13: Baylen Leonard; Tennessee Trailer Parks, Changing Times in New York and Spreading the Country Music Love Around the World - The Big Travel Podcast

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April 17 , 2018

13: Baylen Leonard; Tennessee Trailer Parks, Changing Times in New York and Spreading the Country Music Love Around the World

Not making it big on Broadway might have been frustrating for Baylen Leonard at the time but it was the UK’s gain as, despite having grown up in relative poverty in the Tennessee foothills, he’s now a well known radio presenter, DJ and broadcaster based in London, well known for having been an integral part of the popular Danny Baker’s team on BBC Radio London, and spreading the country music love around the world. He’s also on first name terms with Dolly Parton, now that to anyone is better than any Broadway part. 


On this episode we cover:

His hybrid accent

East Tennessee

The great Smokey Mountains

The Appalachian Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains

Bristol Tennessee

The town that lies between two states

State Street

Extreme wealth and poverty

The coal industry

Growing up in a trailer park

Whether it is okay to use the term ‘hill billy’

Wearing the hill billy badge with pride

Farming communities

‘the worst kind of American poverty’

Having a great childhood

The trailer park community

Moving away age 18

Standing out at school

School bullies

Not learning to swim

Life lessons from poverty

High school

Virginia High

Being at the ‘really poor rural high school’

How his life was changed by local community theatre  

Being accepted to theatre school in New York

Working in a factory to save money

Making drill bits on a production line

The sisters who would drive from Tennessee to Vegas

How they inspired him to leave

Arriving in New York at the age of 18

The craziness of New York in the 90s

Mayor Giuliani

Stealing books from the library

Bad guide book advice

The unexpected noise of the city

Not liking silence

Loving sky scrapers

Leaving New York for London

Wondering why the hell he had moved

Not becoming a Broadway star

A fascination with the UK

A lucky encounter with a radio producer at a party

Voice overs at BBC Radio 1

Blagging his way into BBC Radio London

Working with Danny Baker

Becoming a big part of the Danny Baker show

Amy Lamee

Americans on the radio

Giving back by helping other people out

Class divide

Badly paid work

Danny Baker’s last show flouncing

What it’s like living as an American in London

George W Bush

A surprise anti-American vibe

Differences between Britain and America

You say tomato, Baylen still stays tomato

London v New York

The Tube v the Subway

London as a ‘big churning animal’

Cracking the London code

Loving to travel

Returning to Nashville

Not having been to Australia or the Far East

Amsterdam, Prague, love of Spain

Plans to visit Mexico

Meeting Dolly Parton

Family vacations at Dollywood

Not liking country music growing up

Now focusing his career on country music

The festival, Nashville Meets London

The Long Road festival

Being thankful for where he is from