Mike Keith, the “Voice of the Tennessee Titans,” still loves his job. After 13 years as the NFL team’s Director of Broadcasting, he not only loves the announcing part of the job, but he also loves every other part, including speaking engagements and “glad-handing”. He took the time on Wednesday to speak to more than a hundred students in the Media Academy at Red Bank High School, before a visit to WGOW-FM’s Sport Talk, with Quake and Dr. ‘B’. And as he has done so well, for so long, he answered every question thrown at him.
Mike Keith and I have been friends for almost 25 years. We worked on the Vol Network scoreboard shows for years, before he took the job with the Titans and even though we seldom have a chance to sit down and visit much anymore, we have stayed in close contact. I asked the nine-time Tennessee Sportscaster of The Year if he would be able to come to Chattanooga and speak to my media students at Red Bank when the NFL season was over and he said he would. As I expected, he did a marvelous job.
You see, Mike Keith has always been a professional on the air or in public. He was, and still is a walking encyclopedia of sports statistics, especially when it comes to the Vols or the Titans. As an announcer, Mike recently received another deserving, but totally unexpected honor. The Wall Street Journal published the top ten “Most Clutch” NFL plays of all time, and at the very top of the list was Mike Keith’s most famous call; “The Music City Miracle”.
Everyone remembers the play as it came with just a few seconds remaining in the AFC Playoffs of 1999. The Buffalo Bills had just taken a lead over the Titans, with enough time left for a good return and a shot at a game tying field goal. What happened next was truly a miracle. The Titans’ Lorenzo Neal received the kick, tossed the ball to Frank Wychek, who in turned tossed the ball, behind the line of scrimmage mind you, to receiver Kevin Dyson. Dyson took it to the house. The stunned Bills could only watch as Dyson crossed the goal line giving the Titans an unbelievable come from behind win. A win that would help send them to the Super Bowl.
“I had to go back and listen to the replays so I could remember what I said. All I could remember was screaming like a little girl. But I remembered something John Ward always told us. ‘Get it right. That’s all that matters.’ When I listened to what I had said, I realized I had gotten it right.”
There was a time in his life that Mike thought about getting out of the broadcasting business. He once had an offer to manage a shoe store in a Knoxville mall. He also thought about dropping out of college after he was more than halfway through a degree in Political Science. The late, great sportscaster Lindsey Nelson talked him out of that, and we are all very glad he did. Mike’s father always wanted him to get a law degree, and to this day never lets him forget it. But Mike says he wouldn’t change much at all if he could go back and do so.
So, Mike Keith will enter his 14th year as the “Voice of The Titans”, every bit as happy as he has ever been. He is still married to his beautiful wife Michelle, and he is still there for their two teenage children. He will continue to thrill fans with his announcing, and he will also thrill students with his appearances and speaking engagements. It’s just like our buddy John Ward said……”Get it right. That’s all that matters.”
Contact Randy Smith at email@example.com
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 42 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer, author and is also a media concepts teacher at Red Bank High School in Chattanooga. He is currently teaching an "Intro To Sportscasting" class at Red Bank, the only class of its type in Tennessee.
Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 10 years.
Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry Davey and Alison Smith). They also have one grandchild (Coleman).