When the 2017 NFL season begins, the Chargers will call a new city home for the first time since 1961. As they begin the next chapter of their franchise’s history, they’re preparing to build it with a brand new radio announcer.
The team has announced that Josh Lewin, who had called the team’s games for the past 12 seasons is being replaced by Matt “Money” Smith. Lewin confirmed his departure via Twitter adding “The Chargers have decided they want a full time LA announcer so a wonderful run ends today. I’ll happily continue with the Mets and UCLA and will cherish my memories of serving Chargers fans the last 12 years. Thank you for everything Bolts fans, you’re the best!”
Smith is a longtime fixture in the Los Angeles radio market, and hosts weekday afternoons with Petros Papadakis on AM570 LA Sports. In addition to hosting afternoons, he’s also built an impressive play-by-play resume. He’s spent the past seven years calling NFL and college games for Compass Media, and has called television games for the Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports.
Smith will be accompanied in the booth by former Chargers center Nick Hardwick. Hardwick is one half of the morning show for XTRA Sports 1360 in San Diego, the team’s former flagship radio station. Initially he was critical of the team’s decision to turn its back on San Diego and bolt for Los Angeles, but as they say, time heals all wounds.
“I’d never been broken up with and I was emotional,” Hardwick told ESPN.com. “And when I get emotional, I get angry and let my emotions come out. And they were authentic, genuine and in the moment.
“All of the anger was immediately directed at the Spanos family and the Chargers organization, but my emotions around that completely subsided and I’m glad to be back in the family. I’m glad to be back with a group that gave me my opportunity, gave me my life and stuck with me through bad times and bad injuries. They’ve done nothing but support me in my career.
“I care for this team. I literally broke my neck for this organization. I played 11 years for the franchise, was a team captain for five years and I want the best for them.”
But while Hardwick may have good intentions and personal reasons for reconnecting with the franchise, he understands that it may ruffle feathers of those who continue to call San Diego home and remain bitter about the team leaving the city.
“I don’t feel like in any way this is a slight to San Diegans who are little bit like Trump supporters,” said Hardwick. “They’re leaning into each other and saying, ‘Hey, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to follow this Chargers team.’ And then they keep it quiet, because the people who are mad are mad, and you don’t want to come out against those folks. So am I going to get backlash? Sure, 100 percent. I completely expect it, and I’m cool with it. For me, it’s not their life, it’s mine. And I have to follow my own passions and be honest with myself. I’m a football guy.”
The Chargers will air their games on radio in the Los Angeles market on KFI AM-640. They currently have no radio agreement to air games in San Diego. The team also says that Spero Dedes and Hall of Fame Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts will call the team’s three-game preseason schedule on ABC7 Los Angeles.