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Taylor Wilson’s 18-year-old son, Landon, was hit by a truck while out training for his senior year of baseball. He lost an arm and his leg was severely injured in the accident. There were doubts that he would ever play baseball again. In this episode Taylor recounts his son's inspirational journey back to the pitcher's mound. Through a series of letters documented in his book, "Glove Letters: A Father Recalls His Son's Greatest Game," Taylor details the faith, perseverance, prayer and strength it took to get Landon back in the game. "Glove Letters: A Father Recalls His Son's Greatest Game" can be purchased on Amazon.
This special episode featuring Kevin Rumley was recorded live at Discovery Park’s recent Military History and Armed Forces Symposium. Rumley has a master’s degree in social work, performs in numerous bands as a drummer and runs the Buncombe County Veterans Treatment Court, a program that helps divert veteran offenders from prison to community service and recovery. In this episode he shares more about the difficult road getting here. While serving our country as a Marine on tour in Iraq, he was severely injured when an IED exploded nearby. He spent 18 months in the hospital, endured 32 surgeries and was told he would never walk again. While that prediction proved to be untrue, he left the hospital battling an addiction to the opioids he was prescribed for pain and eventually found himself homeless and hunting for heroin. Thankfully, he found the help and support he needed to regain control of his life and now helps other veterans struggling with the same issues.
Bill Allen was just 18 years old when he began serving in the Navy as a medic during World War II. He was there on D-Day, June 6, 1944, where his ship joined the biggest armada in history carrying soldiers and equipment to storm the beach at Omaha in Normandy, France to liberate Europe from the Nazis. On June 19, 1944, Allen’s ship hit a German mine and exploded leaving less than 30 survivors out of over 300 men that had been serving on the ship. In this inspirational episode, he shares his memories of D-Day and the explosion that cost many of his friends and fellow servicemen their lives. Allen also shares some behind-the-scenes stories of returning to Normandy for the first time with his family in 2013 as part of a PBS documentary that aired on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, “NOVA: D-Day's Sunken Secrets.”
Tanya and Scott Melton, owners of Miso Hongry, have been serving southern comfort food in West Tennessee for almost a decade. In this episode, Tanya shares how cooking with her grandmother inspired her to open her own restaurant using the knowledge and skills that were passed down to her. After creating a successful catering business, the Meltons decided it was time to take their restaurant on the road and open the Miso Hongry food truck. Whether baking a delicious pie or making the perfect chicken and dressing recipe, the Meltons leave customers smiling as they are taken back to grandma's kitchen with every bite.
Merry Brown is a writer, speaker, mediator, philosopher and small business owner. After teaching philosophy for over two decades, Brown felt led to focus on conflict restoration and mediation. In this episode, she shares how she hopes to empower employees and businesses to resolve conflicts swiftly and equitably through her business, Third Party Workplace Conflict Restoration Services. Brown's background and her children have inspired her to publish eight books. In her latest book, "The Food Addict: Recovering from Binge Eating Disorder & Making Peace with Food," she tells her story of how she overcame an eating disorder and provides tools to help people develop a healthy relationship with food. For more information about Third Party Workplace Conflict Restoration Services visit "The Food Addict: Recovering from Binge Eating Disorder & Making Peace with Food" can be purchased on Amazon.
Dr. Shawn Pitts, founder of Arts in McNairy, is a chiropractor, cultural planner and community arts advocate. Arts in McNairy was founded in 2001 on the principle that participation in the arts is a cornerstone for the development of a healthy community. In this episode, Dr. Pitts shares how his community’s passion for the arts resulted in McNairy County becoming one of the most active and diverse arts communities in the southeast. Their work has resulted in a vital art scene that includes music, literature, visual arts, performing arts and more. For information about Arts in McNairy, visit
Roger Sorkin, founder of the American Resilience Project, is an award-winning producer, writer, editor and director. In this episode, Sorkin shares how he uses storytelling to address threats to the future of our planet. In his new film "Farm Free or Die," he is making the issue of climate change more accessible and relatable to everyone with the goal of improving the livelihoods of those living and working in farming communities. "Farm Free or Die" will be shown during Discovery Park’s National Ag Day Celebration on March 22, 2022. For more information on "Farm Free or Die" and the American Resilience Project, visit
Terrence Martin, a University of Tennessee at Martin graduate, is no stranger to the importance of both style and substance. As a part of his personal image, he became known for wearing bowties to work every day as a school teacher and administrator. After seeing the impact his bowties had on his students, he decided to begin his own bowtie company he named Impeccable Knots. Through his company, Martin provides customers with high-quality bowties along with the highest level of service. In addition to his successful small business, he’s still passionate about education. Martin works with the Dekalb County School District in Georgia in school redesign and innovation. In this episode, Martin shares tips to starting and running a small business. Those interested in purchasing his bowties can visit
Storytelling has always been a big part of Dr. Frank McMeen’s life. As a child, he paid special attention to the stories his grandparents shared. Today, McMeen, president of the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation, has compiled many of these stories and others in his book, "Let Me Tell You A Story: Finding Hope in a Hopeless World." Through these stories, he also shares examples of God's love and gives readers hope in difficult times. In this episode, McMeen shares some of his favorite stories from the book and reminisces about his fascinating life and career. "Let Me Tell You A Story: Finding Hope in a Hopeless World" can be purchased from Barnes & Noble at:
Environmental justice and creation care are passion points for Martha Lyle Ford, the director of the Center of Faith and Imagination at Memphis Theological Seminary. She works with a team who helps faith leaders thrive applying disciplines from Sabbath-keeping, personal finances and mental and physical health to conflict transformation, justice and community building. Ford also shares with others how to connect with God’s creation for recreation, renewal and rest. In this episode, Ford shares how she incorporates her deep connection to nature with her faith by practicing creation care, the belief that we are to be good stewards of the Earth. For those interested in learning more, visit or email Martha Lyle Ford at This episode is sponsored by Blue Bank Resort.
Gary Foreman is the owner of Native Sun Productions and an EMMY-nominated producer of around 40 historical documentaries and cultural programming. The story of David Crockett gripped Foreman at a young age, launching him on a journey to documentary production. From the dangerous wilderness in the unexplored Wild West to pirates who roamed the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, Foreman hopes that his documentaries and programming push people to discover more about history. His passion for storytelling even led him to produce many of the exhibit pieces Discovery Park of America has on display for American frontiersman David Crockett. In this episode, listeners will discover the fascinating process of producing a documentary and the importance of sharing history through storytelling.
Dixie Locke Emmons enjoyed the unique experience of being the first girlfriend of Elvis Presley. The two met in the youth group of First Assembly of God, Memphis. They were dating in 1954 when the unknown singer stepped in Sun Studio and recorded “That's All Right Mama," now known as “ground zero” of rock ‘n’ roll. Emmons’s daughter, Kristi Emmons Jones, worked closely with her mother on the recently published book, “Unlocked: Memoirs of Elvis’ First Girlfriend.” In this episode, listeners will discover what Presley was like before fame and fortune, how Emmons and Priscilla Presley became close friends later in life and how Emmons and her daughter worked together to create this look back at an important moment in the history of popular culture. “Unlocked: Memoirs of Elvis’ First Girlfriend” can be purchased from Graceland at:
Did you know that the Tennessee River Pearl is Tennessee's state gem and Camden, Tenn. is home to the only freshwater pearl culturing farm in North America? Bob Keast, owner of the Birdsong Resort and Tennessee River Freshwater Pearl Museum, Farm, Tour and Jewelry Showroom, joined us to discuss the fascinating history of the freshwater pearl and how Tennessee began to produce this gem. For more information about the farm and museum, visit
High school juniors Austin Alexander and Alex Carpenter pull the curtain back and share behind-the-scenes details about their successful podcast, “RebelCast,” that focuses on the teachers and students of Obion County Central High School. Along with a team of friends who help with all aspects of production, they’ve taken their idea from “what if” to a podcast that features interviews with teachers, details about school sports and segments like “hidden gems of OC.” Both will also be part of a group of students that will be participating in an upcoming education-based tour of Europe thanks to a scholarship from the Union City Rotary Club. You can download and listen to “RebelCast” here: This episode is sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
In this episode, Dr. Ahmad Tootoonchi shares his inspirational journey from his childhood in the northern region of Iran on the coast of the Caspian Sea to his current role as dean of the College of Business and Global Affairs at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Passionate about the subject of leadership, Dr. Tootoonchi also provides insight on some of the principles that he believes can guide both aspiring and experienced leaders to lead their teams effectively, peacefully and productively. This episode is sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
After a successful career rising through the ranks of the FedEx Corporation in Memphis and then Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway in Fort Worth, Texas, Jeff Campbell returned to his hometown of Fulton, Kentucky. After discovering a need for some TLC, Campbell was inspired to contribute to his community through projects like "Let's Paint the Town" that inspired renovation and painting of more than 30 historic buildings downtown. He then funded, designed and oversaw construction of Campbell Plaza in a neglected vacant lot and joined with the Rotary Club to raise funds to develop the city’s Unity Park. Campbell then turned his visionary eye to the historic Meadows Hotel, a 100-room hotel built in 1901 in Fulton to serve the guests of the Illinois Central Railroad. After acquiring what was left of the property, he oversaw a complete reconstruction project, returning The Meadows Hotel back to its former glory. Today, the historic boutique hotel features 20 luxurious rooms, and a popular full-service bar and restaurant. In this episode, Campbell shares the story of the project and more about the challenges and rewards of seeing a need in a rural community and working with the community to meet it. More about The Meadows Hotel. This episode is sponsored by The University of Tennessee at Martin.
In the early 1900s, the Nailling building in Union City, Tenn. was one of the most modern office buildings in the region. While the outside was brick and stone, the interior featured imported tile, beamed ceilings and elaborate fresco flooring. The owner of the building, Dr. W. A. Nailling, operated his office in three rooms of the first floor that was also occupied by Oliver’s Red Cross Drug Store. Today, that building is being given new life by David Ring, the great-grandson of Dr. Nailling. In this episode, Ring, who calls Massachusetts home, and real estate developer Ethan Watson-Hogan share more about their vision for the building, historic preservation and how strategic improvements and a long-term plan can lead to expansion and development of entire downtown. This episode is sponsored by Leaders Credit Union.
Dr. Karen Bowyer has been inspiring students at Dyersburg State Community College for 37 years. Bowyer's passion for STEM and teaching was ignited at a young age by watching the women in her family teach and by witnessing the monumental launch of Sputnik in 1957. After spending time teaching in Cali, Colombia and Mexico City, she settled in Tennessee to continue her journey in promoting STEM education. In this episode, she shares more about her work in higher education, especially in rural communities, that has helped students to discover their potential and has created pathways to help them succeed. This episode is sponsored by Core10.
For the 100th episode of “Reelfoot Forward,” host Scott Williams welcomes two special guests who were part of the creation of Discovery Park from the beginning. Senior director of education, Polly Brasher, and senior director of exhibits, Jennifer Wildes, recently celebrated ten years with the museum and heritage park. They were there even before the doors were first opened on Nov. 1, 2013 and have experienced firsthand the remarkable growth and success. They’ve watched millions of children and adults benefit from the big idea of Robert Kirkland and the community of Union City, Tenn., to create a place where inspiration would happen every single day. The stories they share in this episode will be especially meaningful to anyone who is attempting to make something happen they’ve been told can’t be done.
Jonathan Lodge is a hunter, conservationist, amateur mycologist and brewer whose love of the great outdoors began as a young boy when he discovered the magic that could be found in the woods around his home in Paris, Tenn. Today, he is still passionate about what we can learn about ourselves and the world around us if we turn off our phones and head outside. He is also co-owner of Perrylodgic Brewing Co., the first and only locally-owned brewery in Paris. In this episode, Lodge shares how he and his business partner, Randall Perry, discovered the fun of making beer then left their jobs to create what is now a successful brewery and family-friendly taproom. Located on the highway headed toward bustling Kentucky Lake on the Tennessee River, they also create gourmet burgers featuring made-in-house sauces, salads, tacos and more. More about Perrylodgic Brewing Co.
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