Political Science Spotlight
Matt Jones: Turning UK Coverage Upside Down
“Transylvania helped me find my voice, with professors always encouraging strong discussion in the classroom.”
Kentuckysportsradio.com may not look like a media powerhouse, but the site, founded by Matt Jones ’00, is one of the most popular independently run college sports websites in the country.
Jones, a political science major who earned a J.D. from Duke University Law School, started the website as an online radio show in 2005. He did a couple of shows and decided it wasn’t feasible, so he began using KSR 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—Transylvania, University of Kentucky sports, 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.’”
Jones had gotten 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 Kentucky in May 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 175,000 hits per day during the season, and as many as 250,000 on big news days. Jones has added to his popularity with a statewide weekday radio show based in Louisville. In 2010, he left the law firm he opened with his partner to focus full time on KSR.
Jones said his Transylvania professors helped him develop his own voice. In particular, political science professor Don Dugi was a big influence on him, following his career and offering help and encouragement the whole way.
“Don Dugi encouraged me to go to Duke, and then once I went to Duke he encouraged me to apply for a clerkship, which I never would have thought I’d have the chance to do,” he said. “When I told him I was thinking about quitting law to do this, he was encouraging then. Political science professor Jeff Freyman and Gary Deaton, program director for writing, rhetoric, and communication, were both very influential as well. I had a great time at Transylvania.”