Tumbleweed Smith, creator and producer of “The Sound of Texas,” the longest running syndicated radio program in the state, visited Marshall on Thursday to learn more about its colorful characters and rich history.
“I am here to interview some people who love life,” Smith said, beaming. “I mean not just love it — but eat it up.”
“You know, everything they see and hear is so fascinating and wonderful, and they love where they live and they love the people that are around them and they just have a good time,” he said. “They have a nice gleam in their eye.
“Those are the people that I look for,” he chuckled. “People who love life…”
Smith, of Big Spring, has been producing his radio show for 50 years. He said it’s always good to come to Marshall to highlight its interesting culture.
“I’ve known about the town for a long time. I’ve been doing my radio program for 50 years. It was here a long time ago and then things happened and so it’s back here and I’m thrilled to death to have it back here on the air,” he said. “So I’ve known about Marshall; I’ve known about the courthouse, the Ginocchio (hotel), and the (Marshall) Depot and the history; and Caddo Lake and (nearby) Jefferson and everything.
“And, my gosh ... I’ve had so much fun here every time I come,” he said. “It’s just a thrill to be here.”
On Thursday, the renowned radio personality interviewed Tim Huff with the Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce about the town’s zany FireAnt Festival, celebrated in October, and the beloved Wonderland of Lights, which kicks off late November.
“It’ll be on the air,” said Smith.
Smith also interviewed Janet Cook with the Harrison County Historical Museum; Barbara Judkins, director of the Starr Family Home State Historic Site; and Daren Horton about the activities at Caddo Lake.
“These will be on the program beginning in October, November,” said Smith. “For the next six months, there will be something on there.”
The highlight of his day was meeting one of the FireAnt characters, ANThony.
“I had a picture made by it; so that means a lot to me,” said Smith, teasing that a picture with a popular life-sized FireAnt seldom happens.
As he leaves Marshall, Smith will continue making his way around Texas, seeking fascinating people who embodies the spirit of the Lone Star state to bring them into the homes and hearts of thousands, as his website, tumbleweedsmith.com, indicates.
“I was in Milford, Texas yesterday by Waxahachie, and was interviewing a blacksmith there, who has one eye and wears kilts,” Smith described.
“That’s my kind of stuff, man,” he shared.
While in East Texas, Smith plans to visit Carthage, Henderson, Jefferson and other nearby areas. He’ll most likely return to Harrison County again.
“There’s so many interesting things and people and events going on here that I’ll be back, probably in about six months or so to do some more,” said Smith.
Huff said the Chamber was glad to assist Smith and shed light on some of Marshall’s history.
“It was surprising to hear that Tumbleweed Smith wanted to speak to the Chamber,” said Huff, sharing how he’s ironically been catching Smith’s radio show while traveling for work lately.
“We’re always excited to spread the good news about Marshall and Harrison County,” he added. “We’re doing some great things here.”
Huff said he’s excited to hear the broadcast soon.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I went in there this morning … but it was fantastic,” he said of the interview with Smith. “He was a great guy to speak with. We laughed the whole time through the interview, so we had a very good conversation. It was pretty neat.”
He said the fact that the segments will broadcast in October and December — right in the thick of the FireAnt and Wonderland of Lights seasons — is perfect timing.
“I’m anxious to hear what all comes out because he’s going to be talking Caddo and Starr Home and other things, so I want to see how it works out,” said Huff.