articles / Pop Culture

Happy Retirement to Hoyt Smith

Hi, it’s Hoyt.

After nearly 45 years on the air, almost 40 here in the Bay Area and just shy of 19 years at Classical at KDFC I have decided to retire.

You may think I’m too young to retire (bless you), but my wife Jacquie and I are hoping to see more of our fragile planet while we can. After Jacquie’s 29 years with United Airlines we have access to affordable air travel so off we’ll go. We’re also looking forward to seeing more of your homeland by car as well and will seek out the wonderful music festivals and other like opportunities wherever we go.

I’d like to take a moment and thank the wonderful family at KDFC. Thanks to dear friend Dianne Nicolini and Ray White (our new morning man!), Music Director Rik Malone, Blake Lawrence, Mark Edwards and Robin Pressman, hosts of California Classical All Night. Thanks to our Jeffrey’s, Thomas and Freymann. Thank you to the “voice” of KDFC, Linda Cassidy and thanks to a recent addition to our family, Chief Content Officer John Van Driel. Also thanks to Sandra Indart and Ricardo Barton who keep our offices humming efficiently. Kudos to Jonathan Bibayan our web head of website operations. I also need to thank John Williams and John Leathers who work to seek underwriting funds to help keep the great classical music playing.

I need to thank my former co-hosts on the Morning Show from years back, my newscaster and sidekick, Betsy O’Connor and former traffic reporter Dusti Rhodes. Dusti more than ably filled in a decade ago when I was recovering from open heart surgery.

Two former members of our family need acknowledgment – underwriting one-man-band extraordinaire Len Mattson and Development Director Mary Flaherty. Both were instrumental in our successful transition from commercial to listener supported radio.

A huge thanks to our president Bill Lueth who “discovered me” (okay, he thought I could do this format well and offered me a job). Bill is responsible for bringing this great broadcast family together. Thanks also to USC Radio President Brenda Barnes who convinced the powers that be at the university to save classical music in the Bay Area.

I can’t forget some of our major supporters Sam and Alene Hedgepeth, Karen Lee Finney, and Natalie and Ken Klein. We are all truly thankful for the huge financial boost.

Finally, but not least, thank you for listening. It has been a pleasure to help start your day.

All the best to you and yours in the years to come,


From KDFC President Bill Lueth

From the first time I heard Hoyt doing afternoons on another station in the late 1990s, I knew he belonged on KDFC. His voice, his charm, and his affability were attributes I thought classical radio at the time needed, and by the time the decade was out I had convinced him to come to KDFC. He struggled for a few months in his afternoon drive slot hosting classical music for the first time in his successful career. He worried that he was not enough of an expert to be hosting classical, but I assured him he would connect with his hometown audience. And he did!

In the Fall of 2000, KDFC achieved the rare feat for a classical station of the being the highest rated music station in San Francisco. Hoyt was a key part of that success. He was a team player and the station thrived. In late 2003, my management roles had expanded within our company and I needed to replace myself in morning drive. Eventually, Hoyt and I took the chance together that he would make a great morning drive announcer, a bright voice of fun to greet listeners each day. Along with his sidekicks Dusti Rhodes and Betsy O’Connor they made classical radio a special morning treat. When he went in for open heart surgery a couple years later, his colleagues covered for him and kept the audience up to date on his progress, and love poured in.

Ask any of his former or current colleagues about Hoyt and they will all agree he has been a marvelous teammate who would chip in wherever he could help. We have pictures of him under our kitchen sink at the office fixing a leak. He often pitched in to help the IT department with computer issues, and when KDFC was sold and we needed to move to new studios down the hall in 2011, there was Hoyt hauling boxes and boxes of CDs to a new storage room after he finished his shift. During one of those trips down the hall, I could tell Hoyt was feeling very glum about KDFC being released by its commercial owners, and that it would now have to depend on listeners to keep the station going. I recall telling Hoyt that commercial classical radio had become a spiral of doom, and we’d been given a chance through USC to create something long-lasting that our listeners would step up to support. Why? Because you not only love the music, but also those who share it with you each day!

Hoyt has graciously shared his talents, sense of humor and warmth with our radio audience and with audiences of many arts groups where he has hosted local events. He cares about our community. He cares about making lives better through the beauty of art. We are all so lucky that Hoyt came into our orbit around planet art. He has helped expand the audience for classical music in our community, and we are grateful.

Hoyt, we wish you and Jacquie well in your retirement, and we know you will keep in touch!

Bill (on behalf of all of us)

Please feel free to leave Hoyt best wishes or share a memory in the comments section below!

Written by:
Hoyt Smith
Hoyt Smith
Published on 10.28.2021