Unsung Heroes of Platte County

The Smitty & Mac radio broadcasts are legendary to Platte County. Pictured are Kent Smith (left) and Malcolm Ervin.

There are a lot of heroes in Platte County. People that do so much to cause our county to progress and excel. I have been here now going on three years and two of my heroes are a team.

I actually got inspired to write this from a column by our PCSC No. 1 school superintendent who gave a great awareness to those who volunteer here in our county. Glue that holds things together at times.

Now I am a journalism graduate out of the University of Wisconsin system. I grew up listening to guys like Jim Irwin and then later Max McGee broadcast football games during the Packer’s glory years.

I grew up in Menomonee Falls where another great broadcaster lived just down the road from my parents on a road called Uecker Drive. My claim to fame for a while was that I dated Bob Uecker’s daughter who was a year younger than me at Menomonee Falls East High School.

Before “Ueck” got popular with movies, sitcoms and beer commercials we knew he was the best there was as an announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers. His phrase “just a little bit outside” when someone would throw a wild pitch had all of Wisconsin laughing out loud.

After a career in both radio and print journalism and listening to many announcers during my years as a coach and a fan and a parent, I’ve heard some very good announcers… and some very bad announcers.

We have gold here in these hills. I of course am referring to the “Smitty and Mac” show on our local radio station KZEW 101.7 FM. Kent Smith local radio owner and Platte County’s own county clerk, Malcolm Ervin team up during the football, basketball and occasionally the volleyball season to bring us Bulldog Network1 Sports.

As a fan, I have learned more about the history of the Bulldogs, the geography of the places they play and as a result have been well prepared when I have been to away games. And when I don’t get to travel, the treat is Friday nights or weeknights during basketball season when I get to hear stats that I can’t get anywhere else and information I can use in my articles in the paper.

I have learned to use and greatly appreciate the journalists of the county instead of most towns where there is competition between warring factions.

And then. There is the candor, the quips and the laughter… and the sadness that neither man hides in his job as a commentator. I think of the day Kennedy was shot and Cronkite was overcome with emotion. Now… it’s a bit different – a president being shot and a football team getting beat one game short of the state championship – but it’s nice to know we have real fans in the booth – wearing their heart on their sleeve speaking the things we are feeling at home.

Like soldiers on foreign soil, they keep us as if we are there in the battle.

There are times in my profession that, by the end of the day I am spent. Done. I have no strength to go even one more mile. And sometimes it’s a bad day. There have been times that sitting there numb from the world that Smitty will tease Malcolm about how short he is, Malcolm will respond with either a well-timed silence or a quick comeback and suddenly I am sitting in my living room laughing right out loud. And then the day just kind of fades into the distance.

And I’m sure I am about to write a new book called “Malcolmisms” which are clever, witty and amusing things that spew forth from Malcolm’s mouth.

And these guys are faithful. No games missed, always fighting the technology phantoms of a lesser venue, forced to watch the game a mile above the field, sometimes in dark little corners – and sometimes with no heat on a very cold night.

And who isn’t grateful that after a four-overtime basketball game and four hours from home on icy and snow covered roads that we could listen to it from the friendly confines of our own living room.

If you cut them, they will bleed blue and gold. They deserve some kind of a medal. Or at least – our admiration for what they have been doing year after year, week after week for our community. This is NOT part of their job description or for fame or fortune and they sacrifice the time they could be spending with their own families. This is their gift to us, Wheatland, and from one journalist to another… Well done my friends and colleagues… well done.

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