Away Message: A Podcast About North Carolina
Away Message is a podcast from Jeremy Markovich, originally produced at Our State magazine and now housed at the North Carolina Rabbit Hole. Over four years and more than forty episodes, Jeremy traveled across North Carolina to uncover remote places, lost artifacts, overlooked people, and forgotten stories.
North Wilkesboro Speedway is hosting the NASCAR All-Star Race, a quarter century after its last major event. Why did it sit empty for so long? And how did it finally reopen? In this episode, host Jeremy Markovich takes a look back as a historic place now looks toward a new future.
"Ghosts of North Wilkesboro" (2015) - SB Nation
"The Inside Story of How a Dead NASCAR Track Finally Reopened After 26 Years" (2022) - North Carolina Rabbit Hole
"A Night When Anything Was Possible" (2022) - North Carolina Rabbit Hole
Music via Blue Dot Sessions under a Creative Commons license.
Shortly after I moved to Charlotte in 2005, I became a Carolina Panthers fan because it was much better than being a fan of the Cleveland Browns. A few years later, I became the producer of the Panthers postgame show on a local television station. A few years after that, the production moved from the station to the stadium. It was there that I first heard a piece of information that I hadn’t actually considered before: The screaming panther sound—the noise that you’d hear during home games whenever the Panthers did something good like get a first down or make a third down stop—was not actually the sound that a real panther makes.
You can read more here.
Closing song: "Riverboat Ron" by Crab Claw
Host Jeremy Markovich sets his sights on Western North Carolina in search of the state's most remote spot.
We travel to a remote place, only a quarter-mile off of the North Carolina coast, that kept a Civil War shipwreck hidden for a century.
We go way up above the ground on a television broadcast tower, the tallest structure in North Carolina, to meet the surprisingly down-to-earth man who regularly climbs to the top.
The weather's perfect, but a power outage has driven all of the visitors and vacationers off of the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina. This week, people on Ocracoke Island talk about what happens when their tourist destination suddenly becomes off-limits to nearly everybody.
A trip into the Great Dismal Swamp reveals a lot of biting bugs, black water you can drink, and secrets about the runaway slaves who once called this remote place home.
A trip to a cemetery that's only reachable by boat reveals a story about progress, a national park, promises made, and promises broken. Along the way, we meet the woman who kept hope alive, and kept a sacred spot from being forgotten.
In this bonus episode, we talk about what we're left with after a brief, maybe once-in-a-lifetime event in North Carolina: A total solar eclipse. Plus, we gathered up the best reactions to the event.
Host Jeremy Markovich travels to Knotts Island, North Carolina -- a unique place with colorful characters -- where nobody can seem to agree about whether it's a remote place, or not.
In this episode, host Jeremy Markovich visits the small brass disc at the western edge of the state that's become a strange tourist attraction, and finds out how remote terrain caused all sorts of problems for the people who drew North Carolina's borders.
In the final episode of the season, host Jeremy Markovich tries to figure out whether his own home is a remote place by walking 14 miles from his house to his office. Along the way, he discovers the people and places that are overlooked from his car.
In this bonus episode, host Jeremy Markovich finally hears back from a guy who never returned his call, and gets the greatest excuse he’s ever heard. Plus, we find out what the future holds for this podcast.
Dr. Martin Luther King once gave a speech in Rocky Mount, North Carolina that energized the city and changed the lives of the people in attendance. Now, after more than 50 years, a forgotten recording of that speech has resurfaced, and the discovery is providing new insight into how one of the most important men in American history came up with his most iconic phrase. In this episode, we listen to the speech with some of the people who were there on that day it was first delivered in 1962, and find out how such an important artifact was lost… and found.
Listen to more excerpts of the speech and read a transcript here.
On Fontana Lake, in far western North Carolina, sit hundreds of floating cabins, meant for fishing and weekend getaways. But when the homes were threatened with removal, the owners banded together and took their fight to Washington, DC, where they found themselves in the middle of a debate over what private citizens can do on public property.
In this supersized episode, host Jeremy Markovich goes looking for Charlotte's original gold mines, and then gets inside a vault that's full of billions of dollars to understand how North Carolina's biggest city ended up being the place where the state stores its money.
What would happen if you stood in one state, then shot and killed someone in another? That scenario actually took place along the Tennessee-North Carolina border more than 100 years ago, and the murderer got away with it. But what's the real story? Host Jeremy Markovich spent months criss-crossing North Carolina to find answers that even the killer's family didn't know.
In this bonus episode, host Jeremy Markovich visits a majestic bridge that, for years, was never connected to any road, and finds out why its construction almost led to riots.
In 1961, a U.S. Air Force bomber crashed near Goldsboro, North Carolina, and the two thermonuclear bombs on board fell to the ground. Host Jeremy Markovich talks with the man who was sent to make sure those bombs didn't explode, and finds out why the Air Force left a crucial part of the weapon behind, somewhere below the surface.
In 1955, a dentist and five of his friends played a round of golf. They were black. The course was white-only. What happened next changed the course of one man's life, and in turn, helped integrate an entire town.
North Carolina's priceless copy of the Bill of Rights is kept out of sight in a secure underground vault, and for good reason: It was once stolen, hidden away for more than 100 years, then recovered in a spectacular FBI raid. In this extended episode, host Jeremy Markovich gets the inside story of how it all went down, directly from the people who were there.
In the finale of Season 2, host Jeremy Markovich takes a trip to a remote place he's been trying to visit for years: Frying Pan Tower, a decommissioned Coast Guard light station that sits far out in the Atlantic Ocean.
One month after Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina, we bring you three stories of strength, resilience, and perseverance in the face of the storm.
In this special holiday episode, host Jeremy Markovich meets the man from Gastonia who became the world's largest manufacturer of Christmas ornaments and used his power to make North Carolina more tolerant of all religions.
In 2001, some state lawmakers were engaged in a less-than-sweet debate: Which berry should be named the official berry of North Carolina? We tracked down the teacher and fourth-graders who started it all with a class project and got a lot more than they bargained for. Plus, meet the former state senator who voted against EVERY new state symbol. His reasoning says a lot about the things we pick to represent us.
On May 7, 2016, a man fell hundreds of feet down a mountainside, and ended up in a treacherous spot in North Carolina’s most rugged place. This is the story of a rescue that took hours and a recovery that took months, one that shows how unforgiving the wilderness can be, even for experienced hikers.
A woman from Mooresville, North Carolina became Mecklenburg County’s first Black nurse. Then she became a prolific and well-respected artist. Along the way, she got President Franklin D. Roosevelt to sit for her, and the relief sculpture she created looks very similar to the likeness that’s on the dime. Is it hers? Or is it a coincidence? Host Jeremy Markovich goes in search of the truth, and learns about the facts that matter, and the facts that don’t.
Christina Koch was once a kid growing up in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Now, she's living on the International Space Station. In this episode, we go back to school to find out how she turned her dream of becoming an astronaut into reality.
Curtis Johnson fell in love with music while growing up in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. But when he gave up his job as a disc jockey to support his family, he held on to his dream. Now, he puts on small house-style concerts in an out-of-the-way place, and the shows keep everyone coming back for more.
A New Yorker named Stephen Barcelo moved to a small town in northeastern North Carolina. Then he started seeing ghosts. Then bigfoot showed up. In this episode, we visit Littleton, go on a search for a hard-to-find creature, and find out what it really means to believe.
Davis Island wasn’t always an island. In the early 1900s, a hurricane cut a path through a peninsula that stuck out into Core Sound, separating a stately home from the mainland.
Years later, a man achieved his childhood dream of living in that home. What he found was peace and beauty, and a love story that came to him, in an isolated place, with an unexpected knock on his door.
We traveled to the North Carolina coast to tell the story of a remote island, a chance meeting, and a man who’s trying to save a special place from an uncertain future.
What do outsiders see when they look at North Carolina? In this bonus episode, host Jeremy Markovich turns to The Andy Griffith Show for answers, and talks to a woman who worked on the series, then moved to the real-life town that the fictional Mayberry was based on.
Jeff Postell was a 21-year-old police officer when he made an arrest in the middle of the night in a small North Carolina town. That arrest ended a five year manhunt for the Olympic Park Bomber, Eric Rudolph, and changed Postell's life in an instant. In this season finale, we track him down to find out what happened to the soft-spoken North Carolinian who brought in a notorious fugitive.
Season 4: The Mountains-to-Sea Trail
The new season of our award-winning podcast begins with some fairly basic questions. What is the Mountains-to-Sea Trail? How was it created? Who were the first people to hike the whole thing? And who would hike all 1,175 miles of it today? In this premiere episode, host Jeremy Markovich talks to the man who (accidentally) created it, as well as a llama wrangler who ended up doing something no one else had done before. We also meet several hikers, who are about to set out on their own journeys across the entire state of North Carolina: by foot, by bike, and by kayak.
On the first day of her trip across North Carolina on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, veteran Erin Brennan is making sense of new gear, new routines, and a new beginning with the help of Warrior Expeditions, a group that treats hiking like therapy.
What's it like to be with the one you love 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? In this episode, host Jeremy Markovich meets Aaron and Lexi Harris, a pair of newlyweds who experienced the highs and lows of hiking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail across western North Carolina.
When it comes to trail towns along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Elkin stands out. So how did a quiet place in the North Carolina foothills go trail crazy? We find out, thanks to the men who are building footpaths as fast as they can.
As Erin Brennan and Aaron and Lexi Harris pass the halfway point on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the path undergoes a dramatic shift from footpath to roadside. In this episode, we take a closer look at the parts of the MST that only attract the most intrepid hikers, and discover what it takes to bike and hike your way through a world built for cars.
In this episode, we travel to Roseboro, a small eastern North Carolina town that sits on the route of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail but doesn't actually have any good places to hike. Yet. We also meet the trail angels that hikers depend on to get to the end, and talk to a woman who's attempting to finish the MST in just 30 days.
As our Mountains-to-Sea Trail thru-hikers approach the end, one final challenge remains: A kayak trip down two of North Carolina's most well-known waterways. All will have to grapple with problems that could potentially stop them from reaching their final destination.