Director of Experiential Learning
Department of Communication & Journalism
College of Liberal Arts
Ric Smith is the Jordan-Hare Stadium public address announcer for Auburn University football. He also announces the SEC football championship and the SEC baseball tournament and is the announcer at Auburn University graduation ceremonies. Smith coordinates media and public relations practicum experiences and supervises undergraduate internships. His primary teaching areas are broadcasting, media relations and organizational communications.
1. Where are you from?
I grew up in the Valley, Ala., in Fairfax. I actually graduated from high school in Sumter, South Carolina, and my undergraduate degree is from the University of South Carolina. Coming to Auburn for grad school was like coming back home, and I've been here ever since.
2. When you were a kid, did you have an idea that you might want to do what you're doing now?
Not until I got involved with WEGL as an Auburn student and then one thing led to another. WEGL has been very good to me. That was where I took the first step to announcing. It was my introduction to the Department of Communication and Journalism and I met my wife through a WEGL connection.
3. What did it feel like to announce your first football game at Auburn?
The first football game I announced for Auburn was the Auburn versus Washington State game in 2006, and it's hard to describe the thrill of that moment. Back in 1983 or 1984, I remember walking through the press box as an Auburn student working with WEGL and Carl (Stephens, who was the Auburn stadium announcer at the time) was coming the other way. We had never met before, but I stopped him and introduced myself. I told him I had always admired the way he called a game. He was so nice to me; he took the time just to talk and to visit. That made a big impression on me. When Carl retired after the 2005 season, I became the stadium announcer. So it's Sept. 2, 2006 and here I am, the new stadium announcer for Auburn after going to Auburn games all my life. There's the thrill of that, and the thrill of 87,451 people. That game was also on ESPN and Carl was there too. It's 20 years after first meeting Carl Stephens, and I'm sitting in his chair. People talk about living the dream, and it truly is. I feel that way every time I sit down at the microphone. I'm very fortunate and very honored to have the opportunity. I am also very fortunate to work with a great team of people and this is very much a team effort: Jeremy Roberts, Jon Sirico and the marketing staff, Kirk Sampson and the sports information staff, the sound and video crew. Carl's son, Richard, is the scoreboard operator. My spotter is Eric Canada. I couldn't do it without him.
4. What is your favorite Auburn tradition?
I love when the eagle flies before the game; that's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Also, rolling Toomer's Corner. There are so many great Auburn traditions. My favorite moment of game day is just before kickoff. The eagle flies, the band marches out and then the team runs onto the field. There's so much energy at that moment. It's a phenomenal feeling.
5. What does it mean to play such a large role in commencement?
What I enjoy most about commencement is seeing the expressions on the faces of the graduates. I can see the smiles break out when their names are called. Some students actually tear up. There is a great deal of emotion for them at that moment. They know they've made it; they have earned the degree. But at the same time, they realize their time at Auburn is over and they are going out into the real world. I also enjoy hearing the reactions from their families. Graduation is a family moment and there is a tremendous amount of pride for everyone. For many families, the student whose name is being called is the first to have graduated from college. That's a wonderful moment as they hear the family name being announced. I guess there is a sense of relief for them too...no more tuition payments. As the father of an Auburn student, I'm looking forward to calling my son's name in a couple of years.