Service to her community as a broadcaster while providing a link to the world and providing news of the happenings of the community has compelled Susan Bibb Burton to make her family-owned radio station, WCPM, the lifeline for many living in the Tri-City area of Harlan County.
A broadcaster and station manager since 2003, she values the role her small station has in reporting on the everyday happenings of the community. “Many times we are a lifeline for folks,” she said while sitting behind the control panel at the station located on the appropriately named Radio Hill in Cumberland.
Providing a link to the goings on of the area she is carrying on the family tradition started years earlier by her father George Bibb who started working at WCPM in the late 1950s and bought it 1988 operating it until his death.
Upon his passing in 2003, Susan was serving as a secretary for her father, working one day each week while caring for her husband, Mike, and their two sons, Brandon and Michael; but all that changed in a dramatic way upon the father’s death.
“I really had to learn the business on the run,” she said. “It was a tough time trying to keep things going and learning the business from the ground up. I wanted to keep the WCPM going, and I also wanted to continue the service to the community.”
She has persevered in grand style as the station has enjoyed much success under her direction. Always willing to lend a hand for the benefit of her beloved home, she is being honored as the Kingdom Come Swappin’ Meetin’ Honoree for the 51st installment of the arts and crafts festival which has become one of the oldest events of its type in the state.
Burton will be honored at a ceremony set for 11 a.m. on Oct. 3.
Carrying on the tradition first started by her father in the earliest years of the festival, she is being honored for her willingness to support and to promote the Swappin’ Meeetin’, working to advertise the event as well as providing live radio “remotes” or interviews during the festival. On the days of the Swappin’ Meetin’, she can be seen all over the festival site doing interviews with craftsmen, musicians and those in attendances, who often come from far and wide to enjoy the entertainment, food and fun of the event.
“Dad began covering the event in the early days of the Swappin’ Meetin’, and I have tried to carry on the tradition,” she noted. “In the old days, he would set up at a stationary location in front of Newman Hall, greeting folks and interviewing basically anyone who walked by. “Today, with new technology, I am free to wander freely across the campus and chat with many who are there to enjoy the sights and sounds of one of Kentucky’s great arts and crafts festival. I love the Swppin’ Meetin’ and the people of the area. I am happy to be a part of the community and happy to be able to contribute in any way I can.”
She is honored by the recognition of being named Swappin’ Meetin’ Honoree, but is quick to point out that she is only doing her job as a broadcaster, “keeping the listeners informed.”
Michael Corriston, the longtime director of the festival, said the tribute for Burton is only fitting. “Susan has worked so hard over the years helping us make the Kingdom Come Swappin’ Meetin’ a success,” he said. “Susan is there each year to report on the events and provides a link to those who are unable to be there. We of the Swappin’ Meetin’ Committee very much appreciate her and wanted to say thank you!”
Born in the Benham Hospital, she graduated from Cumberland High School and attended SKCTC, earning an associate’s degree. She married her high school “sweetheart” Mike. The couple’s two sons are with the Kentucky State Police as troopers, operating out of Post 10 and Post 13.