|Map shows primary signal coverage of WMMT-FM|
However, "When prisons started coming in to the region . . . the inmate population and the local population were very much pitched against each other by the department of corrections and state officials," Rose Hackman of The Guardian reported in 2016, after interviewing Amelia Kirby, who started the program when she worked at WMMY, a service of the Appalshop arts-and-culture cooperative.
“We were told that the prisoners coming in were going to be the worst of the worst criminals. Then they were telling inmates they were coming to the last place on earth where violent and racist hillbillies lived,” Kirby told Hackman. “They really worked hard to create this kind of demonizing language. . . . We wanted to counter that narrative. The show is humanizing on both sides. It shows that we are not violent racists, and that people in prison are humans with families that love them. It’s difficult to hate someone when you hear their grandchild tell them they love them on the radio.”
The radio messages are the only way some people can connect with their incarcerated loved ones because of difficulties finding transportation to the prison and the expense of calling a prison. It sometimes cost more than $10 per minute to call someone in prison until the Federal Communications Commission announced a rule in 2015 capping how much telecommunications companies can charge for such calls.