air version of Matthews' popular political blog, to vent about mayoral candidates, racial tension, and the city's crime rate.
"You've heard that sex sells. Well, controversy does, too," says Matthews.
Long before Matthews began his blog, www.thaddeusmatthews.com, he hosted earlier incarnations of Express Yourself, including segments with sexually explicit content. The show's most recent run was over two years ago on WMQM and dealt with local hot-button topics.
Express Yourself went off the air after Matthews had a disagreement with the station. But lately, the repo man turned political junkie says the radio bug has bitten him again.
"The blog does me well. It's brought a lot of notoriety," Matthews says. "But I miss being able to battle wits with callers."
It's too early to tell if the blog's readers will listen to the radio show. But judging by the heated and often racist anonymous comments left on Matthews' uncensored blog, the call-in show has the potential to be very contentious.
"The comments get very, very racist [on my blog]," says Matthews. "I will allow some of that on the radio, but FCC guidelines will keep me from doing certain things."
Matthews says he allows the racist comments on the blog because he wants "people to be aware that racism still exists."
"We don't live in a perfect world. We have not overcome," says Matthews. "Instead of going up the mountaintop, I think we fell off the side somewhere."
Richard Thompson, a freelance journalist who founded the local media resource blog Mediaverse, believes the racist commenters will be less likely to call the radio show.
"Some people post on his blog because it gives them the option to be anonymous," says Thompson. "They can say anything they want. But when you transfer [to radio], the anonymity won't be there because people will have to identify themselves."
As for the blog, Matthews says it's not going anywhere. He plans to overlap content from both the radio show and online, and he says he'll use the blog to break stories that the mainstream media won't touch.
Express Yourself airs from 9 to 10 p.m. every weeknight.