There has been a seismic change in the excitement level around Kentucky basketball in the last three months. There are many ways to measure this change, from the number of Calipari Twitterers, to the sales of Witness t-shirts to the inquiries for NBA scout passes to games next year. But for me, this site has been my greatest indication. Since Calipari arrived, the traffic on this site has doubled, both in page views and unique visitors. During the height of Calipari mania, this site received around 275,000 page views a day and approximately 150,000 unique visitors. That number has tempered a bit during the offseason, but there are still significantly more people on here every day in June than there were during the heart of Kentucky football and basketball season last year. Kentucky basketball has enveloped the state again, and this site has been its fortunate benificiary.
However, with that new audience comes a whole new set of people who know very little about this site and its origins. As one woman I met in a restaurant in Pikeville said to me, “how did you end up with that strange looking site?” The answer is both bizarre and ridiculous…and a story we havent told a great deal. Because nothing is going on and I cant write another story about Jodie Meeks for at least a day, I thought I would try something different. So here for the new readers (and the old that like to reminisce) are some Questions and Facts about Kentucky Sports Radio:
How Did This Site Start?
This site started four years ago as the brainchild of Rob Gidel and I, when we were both bored in Lexington, Kentucky. Rob and I both wanted to do more sports media and had decided to create podcasts where we could talk about sports in the comfort of my living room. Our first “radio shows” literally were Rob and I with one headset, and one of us would talk, then pause the computer, hand over the headset and the other would talk. That constitued a “show” and I remember with fondness that 47 people listened to the first one. We needed a place to host the show, and started this blog as a place to house our banter.
What About the Blog?
Because we had read about these “blogs” that were taking over the world, Rob and I decided to write our musings on the site for the times we were not producing terrible commentary. We enlisted Hubby to create a blog in the most basic looking script available (which we still have to this day) and enlisted most of our friends to write on it. Mosley, Tomlin, Turkey Hunter and the Intern joined us initially and we basically used the site to make fun of each other in the most biting ways possible. Those early posts had little to do with “news” and more to do with making fun of Louisville fans, my fear of dogs, Tomlin’s voice, Turkey Hunter’s love of fat chicks, Rob Gidel’s hairgel and whatever else we could come up with. The idea that anyone would take us seriously never even crossed our mind and most time was spent trying to think of things that rhymed with “Sheray.”
You arent on the radio. Why the name “Kentucky Sports Radio”?
Rob and I were not only young and naive…we were also hopeful. We thought if we said we were on the “radio”, people would believe us and put us on the radio…an interesting plan. Because both of us wrote for Kentucky Sports Report at the time, we used the first two words and added the “radio”, as the podcast was loosely affiliated with that site. We quickly moved from doing the podcasts in my room to renting a studio in Shelbyville, Kentucky (the great Main Street Recording Studios) and putting on a show once a week. During that time, we had a wide array of guest and actually thought of ourselves as being on the “radio”, even though we werent. Soon thereafter, the Big EZ invited us for a weekly show on 1570 AM in Louisville, and our radio career got started. While our radio homes have changed, the site has kept its name…and ultimately, it is too late to really change it by now.
How did the Site get big?
Really there are three answers to this question. First, we did something that now we would never be allowed to do. Everyday, I would post a nightly update on all UK news and link it on all the major sites (at that time Cats Pause and Kentucky Sports Report). Over time, fans started coming to our site directly and we gained a small following from these links. Second, like a gift from the heavens, Patrick Patterson and Jai Lucas arrived on the recruiting scene. I met both young men in Indianapolis and got to know both of them and their families fairly well. They gave us many interviews and were regular guests on the blog and radio show, thus exposing us to a wide audience desperate for UK recruiting news. During this time, the site went from a few thousand people a day to 25,000 people a day, a bump that is VERY difficult to make in the internet world.
Then, Tubby left and Billy Clyde came and interest peaked again in Kentucky basketball. Things were rolling, when I went to the Billy Gillispie press conference and asked a question that was on ESPN, all the while sporting possibly the worst looking haircut in history. The ensuing “Matt Jones hair” talk actually fueled the growth of the site and over the next year, our press access (granted due to the 1570 radio show) and the emphasis on increased frequency of posts (going from 1 a day to 10 a day) led the site to blast off to numbers approaching 75,000 unique visitors a day. I thought that was the peak of the site’s potential…and then Calipari came and the rest is history.
Why Does the Server Crash?
We started this site when we honestly believed we might have 50 people on it a day. I still remember the first day we had 500 and Rob and I thought we were the Drudge Report. Because of that, it was designed simply and our WordPress system has had its ups and downs. We still handle traffic well except on days with a big announcement, and the site crashing has almost become symbolic of how big a day it is. We think about fixing it, but then remember that it is hard. This summer may be when it happens…or maybe not.
Who Are All These Writers?:
I am glad you asked…a quick primer:
Rob Gidel: Co-founder of the site…did local radio in Kentucky, then worked for Scout.com, the Lexington Legends and a host of other media outlets. The most professional of anyone associated with KSR, Rob will one day be a star, and we can say we knew him when he did radio shows in my room while stepping over Mountain Dew bottles. Currently lives in Florida and still knows more UK football than anyone.
Matt Jones: Goofball who backed into this site from a law career. From Middlesboro, Kentucky, went to Transy and then Duke Law and now lives in Louisville. Mainly lives to be asked where Jai Lucas is going to college.
Hubby: Rarely seen outside of major tailgates and computer offices, Hubby is the technical genius behind this site. Yes ladies and gentlemen, when you see the 2001 HTML look and the functioning of a site held together by duct tape, you can thank Hubby, who has been here from day one. Seriously, this site is hard to run with the current traffic and Hubby has done a great job over the years of keeping it going, even through tough times.
Intern: Orginally just Rob’s blond friend. He was called the “Intern” because originally I thought he would just do production work on the show. But then he showed the wittiest sense of humor imaginable and became a regular on the site in the early days. Still known around Lexington as “that guy to keep your sorority sister from dating”, Intern now lives in Charleston, South Carolina and we wish he would write more.
Tomlin: A friend from Transylvania, Tomlin is the “guy with the funny voice”, who is without question, the funniest person I know. Great on the radio with his “baseball reports” and fake British accent for interviews with Mike Williams, Tomlin is the comedy rock here. Lives in Cincinnati and will have a baby any day now, which he will immediately trade in for a box set of the tv series “Maude”.
Mosley: Another of the Transylvania group, Mosley consistently tells you everything you need to know about your enemies. From Leslie County and about to head off to Duke Business School (continuing the KSR-Duke connection unfortunately), Mosley has every trick in the trade down. He teaches us about our enemies on Fridays before games and has still refused to look Fake Gimel in the eye. An all around great guy.
Turkey Hunter: The least prolific poster in site history is also the most mysterious. He doesnt use his real name, rarely is seen in public and his identity is a source of message board speculation on all the latest beauty pageant blogs. Turkey has been off for five months but makes his dramatic return this Thursday on the NBA Draft Live blog. In all seriousness, Turkey is part of the Transy crew, probably one of my two best friends and the reason why I have avoided being punched on numerous occasions. He is also the way I know who TRULY is an old-school fan. “Do you know Turkey Hunter?” is my secret question for entrance into the KSR compound…learn the answer.
Bryan the Intern: Every show needs a Jay Mariotti or Skip Bayless to hate, and BTI is ours, but for a lot less money. Bryan got his start here in Louisville as my radio producer and ever since that day has worked on the site (he even sold the Boones Butcher Shop ad!) and provides daily terrible commentary unmatched anywhere else. In all seriousness, we really like Bryan, although I refuse to learn his last name any time soon.
Beisner: Beisner comes to us from Tampa, Florida, where he is currently in the process of gaining a wife, child and chronic depression over the coming months. He was the co-founder of Wildcat Blitz, a site that I saw and thought was good enough to compete with us, so I gained an injunction to shut it down. After complex legal proceedings, Beisner joined this site and has truly been its MVP over the last year. A prolific poster with great wit, he is the only poster on here to do something that got a Billy Clyde thumbs up (the photoshopped pictures). That counts for something….although not much.
Evan Hilbert: The Cooper to Beisner’s Peyton Manning, Evan Hilbert was the other co-founder of Wildcat Blitz and is another valued contributor to the site. Evan lives in Bloomington and is very funny, with a dry sense of humor that everyone loves and BTI doesnt understand. We would love for him to post more but I think he has to be out of town every weekend.
Bomani Jones: My best friend I have never met, Bomani is a radio host in North Carolina that was a regular guest on my old radio show. He became a KSR contributor when he wrote a column for ESPN.com that became fodder for the state’s talk shows. Bomani is by FAR the most popular local radio host in Kentucky and he lives in Raleigh, which says a lot about our local scene. I will meet him for the first time next month, after 3 years of just knowing each other by phone. I hope he isnt nervous.
Fake Gimel: Fake Gimel is an innovator who has brought his writings to FireTubby.com, FireBilly.com and A Sea of Blue, before coming here. He is best known for his tremendous beard, series of posts that I don’t fully understand, a strong refusal to use the bold tags to emphasize a paragraph’s primary point and love of putting awful anime videos on the site. But he is nevertheless a great contributor and eager to help all who ask. I just wish he would once say something that didn’t refer to Lord of the Rings…maybe some day.
Bobby Perry: He played basketball somewhere I think. His cousin is on UK’s team I hear.
Hunter Campbell: The first winner of the “Who Wants to be a Blogger” contest, Hunter goes around the KSR Compound asking that we all call him by the name Ruben Studdard. Hunter’s “Flying Without Wings” was the Haters Ball contest, which he handled masterfully and helped produce Christian Laettner as our most hated nemesis. Hunter can usually be found in a cave in Louisville, but when he is not working late into the night, he is posting here, usually around 5 pm. Say hey to him when you can.
Aarons Blog: We dont know a lot about Aaron. But he works in Michigan, posts links here at 7 pm and generally seems like a nice guy. Just dont get him angry or feed him after midnight.
Dustin Rumbaugh: The professionalism of the site took a big uptick when Dustin joined a bit ago and started to ramp up our basketball recruiting coverage. Dustin is in law school in Northern Kentucky and thus has no social life and can be consumed by high school boys, a la Miley Cyrus. Dustin produces great commentary and is an expert at all things recruiting…just with unfrosted hair. Provider of the best free recruiting info going right now and we are glad to have him.
Jeremy Jarmon: The newest KSR member is also the biggest. Jarmon of course was a star football player at UK and is soon to join the NFL via the Supplemental Draft. Jeremy is a great writer and will provide UK football commentary during the year for the site as he lets us know how the team looks from a player’s perspective. Plus Jeremy can act and has challenged Tomlin to a “Shakespeare-off” this year at the UL tailgate. Be there.
So there you go…a long, but thorough introduction to the KSR site and crew. Print it off and put it on your refrigerator for future use. If you run a local school district and want to include it in your 4th Grade Kentucky History curriculum, feel free. We all need to know where we came from and this is our story.
And tomorrow, we will be back with more on the Doron Lamb visit and other less important news….