To observe National Disc Jockey Day last week, The Wilson Post connected with WANT 98.9-FM’s MJ Lucas to discuss the influence of disc jockeys in her life and her longtime career in Florida and Tennessee.
“I always give credit to the good Lord above because he always created a path to radio for me. It was a blessing,” Lucas said. “If you had told me prior to 1996 that I would be living in Tennessee, I would have said, ‘What?’ But God directed my steps to Tennessee, Wilson County and WANT. I absolutely fell in love with this community. This is my home.”
Lucas’s 35-year career in radio began when she was a small girl in Ocala, Fla.
“I always have loved music and I think that came from my mom. My mom would listen to all kinds of music,” Lucas said.
“When you listen to the radio, it can take you anywhere. It’s almost like reading a book. I would just dream as a little girl and I was so fascinated by the DJs and what they did. They had such a personality and it was such a part of our lives back then.”
Lucas said she often pretended she had turntables and would use a recorder as a microphone while pretending to be a DJ.
Lucas’s fascination with disc jockeys was fueled by a local radio station which broadcast from a mall in Ocala and featured a DJ that worked surrounded by glass, giving the public a full view of the process.
“I’d just press my nose against the glass and watch the DJ work and just thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I would just dream that one day it was something I wanted to do,” Lucas said.
Her first taste of the radio industry came when she was 22 after she spent several years working in a western store owned by a friend’s family. By then, Lucas had become store manager and would frequently buy advertising from a station named WMOP, which played classic and new country.
Lucas said she mentioned to one of the sales reps that being a radio DJ was her dream job while talking one day, and the conversation changed her life.
“She said they had an opening for a Sunday slot at the radio station. She told me to come down and audition for it. At the time, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I was so nervous,” she said.
Lucas secured a position working the Sunday show, which mainly consisted of Gospel music and prerecorded shows. She eventually added a Saturday show to her 10-year run there before she moved to Nashville in 1996.
Lucas was working in television when she initially came to Tennessee, but said she was driving on Briley Parkway in Nashville one day and came across Kris Wilson on Real Country radio and was surprised because her previous station also belonged to the Real Country radio network.
“That’s how I became familiar with WANT. I called (WANT owner Susie James) and she was just so sweet and welcoming. It’s been quite a journey,” said Lucas, who has worked at WANT for 25 years.
Lucas, whose favorite DJs are the late Wolfman Jack and Casey Kasem, has become a staple in the Lebanon community beyond radio, often volunteering with nonprofit organizations, performing at fundraisers and events, including emceeing the annual Lebanon Christmas Parade alongside Mac Griffin.
“I love people. I’ve just always been a people person. I knew I had a chance to do some real good with this platform,” Lucas said. “To me, that’s my ministry. I’m able to give back through my voice and my participation to some of my favorite organizations. It’s given me a chance to give back.”
Lucas’ Florida roots have kept her a fan of warm weather, but said she hasn’t made plans to pack up her DJ equipment and head back to the beach just yet.
“I love it here. I love what I do. My heart’s full every day. I wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning and I go to work. I’m there by 5-5:30 a.m. and I’m excited every day,” Lucas said. “As long as that’s there, you can count on me going into WANT.”