Like most college programs, UK’s journalism program requires you to complete one internship program before you’re handed a diploma. Since KSR has been taken out of the equation by my esteemed professors, I decided to venture into the Louisville airwaves this Summer with Tony Vanetti and Dave Jennings on the Afternoon Underdogs. The highest rated afternoon sports talk show talked way too much about UofL, so I was happy to become the BBN’s representative in my first regular radio role.
They say keep your friends close, and keep your enemies closer. I got as close as you can get, without hiding my Big Blue pride.
Radio is Harder than You Think
Matt and Ryan make things look easy, but talking on the radio is a lot more than just talking sports. Not only do you have to know what to say, you have to learn how to say things and when to do so. No matter how ignorant a Cardinal comment might seem, it doesn’t come across if you’re trying to shout over them. The little things make a huge difference as well: when to laugh, when to raise your voice, pausing for effect, or when to make a crude joke. Even if you think you’ve got it all figured out, you can always be thrown off guard when somebody starts talking about “walking in” on your parents.
Stirring the L1C4 Pot is Too Easy
It took less than a week for someone to call in and scream at me. It was almost too easy.
During Deflategate talks, Tony took a cynical point of view, “Football is all about winning at all costs. Morals don’t matter anymore, it’s all about winning.” I came in with the quick quip, “That explains why Louisville hired Bobby Petrino.”
An angry L1C4-er came in hot, “THEY DIDN’T HIRE HIM TO BE A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR!” was the main point of his one-minute tirade. I let him diffuse before I replied, “Jurich should probably think about hiring a marriage counselor.”
It was the first of many milestones I accomplished, along with J-Rock finishing a call with, “Nick Roush SUCKS!”
Remote Shows are a Different Kind of Beast
I never understood why it could be so difficult to pull off a good remote show because it’s the same show, just at a different location. Boy was I wrong. The Underdogs normally don’t pull of a KSR remote crowd (because frankly nobody does), so sitting in a car lot or at a grocery store’s meat sale was no big deal. In fact, it was more fun to go be poolside at the Body Shapes Medical Compound than sitting inside the frigid iHeart Studios. It was great, until the crowds grew.
My ultimate epiphany occurred at the Oldham County Aquatic Center. I was assigned to interview some kids who were regular pool-goers, discovering that most were extremely intelligent, because they were in fact, UK fans. My main man Will was awesome, so I decided to hop into the pool with him during the next commercial break. When my time was running out, he grabbed me before I left and asked, “Has anyone ever asked for your autograph?” I replied, “I guess I have now.”
You don’t realize the impact the radio can have on others. He was just happy he got to hang out with the big UK fan holding the mic. It’s incomparable to the “fame” of Matt and Ryan, yet after every show, they stay and talk to every person that wants to grab their ear, if only for a few seconds. They get thanked often, but they deserve a tip of the cap for being courteous, regardless of circumstances.
They REALLY Hate Calipari
EVERY single time any Cal-to-the-NBA rumor came up, the phone lines lit up. The joy in their voices could not be contained. It’s similar to the feeling that cannot be contained by Tony Vanetti when you bring up Rick’s record against Cal at Kentucky. If a show ever got boring, all I had to do is raise my voice a little and ask Tony what it felt like to lose to UK every year. What followed was usually an emotional discharge of disappointment and angst, wishing that for once, just once, Louisville could find a way to not blow it against UK. After all, Rick’s only win was with his title team and Cal’s NIT team (and it was only a 3-point win at home).
They are in Denial over UK Recruiting
I was rarely dismissed immediately, except when I brought up recruiting. They’d put me down for being, “Giddy over a high schooler.” I can’t blame them though, I’d be pretty envious if my team could hardly hang on to a 4-star.
Card Fans Can Be So Delirious…
I’ll grant you, in basketball they can be more realistic, but their football fans are the worst. Every single one of them believes they have a shot to win the ACC and potentially make it to the College Football Playoff. This is the year after they had 10 NFL Draft picks, with 17 players total on NFL training camps. Their weakness from last year, the offensive line, has even less depth. Oh, and that guy Devante Parker, he’s not walking through the door anytime soon. Yet they still believe they will be better, “Bobby is always better in year two, watch out!” Man, I wish we didn’t have to wait until the end of the year to put them in their place.
The quote of the Summer was regarding incoming freshman dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is third or fourth out of 16 QBs on the depth chart, “He’s like Tim Tebow, but with an arm.”
…Yet They Can Still Be Gracious and Generous
“Compromise” is a term used in Louisville, believe it or not. I naturally had to make concessions at times, once drawing the highest of compliments, “You’re the most rational UK fan I’ve ever talked to.” As the saying goes, real recognize real. No one was more real than Denny Crum’s right-hand man, two-time National Champion Jerry Jones, after watching Jamal Murray in the Pan-Am games, “I’d pay to watch Jerry West play, I’d pay to watch Rick Berry play. I’d pay to watch Jamal Murray.” Like I said, real recognize real.
That compliment to the BBN was generous, but no one was more generous than Kenny from the Garage (the white-haired guy at the top of the post). Many years ago upon leaving a job, he was given a gag gift by a friend. Behind the picture frame was a copy of the front of a UK-Indiana program, with the signatures of the entire ’76 Cats at the bottom. Kenny enjoyed me so much on the air, he decided to give me the piece that featured Joe B. Hall, Rick Robey, and Jack Givens. I thought I’d get a lot out of my internship experience, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect something like this.
You Hardly Know Half of what goes on”Behind the Scenes”
It really is a whole new world. Whenever I wanted to nerd out and talk Star Wars or Game of Thrones, I didn’t have to go far. Vanetti’s stories during commercial breaks of his 90’s Rock Jock days are impossible to top. Competition and media gossip was never in short supply. The only thing that was in short supply were the headphones. And don’t get me started on the technical difficulties. If you ever think Matt is being melodramatic about the phones not working, trust me, it’s even worse beneath the surface.
I’ve tried to spare specifics, but there is something I must divulge: Tom Jurich really is the worst. He’s more insecure about what people say about him than mid-growth-spurt 8th grade Nick Roush, who had acne, braces and a changing voice in the midst of puberty.
It Might Be the Best Job in the World
I was working in the basement of a law firm sorting through closed files when I first stumbled upon KSR. A teenager aspiring to be an attorney, it didn’t take too long to realize radio is what I wanted to do. “I can do this,” I told myself. This summer I did it. Even if it was just a taste, there isn’t a more gratifying feeling in the world and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity. I doubt there are many jobs that allow you to hang out at Lazer Blaze and talk sports. Hopefully I’ll have another chance in the near future.