Randy Smth: My How Things Have Changed

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
I broadcast a high school football game last Friday night for the first time since 2009. That's eight years and, while things have changed technically since 2009, they have really changed since I started doing games on radio in 1970. Phone lines were the only way to get a game broadcast back to the radio station and on the air took several  cases of equipment as well. Mixers, microphones, headsets, plenty of cable, extra phone line just in case your phone line was placed in the wrong place. That doesn't count your game notes and spotting boards of course.

Once when carrying those heavy cases and bags of equipment to the media gate at a high school game I was doing in the 1970's, we didn't have any press passes and the guy on the gate said, "How do I know you're with the radio station?  

I replied, "Well, you caught us.
We've been hauling this heavy stuff around just so we can get in the games free," They let us in and we all had a good laugh.

Phone lines could also be pretty costly back then. Not only did you pay for the installation of the line, but on road games, we had to pay long distance charges too. That has been one of the big changes, because now with cell phones you can broadcast a prep football game for free; as long as your battery holds up. The biggest change of all, however, is in the audio equipment. In 2017, the mixer and many of the cables have been replaced by a small black box that you hook up to your headsets, then to your cell phone. That's all you need to get on the air. That small black box is only about four inches long and two inches wide. It's tiny compared to what we used years ago.Now big time college broadcasts still use that big heavy audio mixer but for local stations doing high school games, that little black box sounds really good.

The press boxes back then were mostly made of wood. They were drafty when the weather was cold, and they were about ten to fifteen degrees warmer on hot evenings. On many of them you had to climb rickety stairs to get to your broadcast position. 

One thing that hasn't changed at all is the excitement of Friday night football games. The fans, sold out crowds, and the smell of hamburgers and hot dogs cooking on the grill just enhance the overall experience of attending high school football games. That hasn't changed in 50 years and I hope that it never does. The players may have gotten a bit bigger and a bit faster than they were 50 years ago but their excitement about being in the spotlight for about three hours on Friday nights is still as it was and that's a good thing. 

As I get ready for another game on WFLI this Friday night, I am appreciative of the technical advances that make my job so much easier. I am also appreciative of the modern press boxes we work in. One with air conditioning and windows that open so we can hear the crowd noise under our broadcast is also very helpful.

In all, the things that have changed are all positive. The things that have not changed through the years are also very positive, which leads to this assumption; high school football is in good condition. I encourage everyone to go see a couple of high school games this season. You'll be glad you did and so will those young people.

* * *

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



Loftis Middle School Wins Ooltewah Tournament

The Loftis Middle School volleyball team won the Ooltewah tournament on Saturday. Loftis is now 6-0 overall.   They beat Soddy, Lake Forrest and Sale Creek in the opening rounds.  In tournament play, they beat Lake Forrest, East Hamilton to advance to the finals against Red Bank Middle.  They beat Red Bank Middle in the finals for the championship.   (click for more)

Lee Women Win Over Mississippi College

Behind the scoring and rebounding of Carrie Cheeks and Shelby Brown, the Lee University women’s basketball team extended its winning streak to seven with a 68-52 defeat of Mississippi College Saturday afternoon at Paul Dana Walker Arena. “It’s a great matchup with us and Mississippi College,” said Lee head coach Marty Rowe. “The series record is deceiving for the fact that ... (click for more)

Fleischmann Blames Senate Democrats For Government Shutdown

Congressman Chuck Fleischmann blamed Senate Democrats after the Senate’s failure to pass the Continuing Resolution (CR), putting a government shutdown into place. He said,  “I cannot fathom how Senate Democrats, knowing the severity of the issues in question, acted with such insensitivity using our children and our military as pawns, putting party over country. ... (click for more)

From Green Window Shutters To Forks And Spoons, Mount Vernon Restaurant Up For Auction

From the green wooden window shutters to the forks, knives and spoons, the landmark Mount Vernon Restaurant is up for auction. Marc Gravitt, of Gravitt Auction, said there will be an online auction starting Thursday morning and running through Saturday at noon. It will be handled as a "staggered close," he said. The first item will go first, then the second 30 seconds later, ... (click for more)

DACA Or Amnesty To Become The Majority?

As we have the political drama that we see in D.C. let’s be honest about what DACA is all about. We understand as the liberal policies of abortion, dependency on the government and an anti-American globalist / progressive agenda that many have come to realize these policies no longer represent their core beliefs and have left a certain party. Without an influx of new dependency ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What’s The ‘Super’ Done?

The headline on Jan. 10 in the Times Free Press read, “Report shows Hamilton County students still lagging behind Tennessee peers.” In smaller type underneath, the sub-head added, “Less than 33 percent of county elementary, middle school students read at grade level.” Then, just seven days later, this on Friday, the same newspaper bannered, “Hamilton County Schools superintendent ... (click for more)