WBAL's Ron Smith has pancreatic cancer


The long-time WBAL-AM Baltimore talker Ron Smith announced the news 10/17 on-air. Smith, 69 who has been at the station since 1984, said he plans to stay on at the station as he seeks treatment.

The prognosis is not great. Smith quoted a Johns Hopkins doctor telling him, “You have grade four pancreatic cancer that’s metastasized to your liver, your abdominal cavity, the lungs and so on.”

As a result of that diagnosis, Smith said: “There are going to be some changes here. I’m still going to do the show, but not all the time. Going forward, I’m going to fight this and see what happens — how the cancer responds to the treatment, how my body responds to the treatment. There is no way to be sure of anything about this other than I will be undergoing chemotherapy for the rest of whatever time I have…But it could be a considerable time, so, don’t mourn me yet. All right? Just don’t mourn me. I’m going to be here on the radio serving your needs and mine. …But there will be days when I’m not here… But I want to also say I’m OK.”

Smith, whose show moved from afternoon drive to morning drive last year, is a Baltimore media institution. The conservative host was an anchorman on local TV before moving to radio more than 25 years ago.

Smith said he had no sense that anything was wrong with him physically until a few weeks ago when he “began to feel unwell.”

After seeking medical help to find out what was going on, he was informed late last week by his doctor that a CAT scan showed a tumor on his pancreas. After receiving the diagnosis at Johns Hopkins, he asked the doctor if it was worth fighting.

“Oh yes, this is worth fighting,” Smith quoted the cancer specialist. “There are fantastic new chemo-drugs, chemo-regimens, and I’ve seen worse cases than yours clear up. You never know what’s going to happen.”

So, Smith promised, “I’m committed to fight this thing. But it’s going to take some time off to do it. In other words, I’m going to have chemotherapy on a regular basis. I don’t have the schedule yet, because I won’t see the oncologist until Friday. But once I have the schedule, then, with the help of management here, which has been so supportive, the Ron Smith show will continue with Ron Smith — except on days when I can’t be here.”

Smith also writes a column for the Baltimore Sun that appears on the paper’s op-ed page weekly.