Ivan Smith completed an Arts undergraduate degree and a postgraduate degree in Modern Literature in Perth, Western Australia. He worked for two years for United Nations Radio in New York, commentating on meetings of the General Assembly and the Security Council. He then became an editor, then Features Writer-Producer with the ABC in the United States of America. On his return to Australia he became known as a radio writer and director, and later a screen writer and director. In 1975 he published Australians on the Air: The Development of Radio in Australia.