Known to his Wichita Eagle readers as Keeper of the Plans, Matt Riedl is making new plans for himself with his recent move to Arlington, Virginia.
Riedl, a 2015 Newman graduate, said goodbye Aug. 2 to the Eagle where he covered primarily arts and entertainment and is looking forward to his new career as a multimedia producer for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.
He attended Catholic school from grade school through college and always felt like he wanted to give back for all that was given to him and his wife, Newman alumna Sydney (Daigle) ‘17, through their Catholic education.
“We’re so excited about this new opportunity,” said Riedl. “It’s a chance to really make a difference in the faith lives of more than 600,000 Catholics in the Arlington Diocese.
“Sydney and I both attended Catholic schools our whole life, and we’re really looking at this as an opportunity to repay some of what was invested in us for so many years by so many in our Catholic Diocese of Wichita.”
At the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Riedl will oversee a brand new studio that the diocese installed earlier this year and will produce videos, podcasts, audio stories and various other media projects. He will also be going out into the field around the diocese and helping the diocese newspaper, the Arlington Catholic Herald, by doing videos and various other projects.
“It’s sort of a mix of what I did at the Eagle but with a little more focus on multimedia, more so than just writing,” Riedl said.
Riedl attributes much of his success to the experiences he had and the people he met while at Newman.
“My professor at Newman, Denise Neil, as advisor of the Vantage, was really instrumental for me to get my first job out of college at The Wichita Eagle,” he said. “She has been sort of a mentor for me even after I’ve graduated. We’re kind of like two peas in a pod. She, in particular, has been a great help in getting me to this point.”
After graduating from Newman in 2015, Riedl said he had incredible experiences at The Wichita Eagle.
“In my time at the Eagle, I’ve interviewed celebrities and CEOs, dove in a shark tank and fired grenade launchers at an exotic gun range,” he said. “When Hurricane Matthew hit three years ago, McClatchy (the Eagle’s parent company) sent me to Hilton Head Island to report on cleanup efforts.”
Riedl said he will dearly miss the way he was able to connect with the Wichita community.
“What I’ve loved most is creating the whole Keeper of the Plans beat, which I tried to use to shine a bright spotlight on Wichita’s thriving arts scene,” he said. “I loved meeting the artists and creatives of Wichita, writing about Final Fridays and all the quirky art projects people dream up. I also loved meeting scores of uber-talented Broadway stars with Music Theatre Wichita in the summers.”
Though Riedl will miss Wichita, he said he is excited for all of the opportunities Arlington will afford him, his wife and their 6-month-old son, Henry.
“Sydney was totally on board with it from Day One when I told her about the possibility of this happening, and I think both of us are just looking forward to the fresh start,” he said. “It’s scary, for sure, to pack up everything that you own and everything you know and to move to a place where you don’t know a whole bunch of people, but we think it will be a good opportunity for us to grow in our relationship and as parents to Henry.”
Pegging himself as a history buff, Riedl is excited to explore a different American experience and to share that with Henry.
“Everyone says that northern Virginia is one of the best places in the country to raise a child. It’s expensive, but there are so many things to do with kids out here and so many historical sites,” he said. “Being out here where the history dates back to the 1600s is super cool for me. In Wichita, history goes back to (something) like the 1870s, but here you can walk through George Washington’s house and see battlegrounds and all sorts of cool historical sites. We’re excited to raise Henry in that sort of environment.”
Riedl said that no matter what, Wichita will hold a special place in his heart.
“Just because we moved out here isn’t like an indictment of Wichita or anything. I think that Wichita is a great place still and it affords you a lot of opportunities to start a career and to start building those connections,” he said. “Wichita is a great town and we do miss it.”
Riedl, who was heavily involved in Chorale and Troubadours during his time at Newman, said he will miss the musical connections that he has made as well.
“I’ll miss singing with my barbershop quartet, the Kings of the Tone Age, and the SmorgasChorus, both of which have brought me joy over the last few years,” he said.
Though it is going to be challenging to be away from Wichita, Riedl said that he will make time to come back.
“I’ll certainly miss all of the friends and family that Sydney and I both have back in Wichita. I grew up there and Sydney spent most of her life in Wichita, so it’s going to be tough for us to be away from all the people that we are really close with, but luckily we are not going to be gone forever,” he said. “We are planning visits back to Wichita to see family and friends and of course, there’s FaceTime, too.”
Riedl said that it was his experiences at Newman that set him on his path.
“Newman, in general, was a really formative experience. It taught me that when you follow the Golden Rule, when you treat people how you want to be treated, then good things will come to you,” he said. “I suppose that is what is happening for me now.”