Interview with Tom Martin, February 4, 2020

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries


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00:00:00 - Brief overview of UK's ACTION Program

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Partial Transcript: Hello. My name is Nathan Vanderford. I'm a faculty member at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in the Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer Nathan Vanderford talks about the University of Kentucky's Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) program. He discusses the program's goals and community involvement regarding cancer in Eastern Kentucky.

Keywords: ACTION; ACTION program; Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION); Cancer education; Career training; Community engagement; Eastern Kentucky; Markey Cancer Center (Ky.); Medical professionals; Medical students; U.K.; UK; University programs

Subjects: Cancer--Study and teaching; Community education.; Community engagement in higher education; Medical care--Appalachian Region; Oncologists; Oncology.; Public health.; University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.); University of Kentucky. College of Medicine; University of Kentucky. Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology

00:00:56 - Biography / Early education

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Partial Transcript: Today is February 4th, 2020 and I'm here on the campus of the University of Kentucky at the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History with my, uh, guest Tom Martin, who's host of Eastern Standard on WEKU, which is NPR for Central and Eastern Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Tom Martin talks about where he was born, where his mother's family is from, and his childhood home. He talks about where he obtained his primary education and how that influenced his university decision.

Keywords: Breckinridge; Daniel Boone National Forest (Agency : U.S.); Daniel Boone National Forest (Ky.); Early education; Eastern Standard (Radio program); Primary education; University Breckinridge School

Subjects: Childhood; Education, Primary.; Montgomery County (Ky.); Morehead (Ky.); Morehead State University; Mount Sterling (Ky.); Radio programs.

00:02:49 - Experience at Morehead State University

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Partial Transcript: So you said you went away, uh, and then you came back.

Segment Synopsis: Martin discusses the financial, geographic, and academic factors behind his decision to attend Morehead State University. He discusses deciding to switch from veterinary studies to broadcast communications. He talks about MSU's broadcast communications program at the time and why he left university to go straight into the field.

Keywords: Academic advisors; Broadcast communications; Career motivations; College advisors; College costs; College finances; Family health; Financial limitations; Health issues; Job experiences; News media; Pituitary gland--Cancer; Tuition costs; Veterinarians; Veterinary studies; Vietnam War, 1961-1975.; Work experiences

Subjects: ABC News; CBS News; Career moves; College radio stations; Education, Higher.; Morehead State University; NBC News; Universities and colleges.; Vocational education.

00:06:14 - Work history

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Partial Transcript: That took me to Asheville, North Carolina back before Asheville became Asheville.

Segment Synopsis: Martin summarizes his job experiences in broadcast communications. He talks about working for WISE Sports Radio, KQV, being on the founding staff of an Associated Press radio network based in Washington, D.C., RKO Radio Networks, and ABC. He talks about his hand in developing the AP radio network based in Washington and the RKO Radio Networks in New York City.

Keywords: Asheville (N.C.); Broadcast communications; Job history; Job recruitment; Job travels; New York (N.Y.); News reporters; Pittsburgh (Pa.); Radio networks; Reporters; Roanoke (Va.); Spartanburg (S.C.); WISE Sports Radio; Washington (D.C.); Work history

Subjects: ABC News; Associated Press; KQV (Radio station : Pittsburgh, Pa.); NBC News; News radio stations; News recordings; RKO Radio Networks; Radio programs.; Radio stations

00:11:24 - Passion for broadcast journalism

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Partial Transcript: But if we can step back a little bit--so you've been on the forefront of some really, you know, historic moments in the country and broadcasting and, um, so what do you really love about that kind of job?

Segment Synopsis: Martin discusses why he is so passionate about his work in broadcast journalism.

Keywords: Broadcast communications; Career motivations; Career passions; Communications; Information; Job relevance; Life purpose; Media consumption; News; Research; Verification

Subjects: Broadcast journalism.; Careers; Communicating; Passions; Radio.; Storytelling.

00:13:28 - More on his experience at Morehead State University

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Partial Transcript: Uh, I want to talk more about, um, Eastern Standard in a, in a few minutes but before that, let's back up a little bit and I want to talk just a second more about Morehead State--

Segment Synopsis: Martin discusses not regretting his decision to attend Morehead State University over other universities in Kentucky and out of state.

Keywords: Academic choices; Academic trajectories; College decisions; Economic feasibility; Financial factors; Financial limitations; Life choices; M.S.U.; MSU; Major decisions; Personal standards; U.K.; UK

Subjects: College attendance; Morehead State University; State universities and colleges; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

00:15:16 - High schoolers in Eastern Kentucky today

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Partial Transcript: So thinking about parallels today, um, and what you know about Eastern Kentucky, what do you think about, um, you know, high schoolers out in Eastern Kentucky today and the choices that they have in terms of where they might go to school and, and potential obstacles--

Segment Synopsis: Martin talks about public university efforts to address the issue of gaining access to higher education for high school students in Eastern Kentucky. He also talks about the problem of young people from Eastern Kentucky typically not bringing their educations back to their home communities and why.

Keywords: E.K.U.; EKU; Eastern Kentucky; Economic distress; Educational concerns; Educational obstacles; First generation students; Home communities; Poverty; Public universities; Representation; Rural Kentucky; Rural isolation; Rural regions

Subjects: Access to education; Community development.; Eastern Kentucky University; Education, Higher--Kentucky; High school students.; Public universities and colleges; Universities and colleges.

00:17:08 - Eastern Standard radio magazine

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Partial Transcript: I think we'll get into more of that, um, probably in a little bit, but let's, let's go back to, uh, your current work--so current host, Eastern Standard.

Segment Synopsis: Martin discusses how he came into his position as host of Eastern Standard. He talks about the mission of the radio program, its transformation under his leadership, how he produces shows, and how he feels about his work with Eastern Standard.

Keywords: Cancer epidemics; Constructive narratives; Eastern Kentucky; Eastern Standard (Radio program); Editing; Human interest; Human interest stories; John Hingsbergen; Media production; Opioid crisis; Platforms; Radio magazines; Radio shows; Representation; Robert Duval; WEKU; WEKU : Public Radio

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalachian Region--Economic conditions; Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Appalachians (People)--Kentucky--Social conditions; Public radio; Radio broadcasters; Radio programs.; Radio--Production and direction; Storytelling.

00:27:25 - Thoughts and memories of Appalachia

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Partial Transcript: Uh, so, so Tom, I've, I've listened to you for many years on the radio and, um, I have a great admiration for, for what you do, how you do it.

Segment Synopsis: Martin discusses childhood memories and words he associates with Appalachia. He talks about the powerful sense of community in Appalachia and how Appalachians are often misunderstood.

Keywords: Amicability; Camping.; Childhood memories; Community dynamics; Community relations; Daniel Boone National Forest (Agency : U.S.); Daniel Boone National Forest (Ky.); Kindness; Morehead State University; Sweetness

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Appalachians (People)--Kentucky--Social conditions; Childhood.; Communities.; Group identity.; Memories.; Morehead (Ky.); Reputations

00:30:07 - Discussing passion for Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: So, um, uh, are there any other thoughts that come to your mind in terms of, of your passion for Kentucky in, in particular?

Segment Synopsis: Martin discusses how his love for radio aligns with the love for radio people have in Central Kentucky. He talks about his admiration of Kentucky's stories, rich history of literature, vast topography, and community organizations that work for the betterment of the state.

Keywords: Business Lexington; Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning (Ky.); Central Kentucky; Community programs; Eastern Kentucky; Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky; Hindman Settlement School; Kentucky geography; Kentucky mountains; Kentucky topography; Kentucky writers; Lexington Herald Leader; Mountain Association for Community and Economic Development (MACED); Mountain Parkway; State cultures; State pride

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky.; Communities.; Community development.; Kentucky; Kentucky--In literature.; Nature.; Radio; Radio broadcasting--Kentucky; Radio journalism--Kentucky.; Radio programs.; Storytelling.

00:35:22 - First encounters with cancer

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Partial Transcript: Um, can you think of when you first heard about cancer--um, when it kind of first came to mind?

Segment Synopsis: Martin talks about his grandfather's melanoma and his father's pituitary cancer. He discusses how their cancer diagnoses affected him and the family.

Keywords: Cancer consequences; Cancer development; Cancer impacts; Family dynamics; Family impacts; Family structures; Fishermen; Preventative measures

Subjects: Cancer--Environmental aspects; Cancer.; Families--Health and hygiene.; Families.; Fathers.; Grandfathers.; Melanoma.; Pituitary gland--Cancer; Pituitary gland--Cancer--Diagnosis; Role models.

00:37:20 - Smoking and quitting the habit

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Partial Transcript: Well, you know, I, uh--at the time, Morehead had the--Rowan County had the largest tobacco floor in the world.

Segment Synopsis: Martin discusses smoking to support the tobacco industry, which was essential to his hometown. Martin describes why and how he quit smoking. He discusses engaging in hypnosis, positive reinforcement, and behavior modification.

Keywords: "Big Tobacco"; Associated Press.; Behavior modification; Educational programming; Hypnosis; Morehead (Ky.); National Academy of Applied Natural Sciences; Positive reinforcement; Rowan County (Ky.); Social smoking; Tobacco addiction; Work smoking

Subjects: Cancer.; Smoking cessation.; Smoking--Health aspects.; Smoking.; Tobacco industry; Tobacco industry--Kentucky

00:46:07 - Effects of family's history of cancer

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Partial Transcript: So let's go back, uh--so you talked about your dad and your grandfather, who, uh, had cancer.

Segment Synopsis: Martin describes what it was like to watch his grandfather and father struggle with their cancers. He talks about looking up to his grandfather as a role model and how cancer affected the family's financial well-being, business, and dynamics.

Keywords: Career influences; Economic health; Economic well-being; Family businesses; Family dynamics; Family structures; Financial health; Financial impacts; Financial well-being; Patriarchs

Subjects: Cancer--Diagnosis; Cancer.; Families.; Family-owned business enterprises.; Fathers.; Grandfathers.; Role models.

00:48:13 - Lee Clay Products Company

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Partial Transcript: That included, uh, the business that supported our family, which was, um, the mining of and manufacture of clay sewer pipe and flue linings.

Segment Synopsis: Martin talks about his family's business, the Lee Clay Products Company in Clearfield, Kentucky. He talks about the company's contributions to Lexington, Kentucky's sewer system and employment history.

Keywords: Business practices; City infrastructure; Clay manufacturing; Clay mining; Clay pipes; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Family businesses; Lee Clay Products; Lee Clay Products Company; Safety measures; Sewer pipes; Sewer systems; Work safety

Subjects: Clearfield (Ky.); Family-owned business enterprises.; Lexington (Ky.); Sanitation.; Sewerage; Sewerage--Appalachian Region; Sewerage--Kentucky--Fayette County

00:50:39 - Father's cancer and treatment

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Partial Transcript: It's, it's interesting--uh, so you mentioned that, I guess when, when your dad was originally diagnosed, you said, um, I guess they gave him a year to live.

Segment Synopsis: Martin discusses what it was like when his father underwent, at the time, radical surgeries at the University of Kentucky in order to treat his pituitary cancer.

Keywords: Cancer recoveries; Cancer remission; Cancer treatments; Cancerous tumors; Malignant tumors; New treatments; Recoveries; Remission; Surgical techniques; Treatment complications

Subjects: Cancer treatment and research; Cancer--Complications; Cancer--Surgery; Cancer--Treatment.; Cancer.; Fathers.; Pituitary gland--Cancer; University of Kentucky

00:53:01 - Factors in cancer epidemic of Eastern Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Well, you know as, as we know, uh, uh, you know, all too many of us have these very personal stories about cancer and how it's impacted--

Segment Synopsis: Martin discusses the factors that have led to and exacerbated the extraordinarily high cancer rates in Eastern Kentucky. He especially discusses cultural factors in the Eastern Kentucky cancer epidemic.

Keywords: Appalachian culture; Cancer epidemic; Cancer vulnerabilities; Community health; Cultural distrust; Eastern Kentucky; Eating habits; Generational pride; Genetic predisposition; Healthcare access; Healthcare amenities; Medical professionals; Oncologists; Poverty; Regional dialects; Severe poverty; Smoking; Specialized professionals; Youth engagement; Youth involvement

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Appalachians (People)--Kentucky--Social conditions; Cancer--Economic aspects; Cancer--Environmental aspects; Cancer--Genetic aspects.; Cancer.; Kentucky; Public health.

01:03:41 - Generational and cultural attitudes towards cancer in Eastern Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk for a second about generational feelings and practices toward cancer.

Segment Synopsis: Martin describes his belief that younger generations are far more health-conscious and aware of preventative methods towards many health issues, including cancer. He discusses his belief that his generation, and men, tend to be in denial or avoidant about difficult issues like cancer.

Keywords: Age cohorts; Attitudes; Avoidance; Cancer screenings; Cultural attitudes; Denial; Eastern Kentucky; Health consciousness; Preventative care; Proactiveness; Regular appointments; Regular checkups

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Appalachians (People)--Kentucky--Social conditions; Cancer.; Conflict of generations; Cultural awareness.; Generations; Health issues; Kentucky; Sex differences.

01:09:07 - Role of the individual in Eastern Kentucky cancer epidemic

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk a little bit more about other opportunities to help address the problem.

Segment Synopsis: Martin discusses what the individual in Eastern Kentucky can do to hamper the region's cancer epidemic. Martin emphasizes, however, that larger-scale issues prevent individual responsibility from being a sufficient solution to high cancer rates in Eastern Kentucky.

Keywords: Appalachian youth; Cancer awareness; Cancer education; Cancer rates; Draining brain power; Eastern Kentucky; Economic opportunities; Individual contributions; Individual responsibilities; Out-migration; Personal responsibilities; State budgets; State resources

Subjects: Budget--United States--States; Cancer--Study and teaching; Cancer.; Economic development.; Educational attainment.; Kentucky; Poverty.; Self-care, Health.; Self-consciousness (Awareness)

01:12:42 - Role of government in Eastern Kentucky cancer epidemic

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Partial Transcript: You, you, you just touched on it but I was going to ask you, you know, what's the government's role?

Segment Synopsis: Martin discusses his belief that government on the local, state, and federal levels can do little to assist Eastern Kentucky in its cancer epidemic due to the low availability of resources. He talks about tapping into new state funds, re-appropriating funds, and taking advantage of the WEKU radio and KET communications networks in Kentucky to spread cancer awareness and education.

Keywords: Accessible healthcare; Cancer awareness; Cancer education; Cancer epidemic; Cancer screenings; Communications platforms; Eastern Kentucky; Federal governments; Governmental resources; Governments; Health screenings; KET; Local governments; NPR; Preventative measures; State budgets; State communications; State funding; State governments; State revenues; WEKU; WEKU : Public radio

Subjects: Budget--United States--States; Cancer--Study and teaching; Cancer.; Health services accessibility.; Kentucky; Kentucky Educational Television; National Public Radio (U.S.)

01:15:29 - Youth migration from Eastern Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: So you--we've talked a little bit about the next generation through students in this program and others, um.

Segment Synopsis: Martin discusses potential ways to attract more young people and families, who could make a positive impact on the cancer epidemic, to Eastern Kentucky. Martin talks about being open to learn from young people and their culture as digital natives.

Keywords: "Digital natives"; ACTION; ACTION program; ACTION students; Appalachian Career Training in Oncology; Corbin (Ky.); Cultural amenities; Financial conditions; Financial hardships; Financial opportunities; Harlan (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.); Louisville (Ky.); Outmigration; Williamsburg (Ky.); Young adult impacts; Young adult leadership; Young people

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Economic conditions; Appalachians (People)--Kentucky--Social conditions; Cancer--Study and teaching; Cancer.; Conflict of generations; Generations; Kentucky; Young adults.; Youth.

01:19:35 - Future of the cancer epidemic in Eastern Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: So what does success look like?

Segment Synopsis: Martin discusses what an Eastern Kentucky that has overcome the cancer epidemic might look like. He also discusses what Eastern Kentucky might look like if the cancer epidemic continues or worsens.

Keywords: Cancer depopulation; Cancer epidemic; Cancer rates; Community well-being; Depleted resources; Depopulation; Future planning; Increased productivity; Individual changes; Personal decisions; Personal drives; Personal investments; Personal values; Productivity; Self-awareness

Subjects: Cancer--Study and teaching; Cancer.; Differential values inventory.; Kentucky; Labor productivity.; Public health.; Self-care, Health.; Self-consciousness (Awareness)