Cass Herrington

Morning Edition Host, Reporter

Cass Herrington is BPR's Morning Edition host and news reporter. Her reporting largely focuses on stories dealing with health, race, and immigration. 

Before joining BPR in 2019, Herrington spent nearly seven years writing, reporting and hosting for NPR stations in Illinois and Indiana. 

Her reporting has earned numerous awards, including the designations of best reporter by the Associated Press Broadcaster’s Associations in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

In 2015, Cass received a prestigious national Edward R. Murrow award for a show she produced about non-verbal teens with Autism who rely on iPads to communicate.

A Kentucky native, Herrington graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in journalism, international studies and Spanish. She's fluent in Spanish, loves to travel, and is a proud, bleed-blue Kentucky Wildcats fan. 

Herrington also co-hosts a podcast, called Skillet, about the intersection of food and memory.

Since BPR launched "The Porch" last summer, the news team has produced episodes centered on racial justice movements, policing, the insurrection on the US Capitol, all of this and more, while also navigating an unprecedented global pandemic. 

This episode is a little different.  We invited listeners to submit funny stories from the past year and compiled them into this episode and online. It’s a community gathering we’re calling “Viral Humor.” 

We’ve all felt it. The awkwardness of talking, or shouting, at a cashier through layers of masks and plexiglass. The toddler running around in the background of someone’s Zoom call. The stinging sensation of the gobs of hand sanitizer seeping into our chapped hands. 

This is not to say, of course, that the pandemic is funny. No, Covid-19 hurt, all of us. Many of us lost loved ones, struggled with isolation, lost our jobs, put dreams on hold. And it’s not over, we are very much still in this. 

But if this show aims to do anything, it’s say “hey, it’s okay if you’re not okay.” And it turns out, laughter -- a little comedy -- can help us cope. It’s the ultimate expression of human resilience. 

First up, we'll hear from an expert. David Perdue is an Atlanta-based comedian. He’s performed on Kevin Hart Presents: "Hart of the City" on Comedy Central and the Laugh Your Asheville Comedy Festival. He’ll be returning to Asheville later this month to perform with Modelface Comedy.

Then, we'll hear stories submitted by listeners, Moth Story Slam winner Alison Fields, and local therapists and songwriters M.E. Springelmeyer and Colton Sankey.

"Covid changed the way we perceive everything.  My "well this is different" moment happened in October. I'd had Covid that went into pneumonia.  I tested negative, so I wasn't shedding virus when I went to a small business in Hendersonville to pick up an order.  Of course, I was coughing my fool head off from the pneumonia.  Everyone was giving me stink eye. I assured them "don't worry, it's not covid, it's just pneumonia." Everyone nodded and went back to shopping, then we all started to laugh. What a world when "pneumonia" is GOOD news!"

- Collette Mak, Hendersonville

 

"Last fall I was checking out at a supermarket using the self-service aisle and I saw a man who seemed to be following all the precautions. He was masked and wore medical-type gloves. He was clearly aware of the CDC guidelines. He scanned his groceries and put them in the bagging area, then tried to open a plastic bag without success, so he pulled down his mask and licked a finger. I almost said something."

- Cecil Bothwell, Asheville

"Face masks often make it more difficult to understand each other’s words. This was vividly illustrated to me when I stopped at the customer service desk at my neighborhood Ingles grocery store to pick up some lottery tickets. I asked for “Two Powerball.” The nice young lady behind the counter handed me two packs of Pall Mall."

 

- Bob Woolley, Asheville

 "At 76, I was lucky enough to be one of the first Brevardians to receive the Covid-19 vaccination. On January 13th, one week after the insurrection at the Capitol, I entered the outside door to the Community Room of the Transylvania Regional Library and was vaccinated. As I walked to the recovery waiting area, I noticed two police officers, one sitting on each side of the door to the main part of the Library. I asked if they had just been vaccinated, and one of them replied, “No, we are here in case a mob of irate octogenarians storm the Clinic demanding the vaccine.""

Erskine Apartments
Cass Herrington / BPR News

Town Branch, also called Nasty Branch, is the longest creek that flows through Asheville. It’s also the most polluted. Environmentalists and residents of the Southside neighborhood are hoping to change that, and in the process, they’re also hoping to reverse the current of development in the city.

Tim Pierce / Creative Commons

The City of Asheville wraps up a series of public discussions about reparations on Thursday. The final of the three “Truth Telling” presentations looks to guide policymakers toward improving and healing areas where the city’s Black community has been disproportionately harmed. 

Cass Herrington / BPR News

On April 19th 1980, citizens of Asheville rallied to stop a swath of downtown from becoming a shopping mall. They tied together pieces of cloth and outlined the proposed 11-block development, calling it “The Wrap.” 

Preservationists and community activists are bringing back that same method to save a historic stretch of the Charlotte Street neighborhood. 

olde world christmas shoppe
Cass Herrington / BPR News

 

It’s been a week since the CDC announced fully vaccinated adults are no longer required to wear a mask.  In Asheville, businesses and customers are still figuring out whether they’re ready to let go of the mask.  

Creative Commons

 

Colleges and universities in Western North Carolina vary when it comes to deciding whether students should be required to get a Covid-19 vaccine before returning to campus in the fall. 

The Campaign for Southern Equality has made its “Trans in the South” directory fully available online. The resource is meant to help connect transgender individuals to gender-affirming legal and health services close to home. 

Matt Bush / BPR News

A group of protesters from last year’s racial justice marches is still waiting on a response from Asheville Police regarding a complaint alleging use of excessive force. 

The complaint filed by 20 individuals -- 19 of them anonymous -- alleges that Asheville police officers used unethical, even military-style tactics to disperse crowds during last year’s protests. 

Sean Davis / Creative Commons

 

Buncombe County has officially become the first Western North Carolina community to pass a ban on discrimination in the areas of employment and housing.

J Chong

Members of Asheville’s Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and supporters gathered downtown Saturday evening to remember victims of last week’s shooting in Atlanta. Mourners brought flowers, candles and flags to the steps of Pack Square.

Great Harvest Coop

 

The founding members of Great Harvest Coop are busy tilling the soil and applying for an LLC. Once they get the business up and running, they plan to sell their produce at local farmer’s markets, CSAs, and restaurants. 

NPR student podcast challenge
Illustration by Cass Herrington

Students in the Asheville area and beyond are hustling to meet the March 15th deadline to submit their entries for NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge. The annual contest invites students from across the country to put together a short podcast exploring any topic they’d like and provides training materials for classrooms. While winners get the chance to hear their piece on NPR, the initiative is also about skill sharing, collaboration and inspiring the next generation of audio storytellers.

Residential construction site in West Asheville
Cass Herrington / BPR News

For Patricia Iñiguez and her family, the pandemic was the final push to move out of their suburban West Asheville home and into the woods. 

Cass Herrington / BPR News

With the pandemic hitting Western North Carolina's Latino community harder than almost any other group, health care providers and advocates in Hendersonville are taking a more targeted approach to make sure these residents get the Covid-19 vaccine.

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A Republican state senator from Western North Carolina is proposing a measure that would force local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration agents. 

Cass Herrington / BPR News

A collaborative, community-based learning program organized during the pandemic aims to be a catalyst for education justice.

It’s called REGAL -- which stands for Relevant Education Grows All Learners. It’s a framework designed to support students of color by offering an inclusive learning space, led by adults in their own community. University of North Carolina Asheville professor Dr. Tiece Ruffin is one of the collaborators behind the effort.

 

  

 

Win McNamee / Getty Images

The insurrection at the US Capitol is driving a wedge in the Republican Party -- between those who are shying away from former Pres. Donald Trump and those who continue to support his false claims of fraud in last year’s election.  

Republican Accountability Project

 

Three new billboards around Asheville are calling for the resignation of Western North Carolina’s Congressman Madison Cawthorn.

Alex Brandon / AP Photo

On his first day in the Oval Office, Pres. Joe Biden swiftly signed executive orders aimed to reverse immigration policies established by his predecessor. Some of these actions are already being felt in North Carolina, but legal experts say many of Trump's policies still impact how cases are decided and who's allowed to remain in the country.

Student Podcast Challenge illustration
Illustration by Cass Herrington / BPR News

Welcome to the 2021 NPR Student Podcast Challenge! Blue Ridge Public Radio is inviting students grades 5-12 from across Western North Carolina to submit their podcasts to be shared with BPR’s listeners, and possibly, a national audience.  

We’re here to answer your questions and help facilitate hands-on classroom learning that teachers can incorporate into their lesson plans. Think of us as your friendly neighborhood radio nerds, ready to answer any questions that come up along the way.  

vigil candles
Creative Commons

At least one faith community in Asheville is gathering in prayer for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony. 

2021 is just two weeks old, and watching and listening to the news has been traumatic so far.  Coming off all that we experienced last year, each day right now can be more than a struggle.  How to cope?  BPR’s Cass Herrington spoke with Asheville therapist Omileye Achikeobi-Lewis. 

NPR's Student Podcast Challenge invites classrooms to put together a short podcast about any topic of interest and using simple tools – like the apps on your phone. It’s a competition, but also a fun, collaborative learning experience – and a chance to hear your work on NPR and member stations. 

Susanna Cerrato teaches third grade students at Ida B. Wells
Susanna Cerrato

Kids want to feel seen and included in conversations about the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol Wed. That's one of the takeaways heard in the classroom belonging to the Western Region's 2021 Teacher of the Year.

Cortina Jenelle Caldwell / Ade Project

Seven Black women in Asheville are offering up their personal stories in honor of Kwanzaa, the weeklong celebration of African-American heritage. 

Raul Saldaña
Cass Herrington / BPR News

Asheville PEAK Academy got a financial boost in its ongoing efforts to attract a diverse teaching staff. 

clock tower in Enka
Cass Herrington / BPR News

A historic clock tower in the Enka community will be spared from the wrecking ball. 

A  press release by the Greensboro based developer Samet Corp.  says plans are in the works to preserve  the 92-year-old tower. 

“All parties involved in the development of this area recognize the historic role the monument plays in Asheville’s history, and we would like the tower to stand for generations to come,” Brian Hall, director of development, said in a press release.

Preservationists are urging an historic clock tower in the Enka community of southwestern Asheville be saved.

Benedict Benedict / flickr/Creative Commons

The number of shooting incidents in Asheville is up compared to this time last year, according to the latest figures from the city police department.

Funeral limo picks up voter in Asheville
Cass Herrington / BPR News

A Black-owned funeral home in Asheville is sending out its fleet of limousines to pick up voters and drive them to the polls. 

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