Smith to write for The Sun's op-ed page

August 08, 2008|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,Sun reporter

Ron Smith, a conservative voice on Baltimore radio for more than two decades, will become a weekly presence on The Sun's editorial page beginning next week.

Smith, who has been hosting a talk show on WBAL-AM since 1985, will continue his work with the station. But every Wednesday on The Sun's op-ed page, he will commit his conservative musings to paper in a column.

"If you talk about big surprises in Baltimore media, this would be one of them," said Smith, who has often been a vocal critic of The Sun and its editorial policies. "After years of sometimes being at odds with the paper ... it's an astonishing thing."

Sun Editor Tim Franklin said Smith will bring a respected voice to the op-ed page, offering a perspective not normally associated with the newspaper.

"He offers a strong conservative voice," said Franklin, adding, "I don't think that he's dogmatically conservative."

"It strengthens the newspaper to have a broad spectrum of perspectives," he said.

Ann LoLordo, The Sun's opinion editor, agreed. "A vibrant commentary page features a variety of voices. We've often relied solely on the syndicated columnists to provide that mix, when we have strong independent voices right here in Baltimore."

Jeff Beauchamp, vice president and station manager of WBAL, said he was glad to see Smith get an even wider audience for his views. "It was a win-win," Beauchamp said. "Ron offering his particular brand of opinion" in both media "will create even more discussion and debate on the issues."

Both Smith and Franklin agreed that The Sun's newest op-ed writer would be free to write about what he wants. "We want Ron to be Ron," said Franklin. "He'll have a wide license to tackle issues he wants to tackle. There may even be some occasions when he will be critical of the newspaper."

The Sun recently lost its strongest conservative voice when news columnist Gregory Kane accepted a voluntary buyout offer from the paper.

Smith, who often speaks of himself as the "voice of reason," has been known to deviate from the conservative norm. His early and longstanding objections to the war in Iraq earned him the ire of many conservative listeners. Still, he says he's confident he'll give his new bosses the alternative viewpoint they're looking for.

"If what Tim Franklin is asking for is a conservative voice," Smith said from his car phone yesterday afternoon, on the way home from his 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily broadcast, "that's what he's going to get.

"I have my ideas," Smith said. "I look forward to passing them along."

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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