Saying 'Au Revoir' to a Great American Voice

Thursday, 01 Dec 2011 12:02 PM

By Matt Towery

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Yes! My polling in the presidential race made Drudge today . . . a first! I don't even care.

As I write, a true conservative/libertarian talk show host — one with a heart, with true personality, with a soul — is ready to die. He
wants to die. And he is the greatest hero I have ever known.

I know I could have more readers if I wrote about my polling showing Newt Gingrich surging, or if I wrote sordid details about my friend Herman Cain. But I can't. I want to write about life and death, and those who face it with courage . . . and there are few.

Ron Smith is one of the few. He has been a force on Baltimore radio for well over 20 years. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the last
year, Smith, whose larger-than-life character made him the king of Baltimore talk radio, became the one person in a million who took bad news and handled it like a man.

Good God how much I wish I had one-tenth of Ron Smith's character, his fortitude, his bravery. This man, who fought for conservative and libertarian views for years on the radio, is the most courageous and honest person I have ever known. He has faced death in the face and said, "I'm ready to die." For heaven's sake, do you know anyone with that courage or the truthfulness to stare death in the face and say, "I want to die?"

This is the greatness of Ron Smith. He fought the battle for those who were conservative, those who wanted government out of their lives and those who wanted a funny, caring personality behind those thoughts. He is an American hero.

And they loved him. In Baltimore, where he was on the air for over 20 years, he became an icon. Yet he never sought syndicated radio; just yesterday, he told me, "I loved doing what I did in a community where I felt comfortable."

Oh, yes, your listeners were more than comfortable. Ron, other than
Neal Boortz, I never met a talk show host more comfortable in his own skin.

Ron laughed, he cried, he joked, he made strong points . . . all with a
wink in his eye.

When Ron first had me on, I was starting my "journalistic career," and he somehow loved my columns on my beloved Townhall. I was a frequent guest when no person wanted me. Now that Gingrich leads the GOP race, I basically have turned off my phone.

I talked to Ron, right after gushing on his show on Tuesday. He was frank. "I've asked them to increase the pain medications but quit prolonging my life ... I'll be dead in two days."

What do you say to someone you love when they say this is your last conversation?

It's not about Barack Obama, Gingrich or Mitt Romney. It's not even about radio, television or the news. This is the biggest issue of all:
facing death straight on.

No one can do this . . . but Ron Smith can, and he has done so.

He told me that he had a few days left. I struggled for words to respond. He told me not to worry, that we don't remember before we were born and that death would likely be the same.

How does one say goodbye to a person who, for no other reason than caring about you and your message, gave the time of day when few others would? I fell back on the most trite of phrases . . . the French term of "au revoir." I told Ron that was until we meet again. I have no idea if my past French lessons had held . . . I was too busy crying.

God be with you, Ron Smith. You are a great American hero. I will miss you.

Matt Towery is author of the book "Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency." He heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.

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