You know Matt Jones.
You may not know Matt Jones personally, but if you’re a member of the BBN, you know the guy. Kentucky Sports Radio has become an essential news source for Kentucky fans. You can catch him on his WLEX show, Hey Kentucky! And you’ve probably seen him around town, cheering on the Cats and catching the latest sports scoop.
While loving sports full time may sound like a dream job, there’s a little more to it than that. We caught up with Matt to learn how he makes it all happen.
TOPS: How did Kentucky Sports Radio get started?
Matt Jones: The website got started 12 years ago, as a hobby that I was doing while I was practicing law. At that time, it was just a way for my friends and I to communicate with each other and over time, it slowly grew. I only had a little radio experience when I was given a morning show 7 years ago. From there, Kentucky Sports Radio took off.
Why do you think Kentucky Sports Radio gained such a following?
MJ: I think the website and the radio show gained a following by making it fan centric: Basically talking about what fans specifically want. I think journalists sometimes fall into a trap of writing for other journalists instead of for the fans. We have always tried to be connected to our listeners and have made sure that everything we do was fan first. I think that people really gravitated to that. We are seeing that media is a lot more fan centric, but it didn’t use to be that way.
TOPS: What’s a typical workday like for you?
MJ: I get up relatively late because I stay up really late. I do radio from ten to noon, sometimes in Lexington and sometimes in Louisville. I spend a lot of the afternoon working on my website or meeting with advertisers. Then I get to the TV station around 2pm. My staff already has the show planned. We talk about the content and make any adjustments if needed. We tape the Hey Kentucky! at about 4:30. I cover the games at night. It can be a pretty full day, especially during the season.
TOPS: Your show on WLEX, Hey Kentucky! has made a huge splash. How has working on television been different?
MJ: Television is a lot more produced compared to the way I do radio. There are a lot more people involved. You have a camera man, producers and directors. With radio, you can just sit down and talk. It’s a bigger production, but I really enjoy it. Radio and TV require completely different skill sets. At this point, I really know how to do radio, but I’m still learning television. It is not a natural skill, at least for me, and hopefully I have gotten better in the last year!
TOPS: What is the best part about doing the many things you do?
MJ: The best part of my job is interacting with fans. That is the one part I enjoy the most and I love seeing the impact we make on people. If you listen to the radio show, then you have a good notion of who I am as a person, but I will say that the television show might be the thing that I am enjoying the most on a day to day basis.
TOPS: What is the most challenging part?
MJ: I did the TV show in large part because it was something new. Not just the medium, but also the topics. The television show gets into news, politics, entertainment. In the first 8 minutes of the show, we will talk about everything from pensions, lawsuits, Tom Jurich and Confederate Statues that are being taken down. Diversity in the show is something that I really enjoy, but it is challenging to keep up with everything. I’ve always been interested in a variety of topics but back when I did radio only, you only had to pay attention to sports. The television show makes me focus on Kentucky news in a way that I have never really done before.
TOPS: Do you have any tips for aspiring sports bloggers?
MJ: I think the key to getting into media is to figure out the media forms because they change all the time. When I started, the idea of social media didn’t exist and podcasting as a career was insane to even think about. But the people who have succeeded are the people who have adopted to the new mediums. Also, figure out what you are good at. Not everyone is good at everything and I think people make mistakes when they get away from what they are good at. When you find out what that is, pursue it. You also have to learn how to market yourself. Marketing is a huge part of being a journalist now. 10 years ago, nobody would have ever thought that way.
TOPS: What do you hope you’ll be doing in 10 years?
MJ: I hope I am doing something interesting. I don’t know if it will be KSR, TV or even media. I just want to be doing something that keeps me fascinated. If you had asked me this ten years ago, I would have said I’d still be a lawyer.
TOPS: … and in 10 years, how many NCAA titles will the Cats have?
MJ: That’s a good question. They have eight now, so I’ll say in 10 years they will have 10.
TOPS: Which Kentucky player are you most excited to see perform this year, and what can we expect from them?
MJ: Probably Diallo, because I think he will be the most fun to watch. He is an athletic freak of nature. This is going to be a fun team to watch over all. It is going to take them awhile. This is a team that will not be great right off the bat, but I think they are going to be fun to watch. •