WBAL's Ron Smith to stop chemo; remain on-air


The long-time Baltimore morning man first announced the news of his pancreatic cancer 10/17 on-air at the Hearst station. Smith, who has been there since 1984, originally said he planned to stay on at the station as he sought treatment. Now he has stopped chemotherapy treatments in favor of a palliative care regimen aimed more at keeping him comfortable than curing the disease. But he’ll still be doing the show.

Smith, 69, announced the change in his treatment in a brief statement at the beginning of his show 11/17. He said he would remain on the air “as long as I can.” He said he decided against further chemo after enduring a first round of treatments. “After consultations it was determined that was a futile way to go,” he said on-air. “The idea of some miracle with a stage four pancreatic cancer, well, there isn’t going to be any miracle. It’s the best thing under the circumstances. I’m OK with it. There’s no way of knowing how long I’m going to be functioning. We’re sort of playing it by ear from this time forward.”

WBAL GM Ed Kiernan said he discussed Smith’s role at the station with him 11/16, and promised that he would remain on the air as long he wants.

“We’re going to give him as much support as we can during this time,” Kiernan said. “As long as he can do a show, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Added Kiernan, “He’s one tough dude.”

“There are going to be some changes here. I’m still going to do the show, but not all the time,” Smith said in October. “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.”

Smith has also written an op-ed column for the Baltimore Sun since 2008.