SouthBound

The South… What is it? Movies, books, songs, myths and legends have tried to explain this part of the United States. SouthBound, a podcast series from WFAE, talks to people who were born and raised in the South. Hosted by journalist Tommy Tomlinson, SouthBound features conversations with notable Southerners from all walks of life – from artists and athletes to preachers and politicians.

New episodes will come out every other week on Wednesday. Subscribe:
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Who would you like to hear on the SouthBound podcast? Submit your favorite Southerner below and the question you would love for them to answer. Who knows... you might just hear them on a future episode.

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Joshua Burford / Facebook

Josh Burford was one of our first guests on SouthBound, a year and a half ago. Josh is an expert on the LGBTQ history of the South, and at the time we talked, he was about to leave Charlotte for Alabama to co-found the Invisible Histories Project, which aims to document queer history throughout the South.

Matt and Ted Lee are brothers who grew up in Charleston and moved to New York. They had what they thought was a great idea – to sell boiled peanuts to all the Southern-themed joints in the Big Apple. It didn’t go well.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Lisa Hendy just became the first woman to be named chief ranger at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She’s in charge of emergency operations for the park, which covers 800 square miles on the Tennessee-North Carolina border and is America's busiest national park, with 11.4 million visitors last year.

John Deputy

I met Tony Jack 10 years ago when I was on a fellowship at Harvard. It was the first day of a sociology class I was taking. Tony walked in looking like an NFL lineman – tall and thick and wearing a track suit. Then, the professor had us introduce ourselves. And about 10 seconds after Tony started talking, I knew he was the smartest one in the class.

Leighton Ford
Courtesy Leighton Ford

Leighton Ford wasn’t born a Southerner, but surely by now he qualifies – he has lived in Charlotte more than 60 years. Before then, back home in Canada, he met a young preacher named Billy Graham. He ended up not just working with Graham, but marrying his sister Jeanie. He went on to his own career as a teacher and mentor to young evangelist. But he and Billy Graham stayed friends to Graham’s dying day.

Photos courtesy of Sean Powers with Georgia Public Broadcasting and Chow Club Atlanta

Yohana Solomon had to learn a different way of living when she emigrated to America 20 years ago. She took political asylum here as her home country of Ethiopia was in the middle of a war. Eventually, she landed in Atlanta. And now she brings the whole world to a Southern supper table.

Photo courtesy of Chuck Culpepper

Chuck Culpepper and I were friends for years before I ever met him — we used to talk about music and storytelling on a chat room created by some fellow writers back in the Internet’s dial-up days. Chuck is one of the few openly gay male sportswriters in America. 

Photo courtesy of Tom Hanchett

Tom Hanchett is a historian. Charlotte is his particular area of expertise, but he has spent years studying how the modern South came to be. So how did our history make the South what it is today? And what are some of the changes likely to come our way in the future?

Charlie Lovett

When Charlie Lovett was a boy growing up in Winston-Salem, one day he put on a record and heard a recording of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland.” When Charlie became a grown man, he would become one of the world’s leading experts on Lewis Carroll and his creations. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Courtesy of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

A note from Tommy: Today’s episode is a recut version of the conversation I had with Dale Earnhardt Jr. last March. We’ve done some editing and reshaping so it might sound a little different, but we thought it might be a good time to re-air it with the Daytona 500 coming up on Feb. 17. You’ll hear Dale Jr. talk about his mixed emotions about retiring as a race car driver, and his relationship with his legendary dad, Dale Sr. He also talks about getting ready to become a father, which happened just a few weeks after our talk; he and his wife, Amy, had a baby girl named Isla on April 30.

Janie Mines

In 1976, Janie Mines became the first black woman to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. The Navy fought to keep her and other women out and once she arrived as part of the initial group of 81 women, many of her fellow midshipmen were furious that she was there.

What was her life like for those four historic years in Annapolis? And as she changed the Naval Academy, how did it change her?

Chuck Reece

Chuck Reece wanted to hear a particular kind of voice from the South – a voice that loved and appreciated this part of the world while acknowledging all its faults, past and present. He didn’t hear that voice enough.

Tayari Jones

(A note from Tommy: This is a replay of our episode with Tayari Jones from back in July. We’re running it again here at the end of the year because Tayari’s novel “An American Marriage” was, by acclamation, one of the best books of 2018. It made the best-of lists by the New York Times, the Washington Post and Time Magazine. And Apple Books named it their book of the year. So if you missed our conversation the first time, or even if you didn’t, I think you’ll enjoy it. As always, thanks for listening, and all of us here at SouthBound wish you a wonderful holiday season.)

James Scott

James Scott is a young man who writes about old battles. He has published four books about critical moments in wartime, including three about World War II.

Ronald Taylor II

RJ Young loved a woman. The woman loved her dad. Her dad loved guns. So RJ, who had spent his whole life staying away from guns, plunged headlong into the gun world.

Allen Farst Photography

You might not know the name Chuck Leavell. But if you know much about rock 'n' roll at all, you've heard his work. 

Vivian Howard

Vivian Howard is one of the most unlikely TV stars in recent memory. She came back home to Kinston, North Carolina, after burning out in the restaurant world of New York. 

Courtesy of New South Books

Frye Gaillard has been writing about the South for going on 50 years. In SouthBound's home base of Charlotte, he was a legendary feature writer for the Charlotte Observer. But he’s best known for his books, which range from a study of school integration to a biography of Jimmy Carter.

Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Decker

The first time most of us saw Brooklyn Decker, she wasn’t wearing many clothes. She first appeared in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in 2006, when she was just 19. Four years later, she was on the cover. But not long after that, she gave up modeling for an acting career.

SouthBound Radio Hour: Vol. 18

Sep 26, 2018

In honor of SouthBound guest Barton Swaim, a South Carolinian, here's a batch of songs from South Carolina artists — and one or two that mention the Palmetto State. There are a couple of curveballs in here — Hootie and the Blowfish are doing a Bill Withers cover instead of one of their own tunes — but it's still SoCa to the core. (If you missed our podcast with Barton Swaim, it's down at the bottom of this post.)

Courtesy of Barton Swaim

Three years ago, Barton Swaim gave us an inside look at a bizarre moment in American politics. His book “The Speechwriter” was a memoir of his time working with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, when Sanford went missing and then tried to cover up an affair by saying he had been out walking the Appalachian Trail.

Gayle Jessup White and NCinDC / Flickr

Gayle Jessup White has American history running through her veins. Her family tree traces back to Thomas Jefferson, our third president.

SouthBound Radio Hour: Vol. 17

Aug 29, 2018

This week's playlist is inspired by our most recent guest, college football writer Spencer Hall. There's a ton of great college football music -- everything from marching bands to stadium anthems. (Except for Imagine Dragons. I ain't putting any Imagine Dragons on this playlist.) Hang your team flag, mix a Beam-and-Coke, crank this up, and enjoy.

Spencer Hall
SB Nation

Based on his photos, and his appearances on ESPN with Scott Van Pelt, it appears that Spencer Hall is a bear who has cleaned up just enough to pass for a man. Somewhere under all that fur — or, hair — is America’s sharpest mind on the subject of college football.

SouthBound Radio Hour: Vol. 16

Aug 15, 2018
Courtesy of the Punch Brothers

Recent SouthBound guest Ben Owen III curated this week's Radio Hour personally — these are some of the songs he listens to while he's working in his pottery studio in Seagrove, N.C. 

In the middle of the North Carolina Piedmont, halfway between Charlotte and Raleigh, there’s a little town called Seagrove that is famous for one thing: Pottery. Dozens of potters live and work there, continuing a tradition that has lasted in Seagrove more than 100 years.

SouthBound Radio Hour: Vol. 15

Aug 1, 2018

This week's SouthBound Radio Hour is a tribute to our recent guest Jimmy Russell, master distiller at Wild Turkey, who is known in the whiskey world as the Buddha of Bourbon. Our playlist is steeped in Jimmy's favorite brown liquor, plus a little rye and Tennessee whiskey on the side.

Courtesy of Wild Turkey

The South is responsible for the three greatest beverages in human history: sweet tea, Coca-Cola, and most of all, bourbon. And nobody alive has been involved with more bourbon than a man named Jimmy Russell.

SouthBound Radio Hour: Vol. 14

Jul 18, 2018

This week's SouthBound Radio Hour is a nod to our latest guest, novelist Tayari Jones, and her best-selling book "An American Marriage." Some of the tracks are mentioned or alluded to in the book; others are an attempt to match the mood.

Tayari Jones

Tayari Jones was waiting for her fourth novel to be published when she got the phone call that, in this day and age, most every writer dreams of — a call from Oprah Winfrey to let Jones know that her book, "An American Marriage," would be the next selection in Oprah's Book Club. 

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