Inducted: October 27, 1993
His outstanding contribution to farming was possible because he knew the business from the ground up. He was brought up on the family farm in Dover Township, and continued to farm while he broadcast news of developments and trends in the agricultural industry.
Mr. Smith attended S.S. No. 10, Dover, and went on to Chatham Collegiate Institute for his honours matriculation. He joined his father on the family farm in 1943, and in 1958 took over the mixed farming operation.
Mr. Smith's first tentative venture into broadcasting was as a part-time announcer at CFCO in 1943-1944, introducing the weekly Sunday morning church services, and doing some obituaries and newscasts. That first introduction was brief, but it left him with enough interest in radio to apply in 1962 for the job of Farm News Announcer. He was hired on a trial basis.
From the first, Mr. Smith was determined to present the kind of farm broadcasts that would be helpful to those in the business, "the kind of information that I needed myself." His initiation into radio farm reports came at a crucial time in the industry, with the growth of new marketing boards and tests of already established marketing organizations.
His radio coverage was a strong influence in the success of Agricultural Convention Weeks held at the Chatham Community Centre, where farmers learned of current developments in production and marketing. It was the kind of information that was to be a large component of his farm reports long after Agricultural Convention Weeks ended.
Mr. Smith was one of those who mourned the demise of the Ontario sugar beet industry, and reported on the day-to-day efforts to salvage it. His were the first reports on "bronzing," the air pollution damage that forced white bean production north and east of the traditional Kent and Essex growing area.
A durable sense of humour, and a realization of the importance of what was happening to farming in one of Canada's richest agricultural areas saw him through thousands of farm meetings over the years.
As his expertise and knowledge were recognized, Mr. Smith became a popular conductor of agricultural study tours to Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.
They also won for him an impressive collection of awards including an Honourary Life Membership in the Ontario Institute of Agrologists, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture Meritorious Award, and the Chatham and District Chamber of Commerce 1989 Agriculturalist of the Year Award.
Mr. Smith worked for the future of farming, with weekly programs of 4-H and Junior Farmer news in Kent, Essex and Lambton. He was an active member of a Dover School Board, and worked for the establishment of the consolidation of schools.
He and his wife, the former Ruth Best, have four sons, Douglas, a farmer, and James, Robert and David, all pursuing careers in radio and television.
Long-term listeners said his farm reports were an integral part of farm life. "I grew up listening to Harold Smith, and trusting what he said," one Kent farmer said. "He leaned over backward to be fair to everyone and everything."