New WKMS podcast to share stories of 'middle America'

Austin Carter, left, and Ariel Lavery sample burgoo during the recording of an episode of Middle of Everywhere, a new podcast produced by Murray’s WKMS.

The hosts of Middle of Everywhere — a new podcast from WKMS in Murray — are dedicated to sharing small-town stories.

“We aim to tell stories about rural and small town America that illustrate a living experience rich with examples of tribalism and kinship, skepticism and idealism, defeat and triumph,” said Ariel Lavery, one of the program’s hosts. “I hope that this podcast illustrates a fuller picture of the diversity of rural America.

“Racially, economically, socially, and culturally rural areas have become more diverse and eclectic places to live than ever before, and we want to capture that through the stories we tell.”

The podcast is a production of WKMS, part of Public Radio Exchange’s Project Catapult with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Episodes from the first season will be released biweekly on all podcast platforms and via www.middleofevery

wherepod.org. Its first episode became available for download Monday.

Murray native Austin Carter, Lavery’s cohost, hopes that their show can help to elevate the voice of people in “middle America,” which he feels are often portrayed from an outsider perspective by urban, coastal media outlets.

“Since I have lived most of my life in western Kentucky, I am intimately familiar with the good and bad aspects of rural and small-town life,” Carter told the Sun. “I feel like it’s important for voices from rural and small towns to be heard and valued.”

Educational in nature, Middle of Everywhere will explore Kentucky’s history and the nature of stereotypes while also examining what’s motivating the people in small communities around the country.

For example, the first episode will tell the tale of the “madstone,” a family heirloom believed to have healing properties for bites from rabid animals, weaving in the tale of a Baptist minister, Pocahontas and John Smith, rabies and the local ties to the story.

“I hope that the podcast is able to engage listeners who have a connection to rural America and share stories that remind them of rural and small-town life,” Carter added. “And I also hope that we are able to provide a sort of education for people about things that may be familiar but have a whole story behind them that they didn’t know.”

Lavery, a Murray transplant who grew up in Colorado and has lived in Indiana, Maine and Massachusetts, is eager to journey through the region’s passed-down stories.

“Because of my transient experience, I have learned that rural areas hold a unique way of life that more Americans should understand or experience,” she said. “No single rural area in which I have lived has been similar, each has its own battles and its own great history.

“This is what I think this podcast has the ability to elucidate so well: the importance of telling the unique stories from people that make these small places special.”

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