Love Letter to WBHM, Birmingham’s NPR Station

Ghetto Blaster
Image by Stephen Barnett via Flickr/Creative Commons

“I think I’m in love with my radio
Cause it never lets me down
And I fall in love with my stereo
Whenever I hear that sound”
– “Radio” by Beyonce

Dear WBHM,

When I was a teenager I believed no one could love me like my radio.

It was always there for me. I listened to the radio while getting ready for and riding to school each morning. My radio made evening homework sessions go by faster and every night my radio sang me to sleep.

I still have fond memories of calling my favorite DJ to request my favorite song and then waiting by the radio with a blank cassette in the tape deck so I could record the highly anticipated track.

R&B ballads by the likes of Mariah Carey gave me fuel for all the sad, angst-filled love poems I wrote  back then. And the anthems sang by girl groups like TLC stirred within me a sense of self-pride that would eventually blossom into my feminism.

Then one day everything changed. Radio and I grew apart.

I could try to blame it all on mainstream music.  I could say rap music became too sexist and senseless and that pop and R&B became too trite. But, truthfully, I’m the one who changed. My favorite artists became folks like Ani DiFranco, musicians who don’t get mainstream radio airplay.  And most club bangers started to give me a headache.

So I turned off my radio.

Then you came along.

I admit that in the past I was never a huge NPR fan because I felt the radio was supposed to be a source of escape and entertainment. As I grew older I started tuning in to NPR for updates on major news events, but was still far from a loyal listener.

But when I moved back to my hometown of Birmingham I decided to give you a chance. You impressed with your programming and with events like I quickly got hooked on station’s programming and was impressed by events like Issues & Ales.

Radio and I began to rekindle the flame, and I owe it all to you.

I am a fan of good music for the same reason that I am a writer — I love stories. And you are always there telling me an intriguing tale whether it’s about life for children in Palestine or the story of a gay man being reunited with his siblings after being cast out the family by his ultra conservative father. Just last week I learned about the evolution of hand dryers. You’re so awesome that you can make hand dryers interesting! And two weeks ago, thanks to you, I began my day with an inspiring interview with Sonia Sotomayor.

Because of you I am more informed, more empathetic, and more motivated.

What I’m trying to say is you make me a better person.

And I can’t get enough of you.

I’ve become one of those people who are almost late for work because they’re sitting in the parking lot in their cars enraptured by an NPR feature report. Every weekend I look forward to listening to the word game Says You.

And you don’t forgot that I love music too. If it weren’t for you I would have never learned about the artist Kendra Morris, whose album Banshee was one of my favorite releases of 2012.

I am so happy we’re taking our relationship to a new level and making things official now that  I’ve signed on to be the Race & Diversity blogger for your website.

And today is Valentine’s Day, so let’s celebrate and dance to our song.

A version of this post originally appeared on The Writeous Babe Project.

22 Reasons Women Writers Should Love Birmingham

Birmingham's skyline from it's highest point
Image by Andre Natta via Flickr/Creative Commons

Monday morning I received an email that made my day. Actually, it made my week.

The message was from a young woman who is a senior at Harvard University interested in journalism. She contacted me because after she graduates she wants to move to… wait for it… Birmingham!

She came across my name and contact information via the See Jane Write blog and said that she’s eager to get involved in See Jane Write once she moves to the Magic City.

The fact that a student at Harvard (who’s originally from the D.C. area) wants to move to Birmingham may come to a shock to some, but not to me. This young woman has figured out something that, unfortunately, took me three decades to learn — Birmingham is a good place for writers.

This month’s issue of Birmingham Magazine features a list of 22 reasons to love the city. This list, along with the aforementioned email, inspired me to create a list of my own — 22 reasons women writers should love Birmingham.

Read on to see if your favorite things about Birmingham made this list.

Snapshot from the See Jane Write event Blogging and the Future of Community Journalism
Photo Credit: Sherri Davidson Ross

Writers in Birmingham believe in building community. Some local organizations for writers,
journalists, and bloggers include:

1. See Jane Write (Of course, I had to include this group!)
2. Alabama Bloggers
3. Alabama Media Professionals
4. Write Club
5. Birmingham Association of Black Journalists

Believe it or not, Birmingham has a thriving magazine scene. If you want to break into the world of glossy publications but don’t want to deal with shoveling snow or living in a studio apartment that costs you more than $1,000 a month, the Magic City is the place for you.

6. Southern Progress Corporation (home to magazines such as Southern Living, Health, and Cooking Light)

7. Birmingham Magazine

8. B-Metro

Most writers know that one of the best ways to improve your work is to spend time reading the works of others. Birmingham is for lovers — book lovers, that is. Some of our best bookstores include:

9. Jim Reed Books
10. Little Professor
11. 2nd & Charles

Studies have shown that crowded coffee shops can actually help fire up your creativity. Birmingham has plenty of great coffeehouses to get your mojo going. 

12. Church Street Coffee and Books
13. Urban Standard
14. O’Henry’s Coffees
15. The Red Cat Coffee House

In Birmingham writers don’t just sit home alone writing behind closed doors. In our city writers take the stage with spoken word nights and storytelling events.

16. Bards and Brews, presented by the Birmingham Public Library
17. Arc Light Stories

Smart writers know it’s good to get inspiration from all of the arts, including the culinary arts . In Birmingham we have a great art museum and wonderful performing arts centers such as the Alys Stephens Center, but we also have grassroots festivals and conferences and locally owned galleries to set our imaginations to work too.

18. Naked Art Gallery
19. FoodBlogSouth
20. Sidewalk Film Festival
21. Eat Drink Read Write Festival

We creative types typically don’t do well working a traditional 9 to 5 job and we tend to want to strike out on our own. If you’re ready to set your entrepreneurial spirit free, Birmingham is eager to help you do just that.

22. REV Birmingham

What do you love about Birmingham?

Cross-posted at The Writeous Babe Project

Alabama Media Professionals & See Jane Write Birmingham — The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

Guest Post by Jeanie McLean, vice president of Alabama Media Professionals
It’s good to have friends. That’s what I thought when I found See Jane Write while scouting like-minded writing groups in my role as program VP for Alabama Media Professionals. Although some of Birmingham’s writers’ groups seem to have withered with the journalism job market, See Jane Write – like AMP – continues to thrive.
That intrigued me. So I contacted Javacia to see how our groups might connect. She promised to speak to AMP during her summer sabbatical. She also kindly offered me this guest post. Although our groups are different, we have some commonalities. See Jane Write offers a platform for writers, especially those striving to master the blogging arts. AMP takes a somewhat broader approach, as our professionals work in both traditional and new media.
Our leadership thinks there may be ways we could explore mutual interests and share strengths. We’d like to hear your partnering ideas – maybe a project, program or party.
To start you thinking, here’s some information about Alabama Media Professionals – who we are and what we do to help members develop their careers.
  • Our typical monthly meetings are the second Thursday of each month at 11:30 a.m. at the Homewood  Public Library. Occasionally we have special events at other times. Our members attend for free. Guests must pay $5.00 per meeting, but may apply the fee toward membership dues, should they decide to join.
  • Our focus is professional development. AMP is the local chapter of the National Federation of Press Women (our membership includes men, too). We enlist highly-qualified speakers for meetings and workshops.
  • We enjoy networking. AMP includes a diverse network of colleagues (PR representatives, broadcasters, freelance journalists, corporate writers, bloggers, etc.) throughout Alabama.
  • We maintain an AMP Website providing meeting information/activities. It includes a public listing of members’ professional profiles, which has resulted in job leads and assignments.

Want to learn more, or connect with us? Visit our website at, email me at, or visit a meeting. Our next meeting is this Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at the Homewood Public Library and will feature Greg Powell, president and CEO of Birmingham-based  fi-Plan Partners. Just in time for tax season, he’ll be sharing some financial insights for the self-employed.  

Let us know if you have ideas on how AMP and See Jane Write can complement each other.
After all, it’s good to have friends.

Local Authors Expo set for Feb. 2

Birmingham writers, mark your calendars for Sat., Feb. 2. Next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the annual Local Authors Expo will be held at the Central branch of the Birmingham Public Library. Up to 100 authors, many from the Birmingham area, will be on site to not only sell and autograph their books, but to discuss their writing process as well.
“One of the main missions of the library is to connect authors and readers and this event does exactly that,” said Jared Millet, the Authors Expo organizer and library department head of acquisitions. “It gives authors an opportunity to promote themselves to the public. If you are a self-published author, it’s hard to get into brick and mortar stores. You have to use events like this to get your name out there.” 
Whether you’re interested in cooking, sports, or fishing, or you’re looking for an inspirational book or just a great novel, the 2013 Authors Expo will have something for you.
As the city commemorates the 50th anniversary of Birmingham’s civil rights movement this year, there will also be a special section of civil rights authors. At 1 p.m. Carolyn Maull McKinstry, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing survivor and author of the book While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age During the Civil Rights Movement, will talk about Birmingham’s civil rights movement, the bombing and her life.
This event isn’t just for people who like to read a good book, but also for those looking to write one.
“If you are thinking of writing a book, you need to be at the Birmingham Public Library on Feb. 2,” said Chanda Temple, director of public relations for the Birmingham Public Library.
At 10:30 a.m. Millet, who is also a published author, will hold a workshop on how to breathe life into your writing. Furthermore, writers will have the opportunity to network with other authors and potential fans.
“A lot of times, writers or beginner writers wonder how an author got his or her book published or how they make their story flow in a certain manner. This expo will give writers a chance to talk to authors, many of them self-published, to find out how they did it,” Temple said. “It’s all about making connections, gaining inspiration and building support. We hope this expo will spark networking opportunities for everyone and continue to build the literary community.”
For more information about this event visit

Cross-posted at The Writeous Babe Project

Tweets & Sweets: A See Jane Write Tweet-Up

Next month See Jane Write will host its second big event of the year — Tweets & Sweets: A See Jane Write Tweet-Up. This event will be held Friday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at The Wine Loft, 2200 1st Ave. North. The evening will feature drink specials and sweet treats from Birmingham-area shops and bakeries.

There is no cover, but cash donations to See Jane Write will be much appreciated.

Please click here to RSVP or if you’re not on Facebook just let me know in the comments section of this post that you’ll be there.

And here are three reason you should be there:

  1. You love networking. Well, maybe you don’t love networking, but you’re smart enough to know it’s an important thing to do. Tweets & Sweets will give you the chance to meet and mingle with other writers in Birmingham, some of whom you may have only previously chatted with on Twitter. Maybe you’ll meet your future writing partner — someone you can meet occasionally for writing sessions, someone to hold you accountable for writing regularly, and someone to critique your work. Because this tweet-up is also a birthday party for yours truly, there will also be folks at this event who aren’t writers. Bloggers, these people could become your newest followers and fans. So don’t forget to bring your business cards!
  2. You love cake. It’s the beginning of the year, so you’re probably on a diet. You’re trying to lose weight and get in shape. I am too. But it’s my party, I’ll eat cake if I want to. And I give you permission to do the same. We can go running together the next day to burn off those calories. 
  3. You love me! Okay, there’s a chance you have no idea who I am and this is your first time ever visiting this site, but hear me out. As I mentioned before, this event is also my birthday party. I’d love to celebrate my special day with fellow writers and bloggers. 

Hope to see you on Feb. 8!