Talk-show host will let the chips fall Issues: In his show on WOLB-AM, C. Miles Smith leads free-wheeling explorations of issues in the news and on people's minds.

On the Air

July 07, 1996|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

C. Miles Smith says he's a talk-show host you won't be able to peg.

"Sometimes I'll be Arsenio, sometimes I'll be Malcolm," says the 46-year-old Smith, who can be heard 2 p.m.-6 p.m. weekdays on WOLB-AM (1010), "but I'll never be Stepin Fetchit."

That sounds like a safe bet, judging by his five years on Atlanta radio, where he went from being a caller (known as Ralph from Ben Hill) to being host of his own show. There, he gained a reputation for shooting from the hip, for a no-holds-barred approach that earned him his share of fans -- and controversy.

His approach here will be much the same, he says, citing the vividly descriptive name he's adopted for his show: "The Talk-How-You-Like Underground Posse."

Sometimes, he'll take on the news, maybe read an article from the paper or throw out a hot topic to his audience. But the shows he enjoys the most, Smith says, are those that have nothing to do with current events and everything to do with letting people vent over the air.

As a for-instance, he offers the three best shows he feels he's done since arriving in Baltimore. In one, he simply asked people, "Does prayer change things?" The result was "very impassioned, a very good show. We got people calling up and offering all sorts of prayers. We got people calling up and cursing me out."

Then there was the show that asked, "How stupid can you be?" where everybody tried to top everybody else's stupid story, and a show on lies and liars, where he asked people, "What's the biggest lie you ever told?" and "What's the biggest lie you ever heard?"

The two biggest lies they ever heard, he and his listeners decided, were " 'til death do us part," and the Fourth of July" -- "I call it the 'Fourth of You-Lie,' because we still aren't free."

Obviously, C. Miles is not the shy, retiring type.

"We will take on the hot news and take on the burning issues and talk how we like," promises Smith, who debuted on WOLB June 11. "We are unbought and unbossed. We are going to do some chopping of the wood, and wherever the chips fall, that's where they fall."

But the act may be toned down, just a little.

"I'm trying to do that two-step Robin Leach thing, you know, become 'Rich and Famous,' " he says with a hearty laugh. "I'm famous enough. I got four hours on C-Span a couple years ago, and I still hear about that. All that famous stuff is cool, but now I'm trying to get rich."

The difference, he explains, can be seen in the props he uses in the studio. "In Atlanta, I had this machete in the studio. It got kind of heavy down there in Atlanta, G-A. Up here, I think I'm going to have to use my scalpel."

Station changes

There's a trio of new employees at WBAL-AM (1090), including a refugee from WPOC-FM (93.1), which announced in April that it was cutting back its news operation by cutting out its afternoon broadcasts (without, station officials stressed, laying off any of their on-air talent).

Anne Kramer, an anchor reporter at WPOC since 1994, joined the WBAL news team June 27. Kramer, who also worked for stations in Hagerstown and Middletown, is the daughter of state Delegate Louise Snodgrass, a Republican who represents Frederick and Washington counties.

Also joining the staff at WBAL are general sales manager Bob Cecil and account executive Anne Sweeney.

Cecil, a native Baltimorean, arrives at WBAL after a stint as general sales manager at New Orleans' WWL, flagship station of the NFL Saints. Wonder how he felt when the news broke Wednesday that the Ravens had signed on not with WBAL, but with Infinity Broadcasting's WLIF-FM (101.9)?

Sweeney, a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism, has spent the last seven years as an account executive at WQSR-FM (105.7).

Religious documentary

"A Pastor's Journal," a documentary detailing a typical day in the life of a Chicago minister, will air this afternoon on WJHU-FM (88.1).

Producer/engineer Jay Allison, whose "Life Stories" project allows people to tell their own stories, handed a tape recorder to Susan Johnson, pastor of Hyde Park Union Church, and asked her to spend two months reflecting on what she does for a living -- baptisms, weddings, burials, communions, ministering to her congregation.

The results of this forced introspection can be heard on WJHU 5: 30 p.m.-6 p.m. as part of National Public Radio's "Weekend All Things Considered."

Pub Date: 7/07/96


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