Posts Tagged :

southwest virginia

Christmas Special featuring Nonprofits’ Holiday Music 900 599 Michael Hemphill

Christmas Special featuring Nonprofits’ Holiday Music

Merry Christmas! Instead of our usual show featuring marketing tips and tools for nonprofits, our Christmas Day “Buzz4Good!” on WFIR features recent musical performances by our region’s nonprofit community.

So in this sneak peek of our Christmas Day show, we share with you performances from:

  • Opera Roanoke
  • Blacksburg Children’s Chorale
  • Roanoke Valley Children’s Choir
  • Blacksburg United Methodist Church
  • Our Lady of Nazareth
  • Roanoke Catholic School
  • Patrick Henry High School

And tune in Christmas Day at 4 pm to WFIR for an additional, one time only broadcast of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah by the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra.

I hope you enjoy our nonprofits’ sounds of the season as well as a wonderful Christmas, and that we all commit ourselves to being even more of a buzz4good in 2022.

Always buzzing,
Michael Hemphill
Creator of BUZZ

Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley wraps up 2021 for BUZZ 900 518 Michael Hemphill

Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley wraps up 2021 for BUZZ

As originally broadcast on Nov. 3, 2021, on Blue Ridge PBS …

Home is where the heart is, but it’s where your money is too. And for most of us money determines not only the type of home we can afford but its condition once we move in. 

For more than 35 years, Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley has been dedicated to building quality affordable housing for low-income families.

Now the nonprofit embarks on a visionary new mission: creating task forces in individual communities that can serve as first responders for people in need of critical home repair. Helping Habitat launch this initiative are our friends at 5Points Creative, plus a familiar face to BUZZ, Eastmont Community Foundation, which we featured in December 2020.

Together, they’re working to build a program that may one day become a model for our entire country … ensuring that the real value of our homes isn’t measured in dollars, but in heart. 

BUZZ produces “Friends of the Blue Ridge JAM” for PBS 1024 1024 Michael Hemphill

BUZZ produces “Friends of the Blue Ridge JAM” for PBS

As originally broadcast May 1, 2021, on Blue Ridge PBS …

“Friends of the Blue Ridge JAM” is a special hour-long concert by the Junior Appalachian Musicians, Inc. (JAM), hosted by Friends of the Blue Ridge. This collaboration celebrates cultural arts along the Blue Ridge Parkway, focusing on how musical traditions are being passed along to the next generation through community JAM programs. The show is produced by BUZZ.

This collaboration celebrates cultural arts along the Blue Ridge Parkway, focusing on how musical traditions are being passed along to the next generation through community JAM programs. The show is produced by BUZZ.

The episode features five young musicians ages 11 to 17 who have gained great interest and talent in old time and bluegrass music by participating in JAM programs. The segment will feature a mix of old-time and bluegrass music as well as interviews and information about the important missions of Friends of the Blue Ridge and JAM.

This performing group has graced stages at FloydFest, Merlefest, HoustonFest, Knoxville’s WDVX Blue Plate Special, and the West Virginia Strawberry Festival. 

Sophia Puckett, 17, of Galax, Va., is a singer, clawhammer banjo, mandolin, and accordion player who has already evolved from JAM student to JAM teacher in less than ten years. “This experience has taught me how to reach out to kids and get them to want to learn about the music,” said Sophia about her recent transition from student to teacher. 

Logan Thompson, 14, of Glade Spring, Va., got his musical start in the two JAM programs serving Washington County and Smyth County. A multi-instrumentalist, as well, Logan plays upright bass and clawhammer banjo in a way that feels more like generations of experience, rather than only a few short years. 

To demonstrate the powerful impact place-based education can have on students, Savannah Hodges of Wytheville, Va., joined the cast. At age 11, she has only been playing fiddle for a few months, but music “runs in her family” back to her great grandfather, James Lindsey. Savannah will be participating in the Wythe County JAM program next school year. 

Graydon Shepherd, 12, of West Jefferson, N.C., has been playing the fiddle in the Ashe JAM program since third grade. Much of his fiddle repertoire is local to Ashe and Grayson musical history – an area that is known for being a hotbed of musicians. He cited one of his favorite songs to be, “Sugar Hill”, a tune that is heard commonly at local fiddlers conventions and jam sessions. 

Karlee Hamm, 13, of Lansing, N.C., also participates in Ashe JAM, where she has learned how to play guitar and sing from local teaching artists. Karlee has been winning prizes in youth contests since a young age, and enjoys performing with the New River JAM Band, of which Logan and Sophia are also members.

BUZZ | Episode 8 featuring Feeding Southwest Virginia 600 337 Michael Hemphill

BUZZ | Episode 8 featuring Feeding Southwest Virginia

As originally aired April 7, 2021, on Blue Ridge PBS

Feeding Southwest Virginia operates in 26 counties, serves 360 partner agencies, feeds 100,000 people a month or $30 million worth of food a year.

But there’s one number especially important this year: 40. That’s the number of years that the nonprofit has been serving the region in 2021.

Helping Feeding Southwest Virginia celebrate this milestone is Access Advertising, joined by BOSS Motion Picture Company and Boyd Pearman Photography … with a couple of other surprises from the region’s leaders.

Wells Fargo Tower celebrates Feeding Southwest Virginia for BUZZ 600 334 Michael Hemphill

Wells Fargo Tower celebrates Feeding Southwest Virginia for BUZZ


March 17, 2021 (Roanoke, Va.) – The Wells Fargo Tower in downtown Roanoke, Virginia, will be lit in orange and green Thursday through Monday in celebration of Feeding Southwest Virginia’s 40th anniversary.

The special lighting in the nonprofit’s colors came at the request of the television show BUZZ, which airs on Blue Ridge PBS throughout Southwest Virginia and on VPM in Richmond, Charlottesville and Harrisonburg. BUZZ features nonprofit organizations receiving pro bono marketing expertise so that they can attract more buzz and, with it, more donors, volunteers and clients to their cause.

To help commemorate Feeding Southwest Virginia’s 40th year, Access Advertising & Public Relations — joined by BOSS Motion Picture Company and Boyd Pearman Photography — is donating a comprehensive campaign of videos, social media, newsletters and events to mark the milestone throughout the year.

“For 40 years, and especially this past year with COVID-19, Feeding Southwest Virginia has been on the frontlines of our region’s efforts fighting hunger, providing food for 100,000 people a month through 360 partner agencies in 26 counties,” said BUZZ creator Michael Hemphill. “We are excited to kickoff our 2021 season by featuring such an incredible organization.”

BUZZ thanks Poe & Cronk Real Estate Group, the tower’s leasing and management firm, for honoring the lighting request, which will be included in the episode that airs April 7.

Other new episodes include:

April 14 (Virginia811 with Carrie Cousins): You wouldn’t think underground utilities would inspire much emotion … until you meet the folks working at Virginia 811. For them, protecting the state’s electric, gas, water, sewer and telecommunications lines is as vital an act of citizenship as voting. Helping their quest to make more Virginians “know what’s below” before they start digging is digital marketing specialist Carrie Cousins, president of AAF Roanoke.

April 28 (Giles County Foster Care with 5Points Creative): Like most places in Virginia, rural Giles County has been trying to help too many foster children with too few homes. Many must be placed in other counties hours away from their families, schools, friends and other services, exacerbating an already traumatic experience. Thankfully, 5Points Creative in Roanoke has worked in this world, having recently helped DePaul Community Resources recruit more foster families to its cause. Together — along with a familiar face from a previous episode of BUZZ — they provide Giles County with resources … and hope.

May 5 (Blue Ridge Women’s Center with Mel Wheeler, Inc.): A woman confronting an unexpected pregnancy too often doesn’t know where to turn. Blue Ridge Women’s Center wants her to turn to them and their resources that support her pregnancy, her transition to motherhood, or her decision to make an adoption plan. Through an array of radio stations and digital marketing pros, Mel Wheeler, Inc., is spreading the nonprofit’s mission to help women “feel empowered to make the best decision for themselves and their families.”

BUZZ is a program of AAF Roanoke, produced by Dan Mirolli,, and is sponsored in part by the The Virginia Film Office.

# # #

Michael Hemphill | Creator of Buzz