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Earlier this week, we shared with you our list of the most important stories we covered in 2022. These are the ones that we believe could — and should — change the way you see the world around you.
Those stories include our in-depth explanation of Tennessee’s new abortion laws, our investigation of the Riverchase housing complex and our series on police training.
More: From abortion to Arabic drivers’ exams, our most impactful work in 2022
But not everything we cover is so serious. Though journalists may have a reputation for being jaded people focused on society’s ills, in reality we can be quite fun. Honest! And that often comes from finding the levity in life.
So without further ado, we bring you 22 stories that made us smile this year. We hope they’ll give you some joy, too, as we head into 2023 together.
— Chas Sisk, senior editor & interim news director
Meet some of the ‘Super Fans’ who are dreaming of a championship at last for the Tennessee Titans
The Titans’ run at a second Super Bowl appearance came up short last January. But these fans show just how deeply the passion for football runs in Tennessee. (Samantha Max, Jan. 21)
A crackly recording from 1912 illustrates the importance of the Fisk Jubilee Quartet
Before there were CDs, tapes or vinyl, music was recorded on wax cylinders. Listen here to a recently unearthed wax cylinder of the Fisk quartet. (Paige Pfleger, Feb. 25)
‘This is church for some people’: After nearly two decades in business, Lipstick Lounge is a fixture of queer community
In one of the very first episodes of This Is Nashville, we visit one of the nation’s few remaining lesbian bars, Lipstick Lounge. Come for the karaoke; stay for the community. (Rose Gilbert, March 28)
Knoxville and Paris, France, make plans for Beauford Delaney’s art to get its due
Beauford Delaney was an associate of W.E.B. Du Bois, lifelong friend of James Baldwin and a respected painter in his own right. Yet he has been largely forgotten. The effort is underway to fix that in his hometown of Knoxville and his adopted home of Paris. (Ambriehl Crutchfield, April 6)
A Nashville neighborhood says goodbye to its ‘wonderful, old, crazy’ Piggly Wiggly
Small businesses come and go, but sometimes while it’s there, a store can form a connection to the people around it. The now-gone Piggly Wiggly on West End Avenue was one such place. (Juliana Kim, April 14)
Larkspur’s natural burial restores the land and returns the dead to their roots
It might seem odd to include a story about burial on a list of “joy” stories. But this story of a son reconnecting with his father through a natural burial ritual is sure to deepen your appreciation for life and the world around us. (Tasha A.F. Lemley, April 14)
Discover the doctors who cut a jazz-fusion collector’s item while they were studying at Meharry four decades ago
Talk about untold stories — how about the 1980 funk album, “Ultra/Sound,” by a band made up of doctors-in-training at Meharry Medical College? Headphones on for this one! (Jewly Hight, June 27)
One Fort Campbell veteran is on a mission to share the healing powers of flowers
We pay a visit to an Army Special Forces veteran who is spreading the gospel of gardening as a way of dealing with the post-traumatic stress of combat. (Blake Farmer, June 28)
Curious Nashville: How to say ‘Demonbreun’ and 4 other unusual Tennessee pronunciations
The Volunteer State’s unusual ways of saying seemingly ordinary names — Milan, anyone? — have flummoxed generations of newcomers. In this Curious Nashville piece, our local All Things Considered host has some fun with some of the most notorious pronunciations and gets to the bottom of how they were named.
(Marianna Bacallao, June 30)
How a Nashville actor and gospel singer is paying homage to Big Mama Thornton in the film ‘Elvis’
We lost Shonka Dukureh too soon, but before her passing this summer, the Nashville singer talked to our Morning Edition host about her big break playing Big Mama Thornton in the summer hit “Elvis.” (Nina Cardona, July 8)
Curious Nashville: How an ornamental tree led neighbors to their street’s hidden history
I’m not sure any story surprised me more than this Curious Nashville gem about strange, bonsai-like trees in North Nashville. How they got there is not only a lesson in horticulture; it’s a dance through the city’s history. (Damon Mitchell, July 20)
Weekend Adventure: Hiking the arid, colorful and endangered habitat of Middle Tennessee’s cedar glades
Sometimes, all you need to experience joy is to get away. In this piece, the first of three on this list, our local Morning Edition host takes us off the grid into a rare cedar glade in Long Hunter State Park. (Nina Cardona, July 22)
A summertime tagalong with Antioch’s Ice Cream Man
Our This Is Nashville host has been “riding shotgun” every other Friday to bring you a fresh perspective on the community from out in the field. It’s hard to decide which is the best, but this connection with the ice cream man is a delight. (Khalil Ekulona, July 28)
Middle Tennessee researchers are studying rare, wild ginseng in a secret location
The legend of ginseng is that it can’t be found; it can only show itself to you. A walk through the woods with an MTSU scientist suggests the story may be true. (Steve Haruch, July 28)
The country’s first Black-founded fair started in Middle Tennessee. Its legacy lives on from Gallatin to Detroit.
One of the joys of This Is Nashville has been the ability to dig deep into little-known aspects of Middle Tennessee history, including tracking down a fairground in Sumner County that was once home to the oldest Black-run county fair in the nation. (Rose Gilbert, Aug. 31)
‘Cashville’: How a ’90s nickname for Nashville became a nationally known brand
For a bit of newer history, we explore the history of the nickname “Cashville,” from its origins in the hustle ethos of ’90s hip-hop to the present day. (Damon Mitchell, Sept. 2)
Weekend Adventure: Heartbreak and trash hunks along the Harpeth River
This installment of our series takes us down the Harpeth River with one of our editors as she searches for a hidden tunnel and solace on a lazy, late summer day. (Julia Ritchey, Sept. 2)
Nashville’s local fair gives a taste of the old with a new flair, like fried Goo Goo
Who doesn’t have fun at the fair? Certainly, we do, whether it’s munching on fried chicken on a stick, taking a whirl on the merry-go-round or doing our best animal impression. (Ambriehl Crutchfield, Sept. 9)
Curious Nashville: How the city became a destination for Kurdish families, and how the community is evolving
It’s become common knowledge that Middle Tennessee is home to one of the biggest Kurdish communities in the world, but how did this come to be? We share the story, with plenty of tidbits to surprise even those who think they already know it. (Alexis Marshall, Sept. 9)
Weekend Adventure: Taming high-flying kites at Mill Ridge Park
The final installment in our series takes listeners to Antioch for a day in Nashville’s newest regional park with our special projects editor. (Tony Gonzalez, Oct. 6)
Let’s go girls! Take an inside look onboard a Nashville bachelorette party bus
If you’ve spent any significant time in Nashville, you’ve seen a party bus from the outside. In this piece, the This Is Nashville crew takes us inside (or rather, atop) the bus to see what the party looks like from there. (Rose Gilbert & Andrea Tudhope, Oct. 21)
‘Everybody’s got an Exit/In story’: Remembering a Music City proving ground as it plays its last shows
The venerable nightclub Exit/In closed its doors for good in late November, but not before its owner reminisced about the great artists and bands that have passed through. (Marianna Bacallao, Nov. 18)
Not had enough joy? Here are several more stories we loved in 2022.
Filed Under: WPLN News
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Chas joined WPLN in 2015 and became an editor in 2018. Previously, he covered state politics for Nashville Public Radio and The Tennessean, and he’s also reported on communities, politics and business for a variety of publications in Massachusetts, New York and Washington, D.C. Chas grew up in South Carolina and attended Columbia University, where he studied economics and journalism.