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WOSU's Marilyn Smith Retires After 30-Year Career

marilyn-smith-in-studio.jpg
Nick Houser
/
89.7 NPR News
"All Things Considered" host Marilyn Smith

WOSU’s Marilyn Smith has brought a distinguished 30-year career in public radio to a close.  She retired from the station Friday.

“This is 89.7 NPR News. Good afternoon I'm Marilyn Smith. “

That's the familiar voice of WOSU's Marilyn Smith, who for the past few years has been the local host of All Things Considered. But for many years she's been one of WOSU's outstanding news personalities.

Today is Marilyn's last day at WOSU. She's retiring after 30 years.

She joins us now.  You came to public broadcasting in a rather unusual way, didn't you?

Marilyn Smith: I did. When I graduated from Ohio University, I was an English major and I moved to Columbus and I applied for a job as a secretary at United Press International. 

The Writers Guild had gone out on strike, and the bureau manager asked me if I could help out. So I wrote some copy, and one day he came over and said, “Who's writing this stuff?”  And I kind of looked around and thought, ‘Uh oh.’  I said, ‘Well I am.’  And he said, ‘This is what you ought to be doing.’

I was fortunate enough that there was a graduate weekend position open here at the station and got it.

I kept searching around the first day for the person to give this newscast that I had written so that person could deliver it on the air and was eventually told when it came to be news time you deliver it on the air. And of course I was terrified. I remained terrified for a long time but slowly and eventually I was able to overcome that.

Sam Hendren: You've been a reporter; you've also been a talk show host. Tell us about that.

Marilyn Smith: I was the education reporter when I was first hired full-time here, and it was during the appeal of the (Columbus) school desegregation case which was kind of a tough situation to walk into not having had the experience of covering the actual trial.

Then eventually I started anchoring newscasts as we called it. We did a lot of local news. There was no Morning Edition for example during that time.  We did a lot of national and international news as well as local news.

Sam Hendren: How did you survive doing the Morning Edition shift which you did for seven years?

Marilyn Smith:  Well I'm not a morning person and survive is certainly the right verb to use, but you do get used to it. And I did find that you had to wake up in a hurry and get yourself going in the morning.

Sam Hendren:  Marilyn, listeners really don't know all that you do during the All Things Considered shift. Can you just explain briefly what is going on while All Things Considered is being broadcast and your role in it? 

Marilyn Smith: That has changed in the not too distant past. I was taking the Ohio Public Radio feeds in real time, I was taking the traffic reports, writing the newscasts and delivering newscasts, rewriting forward promotions.

We have since gotten a new system for delivering news and that has streamlined it quite a lot, but I had a friend who I've known for probably 30 years say to me one day recently, ‘Well, I thought somebody just brought you all that stuff.’  I said,  ‘Oh no! If it sounds like chaos sometimes there's a reason why!’

Sam Hendren: What about the people you've interviewed over the years. Have those interviews left an impression?

Marilyn Smith:  Very much so.  A long time ago, I did an hour of Morning Edition, a local hour of Morning Edition, for which I did many, many interviews and a long, long time ago I got to interview Mary Martin. That was one interview where I really had to calm myself down.  She really helped me relax.  She was very, very talented and very gracious.

Sam Hendren: For the past several years you've been doing food shows for WOSU. How did that come about?

Marilyn Smith: Well a long time ago when we did this morning magazine, this local magazine, we incorporated food reviews in that and then it slowly evolved. When we stopped doing food reviews on the air we did pick up this hour of Chefs in the City All Sides Weekend.

It's a lot of fun. It does take additional research, and people, I think, really welcome that show; they enjoyed that show.  Everybody eats and everybody has an opinion.

Sam Hendren: How has public radio journalism prepared you for the future?

Marilyn Smith: Well I think just knowing the news, being interested in current events, really understanding the issues when I go and cast my ballot, when I go and vote.  

I'm inundated with information all day long and I'm open to that. I'm anxious to hear what happens next and how these things affect our society every single day.

Sam Hendren:  Well, Marilyn, on behalf of WOSU and your many fans we want to thank you for your 30 years of service and wish you the best in the years ahead.

Marilyn Smith: Thank you Sam. It's really been a great run and a privilege.