Letter from Téa Wimer , WMMT General Manager
by Téa Wimer|September 13, 2022
In April 2022, WMMT was finally able to bring back the best part of our broadcast operations–our volunteer DJs–who make all of our work at the station worth it. Reflecting on that milestone now, I remember feeling as though that period in the pandemic where we were completely reliant on playlists and syndicated programming was the darkest WMMT would ever be. The catastrophic flooding that took hold of EKY & Southwestern VA in the early morning hours of July 28, 2022 would prove me wrong. Now we are facing a long road to recovery months and years ahead and we’ll need all the help we can get to be back on our feet.
When the first pictures of our downstairs studio came out, mud-covered equipment, furniture and memorabilia strewn all over, it elicited strong reactions from everyone, and I thought that would be the worst of it. But then this past week, as our contracted demo service crew finished stabilizing the first floor of the Appalshop, a new photo emerged.
This photo is above and beyond the most heart-breaking to me. Eerily beautiful with the broken glass in the background and the sun streaming in on a recently cleaned floor, it looks like that room has never been touched, never held over 35 years of WMMT broadcast operations, of WMMT broadcast history. So many community legends spent the better part of their lives in that studio, and it’s jarring seeing it completely bare like that. The unfortunate reality is that it will be months before we can access that studio again regularly and safely, if at all. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that Appalshop & WMMT are the people, not the building.
Even amidst all of this destruction, there’s beauty and hope. The national community radio community has come together to send us equipment donations that will help us get back on the air, including our partners in the Ohio Valley ReSource. Dedicated listeners and people who are new to WMMT have been sharing our messages far and wide, and we’re so incredibly humbled and grateful.
As of late last week, We restored our broadcast with automated programming as a temporary measure, and thanks to the Educational Foundation of America, we have purchased an RV to serve as our broadcast space on the Appalshop grounds. All things considered, WMMT is very lucky that we can pull together a solution, but we still need your help. Any fundraising plans we had for this fall are indefinitely postponed, vital fundraising that would support and propel WMMT’s work in the community, such as Katie Myers’ excellent reporting or our story trainer and co-producer Benny Becker’s audio training expansion pilot in Beckley, WV.
There will also be other expenses as we move forward, especially as we begin to build back a permanent studio for our DJs so that they continue to foster community, engage in dialogue with one another (and all of you) and creatively express themselves as Appalachians. Please pitch in if you can, particularly if you are from outside the region but understand the value and importance of community radio in times like this. WMMT is Real People Radio, and we need YOU to keep it that way. Please consider making a one-time or monthly donation at the link below:
WMMT is coming back in full force very soon– we are in it for the long haul, and we’re in it with you. We’ll come back stronger and more well-equipped to meet moments of regional and local crisis, and ready to bring you our unique blend of 24/7 cultural programming, public affairs, and sweet, sweet music that celebrates our region.
WMMT General Manager