Sylvia Ryerson

Curriculum Vitae


Independent Radio Producer of reports, documentaries, talk shows and special series for WMMT-FM, Kentucky Public Radio, West Virginia Public Radio and NPR’s Weekend Edition.  Responsible for concept, planning, interviewing, editing, writing, narrating and engineering. 2010 - present

Director of Public Affairs, Appalshop/WMMT, Whitesburg, KY, supervised complete weekly public affairs broadcast schedule. 2012 - 2014           

Interim Co-General Manager, WMMT-FM, Whitesburg, KY, co-managed all station operations, development and staff. 2012 - 2014

Producer, Calls from Home, Appalshop/WMMT, Whitesburg, KY, hosted and produced weekly program sending messages over the radio from family members to their loved ones in prison. 2011 - 2014

Music Instructor, Appalshop Traditional Music Project, Whitesburg, KY, taught fiddle lessons to elementary students in public schools across Letcher County, KY. 2011 - 2014

Co-Director and Producer, Making Connections News, Appalshop/WMMT, Whitesburg, KY, A storytelling platform and multimedia series showcasing the opportunities and challenges in building a healthy and just Appalachia. 2010 - 2014

Producer and Host, Mountain News and World Report, Appalshop/WMMT, Whitesburg, KY, a bi-weekly half-hour news and public affairs show on life in Central Appalachia. 2010 - 2014

Director, Appalshop Traditional Music Project, Whitesburg, KY, coordinated student concerts, community events, jam sessions and fundraising efforts. 2012 - 2013

Youth Media Trainer, Appalachian Media Institute, Whitesburg, KY, taught high school students the techniques of sound recording, editing and audio documentary production. 2010 - 2011

Director, Community Correspondents Corps, Appalshop/WMMT, Whitesburg, KY, trained volunteer citizen journalists in the techniques of sound recording, editing and radio production. 2010 - 2011



Special Friend Award, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, for thoughtful coverage of Appalachian economic transition. 2014

E-Chievement Award, eTown, 2014

Recipient, The Chorus Foundation Grant, 2014

Recipient, Blue Moon Fund Grant, 2013 - 2014

Recipient, Appalachian Community Fund Grant, 2012 - 2014    

Recipient, Appalshop Endowment Award, 2010 - 2014

Gladys Maynard “The Start of Something Big” Award, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth,  presented to the member whose commitment and action leads to the development of a major movement or event in the cause of justice. 2013

Recipient, Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media Grant, 2009

Gwen Livingston Pokora Prize, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, for outstanding undergraduate student in music composition. 2009

M.G. White Prize, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, for best thesis in American Studies. 2009

Dean’s List, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, 2005 - 2009

Olin Fellowship, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, 2008

Davenport Summer Study Grant, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT,  2008

AUDIO WORKS selected


Remembering the Miners at Upper Big Branch                                                                                                    

Eula Hall Fights for Mud Creek Medicine

SOAR Takes Off 

East Kentucky Schools “Race to the Top”

Welsh Eco-Tourism Model Excites Elkhorn City

Appalachian Food Summit a Success


A Clothesline of Quilts                                                                                                                                                   

The Stickneys of Estill County: Landowners are the Best Fertilizer

Connection Lost – Youth Perspectives on Broadband in Appalachia

SOAR: What Happens Next?

Building Businesses with Bee-Keeping and Paintballs

Forests for the Future – The Appalachian Carbon Partnership

Building Appalachia’s Bright Future

After Coal: Wales & Appalachia

The Future of Landline Service in Kentucky

The Town Too Tough to Die – Vicco Leads Kentucky Towards LGBTQ Fairness


Like a Car Settin’ on Blocks – Broadband in Appalachia                                                                                     

White Oak Pumpkin Barn

Laid Off and Looking for Answers

A Morgan Sorghum Success!

Mining Communities in Times of Change

Safe Haven for Injured Birds of Prey

Planning for Planting

Goods from the Woods

HowSmart KY – Efficient Energy for Everyone


More Than Mail – Rural Postal Service Threatened                                                                                                

School Consolidation in the County        

A Marvelous Herb – the Value of Ramp Cultivation

Prison Progress? (3 part hour-long Radio Documentary)

Getting Ahead Online – Education and the Internet 

Sweet Corn and Fresh Ideas

Be Smart, Live Simple – The Colletts of Leslie County 


Home-Scale Renewable Energy                                                                                                                                  

Conversations on the Porch

The Avian Aqua Miser: An Automatic Chicken Waterer

Growing Appalachia: Moving Forward in the Mountains

Historical Marker for the Scotia Mine Disaster of 1976


Appalachia in the Bluegrass Traditional Music Series, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, performer of traditional Appalachian fiddle music. 2014 

Lexington Loves Mountains, Lexington, KY, performer with Rich & the Po’ Folk and the Skipdippers. 2012 - 2013    

Appalshop Seedtime on The Cumberland Festival, Whitesburg, KY, performer with Rich & the Po’ Folk and the Skipdippers. 2012 - 2013

Railroad Traditions, Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Prestonsburg, KY, sound installation with visual artist Pam Oldfield Meade. 2010

Trillium R: Shala Fears for The Poor, Brooklyn, NY, studio musician for recording by Anthony Braxton. 2009

Four Holding Six Holding Four, Middletown, CT, composed string quartet selected by Alvin Lucier as one of two undergraduate compositions to be performed by FLUX quartet. 2009

Prison Progress? Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, multimedia sound installation and performance piece. 2009


Appalshop: Arts & Culture in Times of Economic Transition, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 2014    

Popular Education: Prison Expansion in Central Appalachia, Appalachian Studies Conference, Huntington, WV, 2014

Mass Incarceration and Resistance in Central Appalachia, Berea College, Berea, KY, 2013 

Journalists' Perspectives on Appalachian Transition, Appalachia’s Bright Future Conference, Harlan, KY, 2014

Getting to the Climate Problem and Solutions: Working on the Ground and with Communities, National Rural Assembly, Bethesda, MD, 2013 

Mass Incarceration in the Coalfields: How Prison Expansion is Impacting Appalachian Communities and What We Can Do About It, Appalachian Studies Conference, Boone, NC, 2013

Appalshop Media in Times of Transition: Documenting the Moment and Engaging Residents in                 

Conversations for the Future, Appalachian Studies Conference, Indiana, PA, 2012

Prison Progress…? Mass Incarceration in the Coalfields, Appalachian Studies Conference, Richmond, VA  2011


 Yale University, PhD in American Studies, with a Master’s Concentration in the Public Humanities: Documentary Studies, expected graduation 2024

Audio Documentary Summer Institute, Duke Center for Documentary Studies, Durham, NC, intensive course in recording, digital audio mixing, and the ethics of documentary work. 2013

Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, Bachelor of Arts; Double major: Music and American Studies High Honors 2009 


Advisory Board Member for the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky/Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) project toward ending mass incarceration; Advisor to Appalshop/WMMT’s Calls from Home show and ongoing media work against incarceration in the coalfields; founding member of the Racial Capitalism and the Carceral State working group at Yale; member of the Critical Prison Studies (CPS) caucus of the American Studies Association; founding member of the Central Appalachian Prisoner Support Network (CAPSN); former member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC).