Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones has been on a roll.
Following interviews with dueling Senate candidates Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes last year, KSR became a must-stop for candidates looking to reach a different audience.
Most recently, Presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called in to talk football and Donald Trump.
For the most part, KSR is a straightforward talk radio show. It’s just Jones, 37, and his co-host Ryan Lemond chatting about UK sports in obsessive detail. Jones usually records in Louisville. Lemond in Lexington. The show, which is also produced by Shannon “the dude” Grisby, takes calls from listeners. The hosts joke around. No bells. No whistles.
Interviews with big names in state and national politics are becoming a common feature of the two-hour show. And even Jones himself is emerging as a political figure. At the moment, Jones is considering a run for Congress that would pit him against Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Barr. A run would require him to move from Louisville to the district, which includes Lexington.
This year, Jones emceed the speeches at the state’s biggest political event, the Fancy Farm Picnic. He also hosted a Republican gubernatorial primary debate and this week KSR aired a debate of the three gubernatorial hopefuls in the November general election.
There are a couple of reasons for all of this. One is Jones himself. He said his role as a sports host gives him the ability to approach politics from a different perspective.
“I’m able to ask things that others can’t,” he said. “I am able to sort of pull the curtain back in a way that other people won’t or feel like they can’t.”
Jones also doesn’t flinch in telling his audience where he’s coming from. He said it hasn’t hurt his ability to weigh in on issues.
“I’ve gone on air and said I lean liberal in a state that leans conservative,” Jones explained. “That I am a Democrat. And yet the Republican party asked me to host a debate.”
With this approach, Jones and the show have garnered a big following. On the air for just five years, KSR is now carried on 37 different affiliates across the Bluegrass State.
Lemond, Jones’ co-host for the past four years, said the show’s recent foray into politics has actually helped grow its audience, which is something he didn’t expect.
“It is kind of odd that as a sports show we dabble into the political realm, but it’s what affects all of us,” he said. “I think Matt is trying to bond that bridge so to speak.
Read the rest of the article by visiting WFPL.org where it was originally published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at [email protected].
Greg Papa: ‘These Are Rough Times’ After KNBR Cuts
“Murph, I’ve known forever, going back to the A’s days. These are rough times. Things change.”
Late Wednesday, it was unveiled that KNBR had undergone a series of cost-cutting measures that eliminated the jobs of morning co-host Paul McCaffrey and evening host F.P. Santangelo. KNBR midday host Greg Papa reflected on the changes Thursday morning.
To open Papa and Lund, Greg Papa took the opportunity to address the elephant in the room.
“With Murph and Mac, and Pauly, I’ve been on with them every Friday since I started working with the Niners in 2019, and we hardly ever talked football,” Papa said. “It was always about other things and coming to the studio and getting to know them. Murph, I’ve known forever, going back to the A’s days. These are rough times. Things change. Look at what’s going on with the RSNs in the country. Certainly, terrestrial radio is feeling the brunt of it for a number of factors.”
John Lund agreed, calling McCaffrey “one of my favorites”.
Fill-in host Deiter Kurtenbach hosted the morning show Thursday in place of Brian Murphy. Papa joked that the fill-in host needed a better understanding of radio if he’s going to have the job full-time.
“For Deiter, if you’re going to be on in the morning, you gotta get on the clock better. We can’t start at 10:08 AM. You get a false start right away.”
It is unclear what Murphy’s role with KNBR will be going forward. The station has removed him from its website, and he has yet to comment publicly about his future. Kurtenbach said this morning he would host the morning timeslot for the remainder of the week.
NASCAR President ‘Can’t Overstate’ Importance of New TV Deal
“Everyone talks about getting younger and we’re no different…We have, but we have to keep going…”
Yesterday, NASCAR announced a new television deal with 10 races split between new partners Amazon Prime Video and TNT. NASCAR President Steve Phelps says you can’t overstate the importance of new partnerships.
In an interview with Sports Business Journal, Phelps admitted the agreements with TNT — and it’s Max streaming service — and Amazon Prime Video are focused on reaching a younger audience.
“I don’t think you can overstate how important it is,” Phelps said. “Everyone talks about getting younger and we’re no different. Have we had success over the last three years getting younger and more diverse? We have, but we have to keep going and we have to meet those potential fans where they are, whether that’s our Netflix show that’s going to come out early next year or what’s going to happen with here.
“Amazon is going to do some different content-related things going into 2025 and … our expectation is Warner Bros. Discovery is going to plug us into Bleacher Report, House of Highlights, and other channels that will start to promote NASCAR. Because, honestly, we haven’t had a lot of that. Now they’re a partner and see us as a partner and there’s going to be a mandate to promoting NASCAR, and that to me is really important and it speaks to the changing landscape of where media consumption is going specifically.”
Phelps continued by saying it was “one of the most important, if not the most important” contracts of his career, noting that the new deal was about more than just money.
“It was critical – even past dollars. Are they important? Of course, but it’s really about having these distribution outlets that are just incredible. The reach these five companies have is incredible.”
SiriusXM and MLB Sign Extension Through 2028
“We’re very proud to continue Baseball’s rich history of reaching fans through their radios.”
SiriusXM and Major League Baseball have announced an extension of their partnership that goes through the 2028 MLB season.
Every MLB game will remain available to SiriusXM subscribers on their car radios and in the SiriusXM app. The new deal also ensures that MLB Network Radio will continue through the 2028 season.
“We’re very proud to continue Baseball’s rich history of reaching fans through their radios. Today, we’re delivering those fans the sounds of the game through SiriusXM’s state-of-the-art platforms in the car and on the SiriusXM app,” said SiriusXM President and Chief Content Officer Scott Greenstein.
“Being able to hear their team’s announcers is important to fans, and no matter where you are listening from across North America, you’ll get access to every team’s broadcast for every game on SiriusXM. Couple this with the best daily talk and analysis of the game on the MLB Network Radio channel and SiriusXM is a must-have for baseball fans, and will be for years to come.”
The new agreement continues the relationship between SiriusXM and MLB that dates back to the 2005 season.
“The collection of MLB game presentations and content that has developed through our extended relationship with SiriusXM has been a powerful asset in making our game more accessible to fans wherever they are,” said MLB Executive Vice President of Media & Business Development Kenny Gersh.
“The sounds of Baseball are an important part of our story and we’re proud to continue to work with SiriusXM as they advance and grow the MLB streaming experience for fans on their platforms.”