Photo by Payton Comerford/ Contributing photographer
By Payton Comerford/ Contributing writer
Country radio super star Bobby Bones yells out to his catch-all producer frantically, “Do you have the equipment?”
With zero hesitation and complete confidence, show producer Morgan Massengill holds up a helium-filled balloon she bought late the night before.
Now that he knows everything’s in place for his next bit with upcoming country music artist, Lauren Alaina, Bobby settles back into his captain’s chair in the middle of the iHeart radio studio.
Soon Alaina will be inhaling helium and trying to sing “Fallen” by Alicia Keys.
Helium Karaoke is a part of the show heard daily by three million faithful listeners that make Bobby and his cast of talented friends so popular.
Today is just a normal day in the studio.
Massengill, a 2015 Middle Tennessee State University grad, keeps the helium and many other things under control.
She never expected to be producing a nationally syndicated radio show at the age of 24.
Growing up in a small farming community like Milan, Tennessee it can be hard to look past Friday night football with the Bulldogs and Lee’s Chicken after church. Morgan appreciated all the love around her in Milan, but looked with wandering eyes for new adventure and opportunities.
Being a first generation college student, she walked blindly into her first semester at UT Martin.
Although Massengill was undeclared in her choice of a major, she knew a couple things for sure: she wanted to be a part of something much bigger than herself and she desperately wanted to create a career that made her happy.
Even during her freshman year at UT Martin, Morgan began to seek opportunities that would get her off the small town merry-go-round.
After her freshman year she transferred to State University of New York in Stonybrook, just a half hour train ride from New York City. She let nothing stop her– not the money she needed to save for tuition or even the Tennessee State Trooper she calls “Dad.”
The work ethic that Bobby Bones sees every day in his studio from Massengill began with her car hopping job at Sonic, her lifeguard spot at the city pool and working retail at American Eagle.
It was easy for Bobby to believe in Massengill. “When someone’s just doing it out of passion, you’re able to see what they’re willing to work for,” he said.
She’s a young woman who believes in setting goals.
On an unforgettable August day, Massengill was on her way to New York City. With her stepdad’s help, Massengill was all moved into her new dorm. The only thing left to do was explore. Her stepdad had a plane to catch and Massengill had some magic to find.
She stepped on the train and before she could turn around to say goodbye the doors slammed shut.
Scared to death, Massengill’s train ride back to Stonybrook was filled with tears. She said her mind assailed her with doubt; what if this was a huge mistake? Maybe she was destined to wait tables in Milan.
This was just the beginning of scary experiences that Massengill would conquer head on. She never dreamed she would have so many doors swing wide open after a year in New York.
After transferring to MTSU later, Massengill fell in love with multimedia. Although she started out as an English major, the student found beauty in the broadcast world.
One day Massengill’s attention was caught by a flyer on a campus bathroom stall. Bobby Bones was coming to speak to a student club.
She had heard Bones’ show just a few times, but there was something about it that sparked her attention.
The day Bobby Bones came to speak, he encouraged the students to apply for an internship.
Massengill jotted down his email and found herself pulling an all-nighter perfecting her resume. Little did she know that this was the first of many all-nighters that she would dedicate to Bobby Bones.
She landed the internship and went to work on Music Row.
Interning is always a huge step in the uncertain direction that is a college student’s future. While Massengill took everything in stride, learning hands-on, and earning credits, she began investing in the show.
Massengill enjoyed watching Bobby and his cast creating good out of bad news.
She witnessed the first “Pimpin’ Judy Week,” a staple of the show. This idea came from Bobby’s co-host whose mother, Judy, who had cancer. The woman was described as someone who always chose to do good deeds, so Bobby challenges his vast audience to do the same with random acts of kindness. The Pimpin’ joy
movement reached millions. Listeners started calling in with story after story of how the movement had personally changed their lives.
There was no doubt the show was also changing the life of one small town girl from Milan, Tennessee.
Massengill spent three semesters interning for the Bobby Bone’s show, two more than the average student but a few less than what she had hoped for.
The interning program was cut from the station and Massengill had to say goodbye.
Massengill wiped her eyes, took her new tool kit of skills, all her passion and applied for a new internship.
She obtained an internship with the St. Jude program, while also anchoring a newscast one night a week for MT 10, the student television station at MTSU.
She enjoyed learning from all of her experiences. Still there was a steady, unconditional devotion that she could not shake; she believed in The Bobby Bone’s show and wanted to work there.
Massengill’s producer desk reflects her journey.
Looking past all the papers and the intimidating computer screens that keeps the show on air, you’ll find pictures of family and friends, a hot pink and camo ball cap and a small, white ticket tacked right in the middle of her bulletin board. This Country Radio Seminar ticket reminds Morgan of the day that turned her world upside down.
That day, Massengill happened to run into Bones who asked her to join the show as a part-time phone screener. It wasn’t the best first paying job in her field, but Morgan stepped out in faith.
She worked hard. She hung around after shifts just to watch and learn.
When the five star radio show’s producer gave notice of his leaving, Bones said passing on the baton– or helium tank– wasn’t a big decision.
The young producer of The Bobby Bones Show has a plate full of corporate responsibility.
But there are few things that will never change about the proud Milan girl; her heart melting country accent, her love for Chick-fil-A, her faith in impeccable timing and her work ethic.
Morgan Massengill likes to say that the stars aligned just right for her, but she makes them shine all on her own.