The radio and mom’s discernment

The early morning radio voice of Luther Masingill — with Mom clanging around the kitchen — was the background music of my childhood and youth.

After six decades, Luther is still on the air in Chattanooga to eagerly promote a benefit pancake supper in Flintstone, Ga., or help a family in Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., find their lost dog.

On non-school days, I heard other WDEF Radio personalities throughout the day — who, unlike Luther,came and went. One was called “Jolly Charlie,” I recall.

Songs like Petula Clark’s “Downtown” and Red Foley’s “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy” (a local favorite) seeped into my young head.

But just around dinnertime, a voice without that comforting Southeast Tennessee/ Northwest Georgia drawl would come on the air announcing: “The World Tomorrow with Dr. Garner Ted Armstrong…”

CLICK. Without comment, Mom would turn off the radio that had played since before she cracked the first egg.

With some sense of spiritual discernment that she never explained, my mother — a Baptist from Cradle Roll to the grave — didn’t want us to hear the teachings of this radio minister who succeeded his father, Herbert W. Armstrong, and later had conflicts with the elder Armstrong over his prophetic views. Both are gone now.

But for some strange reason all of those childhood memories came rushing back yesterday when I read an article from Religion News Service. According to the report, the ministry started by Herbert W. Armstrong is now to be known as Grace Communion International.

The group renounced the teachings of its founder after his death in 1986 and seems intent on staking out a place in the mainstream of evangelical Christianity. Becoming known as Grace Communion International appears to be another step away from the teachings of Armstrong that apparently included denial of the Trinity and an emphasis on Old Testament law.

But I’m really not sure what the Armstrongs taught — since Mom was quick to reach for the dial each evening.

In fact, the radio in our kitchen stayed off until the next morning — except on spring or summer nights from 1966 on. Then a voice we could believe in came to us with a quick click to the “on” position:

“This is Milo Hamilton along with Ernie Johnson and Braves baseball is on the air, brought to you by the people in your town who bottle Coca-Cola and by Union 76. Any rebroadcast of the descriptions or accounts of this game without express written consent of the Atlanta Braves is prohibited…”

Mom protected us from wayward theology but not from the pain of losing.


  1. I was about to email SEBTS grad Jim Evans about some radio problems here in Alabama.
    I have several links at my blog if you want to click over; my elaboration on a May 3 oped piece in the Bham News by Natalie Davis who teaches at Bishop Willimon’s Bham Sthrn College.
    Here in Alabama the Rick N Bubba show has become the highpoppalorum voice of Alabama Baptists. I think they will tilt the election away from Artur Davis and Rick Lance and Bama Baps Bob Terry will wash their hands of the whole matter.

    As for East Tenn Baptist women, my grandmother once made a special trip to Kroger’s about five miles into Rome Georgia so she could get a ticket to play the horse races that were once a bonus on Tuesday night TV for shoppin at Kroger’s.
    I was visitting once when the horse race came on and I said: “Nanny, this is a form of gamblin, idn’t it?”
    She said, Well turn the volume down low.

    My Grandfather W.D. “Shorty” Fox was a big Braves Fan; would stay up to 2 in the morning listening on his front screen porch if they were playin San Diego away.
    I called WSB to get them to say Happy Birthday to him May 10, 1976, his 85th birthday.
    It was a late game; I balied out about the 4th inning and I never heard anything in Gaffney SC where I was listening.
    I called him the next day and asked if he heard anything.
    He said: “Yep, they got me in the bottom on the ninth.”

  2. Your mom was discerning. Too many parents think they are inhibiting their child’s development by not exposing them to all sorts of nonsense.

    And I remember many nights in bed listening on my small radio to Milo and Ernie. What great memories.

    Good post

  3. Thanks for your memories of small town radio. You have never lived until you listened to it. Let’s see the line-up 1.News 2. Weather
    3. Sports 4. obituaries 5. school news and menus 5. livestock report 6. police, fire, ambulance report
    7. hospital report, etc.

    I do find it interesting that a lot of the religious news agencies did not make a commnet about the death of Paul Harvey. Mr. Harvey’s ideas on some things left a lot to be desired, he was a national treasure.

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