Through John frierson
With a soft and comforting voice like a glass of iced tea – sweet of course – Loran smith has spoken to us for decades. He gave us updates from the sideline at Sanford Stadium, he provided context, depth and nuance in pre-match and post-match broadcasts, and through it all. , he was a charming and graceful storyteller and interviewer.
Every time you listen to Smith on the radio it feels like you should be sitting on your porch swing, that sweaty glass of tea on the table next to you, with a loving and loyal dog resting at your feet.
“My first and foremost goal,” getting involved in radio in the late 1960s, said Smith, “was to promote Georgia. And No. 2, to have a great experience.”
It’s safe to say after all these years that Smith has achieved these goals many times over. This 2021 Georgia football season marks Smith’s 50th as a member of the Bulldog broadcast team. Yes, he was doing it long before the head coach Smart kirby, 45, was born.
Smith was the first sideline reporter the Georgia radio show ever had, and over the years has grown into an institution, the on-the-ground complement to Larry Munson’s legendary play-by-play calls since the radio booth.
You think about it, so let’s put it aside: “What have I got, Loran?”
This question of Munson to Smith during games has been asked on air perhaps a thousand times in their decades of playing together and then a few million more times by Bulldog fans making their best impression of Munson. This line is so iconic that it is the title of Smith’s latest book, a collection of essays and chronicles. You will also sometimes see “Whaddaya got, Loran?” on t-shirts in town.
After all these years, Smith said, “It’s just fun being around varsity athletics, especially Georgia football. So it meant a lot to me to be able to be a part of the show, which has remained very popular on the show. statewide.
“And then I have a philosophy of, I’ll never retire. They might kick me out but I’ll never retire.”
While Munson famously called the action of young men competing with all their might between the lines, Smith reminded us so often that these young men were just that, young men, student-athletes, with hopes and hopes and aspirations. dreams and their own triumphs and challenges in life.
Before technology made it much easier to interact from the sidelines, Smith said he needed to provide a visible signal to get the attention of the radio booth. “If (Munson) saw me standing on a bench, it meant I had something to say and something to share with him.”
The first headsets that allowed him to communicate directly with the booth, Smith said, “made me look like a man from Mars.” Because of all the antennas and cords, he said, when there was a big storm that passed during a game at Ole Miss, “I said to Larry, ‘I’ll see you. later “, and I took that helmet off and went into the locker room” for fear of love at first sight.
Smith grew up on a cotton farm in Wrightsville, Georgia, the same small place about 60 miles east of Macon that produced another Georgia legend, Herschel Walker, decades later. Smith had to do his share of the farm work, do what needed to be done. And for over 60 years, since arriving in Athens in the late 1950s to study at the University of Georgia, Smith has worked telling stories about Bulldogs.
A talented runner, Smith got a scholarship for track and field and became the team captain in 1960. But Smith, used to busy and busy days, didn’t go to school and ran. on athletics. He also worked for the legendary Dan Magill at the Georgia Sports Information Office.
In Magill’s book “Bull-Doggerel,” beloved male tennis trainer, sports information director, Georgia Bulldog Club creator, historian, storyteller and more, tells the story of a young Smith who shows up at his desk to work for free, hoping to gain experience. Magill wrote that each day Smith showed up in his seedy runway outfit, maybe the same every day, until Magill finally brought him some extra clothes. Being a proud young man, Magill wrote, Smith refused. But Magill insisted, reminding him that winter was coming, after all.
“He was such a wonderful, colorful historian and storyteller – a great character, a colorful character,” Smith said of Magill, who died in 2014 at the age of 92. “So I really like being with him. I learned a lot about writing, I learned history, I learned a lot about so many things that I could only have had by being his assistant. and learning at his feet for so many years.
“I really loved the experience, I loved being with him because of his fun and colorful ways. But he was so insightful. He knew so much about the sport, he knew so much about the sports of Georgia, in football in particular, but he was well-versed in all sports first. He was Georgia’s biggest promoter. “
Kind, loyal, a hard worker, communicator and facilitator, there’s a reason Smith has so many things named for him. There is the Loran smith Cancer Support Center of the Piedmont Regional Medical Center in Athens. There is the Loran and Myrna Smith Hall in the Indoor Sports Facilities, which commemorates Smith’s 50+ years associated with athletics in Georgia and the many contributions he and his wife Myrna have made to the UGA.
And as if that wasn’t enough, there was Uga VII, named Loran’s Best, and Uga VI, named Uga V’s Whatchagot Loran.
Smith is a past president of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, which inducted him in 1997, and he’s had a career of good working since then to be worthy of being inducted again. After earning a journalism degree, Smith’s professional life covered a lot of ground. He has produced various Georgia football coaching television shows, created and sold sponsorships for radio shows, written over a dozen books, mostly on Georgia athletics and The Masters, as well as written columns. continuously that appear in numerous publications across the state.
Three years ago, at the age of 80, Smith was seriously injured during football practice when a pair of players ran into him with another observer on the sidelines inside the Billy & Porter Payne indoor sports facility. He recovered and returned to work, just like he has done in all trials over the years.
No, he won’t retire, not when there are too many stories still waiting to be told.
Deputy Director of Sports Communication John frierson is the Editor-in-Chief of the UGA Athletic Association and Curator of the ITA Men’s Tennis Hall of Fame. You can find his work at: Frierson Files. He’s also on Twitter: @FriersonFiles and @ITAHallofFame.