Year Inducted: 

Ira E. MassieIra E. Massie was born in Stamping Ground in 1919 and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agronomy from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

He was employed by the Kentucky Seed Improvement Association as an assistant manager immediately after college. In 1953, he was named extension tobacco specialist at UK and became known for his expertise and outreach.

In his first year as tobacco specialist, he spent nearly 90 percent of his time in the field working one-on-one with farmers. Because this method did not allow for communicating to a large group of people, Massie decided to use the mass media.

In 1953, he began a tobacco report on WHAS television in Louisville on Wednesday mornings, and in 1955, started a report on WAVE in Louisville. In 1954, he was given a page in The Kentucky Farmer, a monthly magazine sent to tobacco growers in Kentucky, Mississippi, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina.

In 1960, WSAZ in Huntington, W.Va., added his report to their broadcasts, and that same year, the first televised edition of “Tobacco Talk” was presented to Lexington audiences.

Massie served as tobacco editor for two monthly farm magazines. He was considered the leading authority on tobacco and was quoted in many national and international publications.

He retired from UK in 1983, but continued his agricultural work, using mass media to reach farmers. During his career, he won many awards and served on several prestigious committees. He served many years on the Industry Sales Committee, a 10-member panel that determines the opening dates, the rates of sale and resolutions of the $1 billion tobacco industry in an eight-state area.

Massie served as an adviser to the boards of several groups actively engaged in policy matters affecting both state and national levels of the industry.

Massie was named to the UK Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 1995.

Massie died in 1987.