By Nikole Dugger
Though he usually stays awake long after Conan O’Brien’s show ends, Cleveland Wheeler had to retreat midway through “American Idol” last night.
The Chattanooga native returned to his hometown this week to fill in for the vacationing radio personality Luther Masingill on Sunny 92.3 WDEF’s morning radio show from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
“I like what Chattanooga has grown into and the direction it’s going,” said Mr. Wheeler, whose involvement with radio began locally at age 14. “It’s a good time to come home.”
A pioneer in his own right, Mr. Wheeler and his on-air partner at Q105 WRBQ in Tampa, Fla., developed the “Q Morning Zoo,” which was duplicated in morning radio shows in the ’80s.
Two years have passed since the former Brainerd High School student left his latest stint in radio as a program director involved in the creation and launch of XM Satellite Radio in Washington, D.C.
He said a place like the Scenic City would be ideal for a re-entry into the industry because it is a “smaller, friendly place.”
“Unfortunately, Luther won’t leave,” said Mr. Wheeler with a laugh. “You have to admire anyone who can stay in this business until (age) 84 or more.”
After Friday’s broadcast, Mr. Wheeler is set to return to Tampa,the city he has called home since 1978. He said, however, that he and wife, Angie, anticipate a move is on the horizon although the eventual destination has yet to be determined.
E-mail Nikole Dugger at firstname.lastname@example.org