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Leave it to Smith to ‘Wrap It Up’

voice of the Memphis Grizzlies Johnathan Smith
Johnathan C. Smith
 

After Memphis Grizzlies games, you can hear Johnathan C. Smith on “Wrap It Up,” the post-game show aired on WRBO 103.5.
The expectations for an average 4-year-old include the abilities to make up words and practice riddles and nursery rhymes. At that age, Johnathan C. Smith had learned to “call out players’ names and sports stats.”


Johnathan C. Smith and Ken Kincaid host the Grizzlies post-game radio show, “Wrap It Up” on WRBO 103.5 in the Lexus Lounge at FedExForum. (Photo by Kelley Evans)


Hasheem Thabeet (right) congratulates teammate Rudy Gay after the Grizzlies’ come-from-behind win over the Houston Rockets at the FedExForum. (Photo by Warren Rosenborough)


Johnathan C. Smith  (Photo by Kelley Evans)
Twenty-six years later, Smith still is calling out the names of athletes and the numbers that reflect their performances. And after Memphis Grizzlies games, you can hear him on “Wrap It Up,” the post-game show aired on WRBO 103.5.

“My father instilled in me to follow my passion, which was sports,” said Smith, soon after the Grizzlies snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Houston Rockets (115-110) at FedExForum last Friday.

Buzzer sounds, game over and Smith begins packing his notes and his digital recorder, heading to the locker rooms to gather quotes. This is his ritual after every home game. He brings this information to listeners, who greet him and co-host Ken Kincaid on the radio program where they get to express their opinions and release their passions about the game and the team.

Interactive and “fan friendly,” says Smith of the show. “We have a broad range of callers who are die-hard fans….We provide that platform for them.”

Smith was born in Frankford, Ky. He lived for a while in Dallas, before he moved with his mother to Houston, where he attended middle school and high school. After graduating high school, he chose to join his father in Memphis.

A former high school point guard, Smith decided to attend Columbia School of Broadcasting in Bartlett, Tenn. He started in radio on the “Above the Rim” pre-game show on 103.5. From that spot, he played music and talked about the Grizzlies between sets.

“Being an actual disc jockey is a talent that those guys do so well,” said Smith. “I wanted to talk about straight game stats.”

When the Grizzlies went looking for a production assistant, Smith put himself in the mix, landed the position and got busy making himself useful.

Eric Hasseltine, the Grizzlies Radio Network Manager and on-air host, said Smith is a real success story.

“He started with us by doing all he could to be a part of our broadcast and without him there’s a big hole,” Hasseltine said. “He moved up and filled a vacant role. He’s so helpful and jumps right in there doing whatever he can. We feel very fortunate to have him as part of our team.”

Smith says his hardest challenge is remaining unbiased.

“After the first year I became a fan,” he said. “You feel like you’re part of the team. You want to see these guys do well…. When you grow with these guys and see how hard they work, you’re on their side.”

“When you see these guys, you come to know them on a first name basis and you support them no matter what,” Smith said.

“So it’s hard to balance the bias and it bleeds through the air. You become that guy who says ‘we’ instead of ‘them.’”

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