R.I.P. veteran sports-talk host Thierry Smith

Former Westword staffer T.R. Witcher's 1997 profile of Thierry Smith, whose death was confirmed earlier today, is entitled "The Quiet Man" -- and the phrase summed up one of the most unusual personalities in local media. Unlike the vast majority of other sports-talk-radio specialists, Smith, who battled multiple sclerosis, shared his opinion at a hushed volume instead of a splenetic roar. Listeners often found themselves leaning closer to the speaker when Smith was on the air, as if sharing a secret with a good friend.

After a stint at KDKO radio, Smith spent twelve years on The Fan at its two most recent dial positions -- first on AM, currently on FM. He left the station at the start of the year, and when Fan program director Tim Spence is asked if his departure was health-related, he says the reasons aren't pertinent to the discussion at hand, which pretty much answers the question. Still, Spence speaks with great feeling about Smith's unique contribution to local radio. "It's a very sad day for anyone who knew Thierry, and for Denver in general," he points out.

"Thierry was the consummate professional, the consummate journalist, and one of the hardest-working guys I've ever known," Spence continues. "And he did all of that while dealing with MS. He was a true warrior."

Today on the fan, hosts, guests and callers will be remembering the Smith they knew and loved. "He had a million contacts in sports and out of sports, and everyone who met him, peers and celebrities alike, had complete respect for him," Spence says. "Whenever anybody who'd left town would come back, one of the first questions they'd ask would be, 'How's Thierry?' That says a lot about who he was, and what he stood for."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts