Friday, April 29, 2011

Tornado Sirens Again

on SuperTalk 102.9FM
Thursday, April 28, 2011

(click here to go directly to a commercial-free podcast of our last broadcast)


Well-known Tupeloan, survivor of the 1936 tornado that killed so many people. Also a friend of Jim Ingram, for whom this year’s 5th Annual Jim Ingram Memorial Golf Tournament and Scholarship Social is named.

CONNIE HAYGOOD:  Special Events Manager for Le Bonheu Children’s Hospital, and organizer of Le Bonheur’s Father-Daughter Gumtree Ball on June 25th.

MICHAEL LINDSEY: Sr. Vice President of Retail Banking for BancorpSouth, the major sponsor of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital’s Father Daughter Ball.

President of the Lee County Ole Miss Club ad organizer of the 5th Annual Jim Ingram Memorial Golf Tournament and Scholarship Social. From Renasant Bank.

DR. LARRY ANDERSON: Founder and CEO of the National Center for Technology Planning.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


 A podcast of our DeltaTalk Radio broadcast on April 21, 2011

(click here to go directly to our podcast)


SALLY GRAY, Parents for Public Schools
Parents for Public Schools (PPS) is a national organization of community-based chapters working with public school parents and other supporters to improve and strengthen local public schools.

BARBARA TRAVIS, Mississippi World Trade Center
The Mississippi World Trade Center is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to assisting Mississippi businesses with all aspects of international trade.

ANGIE CAYSON, filmmaker
A mother of seven becomes an unlikely filmmaker. We followed up on Angie’s kick-off awareness event for her new film “Hell’s Bend.”

PAT RASBERRY, Tupelo Film Commission 
 A regular on our show, she brought us up to speed on the Mississippi High School Film Competition, which she coordinated.

THOM EASON & MIEKO KIKUCHI, Japan-America Society of Mississippi (JASMIS)
Thom and Mieko brought us up to speed on JASMIS’s fund-raising efforts to help Japan in the middle of its post-quake, post-nuclear, post-tsunami disaster.

We hope you enjoy DeltaTalk Radio. Join us Thursdays at 9am on SuperTalk 102.9FM. Don't forget to "like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, too! As always, you can contact me at

Enjoy the show!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Interesting (and Positive) Days at TPSD

Last week, as I interviewed Rob Hudson, President of LEAPS (Leaders Engaged for the Advancement of Public Schools), and now as I reflect on his nomination to the Board of Trustees for the Tupelo Public School District, I believe we're in store for interesting -- and positive -- times in North Mississippi's academic circles.

To be honest, the results of the survey were anything but flattering. 1500 people polled, 81% believes the district truly desires strong academic achievement, but only half of those (42%) believes that five years from now, TPSD will provide a better education than other NEMS school systems. And when it comes to safety and discipline, the numbers are even more grim.

On the other hand, I'm optimistic. Hudson put himself waaaay out there by gathering the best and brightest for the 14-person board of LEAPS. The group was formed little more than a month before the presentation of last week's survey results, and yet the survey was accomplished with dispatch and a certain informational eloquence. Knowing that, three things are obvious to me:
  • Hudson, a successful businessman, can make things happen.
  • He cares about collaborative advancement, not confrontational competition, and strongly believes in solutions, not continuous complaint.
  • He's surrounded by people in the community who are equally concerned about education and are willing to roll their sleeves up, too.
As I also interviewed interim superintendent David Meadows, I instantly felt he would -- in the short run -- have a soothing effect on academic tension in the community. He was glad for the unexpected turnout at the survey presentation, preferring to interpret the numbers as a show of well-meant concern rather than a wall of resistance. Such optimism and diplomacy will, I think, work wonders toward healing long-standing wounds in the community, bringing people back together and opening their minds to solve educational issues in our midst.

I met Dr. Randy Shaver a while back and heard him speak energetically of growing TPSD's influence on students. I shook his hand that day and believed his innermost motivations were good ones. Why would they not be? He's an educated man with nothing to gain from his students' complaints, and those of their parents. But without buying into the drama and conflict surrounding his brisk departure, if anyone must communicate well, it has to be the head of a school district. That clearly was not one of Mr. Shaver's strengths. And while I would not have preferred such a politicization of a school superintendent's agenda and ultimate "dismissal," I have to agree that the court of public opinion has spoken. The constituencies of TPSD -- namely, the parents, teachers, administrators, and district's residents and businesspeople -- have come together in a generally-positive way to forge the way for change and expansion. Even Mr. Shaver's closing contract negotiations went relatively smoothly.

Make no mistake, I don't believe that any of our educational challenges will be solved overnight. There's too much history and regressive inertia for that, not to mention that no matter what the motivations are, some people just don't like change.

But at the end of the school day, I'm optimistic that our collective motivations are good ones. I'm confident that we've learned something from this experience. I believe we'll harness the Tupelo Spirit we're known for. I think we'll live up to our 2011 All-America City nomination (we won the award in 1999) and close the book on the past and -- as I'm sure Mr. Hudson would agree -- get on with the business of shaping our children's futures for the (much) better.

That's a good thing...


PODCAST - DeltaTalk Radio
Thursday, April 14, 2011

(click here to go directly to the podcast)

Welcome to DeltaTalk. Today's program features two primary segments:

(1) Tupelo Neighborhood Reinvestment Plan
Jon Milstead, who administers the planning division for the Community Development Foundation (otherwise known as the CDF), talks about an innovative new plan to invigorate the city of Tupelo. For some, it's a controversial plan. For others, it's exactly the right plan to help Tupelo live up to its "All America" designation.

(2) Mother of Seven - Unlikely Filmmaker
Four and a half years ago, Angie Cayson's 16 year-old son Bryant Camp took a late-night joyride in her SUV. Blue-lighted by a Tupelo police officer, he panicked. At high speed, he crashed the car and was pinned inside as the car caught fire. Ultimately, he lost his legs from the knee down. Now, he's about to be the lead actor in a Christian film about that experience written and to-be-produced by his mom. The two sat down with me in the studio to discuss the film and its backstory. By the way, let me just say that despite the trauma of that accident and all that's happened since, this pair is a shining example of personal strength. Needles to say, much of that strength is faith-based. But there's more to that story and much of it will likely make it to the big screen. Enjoy the interview!

We hope you enjoy DeltaTalk Radio. Join us Thursdays at 9am on SuperTalk 102.9FM. Don't forget to "like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, too! As always, you can contact me at

Enjoy the show!

Mike Russell


(click here to go directly to the podcast)

On April 14, 2011, LEAPS, a newly-formed community group -- Leaders Engaged for the Advancement of Public Schools -- announced the results its recent survey about the on-going challenges in the Tupelo Public School District. Nearly 200 people were gathered at the Summit Center in Tupelo to hear those results, announced by LEAPS president Rob Hudson. Here, in a special web-only recording of the entire proceeding, is that announcement:

00:00 to 04:30 - Recorded introduction to the presentation by DeltaTalk Radio's Mike Russell

04:30 to 45:16 - The entire reading of the LEAPS Survey Results

45:16 to 45:54 - Recorded introduction of interview with LEAPS president Rob Hudson

45:54 to 50:29 - Interview with LEAPS president Rob Hudson

50:29 to 50:52 - Recorded introduction of interview with TPSD interim leader David Meadows

50:52 to 53:14 - Interview with TPSD interim leader David Meadows

53:14 to 54:30 - Closing remarks by Mike Russell 

Thanks for listening. Join us on DeltaTalk Radio, Thursday mornings at 9am on SuperTalk 102.9FM. Don't forget to "like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. As always, you can reach me at

Friday, April 1, 2011

Elvis Lives!! (Are ??)


(click here for a short soundbite from Lucia Randle, the artist who created this year's official Elvis Festival poster. )

ELVIS LIVES! -- Always a popular festival - and a tribute to the King of Rock N' Roll born here in the "biggest little town in the south" - the Elvis Festival kicks-off each year with the release of the official artwork. This year's version is by artist Lucia Randle. Here's the official news release from the Downtown Tupelo Association (aka "The Elvis Presley Festival Office"):

Executive Director
Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association
March 31, 2011

Producers of the 2011 Elvis Festival are excited to share the 2011 image for this year’s festival. The image was unveiled last night at a gala featuring local artist and friend of the festival, Lucia Randle.
Since the inception of the Elvis Festival in 1999, local artists have been chosen to design the artwork for two consecutive years. Lucia Randle was contracted for the 2011 & 2012 image and was very honored to be chosen.

When talking about the 2011 image, Randle said she had a hard time deciding which direction to go. During the unveiling ceremony, she stated “I bet I started over twenty times, but I really wanted it to be special. I kept coming back to this positive image of Elvis.” The fun, whimsical image features a smiling, laughing full face image of Elvis anchored on one side with a collage styled composite of the festival title and all the details to the left.

“You cannot look at this and not smile and laugh,” said Randle, “It shows humanness, life, and fun. Its whimsical, and I think the Elvis Festival represents all those things about Tupelo.”

The 2011 Tupelo Elvis Festival will be held June 2 – 5 in downtown Tupelo. Kicking off on Thursday, June 2nd at the Lyric Theatre on Broadway and wrapping up on Sunday afternoon at the First United Methodist Church with a Gospel Concert.

Featured tribute artists at the Lyric Theatre are all previous winners of the Preliminary Ultimate Tribute Artist (UETA) Contests in Tupelo and two are also the winners of the UETA Contest in Memphis. In addition, the competition will feature thirty-five of the best Elvis Tribute Artists competing. ETA’s are coming from all over the country as well as Canada and Australia. These events are all ticketed. For ticket prices go to the website or call the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association Office. The concerts and finals on Saturday night have already sold out.

The “All Elvis All the Time” venue on Broadway will feature food, fun and Elvis music all day long along with food and arts & crafts vendors. Children’s activities, the pet parade, a photo booth, and the replica of the Birthplace of Elvis Presley are just a few of the highlights.

On the Fairpark Stage we have a number of bands scheduled to perform. Friday night’s featured performers are Ty Herndon and Crossin’ Dixon. Others include Blackberry Smoke, Busted Screen Door, Ironwood Bluff and Jordyn Mallory. On Saturday, local bands will start at Noon followed by a great lineup in the evening with featured performers Spin Doctor and Jonathan Singelton & The Grove. Others for Saturday night include Jamie Davis & Soul Gravy, John Milstead, Hobo Hippie and Crashing Broadway.

Tickets for the Fairpark Stage are available on Ticket Master. The price is $15 a day or $25 combined if purchased prior to May 31st. For more details or information, visit the website at or call the Downtown Tupelo Main Street office at 662-841-6598.

DeltaTalk Radio Podcast -- Thursday, March 31, 2011


click here for a podcast of this show

Featured on this show (originally recorded on Thursday, March 31, 2011 at our SuperTalk studio) are:

Ole Miss Baseball Radio Network and Mississippi Select Sports -- Veteran broadcaster Gary Darby joined us live to talk about MLB’s opening day and the coming Cotton States Baseball League season, its third.

Organizer, Up, Up, & Away Hot Air Balloon Festival — It’s no small feat to pull together an event of THIS magnitude — 400 volunteers, 20 hot air balloons, 12 musical acts, food galore, and activities for the kids. But this festival is all that and more, thanks to Rachel. Click here for a link to the festival.

Organizer, Azalea Festival — Rachel’s co-organizer and president of the Presley Heights Association, sponsor of the Presley Heights Azalea Festival.

Hot Air Balloon Pilot — Frank is flying in this year’s Up, Up, & Away Hot Air Balloon Festival (check our “DeltaTalk” Facebook page for a few pictures).

West of Shake Rag (Improv) — These three wacky women, all members of Tupelo’s own improv troupe WEST OF SHAKE RAG, showed up to have a little fun on the air with us.