I play Dungeons and Dragons, and in the current campaign I’ve basically made myself into an Appalachian version of the witch from Disney's Brave. Mostly it’s because our campaign is based in Texas and honestly I should’ve just played as Dolly Parton from the get-go- but we live and learn.
Learn I have. I try to learn something new every day, and playing my DnD character has made me look a little more into the history of the Appalachian region. Of course, I knew about Dolly Parton, the sparkliest thing to come out of the mountains. I love her music and her missions- I didn’t know Appalachia though. There’s a great Twitter thread (link here) on why it’s an impressive geological region... but I know now that I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. I’m slightly ashamed of this, as I was born along the edges of the region and I know where my roots are from. Turns out I know my roots geographically, not culturally.
While my friends suggested I listen to Old Gods of Appalachia for inspiration for my DnD character, I ended up turning to Appodlachia. I wanted to know about the thens and nows. Appodlachia is an incredibly important podcast for everyone to spend some time with.
Hosted originally by native Appalachians Big John Isner and Chuck Corra, and now hosted by Corra and Callie Pruett Schwaber, this podcast was created to tear down the typical stereotypes of people from the region. Appodlachia looks at music, history, politics, and overall culture. It does have some sponsors but is very much Patreon supported. A bonus thing is that they will waive Patreon fees if you are in financial need- so you can access the Patreon if you fall in love with the podcast but can’t afford to become a patron right now.
Recent episode topics include code-switching, advocation in politics, interviews with former governors and so much more. One of my favorite episodes that I was able to listen to was episode 141, JD Crowe not JD Vance: A look at Bluegrass in Appalachia. The overall berth of topics will give anyone a few hours of educational entertainment in just the backlog.
Episodes are longer, staying typically between an hour and two hours. This is a podcast with excellent production quality and structure. Episodes are easy to listen to and follow a pretty typical pattern so if you want to get to the meat of the episode rather than listen to intros you can. In that vein, they are doing a lot of accessibility work on their own show. Transcripts of episodes old and new are really growing on their website.
I listened over cooking, cleaning, and my general “listening to a podcast” pacing. This very much has the “people talking and you’re listening and not alone” energy that a lot of people love in podcasts. I felt as though I was in great company. I did break episodes up due to their length, but it was easy enough to come back to the topic at hand. The dynamic between Corra and Pruett Schwaber in particular is great. Callie gives an excellent voice and perspective as she is the executive director of Appalachians for Appalachia (linktree here). Chuck Corra definitely knows what he’s doing as a host and voice for the region. His love for the region and the subject matter just permeates every episode.
This podcast needs to exist for those who live there, as well as for those outside of it. It can cross boundaries we’ve let ourselves build.
If you want to listen to Appodlachia the PodLink is here.
I also wanted to use this review to give a little bit of a boost to relief for the flooding that has hit Eastern Kentuck. Appodlachia has been fervently retweeting and posting resources on Instagram in addition to reminding people at the top and end of their episodes of the devastation that has hit.
Some social media has been absolutely brutal, saying along the lines that “because you voted red, you deserved this” and honestly that’s just a terrible perspective to have. Appalachia is a diverse, and important part of our nation and its history. Obviously, we haven’t cared to realize this if this is our reaction. So for one, listen to Appodlachia and learn about the region. For two, don’t be a jerk when large swaths of people's lives are being absolutely upended by natural disasters.
Below are some links to resources to help with flooding relief:
Appolshop: resources and current info: Link here
EKY Mutual Aid- mutual aid fund for Eastern Kentucky: Facebook page here
Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky: Link here
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Stay confident in your curiosity, and help your neighbors. Thanks for reading!