Thursday, June 29, 2017

6.29.17 Hero of the Day: Nate "Smitty" Smith

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Name: Nate "Smitty" Smith
Age: 41
Occupation: unemployed
Last Seen: Traverse City, MI
Awarded For: probably being the best rock radio jock and programmer in northern Michigan radio history

Northern Michigan rock radio and its troubled history has been bitchslapped again.

Yesterday, Nate Smith, aka "Smitty" at classic rock station 98.1/97.7 The Bear and modern rocker Rock 105/95-5 was fired from the Black Diamond stations. He never fully revealed his reason for dismissal, though there's speculation that it had to do with his ongoing feud with Tom Devitt at crosstown geezer rocker WKLT.

Smitty had been with the stations for ten years. Along with Ryan McTeague, the two hosted "The Afternoon Hangover" on The Bear and the show itself moved to what was then called Real Rock 105/95-5 in 2009. However, McTeague was let go and Smitty ended up flying solo. Smitty also hosted a Sunday night metal show called "The Asylum" and every year hosted a 12-hour Metallica-a-Thon on the stations.

Smitty was there during the good and the bad, especially the bad when Real Rock 105 dropped 95-5 and the "Real" from their name while 95.5 - which served the Grand Traverse area - flipped to elevator music. Thankfully, 95.5 flipped back to the simulcast earlier this year. Smitty, known for his ear for music was promoted to station Programming Director last year.

Since his firing, Smitty has received over 130 comments on his Facebook page from fans pissed that he was gone. I checked Rock 105/95-5's FB page and, well, they don't allow posts from others. But, I'll guess that many are now avoiding the station since his firing.

The sad thing is, in just one year, I've had two Facebook friends who've lost their jobs in radio and they're solid personalities. When I was a kid, I wanted to work in radio and one of my goals was the same as Smitty's: to rock northern Michigan radio HARD. Sadly, I learned that radio is a bitch of a business. The minute you say the wrong thing, you're now in the unemployment line, even if you have awesome ratings. Yet, the asshole across town whom nobody likes is still on the air because either he'll work for cheap or he's a kiss-ass to his advertisers like that overrated blob "Huge" Bill Simonson.

I hope that Smitty will land on his feet sooner or later, even though the radio business up north is a tough one. Where he'll end up is a mystery at this point, but judging by the love he's gotten on Facebook, I hope it's soon. I'll even admit, even though I'm in Grand Rapids in WGRD Country, I regularly listened to Smitty's show online. I loved his "The Box" and "The Radar" features. He added a lot of cool stuff to his show that people enjoyed and loved. He made it a better place for real rock fans up north and proved to all that not all northern Michigan rock fans like the same crappy 1970s butt rock songs over and over. I do hope that Rock 105/95-5 can survive post-Smitty.

But the sad thing is, it won't be the same.

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  1. Chuck is a cool dude I gotta stalk some more. #SmittyRocks

  2. Great write up, he is missed and loved by many. He kicked ass on the radio

  3. As you mentioned above, a lot of listeners are now avoiding the station altogether. I still fully support the remaining jocks, but I've returned to listening to my collection of cds. When Smitty covered the AM show, while Cartman was on vacation, I throughly enjoyed the fact of being able to hit him up on messenger with song requests to get my morning pumping. He was even so kind as to let me pick a time slot to hear them.