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Kentucky Dam: Power for the People

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This documentary originally aired Sunday, June 2nd, 2013.

This documentary is a 2013 National Sigma Delta Chi Award Winner given by the Society of Professional Journalists.

In first segment, we go back to a western Kentucky before the dam; a place where the roads are dirt, agriculture is vulnerable to a tempestuous Tennessee River, and electricity is confined to a handful of communities in the region.  Today's experts and archival audio relate how local and national leaders came to recognize the need for a dam on the lower Tennessee, one that not only allowed reliable river navigation and flood control, but could also provide electric power.  We also get a look at the political wrangling and the Supreme Court case that tested whether the dam could even be built.

In the second segment, the men and women who built the dam tell their stories in archival recordings.  We find out how construction affected race relations in the region, and that property acquisition for the reservoir drove families off of land they had lived on for generations.  We round the segment out with archival audio of the October 10th, 1945 Kentucky Dam dedication by President Harry S. Truman.

In our final segment, we hear how the dam's completion spurred economic growth throughout western Kentucky.  We'll also tour the dam today to get a picture of how a dam built over three-quarters of a century ago is facing future challenges.  The program ends with a consideration of Kentucky Dam's mixed legacy.

Chad Lampe, a Poplar Bluff, Missouri native, was raised on radio. He credits his father, a broadcast engineer, for his technical knowledge, and his mother for the gift of gab. At ten years old he broke all bonds of the FCC and built his own one watt pirate radio station. His childhood afternoons were spent playing music and interviewing classmates for all his friends to hear. At fourteen he began working for the local radio stations, until he graduated high school. He earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology at Murray State, and a Masters Degree in Mass Communication. In November, 2011, Chad was named Station Manager in 2016.
Todd Hatton hails from Paducah, Kentucky, where he got into radio under the auspices of the late, great John Stewart of WKYX while a student at Paducah Community College. He also worked at WKMS in the reel-to-reel tape days of the early 1990s before running off first to San Francisco, then Orlando in search of something to do when he grew up. He received his MFA in Creative Writing at Murray State University. He vigorously resists adulthood and watches his wife, Angela Hatton, save the world one plastic bottle at a time.
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