Loretta Herring’s soothing words of encouragement are among the last heard by thousands at the end of each night. Her commentary lasts less than two minutes but delivers enough solace to relieve the worries of the day.
Herring, a Jefferson County community health adviser for the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB, is used to speaking at church gatherings and community events large and small. Still, she never expected to become a welcome presence in cars and homes each night with her “Kiss Motivational Moment.”
For Herring, the nightly segment on 98.7 Kiss FM was an unexpected, yet logical, extension of her daily work as both a cancer support and awareness advocate and as a minister. Herring in recent months has been featured on “The Night Kiss,” a popular longtime show on the Birmingham radio station.
Herring’s moments offer listeners a short break from daily stresses that include the current health crisis, social unrest and economic uncertainty.
“Did you know the plan for you to walk into your destiny is in place just waiting for you?” Herring said in a recent segment with music playing behind her. “Sometimes, things happen to derail us or blur out our vision, and life just doesn’t look like where you are going. But the key to success is locked inside you.”
It was during a prayer breakfast that “The Night Bird,” Kiss FM’s longtime evening radio host Kim Moore heard Herring and invited her to be a guest on the show.
“That was in July, and I did it every night that month. So when July ended, I thought that would be it,” Herring said.
She’s still on the air.
“I have been encouraged that I’ve been able to empower people through these motivational talks,” Herring said. “I didn’t know it was going to turn out like this.”
Herring for decades has done her best to find the most positive elements in what were often her most challenging experiences. Those challenges included personal tragedies, such as the loss of her mother to cancer and then Herring’s own breast cancer.
Shortly after her mother’s death 22 years ago, Herring founded the Cancer Awareness Network. The group assists local cancer survivors with financial, transportation and housekeeping needs.
“I have tried to use everything that has happened in my life to help other people,” Herring said. “That’s how the nonprofit organization started, from the pain of my mother’s demise. Now since my own diagnosis, I‘ve been working with organizations all across the state to help cancer patients improve their lives while dealing with this disease.”
Herring later founded another organization, Sorrow to Joy, after the unexpected death of her husband. Both support groups continue to meet weekly, now through Zoom.
When it comes to her daily inspiration, Herring writes down whatever word or phrase that gives her an idea, then takes it home for exploration. For Herring, inspiration is everywhere. For example, a conversation with her grandson about the word “censorship” gave Herring an idea for a Motivational Moment.
“I took that word, and in less 10 minutes I had already written my speech about setting boundaries and censoring things that come into our environment that we don’t need to invite in,” she said. “I’ve never done this before and I’m just honored to have this platform.”
A version of this story originally appeared on the website of UAB’s O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center.