By LARRY VAUGHT
No matter where you look on Twitter, you seem to be able to find unusual stories about Kentucky basketball fans. Kristin Klingshirn is one of those stories that came my way thanks to UK student Kelsey Mattingly, now a Kentucky Sports Radio contributor who wrote several blog posts for me during her high school career at Rockcastle County.
Klingshirn is part of The Bert Show in Atlanta that is heard on multiple radio stations across the country daily.
She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a major in Broadcast Journalism and her dream job was never a daily morning radio show.
“One course I took we had to wake up insanely early (at least for college students) and do the news for WRFL. I hated it, mainly because I am not a morning person. So it’s quite comical that I make my living waking up at 4 a.m. to do morning radio,” she said.
She calls herself a “radio nomad” because of her various jobs.
“I started in Lexington doing promotions for Clear Channel (in 2003), now known as iHeart. I headed to Cincinnati to do promotions there and that’s when I got the bug to be on-air rather than work behind the scenes. I knew I wouldn’t get an opportunity to spread my wings on-air in a market as big as Cincinnati, so I moved back to Lexington with the stipulation that if I did promotions I would also get an on-air shift on WKQQ,” she said. “Overnights turned into weekends and weekends turned into hanging out with the night jock.
“A contact I had made in Cincinnati called me out of the blue to ask me if I had ever considered morning radio. She was now the Program Director at G105 in Raleigh, N.C., and they were looking for a female to join as co-host. I did a live audition on-air and within the first 30 minutes of the show we knew it was a match and the chemistry was there. I was a co-host on Bob and The Showgram for five years. Randi West, the program director who reached out to me, is a woman in the radio industry I still look up to today.”
Klingshirn learned The Bert Show had an opening and reached out to host Bert Weiss, who she had met a few years earlier at a morning show radio conference. She had saved his phone number in an old cell phone.
“For months I sent him daily e-mails of different radio segments I had done. Persistence was key, and after several interviews, I ended up getting my dream gig in radio. I love what I do and I feel incredibly fortunate to be in this industry,” she said.
Since Klingshirn was born and raised in Lexington, she quickly notes she has always been a Kentucky fan.
“What can I say, my parents raised me right. I remember my dad taking me to my first game at Rupp Arena. I remember crying in my living room when (Duke’s Christian) Laettner hit that shot. Growing up, my dad had season tickets for UK football and we spent countless Saturdays in the end zone at Commonwealth. My love for Kentucky was a huge deciding factor in going to UK. I’ve travelled to Catlanta for SEC tournaments, Nashville for bowl games, and went to the past two Final Fours (UK was in),” she said.
“Watching Aaron Harrison hit that 3-pointer against Wisconsin in Dallas in person is a memory I will never forget. I can’t believe I’m about to admit this, but I was super excited when Jeff Sheppard was redshirted because that meant he was going to be on campus my freshman year and I could possibly run into him. Let’s just say I may of had a small crush on him. I never ran into him on campus, but did see him years later at a restaurant, in Atlanta I believe, and I of course got a picture with him.”
She started dating Kelsey’s uncle, Bart, about nine years ago and recently got engaged. He grew up in Springfield, Ky., and she says he’s even a bigger Big Blue fan than here.
“Even though we live in Atlanta and call Atlanta home, we are definitely getting married in Kentucky. That’s where are romance started and I think most Kentuckians can understand the love and pride we have for our home state. We get back as often as we can, as most of my family and all of his family are there. Most holidays are spent in the Bluegrass,” Klingshirn said.
The Bert Show is a diverse radio show — and that suits her perfectly. But those that work with her always know she’s a UK fan and often has gone to some surprising lengths to prove that.
“Throughout my radio career I’ve always proudly boasted I am a Kentucky fan. So much so it’s become a significant part of my character and role on each show. In Cincinnati, my radio moniker was Kitten because of my love for the Wildcats. I became Kentucky Kristin on Bob and The Showgram,” Klingshirn said. “I was the chick on the WKQQ billboard in Lexington trying to motivate UK, ‘When the football team wins, she loses.’ Got a little more attention for that than I anticipated.”
She’s been part of numerous radio bets/stunts. When she was working in North Carolina, there was an ongoing bet every time UK played North Carolina in basketball. Unfortunately, those were the years Billy Gillispie coached at UK, so it did not go well for her.
“I had to dress up as a hotdog for a week. I was duct taped several feet up in the air to a telephone pole and had to hold up a sign that said ‘Honk If You Have Herpes Too.’ We lost by 12 points one year so I was paddled 12 times. That one left a mark,” she said.
In Atlanta, she has done an annual bet on the Kentucky-Georgia football game.
“I’m sure you can guess how those have turned out for me. My phone number was released one year and an embarrassing photo was revealed for another season. But easily, the biggest and most difficult bet pay-off I ever did was posing nude for an art sketching class,” she said. “One thing is for sure. No one can doubt my loyalty for Kentucky.”
She’s also been electrocuted, attacked by dogs, and tackled by rugbee players as part of her radio career. However, she says she’s “extremely competitive” because of her sports background.
“I dabbled in track and golf. I played softball. But my main love is basketball. I played basketball at Southern Middle School and Lafayette High School. I credit basketball with giving me a stronger sense of teamwork and providing me with my work ethic,” Klingshirn said. “Coach Rachel Cole left a lasting impression on me. Even when I thought I didn’t have any more to give, she always found a way to make me dig deeper. My fondest memories from high school are thanks to her and the Lady Generals.”
That has helped often in her radio career.
“I’ve had to prove myself time and time again on-air. There’s a laundry list of insane stunts I have done, some still make me shake my head. In my almost 10 years of doing morning radio, I’ve only had to go to urgent treatment once. Which is pretty good when you think about it,” she said. “What I’ve gathered from being electrocuted, tackled by rugby players, attacked by dogs and electrocuted again is that our listeners must really love to hear me scream.”