Ryan Lemond marvels about how far he has come when he returns to his hometown of Otwell, IN, population 434. “We had a post office, an elementary school and a gas station. That’s it,” Lemond recalled.
His dad coached basketball for the one and only high school in town. Lemond remembers going to the gym with his dad from the time he was able to walk. “I couldn’t wait for the day I could play for him,” he said.
Lemond played ball for his dad for three years in high school, but even before that, there was another talent he was perfecting back home, on the 1970s shag carpet with his baseball card collection: he’d stack the cards in the fibers of the thick carpet and let the gift of gab take over.
“My mom will tell ya, I was doing my play by play the entire time,” he said. His mom would also hear him announcing in his room while shooting hoops with his Nerf basketball. “She knew long before I did that I was going to get into broadcasting,” Lemond said.
Lemond played baseball in college at Kentucky Wesleyan in Owensboro. It was during that time he picked up an internship at a TV station. “That’s where I got the bug,” he said. “That’s where I knew what I wanted to do.”
After graduation, Lemond’s career took off. First stop, a TV station in Owensboro where he spent one year. Then he moved on to Evansville, IN where he was on air for six years. Lemond moved to Lexington in 1996 when he was hired by LEX18. He spent the next 12 years anchoring and reporting for the sports department. The first four years are some of his most memorable. “That four-year stretch I could not believe how lucky I was to be there at that time. It was awesome,” he said.
Three months after he moved here, UK won the basketball championship. Three months later, the Olympic torch relay passed through Kentucky and he got to carry the torch on one leg of the trip. The next year Kentucky was back at the Final Four. The following year, another championship. Lemond was there for it all. He thought, “Wow! How awesome is that!”
As exciting as the career was, it was a delicate balance with his family. Lemond and his wife, Amanda, have three sons. Gavin, their oldest is 20. Michael is 15 and Josiah is 11–he plays basketball, baseball, and football.
A simple question at the dinner table one night changed Lemond’s career path. His then nine-year-old son asked Ryan if he was going to miss another one of his games. That’s when it clicked. “Something happened to me at that moment,” he recalled. “I said, ‘no, I am not’.”
Lemond left LEX18 and got his real estate license so he could have a career with more flexibility. One problem: his epiphany happened in ‘07 when the market was starting to crash. “It was rough a couple years,” he said. So, he picked up some radio work on the side to supplement his income.
Eleven years later, Lemond is on the air five days a week, co-hosting Kentucky Sports Radio with Matt Jones from 10am-noon. “We’re not really a sports show. We are really more of an entertainment show.
“It’s perfect. I put my radio hat on in the morning, take it off at noon and put my realtor hat on...”
We are more like a couple of guys sitting around, having a beer and talking about what we normally talk about,” he said.
It’s a caller-driven show with an informal, open conversation. They open up the mics and the phone lines and typically have no idea where it will take them. Social media also allows even more listeners to interact. “I don’t know why it has taken off like it has, but I thank my lucky stars every day,” he said.
Radio allows Lemond to stay close to the world of sports he loves. Real estate supports the family. “It’s perfect. I put my radio hat on in the morning, take it off at noon and put my realtor hat on and do my realtor stuff the rest of the day. I am still free to go to all my boy’s games, all my boy’s practices. I didn’t want to miss being a dad,” he said.
It’s the best of both worlds. “Radio is great. You don’t have to take a shower. You don’t have to comb your hair. You can put on sweatpants, a hoodie and a hat and go,” he said.
Lemond has one more “sideline gig”. You will see him on the air during high school football season on WKYT reporting from the game of the week as well as see his sports stories right here in TOPS.
Lemond admits he’s been lucky. “God has blessed me to be able to be a family man and still support my family with these two careers I’m in,” he said. “I’m happy.”•