In October of this year I was so fortunate to be hired as Public Affairs Director for WMMT FM. My name is Kelli Haywood, and I was born and raised here in Letcher County, Kentucky. Appalshop and WMMT were a large part of my growing up, as their efforts brought artists, musicians, and theater to our schools and fueled some of the beauty that happened at local festivals. I have always respected the work of Appalshop, so it is a real honor to be chosen to coordinate their community radio station’s public affairs programming.
I believe we are within a wonderful season of opportunity to further develop the news and public affairs programming at WMMT. I feel that public community radio is a grand resource of and for the people, and in my position at WMMT I hope to increase the availability of this resource for the people of my mountain homeland. When I say availability, I mean a multifaceted approach where not only will there be opportunity for those in the region to share their stories, cultural interests, and the news important to the region within the area, but also to allow the unique and true voice of the Appalachian people to be heard across the nation and beyond. With recent advances in media production and broadcast technology, we are in a better position than ever to accurately represent what it means to be an Appalachian mountaineer to the world. If we don’t latch onto this opportunity and milk it for all it’s worth, we will have missed an important shot at changing perceptions of who we are as a people, the contribution we bring to the bigger picture, and what we are capable of in the world.
In future public affairs programming, we will represent both the best and most difficult parts of living in this region, for the truth lies in both the light and dark places. We will aim for authenticity in the voice of our culture and storytelling, and objectivity in the reporting of news and current events. Our people are as diverse as the colors in Mamaw’s scrap quilt. Our truth is apart from religion, political parties, and opinions as much as it is fed by those things and to represent ourselves in the complete picture in a respectful way is something I see as a duty. As the mother of three daughters, I know how important it is that we strive to accurately document life here and to promote further opportunity for ourselves and our young people. The work Appalshop does as a cultural, arts, and media center plays a large role in making that possible. I’m so happy to be here.
Kelli B. Haywood is the Public Affairs Director for WMMT-FM. Haywood is a Letcher County native who grew up with Appalshop radio, music promotion, Roadside Theater, and outreach programs as an integral part of her childhood and coming of age. She is a graduate of Morehead State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Creative Writing and graduated from Bellarmine University with a Master’s Degree in Teaching Secondary Level Language Arts and Social Studies. Haywood is the mother of three daughters. Kelli can be reached at email@example.com.