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Smoky Mountain Air


Smoky Mountain Air brings you the science, stories, and sounds of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hosts Valerie Polk and Karen Key interview authors, scientists, and park experts about life in the Smokies past and present. A production by Great Smoky Mountains Association.

Popular episodes

Sepia Tones: Exploring Black Appalachian Music—E2: Driving (and Fiddling) While Black, Appalachian Music at Home and on the Road

Jul 25 • 58:59

On this episode of our mini-series Sepia Tones, Dr. William Turner and Dr. Ted Olson examine music within rural communities with guests Earl White, Larry Kirksey, and Kip Lornell. Each of our guests has been on their own quest, whether seeking the musical kinship of other black performers past and present, finding a life outside of Kentucky coal camps, or documenting the r...

Sepia Tones: Exploring Black Appalachian Music—E1: Bagpipes, banjos, ngonis, and gourds

Apr 28 • 51:13

On this special episode of Smoky Mountain Air, guest hosts Dr. William Turner and Dr. Ted Olson kick off an exciting new mini-series called Sepia Tones: Exploring Black Appalachian Music. Guests Loyal Jones, Sparky Rucker, and James Leva contribute to this lively conversation about the roots of Appalachian music and their own roles in preserving these musical influences....

Introducing Sepia Tones: Dr. William Turner and Dr. Ted Olson explore Black Appalachian music

Mar 11 • 33:03

Our guests Dr. William Turner and Dr. Ted Olson talk about an exciting new podcast mini-series they'll be co-hosting as part of Smoky Mountain Air called Sepia Tones: Exploring Black Appalachian Music. This mini-series can be found right here through this podcast, with new episodes every other month. ...

Singing Creek: Meet author Morgan Simmons and Illustrator Don Wood, talents behind GSMA's newest children's book

Dec 8 • 29:57

On this episode, we talk to Morgan Simmons and Don Wood, the author and illustrator of Singing Creek—a new book published by GSMA that takes young readers on an adventure of music and survival in the world of a Smoky Mountain stream.

Morgan Simmons is a former outdoor editor for the Knoxville News Sentinel. Over the course of his 28-year career, he’s covered environmental i...

Mishaps and Mayhem: David Brill talks about his GSMA title Into the Mist and writing for Smokies Life magazine

Nov 25 • 51:01

On this episode of Smoky Mountain Air, we look back at an interview we recorded a few months ago with David Brill, author of the book Into the Mist, a collection of real-life stories depicting people caught in extreme situations in the Smokies and their dramatic struggles for survival. Into the Mist is published by GSMA and available at ...

Vesna Plakanis of A Walk in the Woods Talks about Wild Foods Foraging

Sep 18 • 25:32

On this episode of Smoky Mountain Air, we look back at an interview we recorded this summer with Vesna Plakanis, owner of A Walk in the Woods, a tour guide service specializing in knowledge of edible and medicinal wild plants, backpacking, and outdoor skills and survival, as well as local human history here in the Smokies. A Walk in the Woods has helped more than 100,000 p...

Janet McCue and Paul Bonesteel Explore Photographer George Masa's Fascinating Life: A Smokies Life ‘Missing Issues’ Feature

May 20 • 48:43

“Early 20th century hikers in the Great Smokies were likely to encounter a small Japanese man on the trail. He was 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighed a little more than 100 pounds. He might have been burdened with a pack containing a heavy camera, tripod, and accompanying equipment. Or he might be pushing the front wheel of a bicycle connected to handlebars with an odometer ...

Stephen Lyn Bales Talks Birds: A Smokies Life ‘Missing Issues’ Feature

May 20 • 41:41

Stephen Lyn Bales is the former senior naturalist at Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville and the author of Ephemeral by Nature: Exploring the Exceptional with a Tennessee Naturalist, Natural Histories: Stories from the Tennessee Valley, and Ghost Birds: Jim Tanner and the Quest for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, each published by UT Press. A native of Gatlinburg, he is the grea...

“Life in the Canopy” by Rose Houk: A Smokies Life ‘Missing Issues’ Feature

Apr 21 • 21:53

What goes on in the uppermost layers of a Smoky Mountain forest? Does anything live up there? And who's going to climb up there to find out? “From charismatic microfauna to megafauna—from water bears to black bears—the forest canopy harbors so much,” says author Rose Houk.
Join us as we delve into one of the ‘missing issues’ of our biannual publication, Smokies Life, to re...

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