When one of Luther Masingill’s faithful listeners wrote a letter and mailed it to Steve Hartman, host of the CBS Evening News feature “On the Road,” the producers didn’t think much about it.
The show’s associate producer, Miles Doran, said he just passed it up and went on to the next letter in search of an interesting guest for an upcoming show.
“I ended up going back to that letter, and then I Googled him and learned he was being inducted in the [National Radio] Hall of Fame and he was the longest running DJ, [and] we thought again,” Doran said.
Hartman and his crew have been in Chattanooga since Monday working on a segment about Masingill that will be featured on CBS Evening News Friday, July 20 during the 6:30 p.m. broadcast.
They have interviewed several loyal listeners who have had their dogs and wedding rings found over the years. On Tuesday, they came to work with Masingill at 5 a.m. to spend a typical day with the local legend, from his early arrival to the studio and through his on-air shift where he has been for more than 70 years.
“It’s amazing that everyone here just knows him by one name. He’s like Madonna or Elvis,” Hartman said.
Hartman said he is impressed that in a time where radio programs are dictated by consultants and the demand to constantly evolve, Luther continues to defy the odds by basically being the same guy he has always been and doing the same kind of show he has always done.
“And he’s got to be the last person in America who still uses a manual typewriter,” Hartman said.
During the taping in the Sunny 92.3 studios Tuesday morning, listeners flooded the phones with their favorite stories about their favorite DJ, so Hartman and his crew got to hear firsthand how much he means to the community.
For Luther, he said the attention is mind-boggling but amazing.
“You’d think that they heard something from my doctors and are hurrying to give me honors,” he said with a laugh.
Masingill said it made him feel for a few minutes like he was in Hollywood on Tuesday morning.
Masingill’s longtime producer, sidekick and self-proclaimed protoge, James Howard, was also interviewed for the segment that will be a little more than two minutes long when it airs Friday evening.
“For me, Luther is Chattanooga,” Howard told Hartman.
Updated @ 8:40 a.m. on 07/13/12 to change the date of the broadcast on CBS Evening News from July 13 to July 20 because CBS changed the date they intend to air this segment.