In late July, 200 people crowded onto the showroom floor of a car dealership on Owensboro’s east end. It would be reasonable to assume that the dealership was giving away a brand new car, or at least offering a great discount on a new truck, but neither was true that day.
As a matter of fact, not a single member of the crowd even paid attention to the shiny models in the showroom. Even the dealership’s management and salespeople were distracted from their normal daily duties. So what could cause such a scene on an otherwise mundane Monday at an Owensboro car lot? The answer lies in the basketball-crazed fan base that is the Big Blue Nation.
Anyone that follows college basketball is well aware of the passion of those Kentucky basketball fans. In recent years, KentuckySportsRadio (“KSR”) has become the voice of those fans, and anyone who tunes in to their daily radio show will immediately recognize one of the voices behind the show as that of Ryan Lemond.
On July 21, the team of Lemond and Matt Jones, founder of the radio show and the popular website of the same name, brought KentuckySportsRadio to Don Moore on Highway 54 as part of their 2014 summer tour. Though the broadcast did not begin until 9 a.m. that morning, fans began arriving as early as 8 a.m. to get a seat for the show that bills itself as “University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.”
Lemond, the self-described “doofy sidekick” on the show, does his best to adhere to that motto, and bring the devoted fans a fresh and funny perspective on anything remotely related to UK sports. But just describing him as the “sidekick” doesn’t do justice to Lemond’s contributions to the show, or to his veteran media pedigree.
Growing up across the river, in Otwell, Indiana, and having attended Kentucky Wesleyan College on a baseball scholarship, Lemond is very familiar with the Kentucky athletics scene. After graduating from KWC in 1989, Lemond moved to Lexington, where he covered sports for WLEX-TV for 11 years. His gig as a sports anchor led to a sportstalk radio show on Sunday mornings in Lexington. From there, Lemond also began doing play-by-play announcing for the Lexington Horsemen indoor football team, and game day radio reports for Cincinnati Bengals home games.
Lemond landed with KSR after filling in on several Lexington sportstalk radio shows. Then, after former University of Kentucky basketball player Mark Krebs left his spot as Matt Jones’ co-host to pursue an acting career, Lemond found himself co-hosting KSR full time. As he tells it, “That’s was 3 years ago. Matt just hasn’t found a way to fire me yet, or he just can’t find a way to get rid of me!”
Lemond hasn’t looked back since. “This show has just been a perfect fit for me,” he says. One of the reasons he enjoys his work for KSR is the opportunity to experience and share memorable moments with the fan base. When asked about some of those moments, Lemond recounts “The first thing that comes to mind is after UK won the 2012 title. We had an older man who called in to KSR the next morning and as he began talking, he was in tears as he talked about how happy he was. I love it when older fans call in and share their love and their stories with us and the listeners.”
Lemond also likes to include family stories in the show. He and wife Amanda have three sons, Gavin, Michael, and Josiah, all of whom he proudly says were adopted. Among his other favorite moments on the show are those times when he involves his wife. “She may not like it and it may really embarrass me,” Lemond says, “but it’s usually good radio and really funny.”
In addition to providing listeners with a laundry list of funny moments and plenty of entertainment, Lemond also realizes that the show is a valuable resource for UK fans. Says Lemond, “I think the best part is just being able to allow fans to be connected to UK. Folks in Owensboro or Henderson or other communities may starve for UK news or UK stories. We help them feel connected to their beloved Cats.”
Lemond’s value to the show doesn’t go unnoticed by the fans or by his co-host. According to Jones, “I think Ryan’s great in terms of somebody the fans like and can relate to. He puts his whole personality out on the show. I think people want to know the people they’re listening to, and he comes across as a real person. Ryan’s one of the best people I know. He’s been wonderful to me, and I consider him almost like a big brother. I think listeners realize that about him, and it really comes through on the show. “
In conversation with him, it’s clear that Lemond is enjoying his time with KSR, and appreciates the opportunity to get out and meet the listeners during their summer tour. Lemond also appreciates the chance to come back to Owensboro, where he says no trip would be complete without a trip to Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn. While in town, Lemond also makes it a point to stop by the Big Dipper and take a drive through his old stomping grounds at the KWC campus.
Recently, KSR was ranked as the number 1 radio show in the Louisville market, which, as Jones pointed out during the Owensboro broadcast, “is pretty impressive for a UK show that admittedly hates Louisville.” Part of the credit for the show’s growth in popularity can certainly be accredited to Lemond, who says ““I feel like my main purpose on the show is just make people smile. If I can make them smile or laugh at least once a show, I feel like I’ve done my job.”