Surfing’s Narrator

by | Jul 25, 2023 | People, Sports

Matt Perkins’ Surf Shorts podcast collects the stories of recreational surfers for the world to hear.

Surfers and their stories go hand in hand, much like their boards and the waves they ride. It doesn’t matter if you speak with a grom from Surf City or a seasoned veteran from Surfers Paradise, they’re all eager to recount their harrowing crashes and rad rides. In fact, it was a story share that ultimately led Topsail-area resident and longtime surfer Matt Perkins to create the podcast he aptly titled Surf Shorts.

“A few summers ago, some friends and I were at a beach party and within 10 minutes, all three of us had told a really good surf story,” Perkins recalls. “It gave me the idea to collect others’ stories and publish them as a book.”

Surf City NC Matt Perkins

However, as a family man, full-time Topsail High School chemistry and physics teacher and leader of the school’s surf club, he did not have the time to pursue the project right away. While sitting on the idea, he began to listen to podcasts and because he also had experience as a professional DJ and MC, he decided to turn the book into a podcast that would encompass surfing stories from around the globe.

Since there were already a number of surfing podcasts focusing on the pro circuit, he chose to differentiate his show by interviewing recreational surfers.

“The idea was for someone to tell me their best surf story while keeping it short. Hence the name Surf Shorts,” Perkins says.  Interestingly, podcasting is not Perkins’ first foray into storytelling.

Back in the 1990s he recorded amateur surf videos around Wrightsville Beach, and every two years, he aggregated the most recent footage into movies that were shown at Surferpalooza parties.

“It was all very crude – not professional – but every two years, all the surfers and beach people would come into the bar, where they would show it on the big screen,” Perkins says. “So Surf Shorts was a natural fit at this stage of my life and reconnected me with some people.”

Surf Shorts NC Matt Perkins

Listeners to the podcast will recognize a nod to those earlier video days in the Surf Shorts intro: “…the storytelling podcast recorded on VHS and then downloaded to cassette for maximum audio quality. It’s totally radical.”

Since the first episode aired in 2020, Surf Shorts has steadily grown an audience around the world.  “I’m not saying it’s this huge audience because that’s not the case; my audience is moderate,” Perkins qualifies. But he actively works to grow that audience, for both himself and his local advertisers, by sharing weekly clips of the podcast on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. His goal is to grow Surf Shorts to become his primary source of income after he retires from teaching in four years.  Perkins is not willing to grow the podcast at any cost, however.

“I make sure it’s family oriented,” he says. “No cursing; no sexual references. I have four kids, and I’m a teacher. I want to make sure all these kids can listen to it, and that the surf shops can play it in their stores.”

Surf Shorts airs a new episode every Thursday, with occasional bonus episodes throughout the week.

“If Thursday’s is a little shorter than usual, I may put out another one on Sunday,” he says. “And some episodes don’t really fit the mold as surf shorts but are adventure interviews — like the recounting of a death-defying scuba diving incident — so I release them on different days of the week.”

Matt Perkins Surf Shorts NC

Perkins appreciates the local support he is receiving.  “The surfing community is small,” he says. “You don’t think it is because you see it on TV, but it’s a very small, well-connected community. Even locally, everyone tends to know everyone else and supports each other. I’m appreciative of all the community support I’ve received about Surf Shorts, and the opportunity to promote it at local events like the annual Ocean Fest here in Surf City.”
To him, the biggest reward is hearing from listeners about how much they like the podcast.

“It’s all about the stories,” he says.

SURF SHORTS is available on all podcast platforms and at

Two of Perkins’ favorite episodes are “We’ll Always Have Paris” about 1970s Mexico with Jim Skiba (the owner of Sweetwater Surf Shop) and “Jack in the Fog” about big wave surfing in Ocean Beach, California.

Got a story to tell?
Perkins welcomes surfers of all backgrounds and skill levels to share their best surf stories. Email him at and follow him on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and TikTok: @surfshortspodcast

Tips for New Surfers:
“Topsail Beach is really friendly to people learning to surf,” Perkins says. “If you want to learn to surf, come on.” But he does offer the following advice:
• Stay away from the piers.
• Don’t paddle out to the crowd.
• Look at the cameras before you come.
• Start meeting people.
• Connect with the Topsail Island Longboard Association.
Topsail Island Long Board Association
The nonprofit Topsail Island Long Board Association (TILA) brings together people of all backgrounds to celebrate surfing, the island and the ocean. Through monthly meetings, Monday morning beach cleanups, scholarships for local students and other beach and ocean-based events, TILA fosters a welcoming community while giving back to the island and the environment. Guests are welcome at their monthly meetings, held on the third Tuesdays at 6 pm at The Peak Taphouse & Kitchen. See more at

Photography by Vicky Oliver

About the author

Dalene Bickel

Dalene Bickel

I am a freelance writer and founder of Lasting Legacies (, where I serve as a biographer, nonfiction book coach and legacy speaker. I am the author of The One-Year Collection of Weekly Writing Prompts, have co-authored multiple autobiographies and have contributed to anthologies, local magazines and online publications. A resident of Hampstead for more than 20 years, I enjoy spending time at the beach, reading and sipping java at area coffee shops. I am a history buff who enjoys discovering the stories of the past (both near and far) while also appreciating the amazing opportunities of the present. Life is truly an adventure, full of people and experiences worth writing about! Follow me on Facebook at LastingLegaciesBios.