Luther Masingill was radio to the good people of Chattanooga, Tenn.
He started at WDEF radio in 1940, when he was still in high school, and he stayed there for a long, long time. In fact, he was there until he died Sunday night at 92. Needless to say, that's a record -- one that likely never will be broken.
|Chattanooga Radio & TV|
Luther was the man a city and its people came to depend upon in the 1940s and on. And on. And on.
Luther was radio. Luther was what radio was meant to be.
Masingill's first day on the job at WDEF was as an 18-year-old on New Year's Eve in 1940. Other than his time in the military working as a reporter during World War II, he has been at the station ever since. He also worked at WDEF-TV 12 since it signed on in 1954.LUTHER WAS the embodiment of public-service broadcasting. He loved his medium, he loved his city, and he loved his listeners.
He is a National Marconi award winner and a member of both the National Radio Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame.
"I'd like to say he taught me about radio, but really he taught me how to be a good father, and a good husband and a good person," says Masingill's on-air partner for the last 15 years James Howard.
Howard was one of those listeners who Masingill helped locate a lost dog, and he was at the station Monday morning taking calls from listeners remembering the legendary Masingill. Known as one of the friendliest and cheeriest people around, Howard was emotional talking about his friend and colleague.
"He also taught me that the key in radio is to be real and to love my community and to answer that phone. "Don't let it ring more than twice because on the other end is somebody you can help. Radio is not about car giveaways and promos. It's about public service, but I knew that before I started here because I listened to Luther."
Who will love them now? Who will love your city now?
Someone behind a microphone at some station somewhere might, so long as there's still a wheezing breath in this thing we call radio. But as the Luther Masingills of this world, and this medium, fade into memory and static, we no longer can take that for granted.
That "bright good morning voice, who is heard but never seen."