Marty Smith ’98, one of ESPN’s most trusted and popular hosts and reporters, is also a podcaster and radio broadcaster who, in October, was also among the three Highlanders to receive the 2023 Alumni Award from the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences (CHBS).

On a recent episode of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s “Dale Jr. Download” podcast, Smith and Earnhardt, longtime friends, take a deep dive into the ESPN star’s career, complete with a discussion of a roadblock Smith hit years earlier as a student and the silver lining he found in it that formed the crux of his origin story.

Giles County native Smith, at that time, had been playing baseball at a university in Tennessee, but when he transferred to Radford, he was cut from the Highlanders squad. 

 That discouraging detour, however, ultimately led him to seek work in Radford’s sports information office.

Smith said he told them he simply wanted to volunteer: “You don’t have to pay me. I just want to learn.”

Over the years that followed, that decision would pay handsome dividends.

“Because of the work I did there, I was hired by The Roanoke Times newspaper,” covering high school sports and the New River Valley Speedway, he explained.

Off that success, Smith, while still a Radford senior, became The Washington Post’s Virginia Tech football beat writer. From there, he was hired by the Lynchburg, Virginia, News & Advance, which led to a position at NASCAR.com.

In 2006, he ascended to a sportswriter’s dream job at ESPN.

Over the course of the chat, which runs about 80 minutes, Smith expands on his work, his journalistic approach and his long and distinguished career.

Fans can watch the full interview on YouTube and stream or download it from Apple Podcasts or most other audio platforms. 

Feb 16, 2024
Neil Harvey

Feb 26, 2024
School of Communication