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The official Dirt Road Radio Newsletter
Read Issue #3
Be a tourist in your own backyard!
News & Updates
Discovering “Rural” America
Hello again, Roadies! Greetings from the Dirt Road Radio team! I’m Chris Burgess. For this second issue, let’s talk about why we’re doing this.
At its heart, we want Dirt Road Radio to be a platform for bringing people together. It’s become clear that some areas of our country are growing further apart. People from different regions are having a hard time understanding each other, and it’s often because we aren’t listening to one another. It’s often because our media amplifies the angriest, most outraged voices.
But it’s also because there are plenty of people who aren’t being heard from in places that aren’t being served by the media–and especially by radio. We’ve known for a long time that many voices in rural America have not had a platform to lift up their stories and share them with those outside of their communities.
We all want to live in a country where every place is important and population density doesn’t determine the meaning of where you are. We realized we wanted to help tell a better story about rural America. Despite all the real challenges facing rural America that we’ve become accustomed to hearing about every time a small town is in the news, there are also signs pointing to many positive changes in the less populous part of the United States.
Lifting up the voices of the heartland also doesn’t have to mean shouting out in anger and desperation. There are also wonderful things happening out there to be discovered, and we want to share them with you! We also want to hear your stories of the wonderful things happening in your neck of the woods!
Reach out to the email@example.com and tell us about it!
Always Take the Back Roads
Positively No Outlet podcast puts a spotlight on small town Americans and their stories
Dr. George Wood had just a few rules when he left his small town of Amesville, OH and hit the road during the pandemic summer of 2020. He stayed off the interstates, shut off the news, and took his meals in small cafes, bars and bakeries in towns that barely made the map.
After traveling 7,500 miles over two months and fishing in 18 different rivers and streams, George discovered that the best part of the trip was not the fishing. It was the people and places he discovered along the way.
“Positively No Outlet: Stories from Unplugged America,” the podcast that resulted from that road trip is hosted and produced by George, along with Damian Bawn and David Lackey. George’s road trip through rural America was full of discovery and surprises. In Gridley, Illinois he takes us to the Gridley Phone Museum. Then it’s on to Petosi, Wisconsin and the Petosi Brewery where we meet the people behind the resurrection of a local brewery that also houses the world’s best beer museum.
The podcast also highlights the economic comeback of some of these small towns and the people behind it. In Lynch, Kentucky the coal companies have left, houses have been abandoned, schools and stores closed. But despite all this the folks at Backroads of Appalachia have a plan. By sponsoring road rallies and events they bring thousands of people to Harlan County, and the results have created new jobs and new businesses.
The US Census Bureau defines as “rural” any population, housing or territory not in an urban area, but the precise meaning of the term has changed over time, and can vary in different contexts. According to an article on The Conversation, “Rural America” is a “deceptively simple term for a remarkably diverse collection of places.” It includes nearly 72 percent of the land area of the United States and 46 million people.
Farms, ranches, grain elevators and local cooperatives reflect the enduring importance of agriculture. But, there is much more to rural America than agriculture. It includes manufacturing parks, warehouses and food processing plants along rural interstates; exurban expanses just beyond the outer edge of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas; regions where generations have labored and lived.
And yet, as Kenneth Johnson, author of the article explains, “Few people appreciate that the fates of rural and urban America are inextricably linked. Improving the opportunities, accessibility and viability of rural areas is critical – both to the 46 million people who live there and to the much larger urban population that depends on rural America’s contributions to their material, environmental and social well-being.”
Here are a few links if you’d like to learn more!
Where is ‘rural America,’ and what does it look like? (theconversation.com)
Dig into the data on your own community with Census Data & Surveys.
Photos at Unsplash by Asa Rodger and Mitchell Hollander
News & Updates
A huge “WELCOME!” to all our wonderful Dirt Road Radio supporters!
This is the inaugural issue of our newsletter, the Dirt Road Dispatch! I’m Laurie Lusinski, and I’m the official “gear-head car nut” for our station. I love all things automotive and find that nearly everybody loves talking about cars, whether they own them or if they belong to someone else. My husband and I own several classic cars, including our ’66 Pontiac GTO that we enjoy taking to shows and cruising in. As an upholsterer and former radiator shop owner/service person, I love to see others’ auto interiors and cooling systems. Cars and the love of them connects us to each other in so many exciting ways!
As a grandma with “littles” in both the east coast and Pacific northwest, I have the opportunity to connect with other car enthusiasts at shows during my travels to see family. Since I love to talk to people and love cars, I look forward to car shows and the balmy weather that allows them to sprout like marigolds around nearly every community in the country. The first weekend in July, 2023, I’ll be in Des Moines, Iowa, for the Good Guys Heartland Nationals event. I’m stoked to see the cars and talk to the owners as well as check out what parts and technologies are new this year!
At Dirt Road Radio, our team wants to hear your original stories in your own words. Whether it’s your car stories, stories about your ancestry and relatives, original stories, a narrative about the hobbies you’re passionate about, or other interests, the firstname.lastname@example.org wants to hear about them!
Hook us up with your fascinating interviews and stories, America! Sharing our stories in our own words drives our station, “Bringing People Together.”
Highways & Byways
I’ve been a secretary, travel agent, builder, radiator shop owner/repairer/cooling system specialist, and hold a class A CDL license and DOT card. Tractor/trailers, 12-yard rear-discharge cement mixers, dump trucks, skid-loaders, and tractors – I’ve driven them all! As a person who sews, I gradually morphed into auto upholstery. Beginning with S-10s and Corvettes and including Camaros, trucks, boats, and our GTO, I’ve reupholstered vehicles large and small in both original and custom styles. My ’83 Hurst Olds is buffed and waiting for its decal kit and for me to finish the upholstery.
Chatting with people and learning what they’re passionate about brings me joy. My goal with DRR is to hear people share stories about anything on tires, tracks, and steel or wood wheels. If you drive it, I want to hear about it!
The changing landscape for electric vehicles
Electric Vehicles (EVs) are increasingly popular across the country, yet the road to widespread adoption in America’s rural heartland is full of roadblocks. The lack of a charging infrastructure is the biggest challenge. Rural communities just don’t have charging stations, making it difficult for EV owners traveling long distances. The huge upfront cost of EVs presents another challenge. While EVs save money on fuel and maintenance costs over time, the initial purchase price is a barrier for many rural residents.
Fortunately, there are several initiatives underway to promote EV adoption in rural America. The Federal Government seeks to make half of all new vehicles sold in the country zero-emission vehicles by 2030. To achieve this objective, the U.S. will build a convenient and equitable network of 500,000 chargers, making EVs accessible to all Americans.
Here are some resources where you can learn more!