In April of 2015 I was loading suitcases preparing to depart on a Disney cruise when I received a phone call from an unknown number. Normally, I don’t answer anonymous calls. But, for some reason I did on this occasion. The caller identified himself as Matt Jones. I have to admit that I kinda laughed when I heard the name. My first response was to ask the dude on the other end of the phone if Elvis was with him and fully expected a comeback about a no-interest credit card with an accompanying free vacation to Nantucket for Shark Week. I had listened to Matt on the radio, but even though we are both hillbillies, we’d never spoken or met. I surely didn’t have his phone number.
After finally being convinced that the caller actually was The Matt Jones, he asked if I’d be interested in writing for Kentucky Sports Radio. His inquiry was totally out of the blue. I wanted to say yes on the spot and I all of a sudden experienced that same butterfly-gut feeling that I had felt many years prior when running into an opposing SEC stadium. But, I had a ship to catch and an unlimited amount of hamburgers to eat at the pool-side Burger Bar. I told him I’d call him back after returning from our sea journey with The Mouse.
Jen and I talked it over while on a snorkeling adventure (I hated snorkeling by the way; way too scared of sharks). I also requested advice from my boss, Major General Tonini. In typical Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Maggard fashion; she told me that she’d unconditionally support me in whatever endeavors I wanted to pursue. She’s the absolute best. I’m so blessed and much like Ryan Lemond; totally outkicked my coverage with that one. We called the KSR founder a week later and agreed to give this writing thing a try. My first article was posted on May 11th, 2015. I re-read that post today. It was God awful; dreadful actually.
One never knows when life-changing opportunities can or will occur. I soon left Frankfort and a career with the Kentucky National Guard for an uncertain media career based off a hunch that I’d enjoy that unsteady racket. Normally a calculated thinker and not known as a risk taker, this decision was atypical for me. I’d been associated with the military in some form or fashion for a couple decades. I was regimented; institutionalized in organizational vocabulary, procedure, and routine. In other words, I was good at my job and content. However, Matt Jones has an inherent capability to bring folks out of their comfort zones in order to challenge them to do more. In this case he did so with me. Like so many others in the media that you’ll likely never know their names, he gave me a chance in the industry. I could never-ever thank him enough for that.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with KSR. We had abundant adventures, laughs, and a few cries. From the KSR Football Podcasts and the madness that ensued, radio remotes, writing, and the Depth Chart Podcast; we had an absolute blast. I’m going to miss it. But more so I’m really going to miss the people I’ve grown to love and respect.
If you’re reading this post, then you are certainly familiar with Ryan “Scoop” Lemond. Here are some KSR scoops for you that I learned over the years:
— I was never given the keys to the website which means that all my posts had to run through the editorial staff before going public. This was not a result from mistrust but based off my genuine inability to figure out the software and computer stuff. So, my posts were written on a Word document and emailed to Tyler Thompson, Drew Franklin, and Nick Roush. They’d review the page, upgrade content, and add pictures (with proper credits—I routinely screwed this portion up) prior to moving the finished product over to the site. So, my posts were actually “Our” posts. Those three folks are beautiful, selfless, caring, wonderful human beings.
— At times I became overly protective of Tyler Thompson on social media. For that, I do not nor will I ever apologize. She’s so incredibly smart and a 5-star editor. The world needs more Tyler Thompsons. We’re better for her being in our lives for four years.
— KSR’s reputation of being organized chaos is completely untrue. “Hubby” (Yes he’s a real person and I’m not sure if I can reveal his real name) and Maria Taustine run a tight ship. Maria is KSR’s business manager and is doing a wonderful job. Matt and Hubby are the owners but Maria is the backbone to recent KSR growth and a delightful person.
(SHAMELESS PLUG-Maria is the point of contact for those interested in advertising with Kentucky Sports Radio.)
— I sincerely love the Versailles’ Kroger and visit my favorite store on a daily basis. I was never a paid advertiser. The daily bubble bath jokes were legit. There’s an art form to selecting the right bath products by the way and they were all purchased at the Versailles Krogers. And, I am a huge fan of old-school rap (no music produced prior to 1990 please). Jared Lorenzen and the gang made fun of me for all these truths. It made for some good laughs. I was blessed to becoming closer with Jared. He’s a true friend and an awesome guy. Love that dude. Much like with Tyler, I’m a little protective of J-Lo. There’s something about throwing a multitude of interceptions that brings former quarterbacks together. Record books are forever. His INT totals will always surpass mine.
— Nick Roush’s podcast intros are as bad in person as they must have sounded when listening to the KSR Football Podcast. They were also unscripted and kept a secret to Drew, Jared, and I until the recording machine turned red. Eye rolls normally followed. Nick is a great kid. Well, not a kid really. He spent 19 years as a UK college student is actually 51 years old. Joking. Love that guy. Nick has a solid football mind. He’ll keep you covered with all things UK Football.
— Kentucky Sports Radio is similar to a military organization. I bet you thought you’d never read those words right? One of a zillion things I loved about the military was the close bonds and family environment that resonated throughout the ranks. Much like the Kentucky National Guard or the United States Army, there is sincere care for all involved within the KSR Brand from the top down. Let me rephrase that, from Matt Jones down. Matt’s heart is as huge as his on-air personality. This trait was on display with his passion towards clean water for Kentucky citizens, supporting teachers, and tornado relief efforts. But these initiatives were public. He’s equally as compassionate in private. On many occasions he and Ryan Lemond would pull me to the side and ask how KSR could be more easily attainable for deployed Kentucky Soldiers and Airmen. They’d often nervously ask me if any of “Our Men and Women” were overseas and if so what could KSR do to make their deployments more bearable. That’s real; not on-air personalities.
This was on full display when my dad was sick and eventually after his death. I called Matt and told him my pops was not doing so well and I needed a week off to take care of him and my momma. Somewhat new to the company, I wasn’t comfortable asking for time off. He said, “take two weeks, or however much time you need.” He continued, “Family is first, never forget that.” And, he meant it. I was with Big Fred when he went Home to be with the Lord. I was with him. The man that taught me how to walk and to throw a curve ball. KSR was not concerned about me previewing the Kentucky defensive backs during that time. They were insistent that I was with my family. Tears…….
The entire Kentucky Sports Radio family made the trip to Corbin to show their respects and to support me and mine. Matt donated $500.00 to the church in my dad’s name. This is hard to type and he’ll probably not be happy I’m sharing this. But what’s he going to do? Fire me? Too late for that Boss. KSR “Gets It.” Nick Roush had a picture of my dad from the 1956 state tournament framed and presented it to the family during the visitation. Drew was in tears as he consoled my sister who is a faithful show listener. That’s family folks. That’s the real KSR.
That same compassionate support came when my college roomie Joey Couch passed away. Drew Franklin, Nick Roush, Tyler Thompson, and Maria Taustine called me about every hour on the hour on the day of the funeral. They didn’t need anything; just checking on me because he understood I was nervous about delivering the eulogy. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. Kentucky Sports Radio may not be constructed with “Blood Kin” (Hillbilly term) but it is a true family.
To KSR Readers and Listeners: THANK YOU
I also want to express our sincere appreciation and love to all those that read our articles and listened to the podcasts. So many KSR fans have been incredibly nice to my family. I hope that you realize how much thought that KSR places on entertaining its audience. Lengthy meetings are held in order to ensure that your needs are met first. You are always their foremost priority. I know you were mine.
From the positive and negative Twitter/website responders; I appreciate both of your thoughts equally. There were continual supporters and those that really didn’t care for me at all (That’s being nice). Again, I appreciated both types and they provided a constant reminder that public opinion is a pendulum shaped by personal opinion. At least I hope that you were entertained. It was never personal; it was always personnel.
Bear Bryant took over the Alabama football team in 1958. When asked why he came to Alabama, he replied, “Momma called. And when Momma calls, you just have to come runnin’.” When Mark Stoops offered this opportunity, I automatically said “yes sir,” and sprinted to the Joe Craft Football Training Center.
I love the University of Kentucky Football Program more than I can properly communicate via an internet post. I believe in the Cats and Mark Stoops all the way down to my bones. This is not a goodbye, but more of a see ya on the other side of sorts. I hope we meet again at Kroger Field.
From me and mine to you and yours….. thank you. Go Cats.