In his 40 professional years, Tumbleweed has interviewed some true Texas characters and assembled the largest private collection of oral history in the United States. He writes a syndicated weekly newspaper column and teaches broadcasting at the university level. As the creator and producer of The Sound of Texas, one of the longest running syndicated radio programs in Texas, Tumbleweed seeks fascinating people who embody the spirit of the lone star state and brings them into the homes and hearts of thousands.Email Tumbleweed Smith
Tumbleweed Smith Wins Telly Award
for THE TEXAS TORERA
The documentary, about the female bullfighter Patricia McCormick, was produced for the Heritage Museum in Big Spring, Texas. The notification of the award is dated 05/30/2009. The Telly Awards receives over 13,000 entries annually from the finest ad agencies, production companies, TV stations, cable companies, interactive agencies and corporations in the world.
Tumbleweed's Top 40
In 1969…America went to the moon. The Concorde made its first flight, A rock concert took place at Woodstock, TV Shows were Mission Impossible, Get Smart & Laugh In, Midnight Cowboy got the Oscar for best movie, and Tumbleweed Smith started a radio show.
The Texas chili culture was just emerging and San Antonio was organizing a folklife festival. Characters were e merging all over the state. Tumbleweed Smith could feel the rush of Texas developing a distinct personality and wanted to cover all the things that were going on. He started a daily radio program, THE SOUND OF TEXAS. We had just been through a tumultuous and interesting decade that gave us the Kennedys, the Beatles, Andy Warhol, the pill, Nehru jackets and miniskirts. Big things were happening.
The state was ripe for a radio program that talked about interesting places and people and the greatness of the Texas spirit. Tumbleweed drove 100,000 miles a year visiting radio stations, convincing the managers that he had something that could give their listeners something fun to hear, increase their audience and put more money in their pockets. At the same time he was going down country roads and finding the fascinating people that make up the great state of Texas. THE SOUND OF TEXAS has been on the air 40 years. This album represents Tumbleweed’s favorite program from each year.
The Sound of Texas
The 10,000th broadcast of THE SOUND OF TEXAS will air on February 7, 2008. Tumbleweed Smith (AKA Bob Lewis) started the series on August 1, 1969. The first interview subject was the movie actor Jon Voight, who had been in Big Spring filming the movie MIDNIGHT COWBOY. He had the leading role of Joe Buck. Jon Voight will also be the interview subject on the 10,000th broadcast of THE SOUND OF TEXAS.
“Jon Voight was as personable the other day when I interviewed him as he was 40 years ago when I interviewed him in Big Spring,” says Tumbleweed. During the interview, Voight told Tumbleweed how he landed the part of Joe Buck and how it launched his movie career, which covers a span of nearly 70 movies. “I’m still getting calls,” says Jon, who is remarkably grateful for his long tenure as an actor. He’s spending a lot of time these days visiting hospitalized war veterans.
Tumbleweed started his series while employed as news director at KHEM radio in Big Spring. “We had just put a man on the moon,” says Tumbleweed, “and Texans had a lot to do with that undertaking. I wanted to delve into the Texas spirit, travel the state, interview all kinds of people and report my findings on a daily statewide radio program.”
He sent out 65 sample programs and one station, KZZN in Littlefield, signed up for the series. “Man, I thought that was great. I had a network. 2 stations.” Within a month, 5 stations had signed up for the series and Tumbleweed quit his job at the radio station. “I knew what I wanted to do and was going to do it.”
He drove 200,000 miles over Texas the next couple of years, dropping into radio stations, selling his program and getting interviews. He says the series doesn’t seem like work because he has so much fun doing it. He has never considered retirement. The series became the state’s most widely syndicated Texas feature program. Tumbleweed has taught broadcast production and speech at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa since 1974. He also does a statewide syndicated newspaper column.
Tumbleweed does a lot of public speaking and uses the recorded voices of some of his most humorous interviews in his presentations. Texas Highways Magazine said Tumbleweed has probably recorded more Texas characters than anyone else. His collection of more than 10,000 programs, featuring the sounds and nuances of the Texas mystique, has been called the largest private collection of oral history in the US. The series will celebrate 40 years in 2009. The Texas House of Representatives has recognized Tumbleweed “for creating a priceless resource of Texas folk tales, lore and wisdom.“
Tumbleweed Smith stomping grapes
at Llano Estacado Winery with winemaker Greg Bruni.
Tumbleweed Smith interviewing artist Bill Worrell.
Photo by Bill Murchison.
A collection of fascinating East Texas tales and folkwisdom
A collection of true stories and a few tall tales told by the people who tell them best. These comical and often outrageous stories are certain to become Texas legends.
Tumbleweed Smith featured in Interviews & Write-ups in Texas Highways, Texas Hill Country, and The Rotarian.
New CD Celebrating 40-years of The Sound of Texas