Tuesday, October 21, 2014

At The Appointed Hour

I love these oddball stories that just seem soooooooo improbable. I love the mysterious.

Let me give an example. This week our area lost a local icon and institution. Award winning and record holding (an astounding 74 years on the same job) radio broadcaster Luther Massingill died yesterday at age 92. He died almost in the saddle. In fact, he was on the air until last Tuesday. He showed up for work Wednesday not feeling well but a coworker convinced him to go to the doctor. He was hospitalized and died there yesterday morning.

Now let me tell you just a bit about Luther. And Luther is what the entire city of Chattanooga, Tennessee and the entire tri-state area here knew him as. My mother grew up listening to him, just as I did. His radio show informed us kids when snowed had canceled school, allowing us to roll over and go back to sleep. If Luther even mentioned that snow was in the forecast the entire city, it seemed, would rush to the store for necessaries.

He was courted by larger radio markets, including an effort by Ted Turner to take him to Atlanta. But Luther wanted to stay in his beloved city of Chattanooga. When he was inducted in the National Radio Hall of Fame two years ago, he mentioned he would like to do what he was doing at least a few more years.

Also he was known as the area founder of lost dogs. In fact, my mother once called his radio show looking for a Chihuahua for her asthmatic child (me), folk wisdom holding those dogs were good for asthma sufferers. A little old lady had to give up her little "Tip," who became our beloved pet for a decade until his death. And he was big fund raiser for the local humane society, helping to find homes for thousands of pets.
 But Luther found thousands of local pets who had come up missing, making for many happy reunions.

His radio career at WDEF radio was astounding, but WDEF also started the first local television station in 1954. Luther went on air on television also. He did a local "Community Calendar" on the noon news program. His television career was in its 60th year. Simply an amazing and beloved man who loved what he did and never thought about retiring.

Now I could go on and on about this man, as could anyone who was born here. But I will turn to an oddity in this story that was picked up on by locals and was even mentioned in the local media remembrances of him: Luther died at 6:00 in the morning, the very time his radio show always started. How totally fitting.


  1. Makes me smile. Well done Luther.

    1. His public memorial was today. The local media covered it and it was filled with the warmth of the man who was Luther. No one can take his place. As you said: Well done.