Tigers broadcast duo takes over 50 years of tradition

For 50 years, the Conway community tuned into the voice of the Tigers, Mike Green to follow their high school football team’s Friday night game. Those days have ended and a new era has begun.

That new era is really just a transition, as Ashley Smith has picked up the headset and the enormous responsibility that Green left behind. It was a transition that began many months ago. “Mike retired after 50 years last year, and we talked about it. I wouldn’t have ever done it without his blessing, and he told me to go for it. Last year he let me do a quarter here and there just to get my feet wet,” said Smith. “I worked with Mike for the last seven years as a color analyst, and of course Howard Lee did it for 38 years.”

The biggest challenge has been “learning the ropes. When I was the color guy, I would do a little bit of research and I’d come in on Friday and boom, it’s game time. I didn’t realize all the work that led up to the game. You know, going out and talking to the sponsors and getting the information, and talking to the coaches. That was the biggest challenge, finding time and getting into a routine. That was a lot of work.

“The good thing with Mike, last year I was introduced by him, and it was a smooth handoff. He gave me all of his notes and everything that he had, he let me borrow. That was a big help,” Smith said.

Growing up in Conway helped with the transition, “I’m from Conway, I played football at Conway and my Dad coached at Conway when I was in High School.”

That transition has still been a little rough in areas including the technical side of things. Smith relates that it’s a struggle right now for him sometimes and that he often finds himself more focused on making sure everything is working than on the game.  “I’ve had some problems with the technical aspect and I’m learning that. Once I figure that out, I’ll feel more comfortable,” he said.

The majority of Conway fans are simply happy to see the hometown boy continue the tradition of broadcasting all home and away games, which are currently carried on Gator 107.9FM. Smith relates that he often hears the phrase, “You’re no Mike Green,” but readily admits that, “I know I’m not Mike Green, and I know I’ll never be Mike Green.”

Smith is quick to thank those that have provided support in terms of advice and sponsorship. The list is endless, but fellow broadcasters Allen Smothers, and Jack Murphy have really helped along the way. He also credits Head Coach Chuck Jordan and of course, the voice, Mike Green.

When the discussions first began that Green would be handing off the duties to Smith, the search began to find a partner on the broadcasts and Smith relates that he had worked with Mac Smith, no relation, doing baseball playoffs for Horry Telephone Co-operative (HTC) in the past.

Mac Smith moved to the area in 1969 and began coaching along the Grand Strand 10 years later. He went to Myrtle Beach High School and played for Doug Shaw before coaching under him. He would also hold coaching positions at Coastal Carolina University and Socastee High School, all while living in Conway for the past 31 years.

“Ashley and I did some Conway High School baseball games together a couple of years ago, and when it became clear that Ashley was going to step in for Mike Green, he asked me to come in and do the color,” Mac Smith said. “Ashley does all of the technology stuff, and I just get to show up and talk about what’s going on.”

“We are not professionals, obviously; we haven’t gone to broadcast school or anything like that. We just do the best that we can and try to paint a picture for the people that are listening to us so that they can get an insight into what’s going on out there on Friday night,” Mac Smith said.

The transition is now complete and 10 games into the season, the kinks seem to have finally worked themselves out. Whether another 50 year broadcast era has begun remains to be seen, but it seems that Ashley Smith is the right man for that job. Mac Smith agrees, “Ashley is a really good guy. His heart is in the right place, He’s really excited about Conway Athletics, not just football but overall.”

With the playoffs beginning Friday night, any game could be their last for the broadcast season that began in March with Ashley Smith venturing out in the community to gather support, “I’d like to thank everybody for all their help. The opportunity to broadcast these games is awesome. I’ve got the best seat in the house.”

You can catch the Conway Tiger football broadcasts on Friday nights on Gator 107.9 FM with a 7pm airtime.

Photo Credit: Chuck Silvey

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