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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Being Here: On the Air, From Out of the Blue

As a career choice, it wasn't hard for Matt Madden to leave Kentucky a year ago.


"I had a crappy job at K mart. No social life to speak of," said Madden, a lanky 25-year-old from a big family in a small Kentucky town. "My life wasn't really going anywhere in Kentucky."


Now, to hear Madden tell it, his life is going somewhere. Fast. In the space of a year, he has gone from being the manager of the fashion department at a K mart in the city of Hazard, Kentucky -- population 20,000 -- to hosting a daily radio show on one of Moscow's most popular radio stations.


When Madden arrived in Moscow last November, it was at the invitation of a Russian friend he had met in 1991 while working as a counselor at a pioneer camp in the Crimea. She invited him to work with her in a one-woman firm providing translators and business services in Moscow.


When business slowed after a few months, Madden looked for work elsewhere, eventually ending up in mid-June in the studios of Radio 101 for a tryout with manager Yury Kostin. "They said, 'Go into this room, speak into the microphone and do your show.' I had never done radio, so I was very, very nervous," said Madden, who went on the air July 25 as the host of a one-hour English-language show called "Good Morning Moscow." "Yury said it was O.K., not good but O.K."


Kostin said Madden's inexperience was a good thing.


"It was important that he had never done a radio show. We wanted something fresh," said Kostin, whose station jockeys for status as Moscow's most popular with Evropa Plus. "We decided to do it with him because he is very energetic and intelligent."


Madden's time slot -- 7 A.M. to 8 A.M. -- had not been popular with advertisers, Kostin said, "because it is very early for Russians," but in the last month, four Russian businesses have expressed an interest in buying time. Kostin said the future of "Good Morning Moscow" looks fairly secure.


From a business standpoint, Radio 101 calculated that adding its first English-language show would increase the number of English-speaking listeners.


Two other locally-produced English-language programs, on Open Radio and Radio Maximum, have gone off the air this year, victims of pressure from advertisers to have Russian-language programming during prime-time hours.


Currently the only other locally produced English-language programming is on Radio 7, where a slick, informative morning show sounds much like those in the United States. By comparison, Madden's one-man show has a low-budget, goofy sound to it.


"I think it comes across that I've never done radio and people like it," said Madden, squinting and tilting his head as he laughed. "I speak really, really bad Russian on the radio, but they love it," he said of his Russian listeners. "One lady called up and said it was so cute. I told her, 'Ma'am, it's not meant to be cute.'"


Madden said he tries to make the show seem as natural as possible.


He added that he tries to give listeners the sensation of being talked to by a friend in the kitchen. Madden stays away from too much news -- "The news is so depressing" -- and instead tells jokes, anecdotes and plays classic rock and roll.