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

Lookouts Partner With Hydrocephalus Association For Saturday's Star Wars Night

On  Saturday, June 24th, 2017 at 7:15 p.m.  the team will be hosting their annual Star Wars Night at AT&T Field. The Lookouts will be partnering with the Hydrocephalus Association to bring the fans an out-of-this-world experience that will feature appearances by everyone’s favorite Star Wars Characters and uniquely themed Star Wars jerseys.   The night also ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC Moves Into First Place

Chattanooga FC is building steam, winners of two straight home matches, with two games remaining in the current home stand. Last Saturday, the boys in blue knocked off division leading Inter Nashville FC 2-1 thanks to some late game heroics from a Danny Reynolds free kick.  Tuesday  night, CFC opened the proverbial flood gates and scored 4 goals to beat Birmingham Hammers ... (click for more)

Public Markets To Manage And Operate Finley Stadium

The Stadium Corporation board of directors, at a special board meeting Thursday, gave approval for Public Markets, Inc., (PMI) the entity that oversees the Chattanooga Market, the River Market, the Collegedale Market and Cambridge Square Market, to handle the management, operations and administration of the stadium. Executive Director of PMI Chris Thomas and his staff stepped ... (click for more)

Man Charged In North Chattanooga Murder Says "Wrong Number" Led To Drug Deal That Went Bad

A man charged in a North Chattanooga murder said a "wrong number" led to his chance meeting with victim Charles "Chas" Holsey and a drug deal that led to the March 2, 2015, slaying. Briston "B.J." Smith Jr. told investigators he thought he was dialing a friend named "Clack" who he said sells marijuana. By getting one digit wrong, he wound up texting with Holsey, who by chance ... (click for more)

Tom Edd Wilson Was A Great Visionary

We want to add to the many heart-felt messages that have been expressed regarding the recent passing of Tom Edd Wilson, a truly great visionary.    While he made his mark on many local organizations, Tom Edd will always hold a special place in the hearts of those who worked closely with him at Erlanger.   We benefited greatly from his steady guidance, leadership ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Luther’s B-17 Showed Up

I am a huge sap for our veterans and just the other days a reader shared the ultimate story about a guy who returned to his sweetheart at the end of World War II. The little town of Miller. Missouri, is located in the southwest corner of the state and the biggest thing to ever happen in Lawrence County is when a native son, James Lawrence, hollered “Don’t Give Up The Ship” in the ... (click for more)