Douglas Lance Smith

Smith, Douglas Lance
died October 23, 2012, in his home in Cave Creek, Arizona, at age 63 after a long and courageous struggle with lung and heart disease. He was born September 20, 1949, in Phoenix, Arizona to Don Lloyd Smith and Jeanette Frances Murphree Smith. As a student at Grandview Elementary School and Central High School, Doug's speed and natural ability made him a gifted athlete. After high school he attended Phoenix College and Arizona State University. He served in the Air Force at Tan Son Nhut Airbase in Saigon, Viet Nam and Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah. After hitchhiking to see and experience America, he majored in mass communication
and began a 25-year career in radio. He was one of the original news anchor/reporters for iconic KDKB in Phoenix during the Bill Compton era. Doug captured America's volatility by producing NewViews and contributing to Forum, which won broadcasting's highest honor, the coveted Peabody Award. Doug's reporting impacted Phoenix in many ways. His diligence helped change Arizona's helmet laws, letting motorcycle riders decide if they wear a helmet or not. Doug helped unite opposing forces to the construction of Orme Dam, which led to its demise. KDKB also kept developers from building above certain heights on mountains, proposed futuristic plans for the city's freeways to avoid becoming another L.A., and introduced Phoenicians to alternative lifestyles for energy and environmental living. More awards and achievements ensued as he worked in California, Houston, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Nashville and across the nation. In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina he produced an in-depth interview of an unknown band named Alabama, which he introduced to RCA Records, contributing to the band's discovery. He also busted an ambulance service director for incompetence and drunkenness. Doug's live coverage of John Jenrette's FBI ABSCAM trial in Washington, D.C. contributed to the Congressman's eventual resignation. As the state capitol reporter for KTAR, Doug earned respect for being a broadcast journalist who asked tough questions, held politicians accountable, exposed wrongs and addressed social issues. He left KTAR to be news director of a competing news/talk station, KSUN. When the station pioneered a children's format, he became general manager. At KTRH in Houston, he challenged the mayor on issues such as drug war funding, false environmental claims for airport expansion and city zoning issues. He helped start news/talk stations throughout the country, ending his radio career at MetroSource Network in Scottsdale. His talent, humor and creativity made him a prolific singer, songwriter, poet and author. Wearing cowboy duds and playing guitar, he sang, told jokes and stories at Sonoran Desert tours, cookouts and resorts. His song, I'm a Jeep Tour Guide, was a favorite. Tourists claim he touched the heart and tickled the funny bone. Doug's writing has been described as humorous, poignant, touching and ingenious. Doug never forgot old pals, bringing them together by periodically organizing intimate reunions for his school, work and neighborhood friends. He felt everyone who touched his life became part of him. He is survived by his mother Jean Smith, wife Julia Wallace Smith, son Brian Patrick Smith (Lindsay), son Casey Delaney Smith, daughter Shannon Keely Smith, and grandchildren Eli and Ezekiel Smith. He is also survived by his brother Steve Smith (Vilia) and sisters Barbara Petterson (Kim) and Donna Smith. He is preceded in death by father Don Smith, who owned L.L. Smith's Hardware and Sporting Goods in Phoenix. Services will be held Sunday November 11, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. at First Southern Baptist Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. This is a celebration of Doug's life, so bring laughter, tears, fun stories and memories and please dress comfortably. A memorial service for family will be held at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona at 9 a.m. Monday, November 12, 2012. In lieu of flowers, the family is accepting contributions for a commemorative bench to be placed in Cave Creek Regional Park. Please email the family at for instructions.

Published in The Arizona Republic on Oct. 28, 2012