Wildcats on the web
From fan to accidental journalist: Kentucky Sports Radio's Matt Jones talks toCultureMap about his first Final Four
Matt Jones used to be a lawyer. A Duke-educated one, at that. But he gave that all up to run a website: KentuckySportsRadio.com.
He knows the name's misleading, and he knows the site's a little . . . outdated, but it's working for him. Launched in September 2005 as a means for college cohorts from Transylvania University to keep in touch, KSR is now the largest college sports site in America, and it's landed Jones daily TV and radio programs as well as a writing gig with CBS Sports.
Still, he says he's no journalist. "Events like these crack me up," Jones says of the massive media at Reliant Stadium. "I'm not like these people."
He's certainly not objective. Jones calls his UK fandom "obsessive," despite the fact that neither he nor any of the blog's founders actually attended the University of Kentucky.
But the site's transparent bias is one of its draws, Jones says. "It's about the fan perspective. We want UK to win in an obvious way."
Until recently, growth was gradual. Initially launched to host a makeshift pop culture podcast under the guise of UK sports reporting, the group's written posts became increasingly popular on the UK campus. Then, when Patrick Patterson (now a Houston Rocket) played for UK, he preferred to do his interviews with KSR, which gave the site more visibility.
"I really never thought anyone would read it," Jones says earnestly. "In the beginning, it was almost like an email chain."
The original group of friends are all still involved to varying degrees, but Jones' involvement led him to quit practicing law a year ago to focus full-time on the site and its offshoots. That doesn't mean sleek-ifying the website, however, which looks almost exactly as it did nearly six years ago, with a single stream of posts and an ultra-plain palette.
"It's very simplistic," Jones says of the website. "Could it look better? I guess. But at this point, what's the point?"
If Jones didn't expect UK to be here (and he didn't), he certainly didn't expect he would find himself here. "A year ago, I was practicing law and doing the website on the side. Now it generates a living, and I have a daily TV and radio show and a staff," he says. "A year ago, I would've said, 'This is as big as it's going to get.'"
As for what's next, Jones has two goals. The first is to make KSR the biggest media forum in the state of Kentucky. The second is to find a girlfriend who doesn't like sports.
"Now that I do so much, [my fandom] is almost less obsessive. I crave a conversation not about sports."
Ladies — He's cute, and he's here through Tuesday.