Larry Lavern Smith was born April 24, 1944, in Bedford, IN to the late C. Lavern and Lois A. Sears Smith. After attending Culver Summer Naval Academy and Bedford High School, Larry graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in Broadcasting and Journalism.
He began his career as a reporter for the Indianapolis Star, moving to staff photographer at Bloomington’s Herald-Telephone while also being a stringer for the United Press International News pictures and WISH-TV in Indianapolis. Prior to attending IU, he was an announcer and news reporter for WBIW in Bedford, IN, and worked on the university newspaper ‘The Daily Student’ and FM station WFIU. Returning to the Herald-Telephone as a special assignment reporter, he was promoted to Regional Editor. He then became News Editor for the Times Mail in Bedford. Making the jump from newspaper to radio, Larry was the morning anchor and hosted a daily telephone talk show at WCSI in Columbus, IN, where he spent several years before moving to Assistant News Director at WJOL Radio in Joliet, IL. Evansville’s WJPS Radio recruited him as News Director to create the first all-news/talk format and host a talk show.
Larry moved to television at WFIE TV as a weekend anchor, host of a weekly public affairs magazine program, and political and special assignment reporter. He was summoned to be Press Secretary and Senior advisor to then-Senator Dan Quayle moving him to the Washington, DC area to coordinate all in-state and national media relations and working with the White House Press Office.
After leaving Washington, DC, Larry moved to WANE-TV in Fort Wayne, IN as News Director taking the station to number one and helping pioneer the introduction of Beta Video news gathering to local television news. South Bend’s WSBT TV/Radio recruited him as News Director of the CBS affiliate television station and leading radio news department in the market. He added new newscasts, modernized the videography department, and was a member of a joint CBS Network and affiliate news task force to create the first joint satellite truck news-gathering operation in the industry.
Moving south to WHAS TV in Louisville, KY as News Director, he managed the number one local television news department and one of the top three CBS affiliate news departments in the US, and then one of the top two ABC affiliate news departments. He won a National Headliner’s award for Best News Coverage for a top-50 station.
Larry was an Adjunct-Professor teaching television news and broadcast news writing at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, IN, and at the same time was Director of Communications for Jefferson County Government in KY and served as Press Secretary for County Judge-Executive, responsible for senior staff and public information officers for all 13 county departments.
Larry’s experience in the media led him to join the Louisville, KY based Institute for Crisis Management as a Senior Consultant working with corporate executives and leaders of education, healthcare, and not-for-profit organizations to prevent or help manage their crisis that could not be prevented. Founder, Bob Irvine, named Larry President in 1999 as he ultimately transitioned to ownership of ICM. He worked in the business until his retirement in 2015.
With an honorable discharge, Larry served six years in the Air Force and Air Force Reserve earning the rank of TSgt and Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge in the 434th Special Operations Wing Hq Public Information Office.
In 2000, Larry earned a 2nd Place from Hoosier Chapter PRSA for “Facing the Public”, a media training program for the Indiana Department of Corrections, and in 2001 he earned the Award of Honor from Hoosier PRSA for “Slaughter at the Office” in the Crisis Communication Category. He was named a Batten Fellow at the Darden Graduate School of Business, UVA in 2003 and inducted into the Kentucky PRSA/IABC Landmarks of Excellence Communicators’ Hall of Fame. In 2004, PR Week named him one of the Nation’s “top 22 crunch time counselors”.
Larry’s memberships include Radio Television Digital News Association, Vice-President; Louisville Chapter Society of Professional Journalists; Past President, Indiana and Kentucky Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors; Past President, Kentucky Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators; Red Cross volunteer and former board member or committee chair in Columbus, IN, South Bend, Fort Wayne, Evansville and Louisville; Lawrence County (IN) Mental Health Association and Volunteer Rescue Squad and Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department Reserve. He was a faithful member of Cherry Street Church of Christ in New Albany.
He is a published co-author of three books on crisis management and leadership and a contributor to four other books on crisis communication.
Leaving him little time for outside interests, Larry did find enjoyment in playing piano after having been in a small band (The Blue Notes) in high school, playing at prom and other gigs. His childhood fascination with trains lead him to collect N Scale engines and cars and have a running layout he enjoyed for many years. As a newscaster, he had the opportunity to cover and report daily happenings in May where he spent many long hours at the Indianapolis Speedway interviewing the drivers and reporting the events of the day. This sparked a passion for racing which lead to his go-kart racing career for several years and was an avid fan of ARCA and NASCAR racing. After a number of years of travel with his work, he enjoyed the quiet peace and solace of just being home.
Larry is preceded in death by his parents, as well as his grandson, Jeremy Eads.
Larry is survived by his loving wife, Yvonne; daughter Stacie Eads (Mark) and grandson Eli; son Ryan Smith; stepson Michael Fultz (Jen) and granddaughter Flynn; his sister Julia Johnson (Mike) as well as a niece, nephews, many cousins and his beloved German Shepherd, Gabby.
In lieu of flowers, on Larry's behalf please consider a donation to Cherry Street Church of Christ, 302 Cherry Street, New Albany, Indiana 47150 or to The Alzheimer's Association at www.act.alz.org.
The family kindly requests that a mask be worn while attending all services.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.kraftfs.com for the Smith family.