Birmingham Shines

A show about the makers, creators, and innovators of the Magic City: Birmingham, Alabama.
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Jun 25, 2016

In Episode 40 Birmingham Shines the spotlight is on East Lake Farmer's Market, a program of Peer, Inc. to provide healthy food for the East Lake Community and market opportunities for Alabama farmers.

Photos and complete show notes are available at

In this episode we hear from:

Witt Farms in Hayden

Benny Dixon of Dixon Family Farms in Clanton

Eugenia Wynfrey of Wynfrey Farms in Boaz

Jimmy Carmack of Pure Alabama Honey (several hundred hives) he touches on the challenges in beekeeping

Sister Sniffle: Facebook, Soundclud, Bandcamp

Kevin Snelson representing Whited Farms at East

Sally Aloca - Executive Director of Peer, Inc., the nonprofit that operates the East Lake Farmers Market at East Lake United Methodist Church

Max Bellmore, a student in the Samford University Accelerated Nursing Program. Max is from Chicago.

ennifer Freeman, also a student in the Samford University Accelerated Nursing Program. Jennifer is a California native

The East Lake Farmers Market is open on Saturdays from April through October and is located at East Lake United Methodist Church in east Birmingham, Alabama.

Apr 30, 2016

This week on Birmingham Shines my guests are Uma Srivastava, who is the product development manager for Pack Health, and M’kayl Lewis, health adviser manager for Pack Health.

Pack Health is a Birmingham startup founded by Mazi Rasulnia & Will Wright with a mission to help individuals suffering from chronic medical conditions take ownership of health and achieve positive outcomes through health advisers and condition management kits.

Find out more at

Episode Sponsor

Episode 39 of Birmingham Shines is sponsored by Vulcan Security Systems, a Birmingham company that offers customized commercial IP video surveillance services in the greater Birmingham metro area.

Owner Jason Maddox and his team offer video surveillance system sales and installation and monitoring through an IP-delivered video system for commercial property, churches and daycare facilities, private schools, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, and related commercial enterprises.

If you are a business owner, facilities manager, church trustee, daycare operator and would like more information on how video surveillance can be an added part of your risk management program, visit to learn more about Vulcan Security Systems and schedule your free consultation today.

Happy 1-Year Birthday

And I also want to mention that this episode is coming out on the 1-year anniversary of the launch of Birmingham Shines. So Happy Birthday to the podcast!

Changes are coming, moving forward, and I’ll be sharing more about those changes in the next episode.

Mar 31, 2016

Dr. Shelley Stewart, Birmingham businessman, radio legend, philanthropist and pillar of Birmingham, is the guest on episode 38 of Birmingham Shines podcast.

If you’ve been in Birmingham very long you’ve probably heard some of Dr. Stewart’s story. I’ll just say that I was honored to have spent a couple of hours with Dr. Stewart in late March to do this interview.

I’ve heard Dr. Stewart speak on several occasions and have read a good bit of his biography and I feel like he takes us, in this conversation, down some paths in this interview that don’t usually come up in other interviews or when he’s sharing stories from his life at various events around town.

As always, Dr. Stewart offers many gems of life wisdom, truths, if you will. And I didn’t see a single ox in the room.

You can find a couple of blog posts at Birmingham to supplement this audio conversation.

I hope you find inspiration and hope in Dr. Shelley Stewart’s words in this episode of Birmingham Shines.

Thanks to the great folks at o2 Ideas for making this interview happen.

Mar 25, 2016

This week's offers something of a hodge-podge, centered around the theme of out-and-about town.

We start with the Birmingham Dance Walk event organized by Sherri Ross.

Last Sunday, March 20 I hung out at Railroad Park for a while to be a part of the first Birmingham Dance Walk of 2016. It was the Dance Walk that inspired this episode to share some sound bites about what makes Birmingham Shine and to let you know about a few events coming up over the next few weeks.

All of these events and festivities are in Birmingham, except for one. That one is a camping-and-yoga trip for women that some of my Shoals friends are doing at Cane Creek Canyon near Muscle Shoals. If that’s something you’re interested in, listen through to the end because there’s a registration deadline looming.

When I started Birmingham Shines last year, I went out in April to Pepper Place Market to gather some sound bites from folks about what makes Birmingham Shine. You heard from two of those in the teaser: Preston and Eric. Thanks to you two guys for sharing your thoughts on what makes Birmingham Shine!

One of the things I discovered that weekend in April of 2015, just before I launched the podcast is that folks are shy around microphones, even when there’s no camera involved. I had a bit more success at this year's Birmingham Dance Walk.

First we’re going to hear from Sherri Ross, founder of Birmingham Dance Walk and her hubby, Daniel Walters. They give us some info about Dance Walk and Daniel also talks a bit about living downtown.

Then we hear from Trudy Bezet about what she loves about Birmingham.

After Trudy, we hear from Panama Jack You Up of the Tragic City Rollers about their next roller derby meet at the Zamora Shrine Temple in Irondale.

Then we have Laura Gaines talking about the Sol Dance Experience for women.

She's followed by Jennifer King, who has the blog Stellar Fashion and Fitness, gives the heads-up on an upcoming free 5K on April 2.

After that, my friends Summer and Ashley share a bit about the camping and yoga trip set for April 9-10 at Cane Creek Canyon near Muscle Shoals. You can still register as of March 24, 2016, but you’re running out of time. If you’re interested and don’t have time to listen, you can find out more at This is an excerpt from a full interview available in the Discover Grow Shinecast.

After the Summer and Ashley excerpt, I have a short promo from Michael Syms about Zyp Bikeshare and close it out with a another bit of sound from Ben of Jones Valley Teaching Farm, recorded in April 2015 at Pepper Place.

Promotional Disclosure: At the time I recorded the full interview with Summer and Ashley for the Discover Grow Shinecast (available at I had not received any promotional consideration from them. During the week of March 20, however, I was asked if I would like to receive a discount to attend the April 9-10 yoga and camping outing at Cane Creek and I said yes. So, at the time of THIS episode, I have received something of value from these guests and want to disclose that to make sure I'm in compliance with FTC rules for bloggers and podcasters.

Check out the new Birmingham Shines Podcast page on Facebook.

Complete show notes and links available at

Mar 19, 2016

TEDxBirmingham 2016 was March 12 at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center on the UAB Campus.

This episode features a recap of the ideas shared by speakers, through performances, and in a few short films interspersed throughout the event.

The theme was Pure Imagination and the speakers and performances were curated into three sessions:

Take a Breath, Make a Wish, Change the World

Full show notes are available at along with links to the videos and other resources mentioned in this episode.

Mar 10, 2016

When I was three a lawnmower turned over on me and crushed my left temple, I have a noticeable but faded scar in the shape of a cross. I can actually remember bits and pieces of the moments before, during, and after the accident. My head on my mother's chest, covered in blood, as we raced to the nearest hospital 10 miles away.

Today, I call it my Harry Potter scar. The girl who lived.

I'm Sheree Martin, host and producer of Birmingham Shines, and I want to say thank you for listening to the podcast and for sharing it with your friends. I've been blessed to have met so many awesome individuals through Birmingham Shines, both guests, fans of the show, and others who simply love Birmingham or love podcasts.

It's hard to believe that it's been a year since I started scheduling interviews for the first episodes and now we're just a few weeks away from the anniversary of the first episode release.

This week's show is a bit different. I decided to make myself the guest, to tell you a little bit about my own story, why I started Birmingham Shines, what I'm trying to do here and some other things I'm working on. Some bits and pieces of this have been woven into my conversations with guests, but a lot of what you're going to hear in this episode is new and I'm going to try to do it more in a storytelling format.

Some of you know that I'm a big fan of Seth Godin, who's both an inspirational force for the adapting to the new economic realities we live in, and someone's who helped to change the face of marketing in the digital arena, through his book, Permission Marketing, and later on, through his messages of empowerment. As Seth recognized years ago, the internet enables everyone—from brands to individuals in basements and bedrooms—to bypass the traditional media gatekeepers and to find and speak directly to their tribe of fans, followers and kindred spirits.

When I began making plans to leave my faculty job at Samford a few years ago, I decided I wanted to stay in Birmingham, if possible, and that meant I would be leaving academia because there are only a few teaching jobs within driving distance for someone whose focus is social media marketing, digital content strategy and media law. Within academia, the traditional approach to PR and advertising doesn't accommodate the perspective that I bring to the table. And marketing departments in business schools typically don't consider faculty with a Ph.D. in Mass Communication, those programs want a Ph.D. in marketing or, perhaps, psychology of consumer behavior. It's all very siloed and that's not a topic I care to get into in this podcast.

My point in bringing this up BEFORE I get into the official part of the episode is to say that when I left Samford my plan was to demonstrate how on-demand audio, especially audio content with a longer shelf life, can be a key part of business marketing strategy.

That's a message I've been talking about behind-the-scenes for quite some time. More recently, I've ramped up my own marketing efforts to explain this approach to CEOs and business marketing and corporate communications managers to sell my own on-demand audio content strategy and production services.

My target clients are B2B companies, and professional service providers, like lawyers and accountants, and other certain business sectors like real estate, construction, and banking/finance, healthcare and veterinary medicine.

If you're a business owner, a marketing manager or someone who handles PR and corporation communications in house or with an agency:

Perhaps the best way to think of it is this: Podcasts are like having your own business radio station and you are the DJ. You can decide whether to have short news features, product-specific episodes, answer the FAQs of your customers and clients

You get to explain what you do in a way that lets you speak directly to each unique customer.

Not only do you get a “radio station” section for your website, with audio file that you can distribute across the digital spectrum through iTunes, SoundCloud and other channels, but you can also use the script or notes from each episode as the basis for a text story on your website to get more SEO juice from the content in the audio file.

You can also use pull-quotes from the audio to create graphics that you share across social-media channels.

The Birmingham metro area as over 400,000 daily commuters who spend around 50 minutes of each work day driving alone to and from their jobs.

Many of these are your customers and many of those customers will gladly choose to listen to you answer their questions and solve their problems through your business radio podcast.

Another cool thing is this: Even if your target customer doesn't immediately listen to the episode, the podcast is always available to answer their question when the time is right. Content creation becomes an investment, not an expense.

And the distribution of the episode across social media channels gives you brand impressions in ways that ads do not, unless they are internet display ads or promoted posts on social media. So even if the episode doesn't immediately generate listens or downloads, you can still get brand impressions for unique content.

The great thing about on-demand audio, is that's very affordable, multipurpose and you--the business owner, the PR specialist, the marketing manager--get to control the distribution schedule.

On-demand audio is targeted to your unique customer profiles. Each episode can speak to one segment of your client base on one unique topic or question or concern.

That means you aren't throwing money out the window on relatively expensive and ephemeral radio and TV ads that evaporate into the ether as soon as they're broadcast to an audience that's both distracted AND much broader than your ideal customer base.

Unless you're a fast food restaurant, a car dealership, or a big-box retailer these radio and TV ads probably don't give you much bang for your buck. Print ads also have a relatively short life and are very hard to target. You're usually paying for reach you don't need. And with print ads, your message is competing with a million other distractions.

With on-demand audio, you can create one piece of content that speaks directly to many ideal customers, one individual at a time. When someone is listening to your voice through an earbud, you can establish a relationship with the customer that grows over time. And that content is easily repurposed for use in a multi-channel digital distribution world.

I'm here to help you develop a business radio strategy and launch your own podcast. It's really not difficult. I can handle the episode production, as well as the scheduling and distribution, if that's not something you want to do in house.

So how to connect with me? I've put together landing pages at and that explains what I offer and I'm happy to give you ballpark estimates on costs, both for strategy development and production. If you don't have time to visit the landing page, you can email me: sheree at and ask me about podcasting for your business.


Now, back to this week's episode:


Remember that lawn mower accident? A week or so after I was released from the hospital, I spent a few minutes facedown in a muddy, freshly plowed field while a tornado passed overhead. My dad was trying to run with me to a neighbor's storm cellar when we got tripped up in the muck.


Fortunately, the tornado was just to the north of us and not quite on the ground, so we weren't harmed. My bandages were a muddy mess. I can see the scene unfolding like it was yesterday.


On the way home from the doctor's office to have my bandages changed, my parents had stopped to speak with my maternal grandparents, and we were all standing in the yard when Earline, a neighbor, up the road began running in our direction screaming, “Tornado, it's about to get me....”


The house between us had a storm cellar. My grandfather, Paps, sprinted off in the direction of the cellar, but opted to go under small bridge. My dad took the shorter route, which is how we ended up in the field. He'd taken a short cut that didn't quite work out. My mom and mema were left standing in the yard. They didn't run.

A couple of years after the lawnmower accident, on a sweltering hot June day in 1968 when I was 5, my beloved grandfather, Paps, was my pier-side babysitter while my parents spent several hours waterskiing on the Tennessee River.

It was a very hot day and my dad was a tool and die maker who worked the 4-12 shift at Ford Motor Company in Sheffield. He had to go to work so we left the river in mid-afternoon to return home.

On the way home, it was clear my grandfather was in distress. He was sweating profusely and complaining of nausea. Everyone thought it was the heat.

We dropped my dad off at home so he could leave for work and then drove on to my grandparents' house. Mom and I drove on my grandparents house, a quarter-mile away. It had been decided that I could spend the night with my grandparents, which I did regularly. My uncle William stopped by with some medicine for my grandfather, who was lying on the couch, obviously in a great deal of distress. He left and Mom left to return home to get clothes for me to spend the night.

A bath was running for me, when I heard my grandmother scream to call my mother. I ran into the den to see my grandfather having a heart attack.



Mar 3, 2016

This week’s episode of Birmingham Shines features a conversation with Dr. Julian Maha, an emergency medicine physician and co-founder of KultureCity, an impact driven and award-winning nonprofit that is based in Birmingham but with a global presence.

Dr. Maha and his wife conceived the idea for KultureCity after their oldest son was diagnosed with autism several years ago.

KultureCity is designed to be a real community of volunteers and supporters who work to help families directly and to be advocates for the types of systemic change that will help individuals with autism achieve and live out their full potential as human beings.

The teasers tell you a little bit about what Julian and I talked about, but he also shared two specific stories of how care and the right interventions helped two young men with autism move from being essentially ignored by society to valuable contributors. One of these young men earned a Ph.D. in physics. The other is now well-adjusted and working at Panera Bread, even though he’s still non-verbal.

We also talk about some of the research that’s being done to better understand the causes of autism, including the role of environmental factors as genetic triggers.

You’ll find links and full show notes to this episode at, where you can also sign up to get email updates, subscribe to the show or even download it for your audio library if you want to keep a copy. 

A special thank-you to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens for letting us record this conversation outside on a beautiful day last week.

Connect with Kulture City:

Isn’t it awesome to hear the stories of nonprofits right here in Birmingham who are working hard to bring about positive change to our city, state and world and to make life better for everyone, through service and caring. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll go back and listen to episode 32, which features Jason Carroll of Red Mountain Grace, another nonprofit that’s working to help families who are facing medical challenges. But they offer an entirely different type of service. And episode 28 features a conversation with Nelson Brooke about the work of the Black Warrior Riverkeeper to protect one of Birmingham’s main sources for drinking water and a major economic engine in west central Alabama.

I hope you’ll do something this week that makes you shine--and that makes the world a brighter place for everyone.

Feb 26, 2016

Katie Exum, publisher and editor of Alabama Trails magazine is the guest on episode 33 of Birmingham Shines.

Rotary Trail in downtown Birmingham is the next trail set to open in Birmingham.

Rotary Trail is part of a much larger trail system under development in the Magic City and surrounding areas.

We are so blessed to have amazing outdoor recreation opportunities all around us. Birmingham’s burgeoning trail system and city parks are one of the reasons that Birmingham is gaining so much attention from national media and tourism bloggers. Yes, we have amazing food. But we have so much more and outdoor recreation is a big part of that.

I wanted to have Katie on the show because she and her husband have created a relatively new magazine that focuses on outdoor recreation opportunities all across Alabama, including those here in the greater Birmingham area. I think it’s a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about what to see and do all across Alabama, including right here in Birmingham.

If you’re a regular listener to Birmingham Shines, you might remember that Deon Gordon said he marks the turning point in Birmingham’s renaissance with the creation of Railroad Park. Others on the show have echoed that sentiment. Teresa Thorne, executive director of City Action Partnership, known as CAPS downtown, is one of those individuals. Another guest, David Weigel singled out the city parks and outdoor recreation opportunities surrounding the greater Birmingham area as one of the reasons Birmingham Shines. Scot Duncan, a professor at Birmingham Southern College talked about Alabama’s amazing biodiversity and why it matters for our city, region and state.

Full show notes here:

Feb 18, 2016

My guest this week is Jason Carroll, one of the co-founders of Red Mountain Grace, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that offers residential space to out of town families in need who must be in Birmingham on an extended basis to receive medical treatment.

As is often the case, the really good part of this episode comes in the last 5 minutes. Before that, Jason and I talk about the organization, the type of hospitality provided by Red Mountain Grace, and how you might get involved. Near the end of our conversation, I asked Jason to share a story about a family served by Red Mountain Grace.

The 38-year-old husband had just been diagnosed with metastatic cancer and the family was among the first to receive residential assistance through Red Mountain Grace. Jason shares a poignant conversation with the couple, who asked why Red Mountain Grace existed.
That family did not get the blessing of a cure, but Jason said that if they had only been able to assist one family, ever, it would have made it all worthwhile.

“If you can be a light for a short time for a family, it’s worth it.” -- Jason Carroll

I hope the big takeaway from this conversation is that everyone can make a difference in some way, large or small. If you listen to many episodes of Birmingham Shines, you’ll often hear that it’s the people who make Birmingham shine.

I think this episode of Birmingham Shines really proves that point.

Find out more about Red Mountain Grace at

Feb 12, 2016

Teddy Zane, owner of Flex Fitness in Irondale, is the guest on episode 31 of Birmingham Shines.

Health and fitness starts with food.

“You can’t outtrain a bad diet,” Zane says.

Teddy is an ACE certified trainer.

Bodybuilding Awards include:
--Mr. New York
--Teen Mr. Upstate New York

Flex Fitness is an awesome gym in Irondale, a suburb of Birmingam, with 24/7 access. Flex Fitness offers a full range of cardio workout machines, as well as multiple varieties of circuit training machines. There's a full floor of free-weights for the hard-core bodybuilders, but Flex Fitness really emphasizes fitness for everyone. 

In this week's episode we talk about nutrition, designing a workout regimen and more. Here are some highlights:

Some folks don’t get the results they want because they quit too soon when they don’t get the results fast enough. Patience is a key and you also have to pay attention to what you’re eating.

Most of us can’t get all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids that we need, even if we’re eating reasonably well. So it’s not just about what you’re will to give up and a commitment to eating the right combinations and quantities.

You also have to pay attention to the quality of the food you’re taking in. Industrially-produced poultry and beef, farmed fish, these receive food that’s largely corn-based. As a result, you don’t get the Omega 3 fatty acids and other benefits of grassfed, pastured livestock.

Teddy recommends intermittent fasting to help detox body and restore gut health. This is not the solution for someone with a medical condition, but for a normal healthy person intermittent fasting can be an excellent tool for restoring colonic health and intestinal function.

With intermittent fasting, you go 12 hours, usually overnight, with no food intake to give your digestive system a rest. Drink a lot of water, especially in the morning after, to help flush out toxins.

Food and fitness are the fountain of youth.

Not sure where to start, if you aren't already on a fitness plan.....Teddy offers these tips:

  • Set a goal. Identify your goal and a reason to achieve it.
  • If you can’t manage your self-discipline, get a trainer. Not mandatory if you can stay committed to your plan, but a trainer is great to keep you motivated.
  • Ask people in great shape to help you. It’s better to talk to a real person--even a friend who’s knowledgeable--rather than just going to YouTube or a website for motivation.
  • Be consistent. Don’t be sporadic. Your body adapts quickly, so you want to keep moving forward.

Bodybuilding is for the extreme-fit enthusiast. Most people just want to focus on cardio to get rid of stored body fat. A key to maximize fat-burning is to work out on an empty stomach and you must get your heart rate up (more on that shortly). Drink lots of water.

Take a branch-chain amino acid supplement before your cardio workout. Branch chain amino acids usually come in powder form. Take before the workout, on empty stomach, to preserve muscle and burn fat.

For strength-training, want to have a couple of meals in the day before your strength workout.

Ideally, do your cardio early, on an empty stomach. Make sure you get your heart rate up to the right level, based on age. A heart rate monitor is crucial for making sure you hit the right threshold in cardio to burn fat.

Then have 2 meals before strength training. Do your strength 2 p.m. or later, after you’ve had good nutrition.


Flex Fitness is located on Crestwood Blvd. in Irondale.

Irondale is (as some of you may know) the hometown of the Irondale Cafe, which inspired The Whistlestop Cafe in Fannie Flagg’s book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe.

Find Flex Fitness on Facebook:

Feb 4, 2016

Chef Tony Bayles started out working with food when he was an assistant to his uncle who ran a catering business.

Today, Tony owns Bayles Catering and a popular take-out cafe in the Woodlawn community, which is in the midst of a community revitalization that's turning into a renaissance.

In this episode of Birmingham Shines, Tony shares the story of how he decided to become a professional chef, a bit about his history and training, the types of catering services he provides, and what makes the community of Woodlawn and the city of Birmingham Shine.

We also talk about bowling. Enjoy!

Links and more at


Jan 29, 2016

Welcome to episode 29 of Birmingham Shines. I’m your host and producer Sheree Martin  and this week’s show is about TEDxBirmingham: what it is, why it matters, who it's for and more. We also talk about what makes Birmingham Shine and what makes a person shine.

My guest is Matthew Hamilton, someone I’ve been trying to have on the show since last summer and we finally had a chance to sit down just before the beginning of the year to talk about TEDxBirmingham. I’m a huge fan of TED talks and TEDx talks and use them to learn, find inspiration and spark my own innovation and creativity.

TEDxBirmingham 4th edition is set for March 12 and the leadership team just announced this year’s speakers a few weeks ago.

Matthew and I talk about the importance of TEDx events in the life of a community and the goals of TEDxBirmingham in particular. I ask Matthew to highlight a few of his favorite speakers from past TEDxBirmingham events and you can find videos of those talks on the Birmingham Shines blog. He also gives us a preview of this year’s speaker line-up.

You can apply for tickets right now through and Matthew explains the selection process in our conversation around the 43 minute mark. The deadline to submit your application is January 31, so only a few days left to apply for tickets. But you can also participate via the free livestream if you can’t attend in person.

Why does TEDx matter? Matthew says it creates a forum in a community where a diverse group of people can come together and share ideas. The TEDx event can be a spark or catalyst for innovation. Tt’s the sharing of ideas and bringing people together to connect that is the service TEDx events provide to a community.

The focus or mission of TED is to bring to light Ideas Worth Spreading. I like to think that my hero Benjamin Franklin would have been one of the forces to bring a TED-type of event to life. His Junto is probably the closest thing to a TED-type of event that existed in the colonies in the first half of the 18th century.

Matthew is a co-organizer with Dr. Sarah Parcak of UAB, who’s a TED Fellow. In curating the speakers for TEDxBirmingham events they try to focus on ideas that matter coming OUT of Birmingham, more than ideas about Birmingham.

“We want to share ideas that are originating in this city, out to the world,” Hamilton said.

One of the criteria used by the TEDxBirmingham organizers for speaker selections is that the idea is one that would be relevant to someone regardless of geography. The idea is not specific to Birmingham or relevant only to people in our city or region.

Matthew used the example of Dr. Pat Hymel’s TEDxBirmingham talk from 2013, which focused on how we grow and learn from our mistakes.

This year’s TEDxBirmingham has the theme of Pure Imagination. In curating speakers for this theme, Hamilton says the idea was to find speakers who consider the possibilities for the future with an emphasis on WHEN, not if.

Once we finish talking about TEDxBirmingham, past and present. Matthew shares some of his thoughts on how and why Birmingham Shines: It really comes down to the people.

We talk about two books Matthew recommends:

  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • How Will You Measure Your Life by Clay Christiansen


What makes someone shine personally? A similar theme echoed by other guests: A willingness to step out and do the thing you’re passionate about.