Loretta Herring’s soothing words of encourage­ment are among the last heard by thousands at the end of each night. Her commentary lasts fewer than two minutes but delivers enough solace to relieve the worries of the day.

A Jefferson County, Alabama, Community Health Advisor for the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB, Herring 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 every evening with her “Kiss Moti­vational Moment.”

Loretta Herring delivers gifts to health care workers at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. (Photo submitted)Loretta Herring delivers gifts to health care workers at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. (Photo submitted)

For Herring, a nightly motivational segment on a Birmingham, Alabama, radio station was an unexpected, yet logical extension of her daily work as both a cancer sup­port and awareness advocate and as a minister. In recent months, Herring has been featured on “The Night Kiss,” a popular radio show on 98.7 Kiss FM.

Herring’s “Kiss Motivational Moment” offers listeners a short break from their daily stressors, which often include issues like 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 on the air in a recent segment while music played 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 where Kiss FM’s longtime eve­ning radio host Kim Moore, also known as “The Night Bird,” heard Herring and invited her to be a guest on the show.

“That was in July, and I did it every night that month,” Herring said. “So when July ended, I thought that would be it.”

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.”

For decades, Herring has done her best to find the most positive elements in what were often her most challenging experiences. Those challenges include personal tragedies, such as the loss of her mother to cancer, and then her own breast cancer diagnosis.

Breast cancer survivor and founder of the Cancer Awareness Network for Children, Loretta Herring promotes her organization at an event in 2019. (Photo submitted)Breast cancer survivor and founder of the Cancer Awareness Network for Children, Loretta Herring promotes her organization at an event in 2019. (Photo submitted)

Shortly after her mother’s death 22 years ago, Herring founded the Cancer Awareness Network for Children. 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, called 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 and then takes it home for further exploration.

To Herring, inspiration is everywhere. For example, she recalls a conversation with her grandson about the word "censorship," which gave her an idea for a “Kiss Motivational Moment.”

“I took that word, and in less than 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.”


This story originally ran in the September 2020 issue of Community Connections, the monthly newsletter of the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB.