Hound Dog Hookers, Appalachia’s Energy Drink & More, Inside Appalachia

Dec 13, 2019

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll take a trip across our region and meet people in Tennessee, to Kentucky, and Ohio. Each of the stories featured highlight an element of life here in Appalachia that is often overlooked. 


In this Episode: 

When Health Costs Lead To Homelessness

Statistics show that medical bills can be financially crippling. Those bills contribute to more than 60 percent of personal bankruptcies in the country  —  even leading to homelessness. 

Mary Meehan from the Ohio Valley ReSource brings us the story of one woman who lost her home while fighting cancer

Our Breathitt

The Appalachian Regional Commission released a report this summer that shows much of Appalachia is still struggling with low employment and high rates of poverty. One of those communities is Breathitt County, Kentucky. The ARC has labeled it “economically distressed.” 

But residents there know there’s more to their story. A new program called “Our Breathitt” is improving the health and well-being of some residents. As WEKU's Cheri Lawson reports, the idea is to use arts and culture to help residents recognize the beauty in everyday Breathitt County life.

Hound Dog Hookers

In the 1960s, as a part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty effort, a New Yorker came to Letcher County, Kentucky. To help bring more economic opportunity to the region, he set out to teach women how to make hooked rugs. The practice has been part of the American craft culture for more than 200 years, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune. It used to be that women did the work to earn extra money for their families. 

The Hound Dog Hookers was a group of women from Blackey, Kentucky who made handmade hooked rugs throughout the 60s and 70s. They became nationally known. WMMT’s Mimi Pickering sat down with Mary Adams, the daughter of Josephine Whittaker, one of the founders of the group. 

Flea Markets

Flea markets are pretty common across Appalachia, but our folklife reporter Caitlin Tan brings us the story of one West Virginian artist who mines flea markets regularly to find material for his work. Old photographs, children’s toys and tin cans of all kinds become elements in his abstract art — art that uniquely ties elements of Appalachian life, into one place. 

Dr. Enuf

Chuck Gordon is the second-generation CEO of Tri-City Beverage in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Credit Fred Sauceman / WETS-FM

Energy drink companies like Red Bull and Monster, are some of the most popular brands across the country, and the industry is worth more than $12 billion. But a small, family-run business in Johnson City, Tennessee, has been producing a regional drink called Dr. Enuf for 70 years. 

Dr. Enuf has been sold as a health tonic, and it does have some added vitamins. WETS’s Fred Sauceman has this story about one of the country’s earliest “energy drinks.”  

RC Cola

Until about the year 2000, Whitesburg, Kentucky, had its own RC Cola bottling plant. The plant has closed down, but the drink’s marketing signs are still everywhere in the community. WMMT’s Sydney Boles brings us this story. It’s part of an occasional series she does where people in the local community ask her questions and she goes searching for answers.

Mindful Eating

Obesity is an issue that Appalachians struggle with, but a new way of thinking about food might help. Mary Meehan reports on the promise of a practice called ‘mindful eating.”

We had help producing Inside Appalachia this week from WMMT in Whitesburg, Kentucky, WETS in Johnson City, Tennessee, and the Ohio Valley ReSource, which is made possible with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

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Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Dinosaur Burps, and Michael Howard.

Roxy Todd is our producer. Eric Douglas is our associate producer.  Our executive producer is Jesse Wright. He also edited our show this week. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi helps with promotions. 

You can find us on Twitter @InAppalachia.