Starting 1998, as host of the rural, Appalachian region’s only hip-hop radio program “Lights Out,” Thousand Kites media artist Nick Szuberla received hundreds of letters from inmates recently transferred from distant cities into two new, local SuperMax prisons. The prisoners’ letters described racism and human rights violations, and Szuberla responded first by playing a game of chess with the prisoners over the air and through the mail (he lost), and then with artistic projects, including bringing hip-hop artists together with mountain musicians and organizing radio broadcasts for prisoners’ families.  Involving dozens of artists, volunteers, and friends the project continues to expand from the initial chess game.  Visit