The late Hunter S. Thompson famously said, "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There is also a negative side."
|Luther Massingill spins the heavy hits at 89|
Hands down, the broadcast racket is at least the equal of its co-dependant music biz. Both radio and TV eat up people like a Sears wood chipper. Bad ratings? You're gone. Good ratings? They could have been better. You're GONE! Through nearly forty years, seventeen radio stations, ten states, and four fairly ugly firings I think I know what I'm talking about here. That's why the following story stunned me and probably everyone else who has ever toiled before a microphone or in front of a camera.
Luther Massingill, 89, has been hosting the morning show at Sunny 92.3 FM in Chattanooga, Tennessee for--get this--SEVENTY YEARS. That is a record almost beyond belief. When Luther began his career on New Year's Eve 1940 the station was WDEF-AM. FM was barely on the FCC's radar at that time. If you were blabbing on the radio, you were blabbing on the AM band. Apparently management liked Luther well enough to keep him around as the station morphed to FM and, no doubt, an entirely different kind of format. It's almost impossible to fathom the number of musical incarnations and station images old Luther must have seen, never mind the boatload of managers and knucklehead program directors he endured. This guy must be some kind of flexible! The longest I ever lasted was seven years at one station and the last two of those years were pure hell.
Radio used to be a great place to hang. It was like high school with money. Nobody made you dress up, the hours were short, and the money--once you made it to a major market--was mighty fine. Sometime in the mid 1990's, everything changed. It was as if all the cool people who had been in charge for years got drunk at the party and gave the keys to the Poindexters in accounting and asked them to "take the wheel for a while".
They never gave it back.
So, Luther, though I've never met you, may your flag continue to wave! You are a hero to old disc jockeys everywhere. Most of us never came close to seventy years on the air ANYWHERE. Heck, way too many of the guys and gals I've been in harness with will never see seventy...period. You are an anomaly in an industry built on literally nothing but hot air. You have accomplished much but remember you must always be on guard because...They are coming for you!
Try not to: make too much fun of the program director or the general manager even if they are half your age. Also, you probably already know this one, ---never throw up on corporate vice presidents who are guests at the station Christmas party. And, if you think of it, try to refrain from taking a poke at a listener during a personal appearance. It's frowned upon. Trust me.
Keep these pointers in mind and you should be good for another seventy years or so, although I can't imagine you could take another seventy years of some of the crappy music that lands on today's playlists.
Oh, by the way, if you do manage to "get the cab', where do the rest of us send our tapes and resumes? There aren't that many carney jobs available lately.