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


Tennessee Has Lost The Indelible John Ward

GIVE HIM SIX! It's Football Time … in Tennessee! The national champions are clad in Big Orange! For more than 30 years, iconic play-by-play man John Ward brought Tennessee football and basketball games to life as the "Voice of the Vols" on Vol Network radio broadcasts. Ward passed away Wednesday evening in Knoxville. He was 88-years-old.   ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC, Atlanta Silverbacks Move Wednesday Match From Dalton To Chattanooga Christian

Chattanooga FC and Atlanta Silverbacks agreed earlier today to move their match next Wednesday , initially scheduled to take place in Dalton, Ga.,, to Chattanooga. The match will take place  at   7:30 p.m.  at Chattanooga Christian School, and will still be considered a home match for Atlanta.  “It’s really a best case scenario for both teams,” ... (click for more)

Girl, 20, Killed While Trying To Cross Highway 153 Early Sunday Morning

A girl, 20, was killed early Sunday morning while trying to cross Highway 153. The victim was identified as Ansleigh Kaylyn Harrison. At approximately 1:28 a.m. , Chattanooga Police officers responded to a pedestrian struck at 5256 Highway 153 . A Toyota Sequoia driven by 31-year-old Asher Powers was traveling north on Highway 153 in the inside lane. The ... (click for more)

2 Shot In Separate Incidents Early Saturday Morning; 1 Victim Is A Juvenile Girl

Two people were shot early Saturday morning in separate incidents. The first incident was at  3:30 a.m. when the Chattanooga Police Department responded to a person shot on the 1000 block of North Willow Street.  Upon arrival, officers made contact with the victim who was suffering from a gunshot wound.    HCEMS transported the victim to a local hospital ... (click for more)

Protecting Family Homes On Signal Mountain

The Signal Mountain Town Council will vote at their upcoming July 9 meeting on whether to approve a controversial rezoning application regarding property located at the northwestern corner of Albert Road and Taft Highway.  Prior to the rezoning request, Albert Road was the redline on Taft Highway past which commercial development within the town did not extend. This rezoning ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Claude And "Mr. John"

There are some who believe this last week has been a devastating one for our community, losing two of our most beloved “builders” within three days of one another. Claude Ramsey, who spent over 40 years in public service and because of the type man he was never lost a political race, died on Monday after a hard fight with illness at the end. On Thursday we lost “Mr. John” Franklin, ... (click for more)