Here’s the article from a few years ago about Mattie that ran in the Baltimore Sun newspaper.
Radio: For listeners who prefer folksy talk of cats and casseroles to presidential scandal, this East Texas broadcaster is just the ticket.
January 17, 1999|By Jean Marbella | Jean Marbella,SUN NATIONAL STAFF
CENTER, Texas — Letterman and Leno have asked her on their shows but, no thank you, she doesn’t cotton to the idea of flying on an airplane. Politicians stop by to visit when they’re ” ‘lectioneering,” and Willie Nelson calls occasionally to say hello.
At 87, the host of the radio call-in show “Mattie’s Party Line” has drawn a following far beyond her station’s 60-some-mile range.
“It’s such a silly program, really,” Mattie Dellinger says, attempting modesty about the show that she is actually, and justifiably, proud of. “Party Line” is an island of pleasant chatter in the midst of the sound and fury that dominate talk radio.
Taking your call
If you want to trash Clinton, call Rush Limbaugh. If you blame your mother for screwing up your life, call Dr. Laura Schlessinger. But if you want to talk about cats, wish a neighbor happy birthday or gab about your church dinner, call Miss Mattie.
Miss Mattie isn’t nationally syndicated, though, so first you’ll have to get somewhere in the vicinity of her beloved Center, an East Texas town of about 5,000 near the Louisiana line. Center, to the former newspaper woman, is short for Center of the Universe. From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, Miss Mattie will take your call.
Lamar, though, probably will get on the air first. He’s the nursing -home resident who calls at the start of just about every show to sing “Happy Birthday” to whoever is celebrating that day.
You’ll also have to compete with the other regulars: Peggy, the woman with the counting obsession who can tell you the number of tiles in her doctor’s office or bricks in the courthouse. And John, known on the air as The Lawyer, who loves to tease Miss Mattie about her own obsession — with the National Enquirer. And Bobbie, the UFO sighter.
If “Mattie’s Party Line” is the window to the soul of Center, it’s quite a cozy place to live. Having lived here her entire life, Mattie Imelda (pronounced EYE-melda) McLendon Dellinger knows just about every caller by name. They exchange pleasantries, ask after one another — everyone apparently is “tolerable” — and catch up on who saw whose daughter the other day. The show indeed is like an old telephone party line — listeners are merely eavesdroppers on Miss Mattie’s conversations.
On a recent afternoon, Edna calls in to thank Miss Mattie for sending her a picture of her home’s previous owners; one of Miss Mattie’s interests is local history. “Edna,” Miss Mattie signs off, “I’m coming by to see you before too long.”
The Lawyer strolls into the studio to chat. He’s John R. Smith, a former district attorney, and he banters with Miss Mattie about whether she’s gone to the salon to get her hair “twisted” or to the store for her tabloid fix. “I had to buy a Globe,” she says with mock dismay, “because they didn’t have the Enquirer yet.”
Lamar calls in again — he seems to have discovered yet another celebrant — for his third rendition of “Happy Birthday” for the day.