The Heartland Series

Bill Landry in Brasstown

Did you ever watch the tv show-The Heartland Series? The show started in 1984 and ran for 25 years on channel WBIR in Knoxville TN. The series showcased local history, fauna, wildlife, stories, interesting characters-and everything in between.

When I was growing up we got 3 tv channels. I should say on a good day we got 3 channels-we always got 2-WYFF from Greenville SC and WLOS from Asheville NC. Most of the time we got the 3rd channel-NC Public TV. Every once in a while we could get a channel out of Chattanooga TN.

Somehow-I remember watching The Heartland Series a few times on tv-how I haven’t a clue. Maybe the NC Public channel rebroadcast a few of the programs-or maybe the Chattanooga channel did? I don’t know the answer to that mystery-but I do know I enjoyed the few Heartland Episodes I watched back then-and I’ve surely enjoyed the ones I’ve seen since then.

Doug Mills and Bill Landry come to Brasstown

Last fall, Bill Landry-host of The Heartland Series and Doug Mills-videographer of The Heartland Series came and spent the day with me.

It was a beautiful October day-one of those days where the sky is such a crisp blue that the difference between it and the color of the mountains makes your heart sing. I showed them around Martins Creek then we headed over to Brasstown.

Clogging at clays corner in brasstown

We stopped by Clays Corner for a bite of cornbread and watched 2 cloggers give their banjo player a hard time (I’m sure you recognize Chatter and Chitter-the talented musician accompanying them is Brasstown’s own JD Robinson)



Bill and Doug were 2 of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Before they arrived, I wondered more than once what Bill Landry would be like-I mean he’d been on tv for 25 years-I wondered if he’d think my little blind pig endeavor was silly or if he’d be full of egotistical advice?

My worries were totally unfounded. Bill was down to Earth-he was genuinely interested in everything about my area of Appalachia-and he was humble-admitting he didn’t know much about the history of Appalachia-he just knew he loved sharing a good story with others and that was what he’d done for the 25 years he hosted The Heartland Series.

At the end of a long-but enjoyable day Bill gave me a copy of his book-Appalachian Tales & Heartland Adventures. For anyone who was fan of The Heartland Series-the book is a must read. Its full of behind the scene stories from Bill’s favorite episodes. Reading the book will give you a new appreciation for the show-the handful of folks who worked on making it happen each week-really worked. They did everything-and I mean everything from lugging around the equipment to editing. The book shows the series was truly a labor of love.



You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    June 5, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    I’ll bet that visit was just as interesting and fun for you as it was for Mr. Bill Landry!!!

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    May 27, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    I met Mr. Landry, too! Several years ago, he did a story on The Front Porch in Cosby, Tn. We were thrilled he selected us to come visit & were anxious for weeks! What would he think of our little corner of the world? Would he like us? Would we like him? Would I be able to work around all those folks just dying to be on TV???? Well, he loved our little corner of the world, liked us, we liked him, & yes, it is impossible to work around 100 (& more)people just dying to be on TV!! Sadly, Aline retired this weekend after 32 years of bringing the best local bluegrass to our mountains. She is over 80 & just can’t do it anymore. I am weepy & nostalgic about it, and I don’t know how you read my mind so often, Tipper. Somehow you manage to bring up a topic that’s on my mind. Thank you so much for bringing back a very treasured memory! Oh, no, crying again, but in a very good way-

  • Reply
    José Luis
    May 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Me entretiene mucho la lectura de acontecimientos referidos a la cultura de los Apalaches, saludo muy cordial desde Buenos Aires Argentina, Dios los bendiga, JL.

  • Reply
    May 25, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    The program name seems vaguely familiar, but I can’t remember ever seeing it. Wish I had.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    May 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Yes I remember that show, it was a good one..They don’t make them like that anymore..

  • Reply
    May 25, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Marianne-I am so sorry for your loss. I had missed Kents comments, but did not know of his passing. Im glad you got to meet Mr. Landry too-and that you both got to enjoy the shows. My thoughts will be with you.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    May 25, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Don-no as far as I know there isnt any plans to bring back the series. But hopefully theyll come up with something to replace it!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    May 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I remember the days of T.V. antennas, when we only got a few channels. I also remember how excited everyone was when our town got cable. It was a big deal because now we got eight channels! How times have changed!
    Loving good stories the way I do, I went to the WBIR archive to see what I could see. I clicked on the Rindy Baily story and was tickled to see the sponser was none other than American Standard. I happen to live in the tiny Ohio town where they were established and incorporated. Small world!
    The story was great, very moving, and I look forward to watching the rest of them. Thanks for sharing such a gem!

  • Reply
    sandy kalvaitis
    May 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    About 3 1/2 years ago when I first moved to east TN I found the Heartland Series on TV one night and was so happy. I can still find it sometimes but I couldn’t tell you what time or channel. But I can tell you that my favorite episode I have seen was with a woman making grit bread. When my grandpa was alive he used to make it sometimes and I am drooling right now thinking about it. Another thing he made was parched corn and those things you get at the gas station point in that direction but are not even close to what I ate sitting on his lap. I miss him so much.

  • Reply
    May 25, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Years ago before there was Cable
    or satelite TV in our area, my
    oldest daughter and I got a bounce
    of a Knoxville station, channel 6
    I think. We probably watched those
    guys some, but the thing that has
    made an impression on me is your
    interest to share your heart and
    compassion for our Appalachia. I’d
    bet they went home with a smile,
    knowing their work would continue.

  • Reply
    Kent Lockman
    May 25, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Hi Tipper,
    My husband, Kent Lockman,so enjoyed your blog and sent several comments. He passed away in February suddenly, and on our 40th wedding anniversary Wednesday, I celebrated our love for the first time alone. We are northerners from Indiana but our hearts have always been in the mountains of Appalachia. When Kent discovered The Heartland Series, he slowly bought every video. Then we started buying them for my 92 year old father. Last fall we were at The Homecoming at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, TN and met Bill Landry. What a pleasure! We bought 2 books and he autographed both very personally.
    Again, thank you for sharing your southern memories with those of us who didn’t have the good fortune of living in God’s country. Marianne Lockman

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    May 25, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Oh, Tipper!!!! We LOVED that series and thank you so very much for letting us know that we can get the archives. How wonderful that you could spend time with Bill Landry, too! I often wish they would do more shows with updates to the older ones (kinda like Texas Country Reporter). Maybe they would consider doing a similar show with a certain FEMALE host…

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    May 25, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I ordered from WBIR the Heartland episode entitled “The Civil War Letters of W. C. Penland”. Tipper, you know of my interest in W. C. Penland and it is thanks to Blind Pig that I ever knew about my great-great-great-Uncle’s letters to my great-great-grandparents, Harvey Monroe Penland and Patience Mahalia Moore Penland.
    By the way, I recently read that Patience’s father, John Moore, was the first white settler in what is now Clay County, NC.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    May 25, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Sorry to say, I did not watch any Heartland Series. I have the feeling that it was interesting. We had TV when I was about seven/eight, so the luxury was slow in coming. I don’t remember how many stations we received in the city, but I remember watching Captain Video and Farmer Gray.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 25, 2012 at 9:10 am

    You know how much I love the Heartland Series….We even change channels so we can watch it again…I am so glad you got to meet Bill Landry….
    I hope your neck of the woods will be on a show soon….
    We all know you are doing a great job with all your work preserving our Appalachian heritage…
    Thanks Tipper….

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 25, 2012 at 8:36 am

    We got channel 4 out of Greenville and 7 from Spartanburg. We got sound from Asheville but no picture.
    The Heartland Series sounds like my kind of television.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    May 25, 2012 at 8:28 am

    How lucky are you to have spent time with Mr. Landry! I cannot remember how I watched his show way back when, but I loved it and watched it religiously. What interesting places he took us to. Now, even with satellite dish, I can’t find it anywhere, and never thought of going to WBIR. Thanks for that input Tipper and I’ll also be ordering his book. Interesting post!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    May 25, 2012 at 8:07 am

    The Heartland series was done with style and obvious affection for the people they interviewed. I see this as nothing other than really good for you.
    But you left us hanging. WHY did they come to see you? I had thought that Heartland series wasn’t still in regular production. Are some new ones in the offing, and more importantly, is there going to be one on your work?

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    May 25, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I have had the pleasure of working with Bill, Doug,and Steve Dean on a number of Heartland shows. I did the Battle of Mossy Creek, one called “13” a Halloween special. I was a Confederate ghost. One on the Battle of Fort Sanders, a documentary for Legacy Parks Foundation and the Battle of Armstrong Hill, one called a Christmas Furlough, and one recently on a documentary on the Civil War around Cumberland Gap. These gents are excellent to work with. It’s an honor to know them. My picture is in the book you you listed, when we gathered at the Museum of Appalachia. I’m in the front row with the folks who had participated in Heartland shows and watching the guys split rails. What a great experience. Glad you were able to meet these guys. They are a treasure, like the show.

  • Reply
    May 25, 2012 at 7:28 am

    That’s fantastic Tipper! And I’m not surprised!I hope he was duly impressed!
    Tell Chitter and Chatter to keep the pressure on JD. I’m sure he handled it well!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    May 25, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Lordy, Mercy! Do we know about Mr. Bill and his ‘Heartland Series’ which still runs daily I reckon on our local TV programs. Everybody – as far as I know – loves the program. Here in Oak Ridge we have more farners than you can count – FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD – so they need this ‘education’ and information about mountain folks. Of course they will never become mountain folks BUT they wear their overalls and broganns down to the grocery store and try to tak like us. Some even pretend like they are ‘local’ but I know better!
    Thanks for a wonderful reminder that our past is so important in our lives!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    May 25, 2012 at 4:34 am

    Okay……’s 4:32 am and this is the going on 72 hr with about 6 hours sleep. Regardless, I have GOT to start proofing before I publish!! None of it made any sense to me – and I wrote it. Unwind.And.get. some sleep Sorry for the garbled up mess I posted….”bless my heart…lol

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    May 25, 2012 at 4:30 am

    I’ve never met him – but watched the show so faithfully, it was as if he was “one of the family,” A true gem (and loved his April Fool’s shows…LOL) Congrats to you!! Will get into back to you regarding cds in a couple of days….had extensive testing done today in Knoxville that “plum tuckered me out” AND I got mixed up when Memorial Day is this year . I have to where my immediate family are buried and decorate there, up the road toward Surgoinsville and decorate a few there, esp my college roommate’s grave. And then……on out to the county where 3 cem. are waiting for us – and it’s Decoration Day. Then in June – 3 more cemem. so I’ve to hustle and find some nice flowers for a zillion ppl that don’t bankrupt us — it ‘s with the expense though – not only is my way of showing respect but to show respect for all the hardships those pioneers of Hawkins County. Whew!! got to get on the ball!!

  • Leave a Reply