After three straight weeks of travel and 14 tour stops, we finally landed back in Louisville on Sunday afternoon. It has been a pretty amazing three weeks, filled with seeing parts of the state that I had never visited, meeting fans of all types and getting the chance to be a part of some special moments. It may sound simplistic, but after all of the travel, I came back knowing even more what I knew before...there is nothing like the Big Blue Nation. In 14 towns we did our show, from far Western Kentucky to far Eastern Kentucky, and even though we tipped off at 10 am every morning, there were at least 40 people (and in some places over 100 people) at every tour stop. You folks are amazing and I thank everyone for what was an amazing trip that I won't ever forget. As part of the summary of our road ways, a short review of each stop on the KSR Kentucky Highway:
GLASGOW: The first tour stop (which seems like 6 months ago) was in the home of Brandon Stockton and featured not one, but two calls from female KSR/UK fans that were over 90 years old. Ryan Lemond had one of his best Ryan Lemond days, uttering the immortal phrase "its like a fat girl putting on a pair of sexy panties." The crowd was great, the golf was better and the admonition by a local ("there are mostly UK fans here, but the UL fans that are here ain't worth squat") seems to be a universal truth wherever one finds himself.
MORGANTOWN: The Farm Boy Restaurant not only served up good food (if you don't eat the catfish, you are crazy), it also had one of our most boisterous crowds on the tour. It was there that we reunited with the infamous caller who called the postgame show and asked if Brian Long "appreciated" last season. He took his lumps in good spirit and we met Miss Catfish, the beautiful local resident, who stole the hearts of all the listeners. For a county that is the only one in the state without a railroad track, it is still a good place to be.
BOWLING GREEN: Bowling Green saw a trip to the best golf course in the state (Olde Stone) and the KSR return of Kige Ramsey, who showed up live. I was surprised by an appearance by an old college friend (Brian Macy) and we disappointed a couple of onlookers who as UL fans, didn't expect me to spend the day ranting about the Yum Center.
MEDIA DAY: The Joker interview was the most publicized part of Media Day in Lexington, but my highlight was Lonnie Demaree's shirt. The longtime local UK football writer showcased that if one looks hard enough, there still exists unique fashion that can mystify the eye. I havent seen a replica of Lonnie's fashion, but that doesn't mean I am not looking:
COLUMBIA: I never thought I would say that a trip to a Burger King for a radio show would either (a) happen or (b) be enjoyable, but it was! The nicest Burger King in America is in Adair County and a great crowd showed up to hear us yap. We also met Wes Feese, a nice young newspaper reporter who wrote a very complimentary story about us that included my favorite quote in KSR history about the show. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I sure enjoy it,” one woman remarked to Jones during a break. If there has ever been a quote that more sums up what we do, I haven't seen it.
MORGANFIELD: The farthest show away from the studio was in Union County, where Verlie's Restaurant played host to the crew. It was the one trip on the tour for Shannon the Dude and the only stop in which Louisville fans showed up (something we thought would happen more often). They didn't really disrupt however, and sat for a few minutes before getting tired of the UK talk and leaving. As I finished the show, a man came up to me and said, "I listen to you when my wife goes to the bathroom." Either his wife may have medical issues, or he doesn't hear a lot of the show, but either way, I appreciate the support.
MADISONVILLE: The homecoming of Drew Franklin turned into a bit of a technical cluster, as issues getting cell service plagued the first hour of the show. However a great crowd showed up to the Hudson Chrysler Toyota Dealership, and we were treated to the only stop that included doughnuts! This was also the one place where t-shirts were made. I took a few and watched as fans eagerly rushed to get the extras so that they will have something to wash their car in this fall.
MONTICELLO: One of the largest crowds of the tour came out in Wayne County at the Conley Bottom Resort Marina, where fans lined up, boats docked and Ryan Lemond got himself in much trouble with his wife by telling the "Saul Smith" story. Fighting with Saul for a woman is never a good time in any man's life, but Ryan seems to have survived well and thanks to the folks in Monticello egging him on, now we all know about this difficult moment. During the show, a boat filled with beautiful women in bikinis pulled up, looked at us for a few minutes, and then kept going. They are probably fans of Sue Wylie.
JAMESTOWN: Jamestown was the only stop on the tour without a crowd, as we did the show in the local television studios for their public access station. Unfortunately, a number of fans showed up anyway and there was a bit of tension. But it was rectified and we ended up having fun in one of the more beautiful areas of the state, along Lake Cumberland. I will always remember Jamestown for the nice new golf course (The Lake Cumberland Golf Club), the spotty cell phone service and a peaceful evening on the lake yelling back and forth on the phone with Jeff Goodman. Great times.
PAINTSVILLE: I didnt know what to expect in Painstville, as we had only been on live there for three days before arriving for the show. One thing I didn't predict was a local resident stealing two dollars from me at a gas station. When I confronted him and asked if he took it, he said "no", and even though I knew he was lying, I had no retort. Ultimately, one has to realize that there are instances where worrying about a 2 dollar loss with a grizzly man wearing jeans with a blood stain and a t-shirt depicting Dale Earnhardt in heaven standing next to Elvis and John Wayne is probably not the best call. I may look dumb, but I ain't stupid. Plus, we stopped at a gas station in Wolfe County and saw this sign which made me happy. Damn those health regulations!:
SOMERSET: Mr. Gatti's was popping for the KSR crew as we had one of the more eclectic crowds of the trip. I never knew there were so many hard core radio fans in Pulaski County and I think it is fair to say that of all the tour stops, they seem to love the show the most. Especially Mr. Sons of Anarchy below, who sat in the front row and didn't move the entire two hours. My man Sam Crow however was very nice and hopefully can one day impart his sense of fashion on me.
LEXINGTON: We had no idea what to expect in Lexington, as it was our first remote in the city that houses the Cats. Thankfully the Lexington Legends hosted us and we had another great crowd show up to meet the man, the myth, the legend, John Short. Johnny was very excited to be there and was thrilled when he got a loud round of applause from the onlookers. The show also featured Gregg Doyel coming on and saying that all reporters were biased, which was revolutionary to say, only because it was true.
MIDDLESBORO: We made our first trip ever to my hometown, and sat on the rocking chairs at Cracker Barrel in beautiful Bell County. Ryan was mystified by the facts of the 'Boro, specifically that it was created by a meteor and that it sits in a crater. Then when I told him about "Chained Rock" (a rock that sits on top of a mountain held by a chain allegedly to keep it from falling and crushing the city of Pineville), his mind was blown. But the best moment occurred when the regular customers of Cracker Barrel (who looked at us like we were aliens) interacted with the show. One man came up, as serious as he could be, and asked "is there where you sign up for the Army?"
WEST LIBERTY: The best stop was certainly the last, as we took the KSR Tour to West Liberty for one of the best days I have had in a long time. John Calipari joined us and after a great day of interviews and fundraising, the Big Blue Nation rallied to give over $65,000 in donations to the Tornado Recovery fund. It was moving to be a part of, as hundreds of people called in and pledged all different denominations of money. As we heard the figures rise, I was stunned by the generosity of our listeners and what we were all able to do collectively in such a short amount of time. When we had the idea to raise money, I hoped we would get $10,000 and make our real mark in raising awareness to the needs of the community. The awareness certainly came (thanks in large part to the show and mainstream media outlets covering the event...kudos to them), but we also raised a substantial amount of cash as well, which was amazing to see.
And of course, the main reason for that was the appearance of John Calipari. Obviously it was unbelievably generous of him to come and share his time with the community and his donations ($25,000) to the cause. But even more impressive to me was how he dealt with the individuals there. As he spoke on the show and explained his donation, there were many with tears in the crowd. He stayed long enough to sign an autograph for everyone there that wanted one (and there were probably 600 or so people in attendance). He took the time to meet with the local football team before their first game on their newly constructed (after being lost in the tornado) field. It was Calipari at his best, using all of his immeasurable people skills to raise the spirits of the community. It was a joy to see.
We will hopefully have many more great moments over the years on this show and site, but it is hard to imagine many topping Friday. To see what the fans of this site could do while rallying around a cause was exciting and humbling. We thank everyone for donating and remind you that there is still time to contribute at WestLibertyRecovery.com.
pic courtesy of Herald Leader
So now we are back to regular schedule as we are 13 days from beating Louisville. If you missed any of the antics, click on the podcasts below or subscribe on ITunes. Thanks for a great three weeks and being such loyal KSR fans.
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