Luther Masingill

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Updated: 12/01/2014 3:05 pm
Luther was first "discovered" in 1940 while working at a gas station in Chattanooga. Joe Engel, then owner of WDEF Radio Station, talked Luther into trying out for the telephone receptionist job. When Luther came in and everyone heard his deep, mellow voice, he was promptly ushered into the studio where he was asked to make a demo tape. He was hired immediately as an announcer and signed on the air New Years Eve 1940.

Luther along with parents William Tom and Mary Harlow Masingill, his four brothers and three sisters lived in the Avondale community in Chattanooga. He attended Avondale Elementary, Hardy Junior High and Central High School. Luther began his career in radio at the end of 1940 and his on air duties were interrupted in 1942 for a stint in the military with the 13th Airborne Signal Corp. Most of his military career was spent in the South Pacific in New Genea and the Philippines. In 1945 Luther returned home and resumed his radio career. Luther’s family lived next door to the Avondale Baptist Church where his mother Mary volunteered. Also working at the church was a pretty young secretary named Mary Varnell. The two Mary’s quickly became good friends. Young Mary also caught the eye of Mary Masingill’s son Luther. Mary and Luther soon became the topic of conversation around the church. They were often teased they were keeping the radiator warm by the many hours they spent leaning up against the radiator talking. Finally, in April 1957 Mary Varnell became Mrs. Luther Masingill and they settled down in their new home in Glenwood.

Working for WDEF radio for years, Luther was a natural when WDEF TV began broadcasting on April 25, 1954. Hosting local shows and doing live commercials, Luther was a fixture on Chattanooga television ever since. After 70+ years in broadcasting, Luther loved hitting the cold linoleum (ask he liked to say) every weekday morning to do his early morning drive show on WDEF Radio. Just down the street from the radio station via way of remote camera, Luther joined News 12’s Morning Show to do his daily Community Calendar. At noon he pops into the TV station for News 12 at Noon. Luther helped reunited literally thousands and thousands of pet owners with everything from snakes to llamas. There’s no doubt, if you have something lost, Luther could help you find it.

Luther always found time to personally help others. There were several elderly folks in his church that he delivered wood to during the winter months…he had been doing it so long that some of the people he delivered wood to were younger than he was. Luther holds the record for being on the air at the same station for 70 years and is the only announcer to have reported over the air both the attack on Pearl Harbor and the attacks of 9/11. Throughout Luther’s career he remained a self-proclaimed creature of habit. Luther lived in the same house that he moved into on his and Mary’s wedding day in 1954. Luther and his first wife Mary as he loves to refer to her as (incidentally his only wife) have two children, Jeffrey who lives in Hixson and Joan who resides with her husband Michael in Fulshear, TX. Joan and Mike are parents to Luther and Mary’s only grandchildren, grandsons, Ian Michael and Evan Landon Brown.

Over the years many awards have been bestowed upon Luther including the prestigious “Marconi Award”, and Tennessee Association of Broadcasters “Broadcaster of the Year Award”. Luther was honored by the Tennessee State Legislature for his years of dedicated service to the community. He has had big market job offers even solicitations to run for public office but for Luther nothing was more important than being home in Chattanooga surrounded by family and friends and doing what he loved best.

Luther passed away on October 20, 2014 at the age of 92.
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