Voicing His Passion: New Pal’s Smith named ISSA Sportscaster of the Year

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Andrew Smith works as the public address announcer for the Indy Fuel during a game at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis. (file photo)

By Paul Gable/For The Daily Reporter

NEW PALESTINE — If you have ever tuned in to a New Palestine High School football or basketball game or even an Indy Fuel hockey game, you’ve heard his voice.

That voice belongs to Andrew Smith, the 2022 recipient of the Marv Bates Sportscaster of the Year award, a recognition presented by the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

Next month, Smith will be honored during the ISSA’s annual hall of fame banquet in Greenwood for his dedication to the art of broadcasting and for his award-winning career that took root as a young sports fan in the Indianapolis area turned professional journalist to educator and later the voice many Dragons faithful have grown familiar with over the years.

Andrew Smith

The award is named in honor of the late Marv Bates, who was the play-by-play announcer for the Evansville Purple Aces basketball team until his tragic death on Dec. 13, 1977 in a plane crash.

“When I was young, a station out of Anderson (WHLN) was the gold standard of high school basketball broadcasting. They’d do two games every weekend night and a long postgame scoreboard call-in show, similar to Indiana Sports Talk. One State Finals night, they mentioned their broadcaster Rod Brooks had been named Indiana Sportscaster of the Year. Knowing that award existed gave me a goal to strive for,” Smith recalled.

“To be honored by your peers is incredible. It means a lot for your work to be recognized by those who do what you do. When you look at the people who have won this award and the great broadcasters we have in our state — many of whom I look up to and am honored to call friends — to be recognized among them is very humbling. I’m grateful to the ISSA for its work since 1946 in honoring the top sportswriters and sportscasters and grateful to be recognized by them. It’s hard to put into words how special this is.”

For Smith, the distinction is the highlight of a career that he would often dream of as a youth, listening to Chicago Cubs games on WGN.

“I’ve been mesmerized by broadcasting since I was a child. I would watch Cubs games on WGN and loved Harry Caray. He had a great personality, loved the game and made it fun. Like many kids who grew up in the 1980s, I’d often listen to games on the radio and the broadcasters became my connection to the sport, especially hockey. I’d listen to Dan Kelly in St. Louis, Pat Foley in Chicago, Mike Lange in Pittsburgh and a number of other broadcasters,” Smith said.

For Smith, it was the opportunity to tune in and listen to a game that was most memorable, whether on television or radio, and he appreciated getting the same experience as a listener as those who were actually sitting in the seats at those games.

“I was attracted to the word pictures they painted, how they made the games exciting and were the connection to the fans. Not surprisingly, I would try to mimic the broadcasters and start doing my own calls when I had the chance,” Smith said.

His love of broadcasting would carry over to the classroom, as he attended Indiana University with the goal to become a sports broadcaster, but he found himself in print media in Greencastle and at The Daily Reporter in Greenfield as a full-time newspaper reporter and later a sports editor following graduation.

Despite his initial trajectory, broadcasting continued to pull at his heart, and he would moonlight as a broadcaster whenever the opportunity presented itself during his tenure with newspapers.

In 2006, all of that changed, as he left the newspaper industry for the classroom and had the freedom to pursue his passion in the evenings and weekends.

“When I transitioned from being a reporter to an educator in 2006, having a day job allowed me to have evenings and weekends free to pursue my passion. That fall, Paul Condry hired me and Tim Adams to broadcast high school football games in Central Indiana. Two years later, Tim and I went out on our own to start what was then HancockCountySports.com and began broadcasting local events. I continued what we started after Tim passed away in 2010. Due to changes in the industry and our sponsorship base, that later transitioned to what is now NewPalRadio.com that focuses on New Palestine sports. Being a teacher at New Palestine High School, I love having the opportunity to serve our community and our students,” said Smith, who teaches economics and oversees the student newspaper at New Palestine High School.

And, those who know him best enjoy the work that he does, bringing Dragons’ games to listeners throughout the sports seasons.

“Since I’ve been here, Andrew has always been a true professional in regards to me and my program. From his interviews pre-game, to the postgame radio interviews, to preparing our incredible weekly media guide and studying the rosters of each team, you aren’t going to find anyone better at this level. The things he does behind the scenes, for not just football, but all of our sports here, and his passion for athletics and the kids playing them is second to none. This honor is incredibly well deserved,” said NPHS football coach Kyle Ralph.

In addition to his role as a play-by-play announcer for New Palestine High School basketball and football games, Smith can also be heard calling games for the Indy Fuel hockey team, a job that began two decades ago with him working on the stats crew with the then Indianapolis Ice. Smith was named the East Coast Hockey League’s broadcaster of the year in 2021.

“Eventually, in spring 2012, they needed a fill-in public address announcer, and they knew I had some broadcast experience, so I began doing that on a part-time basis. When the Indy Fuel began in 2014, I was the full-time PA announcer and transitioned to the broadcast booth in 2018,” Smith said. “Being a hockey broadcaster, especially in my hometown of Indy, has been a longtime dream of mine and it has been an honor to work in that role with the Fuel.”

For several years, he also served as a pit reporter for both the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my career to do some really incredible things. Being the voice of the professional hockey team in my hometown is a bit of a “dream job,” especially following in the footsteps of many outstanding broadcasters who preceded me,” Smith said. “Everybody’s goal is to get to the highest level. I’d love to have an opportunity to work in the National Hockey League. Beyond that, being a turn announcer at the Indianapolis 500 would be on the bucket list. The Indy 500 radio broadcast is the ultimate theater of the mind. Broadcasting games for my alma mater, Indiana University, would be another dream job, but the great Don Fischer has held that role since before I was born.”