I have known a lot of broadcasters. A LOT. People often ask me: “Is so-and-so the same in person as he/she is on the air? Most of the time, the answer is yes. Yet there are exceptions. I do remember one female TV personality whose smile turned into a frown as soon as the camera turned off. I also recall a jolly TV fellow who seemed annoyed whenever he was recognized in public. Still, generally, what you see is what you get. Cameras and microphones rarely lie.
In Chattanooga, we are blessed with an abundance of terrific broadcasters. I’ve written about many, past and present, who have been such a big part of our lives. Now is a good time to write about Patti Sanders. This month, she celebrates twenty years at the midday microphone for Sunny 92.3. If I need a smile between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., all I have to do is turn on the radio. She is a ray of human sunshine, on and off the air.
We all know there is “pretend cheerful” and “real cheerful.” Patti is the real thing. The folks who hired her for that workday time slot knew what they were doing. With Patti’s smooth voice in the background, every task seems easier.
In my opinion, the longtime pairing of Luther Masingill in the morning, followed by Patti at midday, is the best back-to-back radio team in local history. Having spent some time at Sunny 92.3, either filling in for Luther, or just visiting, it was a joy to see those two interact. In the midst of Luther reading 87 live commercials and finding 42 lost dogs each day, Patti would pop her head into the studio around 8 each morning for her “Luther hug.” His would be the first day she would brighten, followed by several thousand more, via the airwaves.
Believe me, the day Luther died in 2014, it hit everybody at the station hard, but none more so than Patti. She was his confidante, his head cheerleader, his protector. She helped with his mail, his public service announcements, his coffee, and his spirits. There were days when he felt all of his 92 years, but a smile and a greeting from Patti helped him turn back the clock.
To this day, she leads the pack of her radio colleagues in keeping Luther’s legacy alive and well. She never copied Luther’s style; she didn’t have to, she is one of a kind herself. If you listen for even a minute, you can hear the warmth and love she has for her listeners. It’s no wonder Luther adored her, and that they were an unbeatable 1-2 punch for the first eight hours of the day.
I’ve seen a bumper sticker that says “Never a bad day.” That sums up Patti Sanders to me. Like many of us, she has endured illness and she has suffered loss. I’m sure there are days when the control room technology is misfiring, and things aren’t going as planned. But you would never know it. Her job is to make our day seem easier, and no one does it better.
Patti has been in Chattanooga radio for more than thirty years, having also worked at WJTT (then Jet-94) and Lite Mix 105. You can catch her each weekday on Sunny 92.3. From the archives, I’ve found a story that Frenche Brewer reported on Patti when she was on WJTT in 1986. The world has changed, but Patti still sounds the same. Bright, cheerful, and engaging. If you listen to the interview, you’ll learn that early on, she discovered the secret of radio: speaking not to a large audience, but to a single listener.
Congratulations Patti Sanders for 20 years on the midday show at Sunny 92.3. You are our Queen of the Airwaves. Long may you reign.