By Joel Phelps
As an adolescent, I spent an abnormal amount of time on the road commuting — not for work, mind you, but for school, which was a one-hour drive each way. I lived in New Edinburg (Cleveland County) and rode to Sparkman (Dallas County) every morning with my old man. There were two things we did to pass the time: we counted crows, and we listened to the radio. But not just any radio.
Every morning, he’d tune into Magic 105.1, and we’d listen to the first hour of “Rock and Roll Breakfast” with “The Outlaw” Tommy Smith and “Big Dave” Meldon. Their adult jokes were mostly well above my 12-year-old head, but some of them I understood and knew my developing brain was probably a little delicate for much of the humor Tommy and Dave were doling out.
These were the same years when Howard Stern’s antics pushed all the FCC’s buttons. While most of the nation listened to Stern’s syndicated program, we hell raisers in Arkansas were fortunate enough to have Tommy Smith parallel Stern’s bad boy behavior behind the mic.
I knew the guy had to be funny because my dad, who rarely shows much more than a smile, would guffaw for minutes at Tommy and Dave’s jokes. Again, I was far too young to understand why Tommy would ask a caller if she … gosh, I can’t even share this with my readers as I strive to keep my content family friendly.
Tommy and Big Dave had their artificial callers, like the guy who would say he was lost somewhere on University “Skreet”. There was Ophelia McGoober, the Babe Bracket (to those of you who listen to “The Show With No Name,” the Babe Bracket originated on “Rock and Roll Breakfast”), and every year I listened as The Skoal Brothers delivered their redneck rendition of “The Night Before Christmas”.
I often think about how media has changed, and I feel a tad old because I feel there was definitely some “magic” behind KMJX and all its on-air personalities, its late-night programs and how their DJs were the only ones in the state who ignored FCC’s guidelines on those Seven Dirty Words, fines be damned. I was listening the noon hour that KMJX ended its time on the airwaves — quite the bizarre listening experience — and gave way to The Wolf, a country station.
I later tuned in to The Point 94.1 to find Magic’s Sharpe Dunaway back on the afternoon waves to dish out some classic rock tunes, then to Tom FM to hear Tom Wood, 105’s station manager. It was mainly out of nostalgia, to hear their voices, but it was comforting to know that they continued DJ’ing after Clear Channel pulled the rug from beneath them.
But it was Tommy Smith who stood out the most for me. He said things no other on-air personality dared to say, and I knew this fact even as a boy. He did things his way and didn’t worry about the backlash (the Babe Bracket came under attack just a few years ago on 103.7). Howard Stern dodged the FCC when he joined satellite radio, but Tommy Smith kept chugging along on the FM airwaves.
I rarely listened to “The Show With No Name” because it was so sports-heavy, but I have tuned in a time or two just to hear The Outlaw’s first monologue after John Wayne’s Pledge of Allegiance. However, I felt at ease knowing that Tommy Smith was still out there, pushing the envelope every way he could. To me, he was and forever will be The Last DJ.
So, Tommy, if you happen to read this, thank you. Thank you for being a media outlaw, thank you for raising the bar, thank you for making us laugh, and thank you for making my 12-year-old mind strain so hard to figure out what you meant by “big toe.” Tommy, you’ll be missed. Enjoy your retirement. You deserve it.