In 2008, Catch the Spirit of Appalachia (CSA), a Western North Carolina not-for-profit 501c3 organization, began recording “Stories of Mountain Folk,” a radio program that aired weekly on local radio station WRGC. When WRGC closed in September 2011, the organization teamed up with Hunter Library to preserve the recorded material. The “Stories of Mountain Folk” collection was Hunter Library’s first all-sound oral history collection.
WRGC Radio came back on the air in April 2012, and once again, CSA’s program became a feature on the radio. At the end of 2015, within the 378 programs produced were 1156 interviews, plus 276 storytelling segments — all which capture “local memory” detailing traditions, events, and the life stories of mountain people. A wide range of interviewees include down-home gardeners, herbalists and farmers, as well as musicians, artists, local writers and more.
“Each program stands alone, each story is unique, for everyone is creative and worthy,” says Amy Ammons Garza, cofounder of CSA. “Each of us is the product of our heritage. It is through realizing the value of who came before that we realize the true importance of who we are today — for we are the individuals who link, bridge and fulfill destiny of all the ages.”
As of January 2016, although no longer heard on WRGC radio, CSA will continue “Stories of Mountain Folk” as an online podcast with a new format, highlighting one interview per release, with one interviewer and a longer version per interview (30 minutes to one hour). The program posted on the website www.storiesofmountainfolk.com is available to all who come to the site or call it up on their cell phone. Those listeners who sign up at the website to receive the postings via an RSS feed, a format for delivering regularly changing web content, will receive notification of each new posting automatically.
Supported by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Jackson County Arts Council, WRGC Radio and Mountain Manor Nursing Home, “Stories of Mountain Folk” could not have been possible without the hard work of a team of dedicated professionals and volunteers. Producer/editor Neal Hearn, a professional radio personality, worked with CSA’s cofounders, Amy Ammons Garza and Doreyl Ammons Cain, to produce each program, keeping to the time constraints of a radio program format. Along with the core team, the project benefited from the volunteer efforts of all interviewers, including the Ammons sisters, Judy Rhodes, Joe Rhinehart, Robert Jumper, Shawn Crowe, Victoria A. Casey McDonald (deceased) and Mary Sue Casey.
Catch the Spirit of Appalachian continues to work with Hunter Library to archive its programs on their site, www.wcu.edu/hunter-library/collections/digital-collections.asp.