The Spark

Friday 6:20pm

The Spark is WMRA's own creative look at --well-- creativity. We dig into whatever people are passionate about in the WMRA region: sculpture, model railroading, costume-making, poetry, whatever.

Please note that while we no longer produce The Spark as a full-length program (due to Martha Woodroof's retirement), her interviews continue to appear within our Friday broadcast of All Things Considered.

We want to hear from those who are doing artsy or interesting or wonderful or obsessive things.  We also recognize that lots of creatives are a tad shy and might not ever speak up for themselves. 

You can put something on our radar about yourself or can tell us about someone you know of who might be interesting by sending an e-mail to the show host, Martha Woodroof:
WoodroMH@jmu.edu
(To launch an email to Martha automatically click here. )

Scroll down to hear past segments.

Consider this a community-wide celebration of the many people among us who invest time, energy and discipline into pushing against life's boundaries.

Listen to a typical 2012 version of the show's end credits (including Martha asking to hear from those who know about creative goings-on) : here (60 seconds).

2013 Spark intern Julia Skinner has been tasked with blogging about potentially Spark-worthy peers, and you can find the link to that blog on this page.

A Labrador Romance

Jan 15, 2016

On this episode of The Spark: For almost forty years, British-born Clare Senfield has been the doyen of Allegheny Kennels where she breeds and trains and adores Labradors. 

On this edition of The Spark: Washington Post Reporter Will Hobson just published a five-part series addressing this question: Why do so many of the  Power Five college's athletic programs, including UVA's, lose millions every year? Martha talks with Will  Hobson about how he went about transforming a mountain of data  into compelling journalism.

DIY Vaudeville

Dec 18, 2015

On this episode of The Spark: Seven years ago Vaudevillian Carmel Clavin decided she wanted to make Staunton, Virginia, her home. And since it wouldn't feel like her home if she couldn't perform, Carmel got busy energizing vaudeville, busking and cabaret in the Queen City of the Shenandoah Valley.

Farmer's Son

Dec 11, 2015

On this episode of The SparkLawyer Nancy Lasater wrote a novel about a farm boy with dyslexia.  When agents told her nobody would buy a book about dyslexia, she decided to publish it herself, after getting a lot of support for her story from the dyslexic community.

Healing Horses

Dec 4, 2015

On this episode of The Spark: New Market’s Pat Murphy survived a truly horrible childhood that left her emotionally scarred in a number of ways. Including toting around a great fear of horses. She talks with Martha about finding greater confidence and peace through equine therapy.

Barclay Rives describes his family as being on a riches to rags trajectory —he’s directly descended from politicians and landowners who were part and parcel of the Commonwealth’s Colonial History.

Banjo on the Brain

Nov 20, 2015

On this episode of The Spark: Two-time state banjo champion Seth Swingle. He was ten when he fell in love with the sound of the banjo at MerleFest. Now at twenty-five,  he not only plays his instrument of choice, he also knows a lot about its history.  

Kenan Rubenstein

Martha speaks with Sophia Weideman, who has been drawing cartoons her whole life, but it took a while for her to find her own superheroes.

Mule Smarts

Nov 6, 2015

On this episode of The Spark: A listener appended a note to her contribution requesting more stories about mules... so this week, Diane Sypes, who lives way off the grid in Hardy County, West Virginia, tells about her four mules.

On this episode of The SparkRob Arthur is a Ph.D. cancer researcher at the University of Chicago. He also writes about baseball from a Sabermetric point of view for ESPN’s online arm, FiveThirtyEight.

Falling for Nepal

Oct 23, 2015

On this episode of The Spark: Marli Gordon is a twenty-three years old who calls Charlottesville home and has an ongoing love affair with the Nepali people. She was in Nepal during last April’s earthquake, and her response was to hunker down and help. 

On this episode of The Spark: Maya Hawthorn knew she wanted to be a midwife as soon as she learned that midwives exist. Martha and she talk some about the practice of midwifery and some about the advantages of being a shy person in that profession.

Brook Haven Birth

Virginia Midwives Alliance

Midwives Alliance of North America

The Iron Composer

Oct 9, 2015

On this episode of The SparkWinchester Composer, and EMU faculty member, Ryan Keebaugh was one of five finalists in this year’s Iron Composer Challenge. To compete, Ryan had five hours to compose a piece for three pretty weird instruments that was somehow suggestive of a board game he'd never heard of.

On this episode of The Spark: Charlottesville literary journal Streetlight Magazine, began life in print, then morphed into an on-line presence. Martha talks with editor Trudy Hale about the challenges presented by this change in format.

On this episode of The Spark: Martha learns how Trudy Hale transformed an isolated antebellum wreck in Nelson County into "The Porches", a writing retreat on the James River.

Bob Adamek

Sep 18, 2015

On this episode of The Spark: Mostly employing the Just Do It method, Bob Adamek went from being a working musician, to being a working high-end cabinet maker, to being a working photographer.

On this episode of The Spark: The late Mack Swift, State two-time tall-tale-telling champ. 

On this episode of The Spark: Recent college graduate Danny DeMarais talks about his very business-like plans to make his band Too Indecent into his career.

On this episode of The Spark: Renard Turner came to Louisa County in 1996 for two reasons: to work at the University of Virginia hospital and to work towards establishing a sustainable lifestyle on his 94-acre Vanguard Ranch. So, how’s he doing?

Shawnna Miller

On this edition of The Spark: JMU Graphic design Professor Trudy Cole’s special relationship with special needs horses.

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