For the uninitiated listener, a number of surprises await on the “Old Kentucky Tales” podcast. For one, the topics covered in each episode are thoughtfully spun out of the headlines of today. Brent Taylor is host, creator, and writer of the show. Each week, he and co-host Jason Donner offer a light-hearted and informative look back into the history and lore of the Commonwealth.
As a professor of history at WKCTC, Brent has always had a love of history and of storytelling. Podcasting, however, was something new. “I hadn’t dreamed of doing a podcast before this,” he says.
Beginning in early 2017, Taylor and Donner developed “Old Kentucky Tales” into a lively exchange between two friends. As they banter about topics ranging from the A-Boom in 1950s Paducah to a fateful duel fought by early Kentucky statesman Henry Clay, their show becomes something of a historical artifact unto itself. The show covers all Kentucky history, but tries to emphasize stories from Paducah and this region.
“We build each episode around a main event,” Taylor says. “Then we try to construct a type of broadcast that takes our audience back to the days of old time radio.” They begin shows with “Yesterday’s News”—a comment on today’s headlines illustrated by historical examples. Adding music from historical periods, they also incorporate “fake history sponsors” for their show: actual historic advertisements for which they produce radio commercials.
“When we found an ad for lead paint with the slogan ‘Your family will never regret,’ we just couldn’t resist,” says Taylor.
The charm of “Old Kentucky Tales” lies in its ability to capture the fun and spontaneity of live conversation. Even with the meticulous preparation Taylor puts into each episode, the most memorable moments come from what Taylor calls “happy accidents.” Like history itself, the podcast becomes a fascinating combination of fact and myth.
Looking toward the future, Taylor sees no reason to worry about running out of subject matter. “There’s always one more story just around the corner,” he says. “For now our goal is to keep making shows. If people like it, they’ll tell other people.”
“Old Kentucky Tales” is now in its second season. To listen visit WKMS.org or ITunes.