Randy Smith: Vols Lose An Iconic Legend

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
One of the all-time great names in Tennessee football history left us on Tuesday as former Vol captain Bill Anderson passed away at the age of 80. While he was a great player for the Vols and later the NFL's Green Bay Packers, he is best known for his role on the Vol Radio Network. Anderson spent 30 years alongside the great John Ward as part of the longest running duo in college football. I had the honor and the privilege of being part of that team as host of the Kickoff Call In Show for 17 of those 30 years on the Vol Network.
 

He was not a professional announcer. Kind of rough around the edges, Bill Anderson was an analyst; perhaps the most knowledgeable football guy I've ever been around. His style as he teamed with the very professional Ward for those 30 years was the opposite of Ward in every way. But that unique approach was the reason the pair was so successful for so many years.

One of the great stories about Bill Anderson took place even before I began working with the Vol Network. In the older days of radio, before the days of computers and, yes, even before the days of satellites, radio networks used telephone lines to get their games on the air. This was quite costly and, technically speaking, sometimes very complicated. If you ever lost your line, the chances of getting it back at all were about 50-50. The Vol Network was set up on telephone lines, sending the Vols' games to more than 100 stations; making it the largest network of its type in the country.

At the end of every game, when everything had been said and the Vol Network had signed off their broadcast for the day, someone in the booth would say, "Good night Telco". That would be the signal for the telephone line connecting the Vol Net to all their affiliate stations to be disconnected, ending the broadcast. An engineer would be listening and when he heard "Good night Telco" he would disconnect.    

On a particular evening, the Vol Network engineer in the booth asked John and Bill to check their mics before they went on the air. John did his usual, "testing, testing one two three...." but Bill decided to be creative. He said, "testing, testing...Good night Telco." When the telephone engineer heard his cue to end the broadcast, he disconnected. He hung up on John and Bill and it took a while and many phone calls to get things straightened out and get the broadcast back on the air. Needless to say, Bill Anderson never uttered the words, "Good night Telco" again.

I miss Bill and the nights we would sit at a bar discussing life and, of course, Tennessee football. He was as cordial to the fans as he was his friends, because he considered himself to be one of them......a regular guy. He would always laugh when someone would compliment him on his job as the Vols analyst because he readily knew he was not a professional announcer, but he wasn't supposed to be. He was an excellent analyst and his tenure with John Ward is one that covers some of the most exciting years in Tennessee history.   

We miss you Bill. Tell Reggie and the General we all said hello.

* * *

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer.  His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.

He can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com

Bill Anderson
Bill Anderson

Bryan Women Fall In Softball Conference Tournament Opener

The Bryan College Lions Softball Team swept the Buffaloes of Milligan College (Tenn.) in their doubleheader meeting during the regular-season back in the middle of March, but the Buffs were able to make adjustments and come out on top in Wednesday’s opening round matchup with the Lions on day one of the Appalachian Athletic Conference Softball Tournament. The 4-0 final was a pitching ... (click for more)

Dalton State Women Win SSAC Golf Championships

 The #5-ranked Dalton State Women's Golf team stepped up big in the final round of the Southern States Athletic Conference Championships being held at the Par-72, 5,736-yard Arrowhead Country Club in Montgomery, AL. The Roadrunners (+35, 899) shot the round of the day, (+5, 293), to win the 2017 SSAC Championship. The Lady Birds edged 2nd place William Carey (+42, 297) by seven ... (click for more)

Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Predatory Law Firm Targeting Grieving Families

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III on Wednelsday announced the filing of a lawsuit against a Texas law firm, its sole attorney, and two investigators working for the firm, in connection with the tragic Woodmore Elementary bus crash. The civil enforcement action, filed in Hamilton County Chancery Court, alleges that the Witherspoon Law Group PLLC, based in Dallas, ... (click for more)

Multi-Agency Drug Bust Leads To 1 Of The Largest Meth Seizures In Hamilton County

Agents with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics and Special Operations Division, along with personnel from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Chattanooga Police Department and the DEA, arrested Mathew Turner, of Chattanooga, in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express in Tiftonia on Tuesday night.     A search of Turner’s vehicle revealed approximately ... (click for more)

Don't Clog Up The Last Remaining Semi-Unobstructed Route Into Town From North Of The River - And Response (2)

The proposal to turn Hixson Pike in Riverview into a more pedestrian friendly street is more than absurd.   Let's be honest. This is the last semi-unobstructed route into town from north of the river, due to I-27 construction and the bike lane/parking lot that is North Market Street.  So, now the businesses in Riverview would like parking on this main artery? ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A One-Sided Opportunity

State education commissioner Candace McQueen has apparently fallen and hit her head. She most certainly needs to be examined after she came to Chattanooga on Monday and told the Times-Free Press about an exciting “partnership.” Are you kidding me? Despite the newspaper’s editors actually touting the venture as “promising,” the lady is clearly dancing by herself. With her Achievement ... (click for more)