it’s the fall fund drive! help keep wmmt on the air!

Goat puns aside  (we know, they’re baa-aaad!) (we’re so sorry), it is indeed the WMMT Fall Fund Drive.   Twice per year, we, WMMT, ask your help in keeping this non-commercial, (extremely) non-profit, listener-supported, volunteer-powered radio station on the air.  This is one of those times.


That’s a great question!  Thanks for asking it! In no particular order:


WMMT gives you a bigger variety of music than you can hear anyplace else.  In the span of just a few days on WMMT, you can hear:

-traditional/old-time Appalachian music
-rock and roll of all kinds
-folk & Americana music
-specifically local music of all genres
-hip hop
-world music
-indie rock

and much, much more!

We also air live music of all kinds–our regular Bluegrass Express Live! series presents the genre’s top performers, right here in the Appalshop theater and on WMMT.  Our Seedtime on the Cumberland Festival brings live traditional music to the airwaves each June.  And we air a wide range of live performances throughout the year, from bands to songwriters to plays, and back again.


Over 50 community volunteers come in every week to host shows of all kinds and types.  Unlike most stations, we are not pre-programmed, and we don’t have some office in Connecticut telling us what we need to play.  Our DJs play what they want, and many of them are an encyclopaedic wealth of information on music.

And from Catfish Jean to Electric Bill, from Blue Dog to the Blue Warbler, from Deep in Tradition to The Zen Arcade, from Hot 88.7: Hip Hop from the Hilltop to the Rock Show, and everything in between, WMMT’s programmers & shows are every bit as diverse as our mountain communities.

We are proud to be an independent voice for every part of our community, to let our DJs speak for mountain people both across the region and around the world (through our 24-hour online stream).


panelists on a recent forum identifying new economic possibilities for Appalachia using Wales as a potential example

Our bi-weekly public affairs show, Mountain News & World Report, covers issues that you have told us matter to you.  We are the only public radio station on the ground doing news in the southeast Kentucky coalfields, and we strive to tell the local stories that need to be told, whether other media outlets are covering them or not.  We spotlight traditional culture and local artists of all kinds.  We work to identify new economic ways forward for our communities in these uncertain economic times, and our Making Connections project spotlights Appalachians who are taking our region’s future into their own hands.  We cover issues related to local health, food, water, and our environment, among other issues.

Our weekly Mountain Talk program provides a community forum for a wide range of issues–from art to food (including live cooking! on the radio!), from current events to public forums on new economic opportunities that may be possible for our region.

Our monthly show Mountain Survivors profiles local survivors of cancer in hopes of raising awareness and inspiring our listeners.  Our weekly Coal Report gives listeners constant updates of what’s going on in the coal industry, both locally and in terms of the bigger national/international picture we’re a part of.

And that is just some of what you help make possible.


WMMT’s Passing the Pick and Bow program puts banjos, guitars, and fiddles in the hands of dozens of local students through an after-school instruction program that runs at 4 schools across Letcher County each semester.  The program is on a sliding scale from low-cost to no-cost for interested students to learn these traditional instruments and styles.

Our old-time music programming found across our broadcast schedule also promotes the unique, world-renowned, and ancient musical culture that exists right here in these mountains.

WMMT also hosts a monthly old-time jam for those looking to hone their skills, or to just hang out and play.

And finally, our annual Seedtime on the Cumberland Festival provides a showcase for mountain culture (including music, crafts, film, drama, & more) for visitors from across the region and around the country.


When you support WMMT, you don’t just help a radio station pay its bills.  You help keep a community alive–a community of independent Appalachian voices who love music, who are proud of where they come from, and who are working to build our region’s future.

Our fund drive runs from October 20-30.  You can call in a pledge to your favorite DJ, toll-free, at 888-396-1208, or you can donate online by clicking the green “DONATE” button to your right.

Also, you can get premiums for donating!  For a pledge of:

  • any amount - an attractive WMMT bumper sticker
  • $10 - a new WMMT button, which will be perfect on your jacket/sweater/fishing cap/etc.
  • $50 – an attractive WMMT ballcap
  • $60 – a copy of the June Appal record Shady Grove, featuring Letcher County’s own National Heritage Award Winner Morgan Sexton
  • $75 – a copy of the Appalshop film profiling Morgan Sexton, Banjo Player from Bull Creek
  • $88.70 - an incredibly attractive WMMT t-shirt
  • $100 – a DVD copy of the Appalshop film The Ralph Stanley Story, along with a commemorative poster
  • $100 (pt. ii) - be a guest DJ on your favorite show
  • $110 – both the Morgan Sexton CD AND DVD film (that’s a bargain, folks!)
  • $200 – a whole day of broadcasting on WMMT dedicated to a person of your choice

Big, little, or in the middle, as we say, help keep WMMT alive.  We only ask you to give what you can–to give until it feels good.  We couldn’t do it without you, and we wouldn’t want to.

Speak Your Piece: 10.15.14

In this week’s trip down the highways and holloways of Letcher County’s anonymously-expressed opinions, Speak Your Piece:

Admonitions for that woman in Pistol City to have some decency and stop putting that stuff on the internet!  Accusations of Poor Grammar levied upon county officials!  Vote for Grimes!  Vote for McConnell!  Stop giving that guy money when he comes to the funeral home!  And more vague gossip of all kinds!

Our thanks as always to The Mountain Eagle. You can hear Wiley Q. (pictured) read Speak Your Piece live each Wednesday near 5 o’clock on WMMT, and you can hear previous installments at our streaming archives.

Coal Report for October 15, 2014

a coal train in the Pacific Northwest. a logjam in railroad traffic is causing delays of coal shipments across the country // photo from Paul K. Anderson at

A West Virginia man has pleaded guilty to falsifying water quality reports for coal companies, the Charleston Gazette reports.  John W. Shelton, of Raleigh County, W.Va., worked for a company called Appalachian Laboratories, which analyzes water samples for coal companies under the federal Clean Water Act to make sure pollution laws are being followed.  But Shelton admitted to taking part in a conspiracy to falsify water samples that supposedly came from mining sites.  He admitted to diluting water samples with distilled water, switching out entire samples of water from coal sites with water he knew to be clean, and failing to keep water samples refrigerated.  US Attorneys said this was done to allow coal companies to avoid fines, and to ensure repeat business for Appalachian Laboratories.  They are continuing their investigation. The whole case raises questions about the Clean Water Act.  One attorney said “The whole Clean Water Act system relies on self reporting. . . If that self-reporting can’t be trusted, then the system just falls apart.”  Appalachian Laboratories does testing for over 100 mine sites in West Virginia, but it’s not known yet which mines were involved in this case.  Shelton faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Coal-fired power plants continue to experience problems actually getting coal due to delays in railroad service, SNL Energy reports.  According to an Arch Coal executive, last year’s frigid winter led to an increase in coal demand, but operators have found themselves unable to actually supply more coal because of railroad delays across the country, and analysts think these Continue reading Coal Report for October 15, 2014

Mountain News & World Report: A Community Forum on Appalachia’s Economic Future; A New Mobile App for Paddling the Clinch River; Collecting Heirloom Apples

panelists at a community forum on economic possibilities for Appalachia held in the Appalshop Theater on Oct. 7, 2014. l-r: Mair Francis & Hywel Francis (special guests from Wales), Robin Gabbard (of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky), Evan Smith (of the Appalachian Citizens' Law Center)

In this edition of WMMT’s Mountain News & World Report, we hear about a new mobile app that serves as an audio guide for those floating down the Clinch River in southwest Virginia.  The app was developed by UVA-Wise in partnership with Clinch River Adventures in St. Paul, and aims to use the natural beauty of the Clinch as a way to help drive river-based tourism & economic activity.

Also in this show, we hear about heirloom apples in an interview with Tom Brown, an heirloom apple collector from North Carolina who, to date, has discovered over 1,000 apple varieties.  You can learn more about his work at

But we begin this program with highlights from a community forum held on October 7th in the Appalshop theater that brought together local and international voices to discuss new ideas for Appalachia’s economy.  Special guests Hywel & Mair Francis of Wales joined local leaders and community members for a discussion of what ideas our region might be able to take from Wales, a place which also had to deal with a sudden and dramatic loss of coal jobs some thirty years ago.  You can hear the full, hour-long broadcast of the forum here.

Mountain News & World Report is a bi-weekly production of WMMT. To hear previous episodes, check out our streaming archives.

Mountain Talk: A Community Forum Looks to Wales for New Ideas for Appalachia’s Economy

In this edition of Mountain Talk, WMMT’s weekly community conversation, we bring you excerpts from a community forum which took place on Tuesday, October 7th in the Appalshop Theater.

The forum was convened to present both local and international perspectives on new economic possibilities for the central Appalachian coalfields.  Specifically, the coalfields of south Wales shut down abruptly thirty years ago, which forced communities there to diversify their economies.  As coal employment continues to decline in Appalachia, and with many experts saying that coal jobs are not likely to rebound, some see Wales as a possible model for what new economies could be built in Appalachia.

The forum featured Hywel Francis,  a labor historian and a Member of Parliament from the Aberavon region; his wife Mair Francis, founder of the D.O.V.E. workshop, a woman-run education center considered by many to be an international model for community development; Evan Smith, an attorney with the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, a non-profit law firm in Whitesburg, Ky.; and Robin Gabbard, Associate Executive Director at the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky.  Voices of community members who attended can also be heard in the Q&A portion of the broadcast, including the perspective of renowned Appalachian scholar Helen Lewis.

Mountain Talk, WMMT’s weekly conversation, airs each Monday & Wednesday at 6 p.m. To hear previous episodes, check out the Mountain Talk archives, or the archives for What’s Cookin’ Now!, which airs on the first Wednesday of every month.

Coal Report for October 8, 2014

the Boundary Dam Power Plant in Saskatchewan, Canada, the first commercial coal-fired plant to use carbon capture & storage technology // image via wikipedia at

A coal miner has been killed on the job in Kentucky.  WYMT-TV reports that Justin Mize, of Harrogate, Tennessee, was killed on Tuesday, October 7th in a rock collapse at the Tinsley Branch mine in Bell County, Ky.  According to MSHA’s preliminary report, he was crushed by a falling rock at a highwall mining site.  The mine is ultimately owned by Nally & Hamilton Enterprises, a coal operator based in Bardstown, Ky.  Mize became the 12th coal miner killed on the job in the US this year, and the first in Kentucky.

News of this latest tragedy comes just days after MSHA announced that the number of mines with serious and chronic safety violations has decreased sharply in recent years.  The AP reports that in 2010, in response to the Upper Big Branch disaster, MSHA began putting repeat and serious offenders on a Pattern of Violations, or POV, list, which meant that portions of a mine could be immediately shut down if more so-called significant and substantial safety violations were found.  MSHA says that Continue reading Coal Report for October 8, 2014

Blue Highway will perform at BGX Live TONIGHT!

WMMT is proud and delighted to welcome back Blue Highway to the Appalshop stage this week, on Thursday, October 9th, for the latest edition of Bluegrass Express Live!

Blue Highway is undeniably one of the most influential and esteemed bands of the contemporary bluegrass era, and the group’s stellar live performances give proof to all of those great reviews.  Since their first performance in 1994, Blue Highway has won many awards, including a Dove award and several IBMA awards, and has also received two Grammy nominations. The band still consists of all of the founding members, and they now have eleven albums to their credit, including The Game, released in January of 2014.

We are also excited to have Letcher County’s own Sunrise Ridge open the evening with a fun, high-energy set of  bluegrass!  We have had them on the Appalshop stage before and we are thrilled to get them back.

The show starts at 7:30 pm, and doors open at 7pm. Admission is $15.  If you can’t make it to Whitesburg, you can hear the concert LIVE on the radio at WMMT 88.7 FM or here online at our 24/7 live stream.

For questions, or to make your reservations for the show, email [email protected] or call 606-633-0108 during business hours.

Also, mark your calendars for the other BGX Live performances that will happen this fall:

Thursday, Nov. 6th: Larry Sparks

Thursday, Dec. 11th: The Grascals

All BGX shows begin at 7:30.  Call or email us to make reservations for those shows, too!

Seeya thursday!

Mountain News & World Report: Ky. Activist Anne Braden; Serious Black Lung Again on the Rise; International Perspectives on Economic Diversification in Appalachia

Anne Braden & Rosa Parks

In this edition of WMMT’s Mountain News & World Report, we hear about efforts to bring an international perspective into local discussions on economic development in central Appalachia, specifically the After Coal project, which is looking to Wales for insight on what might be possible here.  Also in this program, we hear a feature story on Kentucky civil rights activist Anne Braden, who sixty years ago on October 1 was indicted by a Jefferson County Grand Jury on a charge of sedition for her efforts to desegregate Louisville housing (and for more on Anne Braden, check out the Appalshop Film Anne Braden: Southern Patriot).  But we begin our show with a report from WFPL’s Erica Peterson on a troubling new study that shows a rapid rise in severe cases of black lung disease.

As a final note, Appalshop will host a forum on Tuesday, October 7th at 7 p.m. that will bring together local community leaders as well as special guests from Wales to discuss what other coal mining regions have done to diversify their economies after coal declined, and what lessons Appalachia might take.  If you cannot make the forum (which is free and open to the public), tune into WMMT’s Mountain Talk on Wednesday, Oct. 8th at 6 p.m. for excerpts from the evening (which will also be posted here at

Mountain News & World Report is a bi-weekly production of WMMT. To hear previous episodes, check out our streaming archives.