The Matt Mittan Show

Cosmic Koolaid Series - Pt 4: Exploring Matt's Family, Adoption, and Connection Through the Lens of Music

November 02, 2023 Cory Short / Matt Mittan
The Matt Mittan Show
Cosmic Koolaid Series - Pt 4: Exploring Matt's Family, Adoption, and Connection Through the Lens of Music
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Host: Cory Short

Ready for a rollercoaster ride of emotions, music, and personal revelations? Join us as we sit down with Matt Mittan, a man whose life has been shaped by family, adoption, civic engagement and a deep love for music. He takes us on a journey through his unique experiences, sharing stories about his own adoption, his son Aaron, who is now part of the family business, and his youngest son Andrew, who’s still finding his own way. We also chat about his teen stepdaughter Zoe, a rising star across various media platforms.

You're in for a surprise as Matt unfolds his personal journey of tracking down his biological mother, which led to an astonishing revelation - that his father is a legendary singer/songwriter/musician. As we dive deeper, we recount the fascinating tale of validation, perspective and realignment that these discoveries inspired.

But there's more, as we delve into the profound impact of tracing and connecting with one's biological lineage. Matt's encounter with his biological father, their shared faith, and his experiences in the music industry brought about a new understanding of his own life, decisions, and the importance Matt placed on family. Meanwhile, Matt shares his gratitude for the opportunities he's had, emphasizing the power of pursuing dreams and being true to oneself. It's a conversation filled with personal discoveries and inspiring insights you won't want to miss!

Be sure to visit BizRadio.US to discover hundreds more engaging conversations, local events and more.

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Cory Short:

Welcome back to Cosmic Kool-Aid. I am Corey Short. In the booth with me today is Mr Matt Matan, a legendary friend, a guy, father, husband, entrepreneur and just all around badass dude, and a good friend for a long, long time, Big radio personality for almost 30 years in town and political conversationalist we'll call it. Yeah, I think that's fair for a while there, and activist per se, because you don't really stand on one side of the fence but you just make sure everything comes to the surface Is accountability a word. Yeah, instead of activist.

Matt Mittan:

I like it. We'll make it up right now. I was an accountabilityist. I wanted to see accountability. I didn't care what the letter was.

Cory Short:

So does your son want to do the same stuff you do?

Matt Mittan:

Well, he's in the family business my oldest son is. He's grown up around it. Aaron has since the time he was a little toddler, going to station events and grabbing little things here and there at three years old and stuff, and he's currently the production manager for Biz Radio and it was funny he would say the same thing if he's sitting here with you. The first couple of times he tried working for me in my business. It didn't go great and I think that happens with family. And he went off in the army for nine years, served in Afghanistan, got into some dicey stuff over there and he's now a dad. He's made me a grandpa and everything and I think all that life experience and his growth and maturity and his life circumstance, he now feels very comfortable and okay with getting into the family business and he's really good at it, really really good at it. I tell people I'd hire him to be my production manager even if he wasn't my son. He's really good and so it's a lot of fun. We've really enjoyed, really enjoyed being able to work together and communicate more and more as peers in a work environment, which makes it even more fun for the father-son component of it, because we have this shared thing that we have a really good balance and we have good systems in place, a great team that he's a part of and so about Andrew?

Cory Short:

are you going to do this eventually?

Matt Mittan:

Now he'd probably be like I don't even say my name on stuff. He's 17 and he's knock on wood on track to graduate a little bit early. Hopefully, and I'm not sure what he's going to do. He just started playing bass, so maybe he'll be a rocker.

Cory Short:

That's in the family line as well.

Matt Mittan:

Whatever he wants to be. And Zoe too, michelle's daughter, my stepdaughter Zoe. She's very much in the family business because Michelle is too. Michelle is in broadcasting and comedy production and everything. And Zoe has a show she does on Asheville FM Sunday mornings and she's 16. And she also does. She has a lot of online platform stuff like Instagram, tiktok stuff and thousands of followers and all that kind of stuff. So, yeah, it's the family business. We'll see what Andrew decides to do. I'm not sure. He's still kind of in the not my spotlight kind of mode.

Cory Short:

So we've been friends for a long time. So you and I have talked about this, but I don't know how much you've discussed it on air with your audience over the years, but you were in fact, adopted. Tell me about that journey. Tell our audience about that journey.

Matt Mittan:

Yeah, so I knew from before my earliest memories that I was adopted. I said earlier in our conversation, you know, from a very adoption heavy family. There's a culture of adoption that existed within my entire family growing up. So you know, adoption is a very different story for a lot of different people. For me it was one that was always right out front and everyone you know knew about adoption and it just it wasn't an issue. It's just. Like you know, I don't look as much like my grandparents, as you know some of my cousins do, but but what was funny is I actually I look a lot like my mom and dad. You know that raised me and you know, resting in peace for both of them. My mom just passed away this past summer and my dad, you know, several years ago. But you know, being being adopted For me, my journey, I can only speak to my story. I never had to wonder if I was wanted. You know I always was made to feel very special, very intentional addition to the family. You know that my parents had to go out of their way and make the effort to make it happen for me to be able to be adopted and you know so I grew up with that. That shroud of love covering me and my mom in her personality is one of a cheerleader. I could do no wrong in my mom's eyes and any crazy idea or dream that I expressed she was always like of course you can do that, you can do that great. So doing a TV, a syndicated TV show at 16, of course, why wouldn't you? You know going, you know going on, even like during the take stand days and helping to contribute to the, you know, disbarring of the state governor and locking up the speaker of the house for five years in federal prison, and all the things we accomplished, you know, for accountability never was a second thought, you know. But on the flip side of that, there was no one in my family that I could look to. That was like I was nature wise, nurture wise, great fit. But nature wise, music as an example can play anything. I pick up pretty much Very quickly. Yeah, I got an ear for music, playing, play stuff. I have an encyclopedic brain about music. You know I'm a walking, you know jukebox of encyclopedic stuff about music. Other stuff too, not the same as Other stuff too, you know, but music's a huge part of my life as much as breathing is. It's not been. You know, until just recently it's not really been a public front of my personality. It's starting to come out that way more now, but it's always been a huge part of my balance as a human being. No one in my family is musical, nobody. I mean love my parents, but in church on Sunday morning they get singing. It was painful because I can hear pitch and tone and it's like, oh, I felt like the whole congregation would be looking over going who let the seal in the house? You know, you know and so you know. There were elements where I never had a longing like a missing piece of myself. But at the same time there were certain aspects of myself. I was always a very outward personality. I was very, you know. I say I started in media when I was 15, 16 years old, actually even earlier than that. There's videos and pictures on old eight millimeter film of me getting in costume and entertaining the whole family in the center of the living room. I've always been an entertainer personality type. You know, producing and putting on shows in my neighborhood at 10 years old with little light shows and taking my sister's Smurf and Strawberry Shortcake figurines and doing a whole little set and pretending to do a stage show with them and the soundtrack and lights and charging people a dime to come in. I was doing that at 10 years old, you know. So it's always been a part of me. No one in my family that I grew up not extended cousins, aunts, nobody ever came close to touching any of that kind of activity, so that was something that I didn't really have. Any mentors or guidance, you know, from a nature side on that. And so fast forward. You know, one of the things about being adopted is not knowing your medical history, not knowing your biological story and my then wife at the time of 21 years, we had had a number of failed pregnancies and some of them very difficult. And then and you're right, I don't talk about this much, but we lost a son soon after he was born and it was from the same heart developmental issues that it also led to some of the failed late pregnancies you know, so that was really hard and before I could move forward on deciding whether we were gonna try again after the loss of Joshua, it was, you know. It was like I can't move forward on family expansion or even how to plan for my kids growing up and them eventually maybe starting a family, until I know some medical background. And so I sought out my biological history. I sought out my biological parents, you know, and that's a hard thing to do. You know, records are protected and everything, and so, being from Boston, being born in Boston, we put flags on like Google alerts. Anytime there were any cases or news stories or anything about adoption in Massachusetts, we'd get an alert on it. I also went ahead and registered on a bunch of reconnecting websites where you put some general information and it's confidential. But if there's any other people that put their information in that matches from the other side of the coin then there's like a neutral middle ground mediator that could see if it was a match where both parties were seeking things out and none of that had come to any fruition. Then all of a sudden I've got an alert saying that there was a court case in Massachusetts that anyone born between 1968 and the Privacy Act of 1974, they could petition for their original birth records. There was some little gap in the law in Massachusetts and I fell into that. I was born in December of 1970 and so, you know, got the little application thing, sent it off with the $20 to the clerk of the state or whatever. About six weeks later I got an envelope in the mail from the state and I knew that my original birth certificate was in it. It took Corey, it took me three months to open that envelope. I mean, for three months I just stared at that envelope. Every day I'd look at it and go I don't want to open it, not yet. Not yet because think about that for a second the Pandora's Box you could be opening. Yeah, I didn't want to hurt anyone. You know, is it going to cause insecurity with my parents, with my sister, with my cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents? What's it going to do in my birth parents' lives? I don't know if they're still alive. I don't know if people know that there was a kid. I don't know the circumstances of it. You know I don't want to disrupt their lives and everything. But I finally decided to open it up and within seconds, getting on, google had the contact number for my birth mother Within seconds, because I had the birth name, original hometown, date of birth, all that kind of stuff. Boom, had the address and phone number, no matter seconds, oh man. And it took me another few months to make a phone call. I was like what the hell do I say? What do you say? Hey, remember giving me up in 1970? You know. And so I didn't know what to say and so I started I finally a few months later so we're now six months past when I got the envelope and I call and I'm like hey, this is Matt, I live in Asheville, north Carolina. Just give me a call back. My number's blah, blah, blah. And I left it at that, you know. And I didn't because I didn't want to. I didn't know who's hearing the messages, I didn't know what circumstance was. No answer, no callbacks, nothing. So after a couple months of calling every couple of weeks, I knew by the birth certificate that her birthday was the next day and I was like I got to leave something more specific. I would never call this back. Is it a scam? Is it a, you know, a collector of some sort? And so I call back and I was like hey, this is Matt. I live in Asheville. I've called a few times. If I have the right place and I think I do then tomorrow's you know Phyllis's birthday and you wouldn't have known me as Matt. You would have known me as Eric in Boston in 1970. If I have the right place, know that, everything's cool. I just have a few questions, no big deal. Just call me back. If I don't have the right place and this doesn't make any sense, please call me back and let me know. And I walked into the Oteen post office to check my box. As I'm walking back out, phone rings and it was Pennsylvania area code, the number I just called. I got to tell you, matt I, you want to talk about panic moments. I didn't know if I'm going to get chewed out. I didn't know if I'm going to be embraced. I didn't know if I'm going to be told this person's passed away. I didn't know what was going to happen, but I answered it and she goes hi, this is Phyllis. And I said oh, thanks, phyllis, for calling me back. You know, and I didn't know what to say. I'm fumbling through and I'm like you know, yeah, so I don't know if I am calling the right person or not. I think you are. And I was like, okay, well, so you know you would have known me. And I said, yes, I did, and everything. And I'm like, so you ever? She said I am and I've been looking for you for years. And I was like oh my God. I mean, it was just like instantly. There was just this like oh my God. And she got really emotional and when we compared notes, she started looking for me almost instantaneously to the month, without me sharing it. When I started looking for her, it was almost like that nature thing that even though she hadn't raised me, there was a mother thing that knew something had happened. You know, when Joshua passed and I decided to do that and so she had been searching for me and we sat while I sat in the front seat of the family minivan talking on the phone with her until my phone was about dead and I'm like I got to get home. The family probably wonder where I'm at and everything. I said I'll call you when I get home, you know. And we just started a process of we got into a thing where every day we were talking on the phone, getting to know each other, and we got to where we'd take turns. You know like, okay, tonight's my night, I get to ask questions, tomorrow night she's going to ask me questions, and we were just talking and nothing else was coming up other than just getting to know each other, you know, and sharing the stories and catching up on life stuff, and I never got into asking about. You know why was I given up for adoption or anything? Because her reaction just blew me away so much and there was such open energy of curiosity that it became a get to know this person that you have a shared history and DNA with but you don't know.

Cory Short:

Did you ever feel animosity creeping up in you Like no, the way you felt like you wanted to ask your mom how could you do this? No, not at all, because I had such an amazing.

Matt Mittan:

I had such a beautiful, amazing family and and she was just so like I'm so glad to be able to talk to you, tell me about your life, you know, and everything. And it was a beautiful thing. And so it got to a point where it was, you know, I don't know how many weeks into it and and I was like all right, it was my turn. I'm like all right, is there any musical talent in the family? You know, and I shared like what I share with you. And she goes oh, sweetie, don't you know who your father is? And I'm like well, no, it's blank on the birth certificate. And then she's like, well, that's interesting, you know. Basically, it wasn't blank at the time. You know, you do that dog with a new sound like, wait, what you know? And she said she started laughing. She said, well, you know, I played a little bass, I was in some punk bands in the 70s and you know New York, connecticut, massachusetts, everything. But yeah, you know, you didn't get that from me, you got it from your father. I was like, oh well, cool, who is he? And she's like are you sure you want to know? What do you mean, am I sure? Yeah, yeah. I'm curious, you know, and she goes well, it's kind of a big deal, you sure you can handle. I'm like I am on the phone with my biological mother, that I've been talking to you every day for the last however many weeks. You're worried if it might be too much. This is crazy. I mean we're getting to know each other. And so she told me, oh, your father's, doug Gingel. And I was like, okay, doesn't mean anything. And she said, iron butterfly and a God of David, you've heard of it. And I was like, okay, so what does that mean? And she said, well, you know, he's the founder of the band, the writer, organist, singer and everything. That's, that's who your father is. And in that moment I was like, oh, that makes sense Because, being a music encyclopedia, I knew the story of iron butterfly. I knew the story of, you know, their meteoric, meteoric rise and being the first platinum recording arts, not the Beatles, not Elvis, not Rolling Stones. You know it was iron butterfly. And you know, and I knew the whole story of them and bringing Led Zeppelin to the United States. You know Led Zeppelin the only band they ever opened for was Iron Butterfly, on their first tour in the United States. And so I knew all that, and instead of being like, oh, it's cool, I was like, oh, that makes sense, because I had never known where that nature came from in me. And so then began a process of like, well, now I have to go through the whole thing about reaching out to him, and what do I say? You know it was a totally different thing because, like I don't want him to think I'm after anything or you know, oh, I want to, you know, because he was famous or successful or anything. You know, it wasn't about any of that, I didn't care, I was just still trying to find out medical history. But I had also just had this really great dynamic with my biological mother. So of course I was curious about my biological father and you know and that's when I get into the story of learning how I, how I came to be and and you know him you know they were getting ready to go on a European tour and arranging for a couple of dates to play at the garden in Boston so that he could meet with her and they could talk about stuff and make arrangements for apartment and paying for medical bills and all this really sweet stuff. But yeah, there's a whole Michelle's like you got to write it down in a book because the story and like the conspiracy stuff with Atlantic records and how they tried to cover up my birth and lied to him that I wasn't actually his and then he ended up walking away from Iron Butterfly at the height of their success because the music industry. He felt corrupted his soul to where he didn't recognize. You know, looking at how, he, being the son of a preacher, she was also the son of a preacher. You know, they both connected in that way.

Cory Short:

Did you get to connect with him too?

Matt Mittan:

Oh yeah, no no, we, yeah, it's. You know it's great. And and I can't tell the story of where I am in my life now without the impact of connecting with them, because at the height of all my stuff that was going on with Take a Stand I was, I was doing a lot of national stuff and I was kind of being groomed for a national stage show and there was talk about maybe taking over Dr Laura Slash and Drew's slot for Clear Channel nationally, which is now Glenn Beck, that I may be that person. You know that in that slot that Glenn Beck does now, and you know, life got crazy and after the death of my son, I kind of lost my way for a bit, you know, and kind of like I didn't care anymore. It's like what's the point? You know, I try to do things right and I try to be good by people and be honorable and resist all these different temptations and this is what happens. Screw it, I'm going to go out there and I'm going to live the life that I always tried to not live. And there are consequences of that, including divorce and bankruptcy, and you know, but I you know it was funny because I walked away the bankruptcy and everything else happened in the wake of me walking away from all of it. And I walked away from all of it because of getting to know my biological father and sharing his story and the trappings of that kind of scale that I was on a trajectory to reach. I was already seeing the same mistakes and the same consequences that he had experienced in his life. I was already starting to see in mine, and I hadn't even reached that pinnacle yet, and so I made the decision to walk away from it and take a different path. And that's when stuff hit the fan. There were a lot of people that were making a lot of money off of me and me walking away from it did not land well at all and it led to a chain of events and sweeping things and different problems that were in my marriage, even though it was a long-term marriage. Those problems exasperated, became more and more apparent and stuff comes home to roost and it did.

Cory Short:

And it led to divorce.

Matt Mittan:

But in the wake of all that, I remember talking with my father. I always say my mom and my dad are the ones who raised me. My mother and my father are the ones who brought me into this world. That's how I differentiate. When I'm talking to family or friends, I say my mom and my dad, my mother and my father. And I was talking to my father and I was like man. I've lost everything. I just don't know what to do. And he's like nah, you're looking at it all wrong. I'm like no dude, I don't think I am, I don't think I'm looking at it wrong at all. And he's like everything's been washed away. The only things that are left around you right now are the things that really matter. He's like you've got your cornerstones of what you're gonna build going forward and you don't have to question it. The people that are in your life now love you for you, and you don't have to question loyalty. You don't have to question if they have different selfish ambitions to be in your circle, because there's nothing for them to gain other than that they love you and they wanna be there with you. And I was like holy crap, he's right. And I've rebuilt a life since that time around those principles and with the people that have the love and the care unconditionally for me. And that helps me be a better steward of taking care of my garden, my family, my business, my community and, as I, over the last several years, the visibility of community and radio hasn't been as present for me, because taking care of my home garden, my family, has taken up more of that energy, as there's been health challenges or things like that. And so that is the first, most responsibility as a creation to take care of creation right here at the home garden first. And I wouldn't have had those priorities or that clarity or the confidence to stay the course on that path if I had not connected with my biological parents, who my adoptive parents were very supportive of. As a matter of fact, before my dad passed he was so glad that I had built a relationship with my father. He was just. It meant so much to him because he knew he was ill and he knew he was. His days were numbered and he just he told me flat out he was so glad and grateful that I had made that connection with my biological father and that he was able to because he had been a very high profile public person, because he had dealt with corporate media type stuff. He and I kind of like a couple of old war vets. I never reached the level he did, obviously, but the interactions and the temptations and the trappings were the same and he could speak to me in a way that no one else in my life could. You know, like I was saying earlier, there was no one in my life that could relate to the things that I instinctually was doing media wise or public wise or performer wise and so I think I have that perspective now of like the whole nature nurture thing. We have our nature that's within us, and nurture is trying to steer you away from the trappings that are potentially damaging and support the things that could be positive. But the nurture doesn't have to come from the nature, because my parents that raised me did an amazing job with the nurture and it protected my nature. You know, kept me away from the things that were trappings up until they didn't, and that was my own decision. But yeah, it's a beautiful thing and I've tried to impart some of those lessons and those perspectives to my own kids and now that I'm a grandfather, you know it's an exciting thing because growing up I didn't have people that looked like me. Now there's even more people in the world that look exactly like me, you know in both directions. Generationally, I've got people up the tree. I look exactly like my father. You pull up pictures of me and my father, put them side by side age comparison. You can't tell us apart other than the threats you know.

Cory Short:

It's amazing and you'd say the same thing about my boys. We're gonna put that on screen in the edit. You're gonna have to see those pictures.

Matt Mittan:

It's pretty stunning and it's a beautiful thing and now that both my mom, my dad, have passed, and the relationship I have with all my cousins and aunts and uncles and everything is a beautiful thing. But I also have a whole extended family. I've got siblings that are biological nieces and nephews, and my mother and my father are both still alive and I have relationships with them and you know, not all adoption stories end out that way, but mine did and I do not take it for granted.

Cory Short:

That's wonderful man. Thank you for sharing. We're just about out of time here. I wanna give you the opportunity to talk about anything that you want, any questions that you wished. I would have asked you that you want my audience to know about Matt Matan.

Matt Mittan:

I want people to know that we can't do things on our own, we can't do them by ourselves, and that along the way you have a chance to interact with different people that may be there to be a champion for you or a medic or you know, an encouragement, maybe an accountability, maybe a tough love mirror that you need. But also you have the opportunity and we have the obligation to be that to others. You know, and my mom had said something to me at one time when I was going through a challenging time and she was like don't you dare rob other people. If the opportunity to be a blessing to you, don't be selfish, don't take that away from them. And then, when she was sick and on hospice, I got to tell her the same thing. She didn't wanna be a burden to anybody, she didn't wanna trouble people. I'm like don't you dare rob people. You know I used her own words back against her, but for me in my life over the last eight years or so, michelle has been that for me, you know, and vice versa, you know. And so we were friends, michelle Sheve, she and I. We were friends and collaborators for many, many, many years before we became a couple. And so being friends and collaborators and then a couple. That bubble is something that we're very protective of, we're very aware of, but I don't think either of us would exist in the way we do without each other and then reminding each other at times when needed to allow that larger bubble of community to support. You know, and you did that as well. You know you held a fundraiser for her when she needed the organ transplant, you know. And so, whether it's allowing people to help, you, don't rob them of that blessing of being of service to you, but being open and not bashful. If there's an idea you have that you can help and you're great at this, you do this all the time of helping where there's need, that you see around you and it gets back to you know what we've talked about a couple of times in closing, there's two basic categories of humanity and existence today on this planet that I believe there's those that are the empathetic live and let live, but also take care of your own garden your circle expands out to your community from there and others that are seeking to impact or control or influence other people's stuff. By being open to helping others and also allowing others to help you, you fuel this part of humanity. That gets back to our purpose of creation, of being stewards of creation, and so in closing, I would just do I want to encourage that and then also acknowledge Michelle is, she's my rock and I've been taking care of her a lot, with her medical challenges too, but she takes care of me as much as anything else and I think that's I just want to acknowledge that and put it out there and then it goes out from there.

Cory Short:

And shout out to Michelle she's been battling some serious health stuff like a true warrior. And I know, you've been right there on the front lines with her and she's a sweet lady and I'm glad that you two have each other.

Matt Mittan:

Yeah, she's a fighter Anytime. I get whining about something, I just remember. Oh, michelle's been through so much more. You know she's still a positive warrior for service to her community and that's a great inspiration. She runs the is it Slice of Life? Slice of Life Comedy yeah.

Cory Short:

Yeah, and so all the local comedy talent runs through Michelle around here. So Michelle Sheave. Check her out on Facebook and her website.

Matt Mittan:

Yeah, so you can go to sliceoflifecomedycom for that aspect. But then she does other stuff too, like I do. We have our garden, we have our companion plants in the garden. You know, it's kind of how Asheville existence is, and for other people in other regions too. But thank you for what you're doing and continuing to look for avenues to fulfill that gravity you feel in you. And this is where I'm switching over to the mentor thing, if the guy that's known you since you were a teenager is that you know your heart and your spirit are pure for seeking a way to impact positively and, I think, at times even to your own detriment or sacrifice, because you output the service more than you bring it in. But it's a beautiful thing and I just I'm so proud and grateful that over all these years you've continued to look for those ways and those avenues, to be that steward for the skills you've been given, and so yeah, proud of you and I'm glad to be here.

Cory Short:

I appreciate you welcoming me so warmly into that creative space because you did I mean we did that. It started as a fun conversation at laser storm about hey, I'd love to talk on the radio once, let's try it you know, and I don't think I was ever meant to really be on the radio, but I think I'm enjoying this and the different creative outlets that led to this, and you were you made that happen.

Matt Mittan:

That was you so. I'm very, very thankful to you Just keep being you and the ripple effect and the wake you leave behind, your boat of life continues to reach new shores, and that's a beautiful thing. I'm the same to you, sir, thank you.

Cory Short:

Tell your family I said hello and we love them. Well, they'll probably see this, but I love you guys, all you Mataan people and Michelle, so thanks so much for your time, man.

Matt Mittan:

I really really appreciate it.

Cory Short:

We'll do it again in the future. This is Mataan. I'm Corey Short, cosmic Kool-Aid. We'll see you next time.

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