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


Crossville Speedway Adds 3 More UCRA Races To Fall Schedule

The Crossville (TN) Speedway has agreed to three additional Fall 2017 events with the United Crate Racing Alliance (UCRA) to wrap up their racing season with a bang.   The "CROSSVILLE CLASSIX” weekend event will now take Round # 14 &15 of the 2017 season with two back to back full shows  on Friday  and  Saturday, Oct. 13 and 14 . The Crate Late ... (click for more)

Baylor Stays Unbeaten With Volleyball Sweep Of CCS

Baylor's unbeaten volleyball season continued Monday with a sweep of Chattanooga Christian at Baylor, the Lady Red Raiders winning by scores of 25-9, 25-12 and 25-12. Ally Craig had 11 kills and eight digs for Baylor while Sarah Sumida finished with 35 assists and Sarah Barker seven kills.  A.J. Johnson had eight kills and a dozen digs to lead the Lady Chargers while Rachel ... (click for more)

Mark Wharton Named Vice Chancellor And Director Of Athletics At UTC

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Chancellor Dr. Steven Angle announced Mark Wharton as the Mocs' new vice chancellor and director of athletics on Tuesday.  A press conference introducing Mr. Wharton is scheduled for  Wednesday, at  2 p.m.  in the Chattanooga Room in the University Center.  Community members, fans and supporters are invited to ... (click for more)

Government Paid Almost $181,000 In Social Security Benefits To Sewanee Man After He Died In 1988; Hawkins Charged With Embezzlement

The Social Security Administration paid almost $181,000 in benefits to a Sewanee man after he died in 1988, federal prosecutors said. The government learned in 2014 that the money designated to Walter Acton was going to a man living in his home at 3932 Jump Off Road - Edward Hawkins. Hawkins has agreed to plead guilty to embezzlement in the case. Prosecutor Perry Piper said ... (click for more)

The Soul Of Chattanooga Is In Trouble

As a child growing up in the Chattanooga area, at an early age I became fascinated with the history that cloaks the city. In those days there was enough pollution to cover the town and its history but that didn't stop tourists from coming to visit Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge and the Chickamauga battlefield.     Chattanooga's leadership was not very far sighted ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Writing From Bragg Avenue

Far and away, my favorite comment on destroying statues appeared on my Facebook page the other day and, believe it or not, it was the clear-minded Times Free Press Sports Editor Stephen Hargis who penned, “This statue offends me! It must be torn down!” Underneath his fiery words, the long-suffered UT football fan posted a picture of the bronze monument outside of Bryant-Denny stadium ... (click for more)