Carter B. Smith
“The Prince Trapped Inside
The Body Of A Disc Jockey”
Elected to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame, 2007
ABOVE: Carter’s got a hernia, and Don Sherwood doesn’t like the looks of it. Note the
cigarette in the hand of the recuperating Mr. Smith, and the cardboard cutout of Giants’
play-by-play men Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons bearing get-well wishes from KSFO.
San Francisco-born Carter Blakemore Smith, educated at Lowell High School and San Francisco State College, got his start in local radio as an intern at KSAN (1450 AM) in the mid-1950s, before farming out to Red Bluff for his first fulltime on-air job.
He advanced to Berkeley’s KRE (1400 AM and 102.9 FM) and KSFR (94.9 FM) a few years later, then parlayed his experience into a role as sidekick, foil and substitute for Don Sherwood at KSFO. In all, he worked three separate stints at KSFO over the years, interrupted once by his decision to work in the world of high finance for a few years.
Among Carter’s greatest accomplishments was his effort in 1982 to publicize the need to restore San Francisco’s landmark cable cars. In addition to taking an 18-hour marathon ride on “Cable Car 68” to raise funds for the restoration effort, he appeared on radio stations from coast-to-coast (and around the world via shortwave) to increase awareness of the venture. His interests were varied and wide-ranging, and included aviation history and ham radio (Carter’s amateur license was K6CWM).
Always a listener favorite, he later moved on to KNBR, KFRC (in its Magic 61 incarnation) and KABL. Also widely known for being the proprietor of one of the world’s largest collections of T-shirts — numbering upward of 6,000, many of which were donated to the Smithsonian — Carter B. Smith was elected to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2007.
Carter B. Smith passed away on January 24, 2011, at his home in Tiburon after waging a long and valiant battle against a brain tumor.
Carter B. Smith
Carter B. Smith on KRE (Friday, April 26, 1963; 25 minutes)
It’s Classical Carter, on an audition reel perhaps intended for the folks at KSFO, as he spins some Sibelius, shows off his musical knowledge, reads a few public service announcements, does the news and waxes sentimental about his lately departed cat, from the studio of Berkeley’s KRE AM and FM. Courtesy of Carter B. Smith.
Carter B. Smith on KSFO (Wednesday, July 24, 1963; 31 minutes)
The audition (see above) pays dividends, as Carter moves, cigarettes and all, from the news desk into the morning seat at almighty KSFO … albeit as a sub for the oft-absent Don Sherwood — “It appears that Mr. Sherwood is ill today,” the new fellow notes during the broadcast, which includes a Mike Powell newscast about twenty minutes into the recording.
Featuring Sherwood as “David Nice Guy, formerly known as the Lone Rabbit,” as well as a “Man On The Street” interview conducted by Carter B.
Starring Carter B. Smith in the ribbeting role of amphibious crime-fighter.
A series of seven episodes starring “the champion of the oppressed, scourge of the scurrilous,” directly from KSFO’s studio tape recording. The label on the tape reel reads “Fairbanks Series” (the villain in these episodes is from the Alaskan city), and lists a series of dates: Oct. 14, 17, 19, 20, 21, 25 (“Frog Phone”) and 26 (“Copter Sounds”).
Featuring Carter B. Smith in a supporting role.
Carter B. Smith on 560/KSFO (Thursday, Sept. 10, 1970; 28 minutes)
A Viet Nam-era “V-Disc” of sorts, recorded in the KSFO studio for the local audience as well as for our fighting men and women in Southeast Asia. The music mix may be a bit more “Top 40” than usual for KSFO — note “Apache” by Electric Indian and “Yellow River” by Christie — to make it more appealing to the overseas audience. Also heard on the recording, which covers the half-hour from about 6 to 6:30 p.m., are psychiatrist Richard Sutherland, plus the tail-end of a Herb Kennedy newscast. Courtesy of Carter B. Smith.
An in-studio recording featuring Carter’s live interview with Bob Hope, marred by a bad phone connection. Date approximate, based on music included in the aircheck.
Carter talks with the VOA about his personal role in San Francisco’s effort to restore its legendary cable cars in a recording direct from a shortwave broadcast.
Frank Dill, Mike Cleary, C.J. Bronson, Tom Brown, Ken Dito and other KNBR personalities talk with Carter as he undertakes his 18-hour marathon ride on Cable Car 68 to help raise funds to restore San Francisco’s moving landmark. Part 2 of the recording can be heard by clicking here.
On his marathon ride (see above), Carter discusses the cable car restoration effort with his former (and future) KSFO teammate, Al “Jazzbeaux” Collins, during Al’s program on New York’s WNEW.
A studio-grade recording starring C.J. and Carter B. in the afternoon, playing a few records, giving away some prizes … and sharing a few laughs over Carter’s lunch entree — let’s just say that it was more likely calamari tentacles. The broadcast, which probably dates from June 16, 1983, also includes a Bob Lazich newscast and, about 28 minutes in, a spot for the Oakland A’s telecast voiced by Bill King.
Carter’s jock jingles from the Good Times station.
Among Carter’s countless interests is aviation history. In this recording he recounts his journey on the China Clipper II.
Carter’s second go-round at KSFO, which at this time was under the ownership of King Broadcasting. This recording, taken directly off the studio console, takes place on the somber morning of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, and features extensive coverage of the tragedy by KSFO newsman Dave Henderson.
Live in the Magic 61 mobile studio (formerly KFRC’s “Virgin Sturgeon”), Carter broadcasts from Pier 35 on the San Francisco waterfront, awaiting the arrival of the Crystal Harmony and the opportunity to award two Silver Platter Club members a voyage on the popular cruise ship.
Carter in the afternoon on “The Station Of The Stars,” in — by his own admission — a very good mood. You may also listen to the second half of this gently scoped recording by clicking here.
The final days of KABL, by this time relegated to 92.1 FM in Walnut Creek, its signal limited primarily to the Diablo Valley, with Carter holding court. Recorded from Internet stream.
Carter’s last “break” on the air, as he cracks the mike to say farewell on KABL.
— Exhibit includes text and audio. — Audio presentation only.
— Edited broadcast or excerpt only. — Fair-to-poor audio quality.
* — Included in the KSFO: The Golden West Years Collection.
BFT — Courtesy of Ben Fong-Torres.
JG — Courtesy of Joe Gentry.
PHOTO SOURCE: The Sherwood-Smith hernia snapshot appears by courtesy of Carter Smith.