10 Questions for M.D. Smith IV

M.D. Smith IV was a lifetime broadcaster and one of the last local TV owners and operators in the country. He sold his station, WAAY-TV in Hunstville, Alabama, in 1999 and is in semi-retirement. He was an innovator in many ways and a pioneer in others. In this conversation, he offers his views of the challenges confronting broadcasters today, the internet, and what life was like when “TV was art.”

He talks about the days when the station had only 17 employees, and staff members had to handle many different tasks.

“Perhaps, we will come full circle in the coming years,” he notes, “with 17 people running a TV station and with computerized tools (similar to many radio stations of today) able to still attract an audience, sell commercials and make a profit.”

10 Questions for M.D. Smith IV

I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I have in putting it together.

Comments

  1. Great post! He says it all especially the last part. Hard working, talented people will always be in demand. As for the business today it can still be exciting and fun if you are willing to take some risks. God speed to M.D. Smith

  2. As a former news anchor and reporter at one of Mr. Smith’s Huntsville competitors (WHNT) I enjoyed the 10 questions and especially the answers. I remember in the 1990s thinking Mr. Smith’s idea of putting cameras in the hands of everyone (even salespeople) could revolutionize local news, IF the employees would go along with it. It would have worked better if those employees would have been excited about the opportunity of covering the news. Now with 3-chip cameras smaller and better and non-linear editors capable of working on personal computers and laptops, I find I’m doing what M.D. Smith dreamed.

    His comments about how the bottom line overrides the responsiblity of serving the community have never been more true than today.

    My days in Huntsville were my best days in television news and part of the reason was M.D. Smith. I never worked for him, but the competition in that market made me a better journalist, anchor and storyteller.

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