“Transylvania helped me find my voice, with professors always encouraging strong discussion in the classroom.”
Kentucky Sports Radio has a reputation for bringing a unique spin to the sports media world. And its founder, Matt Jones ’00, has an even greater reputation for his strong voice that launched the most popular independently run college sports website in the country.
As a political science major at Transylvania, Jones thought he was preparing himself for his planned career in law. What he didn’t know at the time was that the countless lively discussions in class and Transylvania’s emphasis on producing skilled writers were getting him ready for a much different path.
“Transylvania helped me find my voice, with professors always encouraging strong discussion in the classroom,” Jones said. “Political science professors Don Dugi and Jeff Freyman and writing, rhetoric, and communication professor Gary Deaton were all very influential to me. I had a great time at Transylvania.”
Dugi, in particular, took a special interest in Jones, following his path from Transylvania to Duke University School of Law to his first job at a Louisville law firm.
“Don Dugi encouraged me to go to Duke, and then once I went do Duke he encouraged me to apply for a clerkship, which I never thought I’d have the chance to do,” he said. “Then when I told him I was quitting law to do KSR full time, he was encouraging.”
Jones started the website in 2005 with a partner, Rob Gidel, hoping to use it as an online radio show about University of Kentucky sports. The pair did a couple of shows and decided it wasn’t feasible, so he began using the site as a way to keep up with some of his Transylvania friends, including Andrew Jefferson ’04, Chris Mosley ’02, Chris Tomlin ’98, Jason Moore ’01 and Duncan Cavanah ’99. The crew had spread out from Lexington but still had three common bonds—UK sports, Transylvania and making each other laugh.
“Howard Dean had run for president in 2004 and used this notion of blogs as a way to communicate,” Jones said. “So my buddies and I began using the blog just as a way to communicate with each other. There was no notion that it was going to be a popular thing, but within a month we were getting 200 to 300 hits a day, and we thought, ‘Let’s see what we can do with this.’”
Eventually Jones got a radio show at a struggling Louisville station, mostly so he could receive a press pass to UK media events. He forged a relationship with Patrick Patterson, a prized recruit from West Virginia whom fans desperately wanted to commit to Kentucky. Patterson granted him exclusive access to one of the biggest recruiting stories in years, and when he signed with UK in 2007, KSR got 20,000 hits, crashing the site and proving that Jones had arrived as a player in the Kentucky sports media world.
Since then, KSR has exploded, now getting around 230,000 hits per day during the season and as many as 300,000 on big news days.
In addition to running the site, Jones hosts a weekday radio show with 32 affiliates around the state, hosts the pre- and post-game UK call-in shows, does sideline reporting on the basketball radio broadcasts and presents nightly commentary on Lexington CBS affiliate WKYT.