“No, you never get used to it,” I told a friend as I learned yet again of another friend’s passing.
Steven M. Smith (known as ‘Smith in the Morning,’) and I worked together a couple of different times during my radio broadcast career. The first came after I shortly after I moved to Reno, Nevada and landed a gig at KONE, then later doing overnights on KOZZ.
Wet-behind-the-ears, I was still trying to gain a foothold on exactly who I was on-air. Many times you’ll hear the advice, “Jus’ be yourself,” which sounds so easy, but is actually one of the hardest things to attain.
It was Steve, who during the production of an automobile commercial that I was an extra voice on, gave me the best advice an inexperienced disc jockey could get. After the umpteenth take, he stopped and ‘politely’ said, “Damn it, Tom, jus’ talk to me!”
Then he went on to explain that I was sounding more like an announcer than a guy who was simply walking onto a car lot to look at or purchase a vehicle. His instruction was so easy to follow and it helped me finally ‘find my voice’ in radio.
Steve, I learned while doing the overnight shift which lead into his morning drive shift, was not only a consummate professional and smart-ass, but also one the most intelligent personality-radio jocks you could ever work. He read any and all materials he could get his hands on and had the ability to memorize much of it and could recite it once needed.
Often I’d come into the computer room and see him tapping out some drumbeat on his pad, while perusing the Internet. He made it a point to know what was happening in the world and he managed morning after morning to weave that new-found knowledge into listener’s lives and to do it so successfully that it few ever realized that they weren’t really having a ‘two-way conversation.
One more thing before getting to Steve’s stats: he’d be embarrassed by this posting, as he’d think it was too much. He’s the only radio personality that I know of who did his best to stay out of the spotlight unless the job required it.
Steve passed away on June 3, 2017 at the age of 70. Born and raised in Whittier, California on August 30, 1946, he graduated from California High School in Whittier in 1964 and later attended Western State College of Law at Argosy University in Fullerton, California.
He was part of the mid 70’s ‘legendary day’s’ of KDES in Palm Springs, California and inducted into the Nevada Broadcast Hall of Fame in 1999. Steve leaves behind his kids, Matt, Kelsey and Casey.