The 24th annual Wilson County Library Roast kept guests in stitches Tuesday night as friends and colleagues took a stab at the guest of honor, WANT FM 98.9 morning deejay M.J. Lucas.
Community and business leaders, friends and family all came out for a night of storytelling and humor, all for a good cause, during the night’s festivities at Castle Heights Elementary School.
The annual roast is not only a staple, but also is imperative to the library system, as it serves as the system’s only fundraiser.
The roasting began in 1991 with George Harding as the first “roastee,” and the net profits have exceeded $180,000 since.
More than $7,000 was raised at this year’s roast.
Proceeds from the event benefits all the libraries in Wilson County, with money raised used for computers, furniture, shelving and other needs not covered by the budget.
The past two years have featured roastees such as Lebanon-Wilson Chamber of Commerce President Sue Vanatta and Wilson County Fair Board President Hale Moss.
This year, Lucas stepped up to the plate and into the spotlight.
The person in that hot seat, however, does get to choose those who will roast them at their own expense.
Lucas decided on her boss and station owner Susie James, previous roastee and friend Moss, her pastor, Matt Steinhauer and coworker and good friend Jo Smith.
James was first to take a stab at Lucas, sharing multiple throwback pictures and providing some background on Lucas, who was raised in Ocala, Fla., before moving to Lebanon more than a decade ago. James also made sure to share tidbits about Lucas, including her office preferences and nuances as well as her fear of germs, among other things.
Next, Moss took to the stand, but not before wrapping Lucas in a bright Tennessee Volunteer orange feathered boa and providing the Gator fan with a Vols flag to wave. He then spent most of his time giving Lucas flack about her choice in SEC teams.
At the close of his presentation Moss then provided Lucas with two awards: Official Foodie of the 2014 Wilson County Fair, due to Lucas’ love of fair food, and an autographed photo of Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin.
Steinhauer was next to take a swing at Lucas, and after sharing multiple stories he ended on one of his own.
“You know, some people are in radio for a reason and not on TV; what you hear isn’t always what you get,” Steinhauer said. “But if you ever are listening early in the morning and think she’s a sweet, kind person who loves her community, well then, you’ve pegged her.”
Finally, Smith rounded out the guest roasters and had everyone in the building laughing at countless stories, memories and inside jokes she’s shared over the years with Lucas.
Smith even went as far as to say sometimes she’s felt as if she’s had to act as Lucas’ mom, explaining Lucas has asked for her help in the past numerous times, namely once when she asked her how to boil an egg to make an egg sandwich.
“M.J. has made celebrations sweeter and difficult times easier,” Smith said. “She’s not only a good talker on the radio, but she’s a great listener.”
Lucas took to the podium in the end, saying she could neither confirm nor deny anything that was shared about her throughout the night.
“And I have a good memory, and I’ll remember everything you’ve all said,” Lucas said.