We were talking about all of the ultra-obscure sorts of niche-niche-niche music that online services like MP3 blogs help people find, and he shared a story about an independent community media organization in eastern Kentucky devoted to serving the coalfield communities and the Appalachian region. Their radio station, WMMT (which streams online) specializes in bluegrass and oldtime. Evidently, one deejay there was well-known for maintaining an extensive collection of rare oldtime music -- on his iPod. He'd drive three hours to get to the station -- with his iPod -- and play material from it on-air. Kind of funny when you think about the nature of the music (by definition, old), and the nature of the medium (new). Sure beats lugging heavy crates of vinyl all around the mountains, though.
The media organization has a website, and a name: Appalshop (appal = short for appalachian, has nothing to do with Apple Computers). Plenty of interesting stuff there, including some documentary film projects.
And on a related note, Noah did an incredible segment not too long ago on Day to Day. Remember the story about "Dan," the homeless man in San Francisco who became a philanthropist after inheriting $200,000 from his mom? Turns out Noah tracked the guy down and had a series of conversations with him, which you can listen to here. It's nothing short of great radio.
Update: BoingBoing reader Steven Villereal says, "Funny that you posted that -- Anthology Film Archives in New York has a folk film festival, starting tomorrow, which features a lot of Appalshop stuff [as well as probably totally awesome Alan Lomax stuff]. Link."
Mec says, "I was a volunteer dj for WMMT a few years ago. We live in a commercial radio wasteland but WMMT is a bright shining light because they encourage individuality. Where else could you find a program entitled, Ralph Stanley, Time-Traveler? Heh."
And Petra says, "If you'd like a specific example of one of Appalshop's programs, check out Howard Berkes' feature on 'Holler to the Hood,' which brings rappers to Whitesburg to help the local kids learn to rhyme (full disclosure: I was his producer on the piece). Link