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Radio show lets inmates get a jingle

WHITESBURG, Ky. – Inmates across the nation can receive some holiday cheer from faraway relatives through a radio call-in show that will be aired nationwide this year.

WMMT-FM in Whitesburg, which is popular among big-city inmates being held in isolated prisons in central Appalachia, will host a call-in show Monday so that people can offer Christmas wishes to inmates from Red Onion in Virginia to Folsom in California.

Prisoners also are invited to call in for the program, which is slated to run from 7 p.m to 10 p.m. EST.

The project is a public service to inmates who are being held in prisons hours from home and who might not otherwise receive a visit from relatives, said Nick Szuberla, a WMMT on-air personality who helped produce the call-in show.

“The benefit to us is not monetary,” Szuberla said. “This is not a commercially profitable venture. Part of the mission of the radio station is to give a voice to people who may not have a way to get their message heard.”

More than 40 radio stations across the nation have enlisted to simulcast the call-in program, catering to inmates in prisons like Sing Sing in New York and Big Sandy in Kentucky. It will be the show’s national debut.

Lorenzo McClean, an inmate at Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap, Va., said inmates appreciate the radio station’s initiative.

“Thank you for looking at us as human beings,” McClean said in an e-mail to the station.

The simulcasts, via Pacifica Radio Network, will send the call-in program to prisons from coast to coast.


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