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But journalists say what angers them most is that KSR writers lift their reporting without credit, a violation of journalism ethics.
A few social media posts about them have been personal and vulgar.Last summer, Jones and sidekicks Ryan Lemond and Drew Franklin spent five weeks doing remote radio broadcasts all over the state.When the tour came to Lexington, hundreds showed up at Whitaker Bank Ballpark to watch them talk.That was during the annual campout of UK fans waiting to get tickets for Big Blue Madness, the official start of basketball practice.Justin Whited of London was one of them, and he was eager to pose for a picture with Jones.It employs two full-time writers, Drew Franklin and Tyler Thompson, who works from her home in Nashville, and a part-time writer, Ally Tucker. When people complain about the blog's frat-boy humor, Jones notes that two of his three paid writers are women. The blog averages more than 150,000 unique visitors a day, with page views ranging from 180,000 up to 220,000 at the height of basketball season, Jones said.
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Love him or hate him, it is hard to ignore Matt Jones, who has built the Kentucky Sports Radio franchise he created eight years ago into a major force in the Big Blue Nation.
As the University of Kentucky men's basketball team prepares for Saturday's annual game against archrival Louisville, huge numbers of UK fans will be reading Kentuckysportsradio.com, which Jones calls the "largest independent sports blog in America." They will come for an entertaining mix of news, commentary, rumor and humor, delivered in what the blog calls "the most ridiculous manner possible." Jones and his staff are constantly posting comments and links to the blog on Twitter.
"They talk about topics we like," he said of the KSR crew. "And he has good guests." Midway through the broadcast, the best possible guest made a surprise appearance: UK Coach John Calipari joined Jones for a few minutes of banter as spectators hung on every word.
"They're funny, too." Jeff Swann, who waited in line for Jones' autograph, said he listens to the show every morning with co-workers at the Ford Motor Co. "Calipari was a huge part of our success," Jones said in an interview, noting that the popularity of his blog and radio show soared between the time Calipari arrived in Kentucky in 2009 and three years later, when he led UK to the NCAA championship.
"Our site exploded as Cal exploded, as the Internet exploded," he said.