WBAL's Great Ron Smith Has Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer


The Voice of Reason

Baltimore institution Ron Smith, proprietor of an eponymous daily call-in show on WBAL and a tremendous friend of Reason (he in fact calls himself "Mr. Reason," though that's much more to do with rationality than with us), announced Monday that he has been diagnosed with cancer. His on-air disclosure was filled with Smith's trademark Charm City pugacity and grace. Excerpt:

Dr. Cameron saw us.  And he looked at the pictures and the technical report from the radiologists and he said you have grade 4 pancreatic cancer that has metastasized to your liver, your parenteral cavity, abdominal cavity, lungs and so on.

That's some kind of news to get.  It really is.  I mean it's like, hmmm, this is probably not good.  So I said to Dr. Cameron who is the foremost expert on pancreatic surgery, as far as I know, in the world.   I said, is this worth fighting?  He said oh yes.  This is worth fighting.  Fantastic new chemo drugs, chemo regimens and I have seen worst cases than yours clear up.  You never know what's going to happen.

So, I'm committed to fight this thing, but it's going to take some time off to do it. In other words I'm going to have chemotherapy on a regular basis.  I don't have a schedule yet, because I won't see the oncologist until Friday.  Once I have a schedule, then with the help of management here which has been so supportive, the Ron Smith Show will continue with Ron Smith except on days when I can't be here. […]

[S]ome of you may wonder well how do you feel about getting this diagnosis?  Well, let's put it this way, I think my wife put it best.  We're not happy, but we're at peace, we're at peace.   And I'm surrounded by loving family and friends who have already demonstrate that so much over this strange weekend that we just lived that I can't express enough my gratitude for their love and their support.

And, going forward, I'm going to fight this and see what happens. There is no way to be sure of anything about this other than I will be undergoing chemotherapy for the rest of whatever time I have.  But it could be a considerable time so don't mourn me yet, alright.  So don't mourn me, I'm not gone.  I'm going to be here on the radio serving your needs and mine.

Whole thing here; Smith's Baltimore Sun column on the diagnosis here, and always check out his website for great reading material and links to listen to the show.

We're not mourning you, Ron, just taking the opportunity to appreciate everything you've done for rational discourse these past 30 years. Talk with you soon.

NEXT: Justice Antonin Scalia: "I do not think that the Kelo opinion is long for this world."

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  1. So I said to Dr. Cameron who is the foremost expert on pancreatic surgery, as far as I know, in the world. I said, is this worth fighting? He said oh yes. This is worth fighting.

    That’s not really for you or your doctor to decide…

  2. The man has courage. God Bless.

  3. Never heard his show. But good luck, Mr. Smith. Get well.

  4. I’m a suburban Baltimoron, listen every day and heard him announce it on-air. You were supposed to call in that day but were experiencing phone issues or something.

    His show is really great. I think he’s even had an libertarian-thinking influence on Clarence Mitchell IV (aka “C4”, hosts show immediately following the Ron Smith Show), a retired fourth generation Democratic state senator.

    Good luck, Mr. Smith. You’re in my thoughts.

    1. I think he’s even had an libertarian-thinking influence on Clarence Mitchell IV

      I agree with this. C4 has had a gradual move towards enlightenment over the years. Between Ron (who is not a libertarian, per se) and his own show, it’s provided him the opportunity to he see the violence inherent in the system and come to the only possible conclusion for any sane and rational person.

  5. Dear Ron,

    Good luck with your treatment, and if possible, try to get on investigational drug treatments.

    You will meet some fantastic people on this new journey, and some will not be as lucky as you are; they will not have a supportive family, friends, nor employers, and I wonder if your views on health care (with respect to libertarianism), will modify?

    Best Of Luck.

  6. The sad thing is if he doesn’t make it, fighting it will result in the last few months of his life feeling sick/tired with chemo and radiation. What a horrible decision to have to make. Best of luck, Ron.

    1. As someone whose mother died of the pancreatic cancer after being told there was no chance, even without chemo, the last few month’s are miserable. I have, in the 20+ years since, met several people who have survived with newer treatments. I’d fight it. My mother ended up having nerves cut to kill the pain. I wish Ron the best of luck.

  7. I was listening that morning and the announcement blew me away. I really can’t imagine ‘BAL without Ron, even though it is inevitable one day.

    I don’t even bother listening to his subs, when he’s on vacation or the like; they’re a poor replacement. He’s off the mark with immigration and trade, but a solid thinker nonetheless and a fantastic talk show host. Few are in his league.

  8. The best of luck, Ron! You can lick this one!

  9. Ron Smith played a significant part in my evolution from conservative Republicanism to independent libertarianism. I thank him for that. I imagine his show is responsible for something similar in many Marylanders. He is not an orthodox libertarian (at least he was not at the time I listened regularly), but libertarians nevertheless should rue his passing.

  10. I wish Ron luck. And I commend him on his statement that he not be mourned yet. It is important to to remind everyone not to treat people who have cancer like they are dead. I have seen it happen to family and friends. It sucks.

  11. Awful. Best to you Ron.

    A very nice man and one of the best talkshow hosts out there. No bomb throwing, no theatrics. Just reasoned discussion of issues and views.

    How many radio talkshow hosts can cite Schopenhauer?

  12. “How many radio talkshow hosts can cite Schopenhauer?”

    Maybe this guy?

  13. Please learn the difference between grading and staging of cancer. Staging tells you how far along in the disease process the patient is. Grading tells you how aggressive the cells are. So is it grade 4 or stage 4?

  14. That picture of him looks like Ed O’Neal (actor of Married with Children and Modern Family fame).

  15. Alan Bock, Steve Jobs, now this… what is it with the pancreases? Pancreai? Pancreota? Pancreottomi?

    1. Patrick Swayze too… that disease is godawful.

      Diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer in January 2008, Swayze told Barbara Walters a year later that he was “kicking it”.[2] However, he died from the disease on September 14, 2009.[3][4]

  16. I’ll pray.

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