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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Chet Kuplen, Mulberry, will host a state sports radio show

  • Chet Kuplen, Mulberry, got tired of dead-end jobs that gave him no opportunity to promote his passion for sports in Kansas or utilize his extensive sales skills and social media savvy.

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  • Chet Kuplen, Mulberry, got tired of dead-end jobs that gave him no opportunity to promote his passion for sports in Kansas or utilize his extensive sales skills and social media savvy.
    So he invented his own business, the Sports in Kansas Network, which owns and operates www.kansas-sports.com, and twitter networks @sportsinkansas, @scoresinkansas and @trackinkansas.
    “I kind of got involved as a hobby, and started it in the spring of 2012,” Kuplen said in a telephone interview. “It’s really taken off.”
    That’s a little bit of an understatement.
    The Sports in Kansas Network is the leading independent high school and college sports network in the state of Kansas. Kansas-Sports.com features breaking news, history and inside information relating to sports in Kansas. The @sportsinkansas twitter network is the No. 1 retweeted twitter site for sports in Kansas and receives 250,000 impressions daily. His social media platform has more than 25,000 subscribers.
    Kuplen is moving into broadcast media in mid-August when he will host a one-hour statewide radio show on sports in Kansas on My Town Media Group. It can be heard locally on 100.7 ESPN Radio.
    “I really want to thank Bill Wachter, Mike Snow and Aaron Amershek for piecing all this together and making it possible for us to have a new show,” Kuplen said.
    He may have been born with a love of sports, inherited from his mother who retired in 2012 after 33 1/2 years of teaching and coaching at Frontenac High School. A 2002 FHS graduate, Kuplen was All-State track and All-League football.
    After high school, Kuplen attended Pittsburg State University for a time, and was a student marketing assistant from 2004-2005.
    “The late Tommy Riggs and Dan Wilkes, the current assistant athletic director/communications, gave me a shot and I thank them till this day,” Kuplen said. “I left  Pitt State to major in sports administration at Wichita State University in my junior year.”
    He founded Kansas-Sports.com in 2005 as a hobby and to earn a little money on the side.
    “There was no social media to promote it so it was kind of unheard of, except for word of mouth and message boards,” Kuplen said.
    He was an intern for University of Arkansas Athletics in 2006, and from 2007 to 2009 was assistant marketing and sports information director/graduate assistant at the University of Central Missouri. It was also in 2007 that he had to dissolve Kansas-Sports.com because there was a potential conflict with it and NCAA recruiting guidelines.
    However, he did form a valuable friendship at the University of Arkansas.
    “Assistant athletic director Shawn Jones taught me a lot of what I use today,” Kuplen said. “I still talk to him a lot and he’s still a mentor to me. I can always go to him for advice on business decisions.”
    Page 2 of 3 - He was assistant marketing director at the University of Tulsa in the fall of 2009, then worked as a consultant and in sales for an online search company in Lawrence until the company closed in 2011.
    “I moved back to southeast Kansas to help out in the family business, the Rockin’ K, when my parents, Steve and Mindy Kuplen, took over from my grandparents,” Kuplen said.
    He said that his parents have made it possible for  him to do what he’s done, and supported him in his goals.
    So, after dead-end jobs and not getting some jobs he thought would be a good fit, Kuplen put everything he had all together and started the Sports in Kansas Network.
    It was not easy, but that just made Kuplen more determined to succeed.
    “When I started out cold-calling to get advertisers over a year ago, many businesses told me no or didn’t have the time of day for me,” he said. “That just motivated me to want to become bigger and better. I wanted a way to get back into the sports scene and I had to create it for it to happen, because the window of opportunity is very limited in sports.”
    Kuplen simply wants to cover everything associated with high school and college sports in Kansas, and be the first one to get it out to the fans.
    “We talk to the  athletes, coaches, fans,” he said. “There’s a story in every player, every team. We want to give an overall feel to whatever we cover, and we’re always promoting positive sportsmanship.”
    His contacts in Kansas sports circles message their news to the  Sports in Kansas Network, which tweets it out immediately to thousands.
    “There really isn’t a faster way for information to reach anyone,” Kuplen said. “Stuff that you hear on the 10 p.m. news is something we may have released 12 hours earlier.”
    And it’s not just news that interests him. Kuplen is also passionate about the rich heritage of Kansas sports history.
    “Being from a a town like Frontenac, which still has the second most football victories in Kansas, behind Lawrence High School, fuels the fire for that passion,” he said. “Our business partner, the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, has made it possible for us to access a lot of history that we wouldn’t otherwise have access to, and we want to continue that relationship.”
    He’s also looking to the future of Kansas sports, and athletes from Kansas.
    “The greatest part of this is the satisfaction you see from helping a team or an athlete get noticed by college coaches,” Kuplen said. “College coaches contact me to get information on how to get in touch with a kid, and that kid can get a chance to go to college and have a better life.”
    Page 3 of 3 - It’s all a lot of work.
    “A lot of people think my business is in a suite in Overland Park with 25 employees, but it’s not,” Kuplen said. “It’s me, a few people who work with me, some freelance. My sister, Molly, is a teacher in Kansas City and she does some side work helping me with @sportsinkansas. Most of the time I live in Mulberry or Kansas City, and I do a lot of traveling around the state covering events and prospecting new partnerships.”
    At other times, he said, he’s so buried in his computer that he has to make himself quit working.
    “I don’t see it as work, though,” Kuplen said.
    He’s even ready to make himself  more busy by taking on side jobs helping businesses with their social media.
    “In five or 10 years, everybody will have to do social media,” Kuplen said. “It’s a new avenue of business.”
    He sees his own business growing, fueled by the fans, their love of sports and dedication to their local and area athletic teams.
    “It’s like a wildfire, and it started here in Mulberry,” he said.

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