I have some mixed emotions about the announcement last week that my old friend and good buddy Darrell Patterson is retiring in December. I’m happy for Darrell and his wife Ann that he can retire and do what he wants to do now, but at the same time, I’m a bit sad that Darrell’s work on the air is coming to an end. After all, after doing basically the same thing night after night for almost 40 years, we have all grown accustomed to watching D.P. on Channel 9. Now, what do we do?
A lot of people always felt surprised when I told them that Darrell and I had a great relationship. We were competitors for more than 25 years in Chattanooga television and, while it was a good competition, sometimes a bit more fierce than we wanted, I always had a deep respect for Darrell and his work.
The first time I ever met Darrell was when I was still in college and working on the MTSU Blue Raider Radio Network. It was 1973 and UTC was playing at MTSU in a football game in Murfreesboro. I was assisting the legendary Monte Hale on the MTSU broadcast while Darrell was in his first season doing Mocs’ football on WDOD Radio. During the game, Darrell would keep us updated on the Baylor-McCallie game which was being played that night in Chattanooga at Chamberlain Field. At first, I thought to myself, “Who in the world cares about Baylor and McCallie in Middle Tennessee?” I certainly didn’t. The two teams were ranked number one and two in Tennessee at the time, so there was a lot of interest in the outcome statewide. So, I gave the score during time outs, and when the game ended and the score was final, I gave the score again and used some of the info about the game that Darrell gave me.
I never thought about Darrell again until I came to work in Chattanooga at WDXB Radio in 1975. He had just started on WTVC-TV with Bob Johnson and Don Welch, and once again we hit it off and became good friends. Once when I was still on WDXB radio, I was appearing on a telethon with Darrell and the crew at WTVC. He introduced me as the “second most popular sports figure in Chattanooga.” Bob asked him who was number one, and, after thinking for a moment, he said, “Larry Green from the Free Press.”
We shared many a meal together on the road covering UTC and Tennessee through the years; Darrell at Channel 9, and myself at Channel 12 and then later at Channel 3. We covered the Mocs, Vols, Braves and all the high school teams in the area. We always used to say, “And we get paid for this?” That was when covering sports on television was fun.
Darrell Patterson has always had fun doing his job. He has always cared deeply for teams and athletes in the Chattanooga area and that is the main reason he has persevered for so long on the air at channel 9. While we may all be saddened a bit by not being able to see him anymore on television, we can all take solace in the fact that WTVC is handling his retirement the “right” way. We have two months to watch and hear all the stories and honor him for his great career on Chattanooga television. He’s going out on his terms, and in his own way. That’s the way it should be. Congratulations, Darrell, and good luck. I hope you enjoy every moment of your retirement. You deserve it!
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. 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 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).