Smith to be inducted into Wyoming Broadcasting Hall of Fame

Mark DeLap
Posted 3/23/23

WHEATLAND – Dave Walsh, retired sportscaster for the University of Wyoming Cowboys refers to Wheatland as “Kent Smith country,” and in fact, one of the calls made to friends concerning his retirement before it went public, was to Smith.

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Smith to be inducted into Wyoming Broadcasting Hall of Fame


WHEATLAND – Dave Walsh, retired sportscaster for the University of Wyoming Cowboys refers to Wheatland as “Kent Smith country,” and in fact, one of the calls made to friends concerning his retirement before it went public, was to Smith. 

You know him around town as “Smitty” From the old bowling alley formerly with the same name to ownership of the local radio station, the play-by-play announcer for local sports broadcasts and coaching the jumpers on the Wheatland High School track team.

In his 43rd year in broadcasting, Kent Smith is being awarded two prestigious awards from his peers that are singing his praises. He has been selected by National Sports Media Association (NSMA) based out of Winston Salem, North Carolina, as the Wyoming sportscaster of the year. A second award, which came quite unexpectedly is his induction into the Wyoming Hall of Fame.

“It hit me twice and I knew about the sportscaster of the year,” Smith said. “On my way down to Boulder with my family, I get a call from the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters, and I hear, ‘Hey, congratulations you’re going into the Hall of Fame.’ And they didn’t know about the other accolade that I got. So, I immediately thought, ‘Wow, is the apocalypse happening or what?’”

Many journalists spend their entire life without even one of those awards, and Smith is about to receive both of them in the same year.

“The sportscaster of the year thing was really a neat thing,” Smith said. “It’s one of those things that kind of hits you out of the blue. It’s nice that your peers select you. It’s nice to be up there with people like Curt Gowdy and Dave Walsh. I get to go to North Carolina in June and get the award, and I get to see the national awards winners, local guys like Conor McGahey from Altitude Sports who is the Colorado winner and voice of the Colorado Avalanche. So yeah, I’m excited.”

For the NSMA there is one winner from each state, a sportscaster and a sportswriter. Jack Nowlin, sports editor for the Star-Tribune in Casper who has won the award four different times in his career has won from Wyoming as the sportswriter.

The first step in the process is the nomination where someone within the state has to nominate either the writer or the broadcaster. From a list of seven broadcasters in Wyoming this year, Smith got the nod.

“There were seven nominated and lo and behold I get a phone call from Winston-Salem telling me that I was the winner, so that’s pretty cool,” Smith said.

Some of the notables in the Wyoming Broadcasters Hall of Fame were Curt Gowdy who got his start in sportscasting back in the ‘40s in Cheyenne, Dave Walsh the voice of the University of Wyoming Cowboys as well as Kevin McKinney

“Usually they put maybe two to four people into the Hall of Fame,” Smith said. “This year it’s going to be in Cheyenne, and I asked how many were going in, and I was told that I was the only one for 2023. So, I thought that was really nice.”

The Wyoming Hall of Fame ceremony will be held June 10 in Cheyenne. The broadcaster of the year award will be presented to him June 24-26 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

“It’s going to be a busy June,” Smith said. “It was kind of a double whammy. I can’t thank my wife enough for putting up with me being gone every weekend, off broadcasting. At least it seemed like that, especially when the kids were growing up. And that’s when I stopped coaching sports.”

Smith and his wife, Renny were married in 1993, as one of his fondest memories was proposing to Renny over the air as she was working at the Record Times at the time in December 1992 and they have had four children, Roman, Kyleen, Halle and Elly.

The station in Wheatland has been around since 1960 when the original owner was Larry Cobb. Kent Smith has owned the station since 1991. He was only 28 years old and had no idea what he would accomplish as he began his run headfirst into his passion for broadcasting. 

After high school he went to EWC which he refers to as “Harvard on the Hill,” and then he also attended Chadron State for a while

“When Dave Goren called me from the National Sports Media Association called me, he asked me how I got my start,” Smith said. “The funny thing was that I started in 1978 doing track reports for Torrington High School at the Torrington radio station. Track was a big deal for Torrington back in the ‘70s and I was on the track team. I would call long distance and I would give the track results for that day. That’s how it kind of started.”

Smith actually started his on-air career in 1980.

“Back in high school, they called it community resource training,” Smith said. “I wanted to go out to the radio station, and they accepted me in. I was out there from 1-3 p.m. every day. They gave me a radio show from 1-2 p.m. Then I did production and other stuff until 3. When I started, radio was cart-machines, reel-to-reels and vinyl records.”

Although Smith has evolved with the industry and has had to learn on the job, he still has fond memories of his start.

“People ask me what I miss about old radio,” he said. “I say, cuing up vinyl’s and playing them on two turntables… just like Dr. Johnny Fever. When I started in Torrington, they had both an AM and an FM station. When I first bought this station, they simulcast on KYCN at 101.7 and 1340, so it was just one station. I separated them two years later. My wife and I, we sat down and figured it out and applied for call letters which is how KZEW came about. I had no idea when I took those call letters what kind of stir it would generate. At one time there was an old defunct classic rock station in Dallas called the ZOO. (KZEW 98 FM: The Zoo). I had no idea. So, after we got our new call letters, I started getting hate mail emails from Dallas asking me how I could take those call letters and telling me that they weren’t mine. I had no idea what they were even talking about. But that station gave those up in Dallas when the new company bought it out.” 

One of the things that Smith is most proud of is his kids and their accomplishments as far as going on to college and gaining their degrees. Smith who doesn’t have a journalism degree is the epitome of what hard work, determination and endless hours can accomplish.

He is also a picture of a man, along with this wife, who knows how to give back to his community in the fundraisers that the radio station puts forth, the reaching out with things like broadcasting the local birthdays on the air and sowing his time, travel and money out of his own pocket to make sure the Wheatland basketball and football games are being broadcast.

Of course, the reference is to the “Smitty and Mac” show at KZEW. Smith owns the radio station and Platte County’s own county clerk, Malcolm Ervin team up during the football, basketball and occasionally the volleyball and LOBOS seasons to bring to the community Bulldog Network1 Sports.

As fans, listeners learn so much about the history of the Bulldogs, the geography of the places the Dogs play and even provide a uniform description for both teams. Many times, stats get into the paper as a result of listening to the complete coverage provided on the broadcast.

And then. There is the candor, the quips and the laughter… and the sadness, that neither man hides in his job as a commentator. Another thing about Smith is that he is not just a broadcaster, coach and community member; he is truly a fan, wearing his heart on their sleeve speaking the things that people are feeling at home but have no radio voice of their own.

Like soldiers on foreign soil, he keeps a community feeling as if they are there in person - in the fray.

Smith is faithful to his passion. No games missed, always fighting the technology phantoms of a lesser venue, forced to watch the game a mile above the field during football season and stuck in sometimes dark unheated corners far above the court in basketball.

So many are grateful that after a four-overtime basketball game and four hours from home on icy and snow-covered roads that listeners could hear it from the friendly confines of their own living rooms.

If you cut him, he will bleed blue and gold. Many have often said of Smith that he deserves some kind of a medal. Or at least – a lot more admiration for what he has been doing year after year, week after week for his community. After all, this is NOT part of his job description and certainly he doesn’t do it for fame or fortune, but as a man sold out to his passion. He sacrifices the time he could be spending with his family. This is his gift to Wheatland, and it is satisfying to see that after all these years his hard work has not gone unnoticed by his peers or by his profession. 

His being chosen as broadcaster of the year in Wyoming and an induction into the Hall of Fame speak loud and clear as his voice will continue to resonate with the legacy he leaves for his family, his friends and a grateful community.