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Jones Conflicted About Entering Political Race

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When Matt Jones, the host of the popular sports talk show “Kentucky Sports Radio” landed in Washington, D.C., last week, it was his second trip to the capital since he began eyeing a run as a Democrat in the Bluegrass State’s 6th District against Republican Rep. Andy Barr.

Jones, well known back home after spending 10 hours on the radio each week for the past five years talking about all the things University of Kentucky athletics, was in town a few months ago to hear a pitch from congressional Democrats about “why it might make sense to consider a run” for office.

During last week’s visit, Jones was among the 45 candidates from 36 open or Republican-held congressional districts in town for three days of meetings as part of the the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s biennial “Candidate Week” – though he is still in the “recruitment” phase of a possible campaign.

“Having never run for an office — being a political junkie, but not someone involved in the day-to-day – there are some basics of things that I don’t know,” the 37-year-old said, pointing specifically to complex campaign finance regulations. “If you’re going to be a smart candidate and not some crackpot, you need to know those things.”

He is well known for his expertise on sports, but Jones said he wanted to learn the specifics about building a campaign infrastructure rather than relying fully on the knowledge of campaign consultants to focus on the minutia for him. A Duke-educated lawyer, Jones said, “I’m a detail sweater.”

At first, he tried to start a podcast for the Kentucky Sports Report website. But that site took a pass, telling Jones it would not be successful. So he created his own, Kentucky Sports Radio, in 2005.

“It shows my stubbornness — it made me want to make it successful,” he said.

Even though the show was created to focus on athletics, it has dived into politics. In 2014, he moderated a debate on his show between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. This fall, he hosted a debate with the candidates facing off in Kentucky’s heated governor’s race  and had an interview with presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that made national news.

And Jones has started to appear at political events. He emceed the Fancy Farm Picnic this year — an annual political cattle call in the western tip of the Bluegrass State — and has started to elevate his profile at events put on by Democrats.

He is taking the same careful approach to the possibility of becoming a candidate as he did when he entered sports radio.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Kentucky to get a lay of the land, the political landscape, and to think about whether this is something I want to do,” he said. “I want to know that I can win. I’m not getting in this to lose.”

The reaction from listeners on the possibility or running has been mixed. Some were encouraging, while others suggested he should stick around to ride out the scandal rocking the University of Louisville athletic department.

A spokesman for Barr said in August that the lawmaker was a fan of Jones’ radio show, but said, “like Congressman Barr, KSR listeners are passionate about University of Kentucky athletics, not politics.”

Having built Kentucky Sports Radio from scratch, Jones said the notion of giving it all up for a seat in Congress is certainly weighing on him. He said it was not clear whether Federal Communications Commission equal-time rules would require him to step aside from his day job, but he said things would certainly get complicated if he does make his candidacy official.

Jones said the kind of talk he’s hearing about a congressional run from the people who say he can’t do it is not unlike what he heard when he first tried to start his radio show.

“They say you’re a radio host and can’t win. Those are the kinds of things that sort of drive you,” he said.

To read the full article visit Roll Call where it was originally published

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Parker Hillis Named Brand Manager of Sports Radio 610

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Goodbye snow and hello heat! Parker Hillis is headed to Houston. Audacy has announced that he will be the new brand manager for Sports Radio 610.

“Parker is a rising star,” Sarah Frazier, Senior Vice President and Market Manager of Audacy in Houston, said in a press release. “He has impressed us since day one with his innovative ideas, focus on talent coaching and work ethic. We’re thrilled to have him join our Audacy team.”

Hillis comes to the market from Denver. He has spent the last three years with Bonneville’s 104.3 The Fan. He started as the station’s executive producer before rising to APD earlier this year.

In announcing his exit from The Fan on his Facebook page, Hillis thanked Fan PD Raj Sharan for preparing him for this opportunity.

“His leadership and guidance set the stage for me to continue to grow and develop in this industry, one that I absolutely love,” Hillis wrote. “This is a special place, one that I am honored to have been a part of and so sad to leave.”

Sports Radio 610 began the process to find a new brand manager in February when Armen Williams announced he was leaving the role. Williams also came to Houston from Denver. He started his own business outside the radio industry.

“I’m excited to join the Sports Radio 610 team in Houston,” said Hillis. “The opportunity to direct and grow an already incredible Audacy brand is truly an honor.”

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Schopp & Bulldog: NFL Has To Figure Out Pro Bowl Alternative That Draws Same Audience

“The game just could not be less interesting.”

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After years of criticism and declining television ratings, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell publicly stated this week that the Pro Bowl, as it is currently contested, is no longer a viable option for the league and that there would be discussions at the league meetings to find another way to showcase the league’s best players.

Yesterday afternoon, Schopp and Bulldog on WGR in Buffalo discussed the growing possibility of the game being discontinued, and how the NFL could improve on the ratings it generates with new programming.

“The same number of people [who] watched some recent… game 7 between Milwaukee and Boston… had the same audience as the Pro Bowl had last year,” said co-host Chris “The Bulldog” Parker. “….Enough people watch it to make it worth their while; it’s good business. They’ll put something in that place even though the game is a joke.”

One of the potential outcomes of abolishing the Pro Bowl would be replacing it with a skills showdown akin to what the league held last year prior to the game in Las Vegas. Some of the competitions held within this event centered around pass precision, highlight catches and a non-traditional football competition: Dodgeball. Alternatively, the league could revisit the events it held in 2021 due to the cancellation of the Pro Bowl because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which included a virtual Madden showdown and highlight battle, appealing to football fans in the digital age.

Stefon Diggs and Dion Dawkins of the Buffalo Bills were selected to the AFC Pro Bowl roster this past season, and while it is a distinct honor, some fans would rather see the game transformed or ceased entirely – largely because of the risks associated with exhibition games.

In 1999, the NFL held a rookie flag football game on a beach in Waikiki, Hawaii before the Pro Bowl in which New England Patriots running back Robert Edwards severely dislocated his knee while trying to catch a pass. He nearly had to have his leg amputated in the hospital, being told that there was a possibility he may never walk again. Upon returning to the league four seasons later with the Miami Dolphins, Edwards was able to play in 12 games, but then lost his roster spot at the end of the season, marking the end of his NFL career.

“You might not want to get too crazy with this stuff, but there’d have to be some actual contests to have it be worth doing at all,” expressed show co-host Mike Schopp. “Do you not have a game? I don’t know.”

The future of the Sunday before the Super Bowl is very much in the air, yet Goodell has hardly been reticent in expressing that there needs to be a change made in the league to better feature and promote the game’s top players. In fact, he’s been saying it since his first days as league commissioner in 2006, evincing a type of sympathy for the players participating in the contest, despite it generating reasonable television ratings and advertising revenue.

“Maybe the time has come for them to really figure out a better idea, and maybe that’s what’s notable [about] Goodell restating that he’s got a problem with it,” said Parker. “If there’s some sort of momentum about a conversation [on] creating a very different event that could still draw your 6.7 million eyeballs, maybe they’ll figure out a way to do something other than the game, because the game just could not be less interesting.”

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Iowa Adds WCKG As Chicago Radio Affiliate

“The Hawkeyes open their season at home on September 3 against FCS power South Dakota State.”

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Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa, sits just over three and a half hours from Chicago. It makes sense to assume plenty of alumni move to the Windy City after school and that other Iowa fans live in the metro area as well. That is why the Hawkeyes have struck a deal with WCKG to become their radio affiliate in Chicago.

The station, which is heard on 1530 AM, will air the entire season of Iowa football.

“Iowa Football’s storied history, continued success, and loyal fan base and alumni network throughout Chicagoland made this move a no-brainer for WCKG,” WCKG Sports Director Jon Zaghloul said in a press release. “I’m excited to bring the Hawkeyes to Chicago, and can’t wait to start airing games this Fall. It’s a huge acquisition for our brand, and, more importantly, our devoted listeners.” 

The Hawkeyes open their season at home on September 3 against FCS power South Dakota State. Gary Dolphin has called all of the school’s sports on radio since 1996. Ed Podolak is his partner in the booth during football season.

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