Legendary radio broadcaster Luther Masingill died early Monday morning at Memorial Hospital surrounded by family and friends. He was 92 and had been on the air for a record 74 years.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday at Historic Engel Stadium, 1130 E 3rd St., at 2 p.m. with Pastor Todd McElyea officiating.
Honorary pallbearers will be the staff at WDEF Radio and TV.
The family will receive friends at the East Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home from 1 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday and from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday at Engel Stadium prior to the service.
A private burial will be held at Chattanooga National Cemetery with full military honors. Pallbearers will be Chip Chapman, James Howard, Earl Freudenburg, Jerry Pond, Jim Crittenden, Evan Brown and Ian Brown.
Memorial contributions may be made in Luther’s memory to your local animal shelter or other favorite charity.
Arrangements are by the East Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory, and Florist, 404 South Moore Road. Please share your condolences at www.chattanoogaeastchapel.com.
Luther began his career with WDEF on New Years Day 1941. Throughout his life he was honored with the Marconi Award, inducted into the Tennessee and National Association of Broadcasters Halls of Fame and received countless other honors and awards. He is the only broadcaster on record to be behind the microphone during both the invasion of Pearl Harbor and the attacks of 9-11.
Luther will long be remembered for his tireless efforts to help his fellow citizens. He reunited thousands of lost pets with their owners, and helped endless numbers of organizations and families using his trademark smile and character. His legendary 74 years on the radio at one station (WDEF); is a record that will likely never be repeated. He influenced and encouraged many broadcasters, but it was his connection to the community that he loved the most. At one time or another, almost every Chattanoogan has heard Luther announce their school or business was closed, gotten critical weather and traffic updates and discovered how they could make our community a better place.
WDEF Radio VP/GM Bernie Barker said, “Luther’s impact on Chattanooga is unparalleled.” “Anyone who has ever listened to Chattanooga radio over the past 74 years knew the unmistakable sound of his voice. We are all deeply saddened by his passing, but rest assured his spirit and commitment will always be a part of Sunny 92.3, WDEF.”
Luther’s partner of 20 years James Howard said, “Luther is the reason I got into radio. He is my best friend and an inspiration to everyone who as ever listened. Announcing his passing is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my career. We will continue his broadcast legacy and honor his memory.”
“Sunny 92.3, WDEF will broadcast memories of Luther during the morning show over the next few days and have special guests who have worked with Luther during the past several decades” said Danny Howard, station manager and director of programming). “Luther was a true original and a witness to tremendous change in both our country and the radio industry. The fact that he continued making a difference in our community for seven and a half decades is nothing short of remarkable. He leaves behind an incredible legacy.”
County Mayor Jim Coppinger said, "We are deeply saddened this morning to learn of the passing of Luther Masingill.
"Luther is a Hamilton County icon, not only for his decades of broadcasting service, but for his community efforts throughout his memorable life. Luther impacted generations of people, not only in Hamilton County, but throughout the region with the announcements of school closings due to snow, returning lost pets to their owners or just bringing joy to us with his various radio and television programs.
"As a child like many others of my generation, I grew up listening to Luther. I had the pleasure of interacting with Luther throughout my public service career and I always walked away from each encounter with a smile, Luther was unique, special and beloved.
"Our thoughts and prayer are with Mary and their children, Joanie and Jeff today."
Services and memorials for Luther will be announced by his family at a later time.