Larry Smith, a long-time CNN sports anchor, is taking over the newly created CBS Atlanta sports director job.
Smith is a sports reporting vet in Atlanta. He worked at CNN from 1993 to 2009, then spent three years as a host at Turner Sports. He briefly worked at WCPO-TV in Cincinnati before returning to Atlanta.
For four years, CBS Atlanta had outsourced its sports coverage to 790/The Zone. But after the Mayhem in the AM dustup last month that led to the departure of three key players, new general manager Trey Fabacher saw an opening to resurrect sports as an in-house operation. He quickly cut ties with the Zone.
He felt CBS national has so many huge sporting events as well as the local Falcons and SEC coverage, it made sense to hire someone who worked directly with CBS Atlanta.
But Smith won't be doing traditional three-minute sports wrap-ups at 6:40 p.m. and 11:20 p.m.
Instead, he's doing breaking stories and features as well as helm the weekly Saturday nights sports show starting in late August. He will also help with all Falcons related programming.
"We are taking a more nontraditional approach to sports moving forward," Fabacher wrote today in an email. "Larry is not just a sports anchor, but a sports reporter and producer. We envisioned this role to be very active in the field and Larry’s talents were as strong behind the camera as well as in front of the camera. He understands sports and has connected with the Atlanta market for many years. We are thrilled to have him join our team."
Smith, who spent a brief time in Cincinnati, never sold his house in Peachtree City. This job gave him an opportunity to return to the metro area he spent two decades in.
"I like to tell stories," Smith said in a phone interview today from Birmingham, where SEC Media Days is being held. "I love meeting people and getting their stories out there. CBS has so many sports programs, it'll be fun to play off that. How many chances can you come into a top 10 market with a clean slate?"
In one of his first stories for CBS Atlanta, he focused on Falcons player Roddy White and comments he made related to Trayvon Martin. "It's exciting to take national stories and give them a local perspective," he said.
This is the opposite of how he approached things at CNN. But he said one thing won't change is his effort to make stories fun and/or relevant.