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Smith Remembered as Smart, Engaging Radio Host

Friends and colleagues attended a public memorial for Ron Smith, the longtime WBAL radio talk show host who died in December.

WBAL Radio has video and audio from the service.

Before he died, Ron Smith told friends not to pity him, mourn him or cry for him while he was alive or after he was gone.

There was plenty of mourning, and a little crying, but also laughter and joy at a public memorial service for Smith, the popular former WBAL radio talk show host, in Kraushaar Auditorium on the campus of in Towson on Tuesday.

Onstage, several yards from the Ravens purple-draped lectern, were a folded American flag and a WBAL microphone, upon which shone a lone spotlight.

Smith , following a brief but with pancreatic cancer.

Hundreds of friends, colleagues and dignitaries turned out for the ceremony, including U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger and former Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

Even regular listeners, such as Parkville resident Cynthia Pyle, arrived to pay their respects to the longtime "Voice of Reason."

"For me, personally he made sense of the world of politics in a way that no other person could," she said. "This was a wonderful, wonderful way to sum up his career and bring closure and to know that he was at peace. And I will forever miss hearing his voice on the radio."

The service was emceed by WBAL-TV's Gerry Sandusky, and speakers included Dr. Bill Howard, Smith's physician and longtime friend, WBAL-TV anchor Stan Stovall, Hearst Radio general manager Ed Kiernan, and Jonathan Murray, WBAL radio financial analyst and friend.

Stovall, who became emotional as he began his remarks, recalled his early screen tests with Smith in the late 1970s and their lifelong friendship. Stovall said Smith, who quit high school and joined the Marine Corps, was one of the smartest men he ever met.

"Ron was the most knowledgable, most credible, best newsman I've ever worked with in my life," Stovall said at the service. "He became my professional mentor. He taught me how to do my homework, how to always be prepared. He became a trusted confidant. But most importantly, he became my friend for life."

Jeff Beauchamp, the former longtime vice president and station manager of WBAL radio, recalled Smith as a smart, engaging and persistent man who, during a brief career as a stockbroker following his time on WBAL-TV, pestered Beauchamp until he was given a radio show.

"He would do two talk shows a day. The one on the air and the one in my office for two hours before he got on the air, which was great," Beauchamp said. "I got this private audience with Ron Smith. He was so smart. Most of the time I'd keep my mouth shut and listen, but he was so engaging."

Smith shared his battle with listeners and many responded with emails and cards. Those included frequent targets of his on-air ire, including Gov. Martin O'Malley and Comptroller Peter Franchot. Two weeks before his death, Sandusky shared with the crowd, Smith spent 40 minutes on the phone with Ravens coach John Harbaugh, talking about topics Harbaugh never even considered.

"I couldn't believe the depth of that man," Harbaugh told Sandusky, the host shared at the service.

With the blessing of Smith and wife June, Patrick Hart of Towson and friends from cigar shop in Cockeysville started the cancer fundraiser Team Reason, initially as a way to help pay for Smith's treatment, care and transportation. Now, Hart and his friends have raised $28,000 for pancreatic cancer research at the Sydney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University.

"It's one of the most under-funded cancers, but it's one of the deadliest cancers," Hart said. "We're trying to find early detectors which will help people down the road, which will help Ron's legacy down the road."

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