'CBS Evening News' in Chattanooga to feature Luther Masingill

photo Luther Masingill, 90, sits in his recording studio between his microphone and his typewriter, which he uses to type up manuscripts at WDEF.
photo Luther Masingill poses for a WDEF photograph in his job as a staff announcer for the radio station shortly after he returned to Chattanooga from military service in World War II. As a fledgling radio announcer, Masingill read incoming news accounts to Chattanoogans of the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor.

A good year keeps getting better for Luther Masingill.

CBS Evening News correspondent Steve Hartman is in town today to follow Masingill around as he goes about a normal day on the job at WDEF-FM 92.3 and WDEF-TV Channel 12.

Hartman is here because Masingill was named last week to the National Radio Hall of Fame, an honor he's earned by doing the same job at the same radio station for 72 years, according to Bahakel Radio Group Vice President and General Manager Bernie Barker.

"Obviously, Luther is one of a kind," he said. "We can find no other person who was on the air when Pearl Harbor was bombed and when 9/11 occurred.

"He is an institution and has long been revered as someone to look to for everything from finding a lost dog to the weather to events like 9/11."

Masingill said this last year has been special and getting this latest honor is meaningful.

"It's a big honor and I'm looking forward to going to Chicago for the induction," he said. "I guess I'm getting toward the end of my career, though I'm not ready to stop, but when you get to 90, I guess you appreciate things.

"I appreciate what I do, and I guess that's why I've held onto this job so long. I've loved every minute of it."

James Howard, who has worked with Masingill for 20 years, 12 of those alongside him on a weekly morning radio show, said their relationship goes back even further.

"He found my dog when I was 9," Howard said. "Luther has always been my hero. I know that sounds cheesy or corny. He's a constant. He's always there. He's been a part of every day of my life, and thousands of people can say that."

Last year, Masingill was honored by having a section of Broad Street named in his honor, and earlier this year he was part of the inaugural class inducted into the new Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame.

"I think what he really appreciates," Howard said, "is that the state radio and national radio people spelled his name right."

Also being inducted into the national Radio Hall of Fame in November will be Howard Stern, Cincinnati talk show host Gary Burbank, Dallas personality Ron Chapman, Los Angeles host Art Laboe, Chicago radio pioneer Jack Cooper and NPR's "Fresh Air with Terry Gross."

The segment on Masingill will air Friday on "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" at 6:30.

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at 423-757-635 or bcourter@timesfreepress.com.