Inside Appalachia

By West Virginia Public Broadcasting

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Inside Appalachia tells the stories of our people, and how they live today. Host Jessica Lilly leads us on an audio tour of our rich history, our food, our music and our culture. Watch Inside Appalachia videos Follow the Inside Appalachia podcast on Soundcloud here . Subscribe to the Inside Appalachia podcast here or click the red button below. Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with help from public radio stations in Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Episode Date
Appalachia’s Folkways: Handmade and Passing It On
This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear from Appalachians who have a knack for making things with their hands -- people who make the essentials of life in the old ways. “And when I sit down at one of those looms and I start creating a piece of cloth, I feel connected to the place of my ancestors, the people who have come before,” said weaver Jane Gilchrest.
Feb 15, 2019
Appalachia's Connection to the United Kingdom
For many people in central Appalachia, coal mining doesn't just mean jobs or the ability to earn a good living right out of high school. We’re also talking about identity and culture.
Feb 08, 2019
Inside Appalachia: Stories of Love, Friendship and Loss from StoryCorps
StoryCorps producers brought their mobile recording studio to Charleston, West Virginia, in fall 2019, and recorded more than 100 stories. These recording are between friends, co-workers and family members. StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. These recordings will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in the largest collection of oral histories in the world.
Feb 01, 2019
Inside Appalachia: EPA May List Minden, Government Shutdown Causes Delays
Two years ago, residents of Minden, West Virginia, asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do more testing and consider the town’s soil and water to be a health and environmental risk in need of another cleanup. Last September, residents received the news that, after analyzing new data, the agency proposed listing Minden on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). A final determination was supposed to happen this spring, but the partial government shutdown has pushed that back.
Jan 25, 2019
Stirring the Waters Inside Appalachia: How Drinking Water Systems Are Failing Rural Residents
For many families in parts of eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia, the absence of clean, reliable drinking water has become part of daily life. This week on Inside Appalachia we’ll hear from folks like Blaine Taylor, a 17-year-old resident of Martin County, Kentucky, who struggles to manage basic hygiene when his water comes out with sendiment in it.
Jan 18, 2019
Inside Appalachia: In-depth Look at Needle Exchange Programs Fighting the Opioid Crisis
The opioid crisis is one of the biggest public health challenges in our region today. One strategy that’s been proved to help curb the epidemic’s worst effects is to implement harm reduction programs. These generally offer a variety of services but the most controversial component is often the needle exchange. Just because something is proven effective, doesn’t mean the public has bought into the idea. This week we’re taking an in-depth look at needle exchanges -- and what they can mean for their surrounding communities.
Jan 11, 2019
Inside Appalachia: Some of Our Favorite Stories
To begin 2019, Inside Appalachia is taking a look back at some favorite stories. Not our favorite stories, but those of the show’s friend Adam Harris. Harris is the Executive Producer for West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Mountain Stage with Larry Groce. Pepperoni rolls have been called the unofficial food of West Virginia. They were invented here in the Mountain state. Legend has it they were originally made for coal miners to take underground in their dinner buckets - because the cured pepperoni didn’t spoil. Harris picked a trio of stories about pepperoni rolls, including an interview he did with his own mother about the first time he ever tried them himself. Before that story, though, Roxy Todd visits with a bakery that is credited with inventing the pepperoni roll and an author who wrote a book on the subject. What’s your favorite way to eat pepperoni rolls? Or if you’ve moved away, what do you do to satisfy your pepperoni roll cravings? Tell us your story on twitter at
Jan 04, 2019
Inside Appalachia: A Look at Religion with StoryCorps
To wrap up 2018, we're re-airing stories about faith and religion and their influence in Appalachia. We’ve teamed up with StoryCorps and Georgetown University’s American Pilgrimage Project for this episode. Each segment includes a StoryCorps-style interview where the participants are talking about life, faith and what it all means to them. We'll hear from a woman finds out how important her faith was to her after her father was injured in a mining accident. Adelina Lancianese is a West Virginia native and a producer at NPR Story Lab. She interviewed her 84-year-old grandfather. “It’s hard to keep the faith in situations like that. But you kind of have no other choice. It’s like you have your faith or you have nothing. And I’d rather have my faith than have nothing,” she said. We'll hear from a rabbi, who remembers the first time he visited West Virginia 30 years ago. Victor Urecki, the rabbi at B’nai Jacob Synagogue in Charleston, W.Va., was originally born in Argentina, but he found
Dec 28, 2018
Inside Appalachia: Traditions Make Holiday Season Special
This week we’ve put together a special holiday episode about seasonal traditions. Holidays in these mountains have always been meaningful. In Appalachia, it’s usually a time to go home, or to carry on traditions of home in a new way.
Dec 21, 2018
Inside Appalachia: The Farmington Mine Disaster, 50 Years Later
On Nov. 20, 1968, an underground explosion ripped through a West Virginia coal mine and killed 78 miners. Fifty years later, the local community still comes together the Sunday before the anniversary of the Farmington Mine Disaster to remember the men lost that day. Following the tragedy in Farmington in 1968, the widows of the families demanded safer working conditions and action from Congress. The disaster was one of the instrumental forces that led Congress to pass the 1969 Federal Mine Safety Law, also referred to as the Coal Act. This legislation was more comprehensive than any previous mine safety law. The Coal Act required two annual inspections of every surface coal mine and four at every underground coal mine. It also gave federal inspectors more authority in enforcing mine safety violations by issuing fines. And while mine fatalities haven’t stopped completely since the 1969 legislation, the number of deaths of miners has decreased dramatically. And with each passing decade,
Dec 14, 2018
Indie Pro-Wrestling, A Look Back: Inside Appalachia
This week on Inside Appalachia, we take another look at the world of independent pro-wrestling. While pro-wrestling is popular across the country and all around the world, the sport has a rich and storied history here in Appalachia. In this episode we’ll take a glimpse at the action, intensity, and drama (real-life and otherwise) that happens between the ropes. We’ll visit Madison, W.Va., where All Star Wrestling (ASW) draws hundreds of people to most matches and meet Gary Damron who organizes all of the shows. We’ll also talk the inimitable Rocky Rage, a professional wrestler from the area and his switch from local hero to bad guy. And we’ll learn why Tim Hagen, who used to wrestle under the name of Vance Desmond -- or Violent Vance Desmond, depending on whether he was the villain or the good guy -- decided to turn his passion for the sport into an opportunity to teach young wrestlers. We’ll also visit Oak Hill, W.Va., where a local TV station aired a weekly show called “Saturday
Dec 07, 2018
Another Look at Economic Development: Inside Appalachia
Since the War on Poverty in the 1960s, federal funds to help revitalize coal country have poured in from Washington, D.C. And in recent years, a new federal push has brought millions of dollars worth of funding to projects that are intended to create jobs and retrain people in coal country for work in other fields. There are also a number of state initiatives to help generate job growth. But have these projects worketd? In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll take a look back at an episode that aired earlier this year. It told the story of several programs that received federal funding to try to jump-start economic development in Appalachia through agriculture. We'll learm about an effort to grow lavender on a former strip mine, the challenges farmers face in West Virginia and the work of the West Virginia Community Development Hub nonprofit. View the original story to see more photos. Listen on SoundCloud. Music in this show was provided by Dinosaur Burps , Dog and Gun, Strictly
Nov 30, 2018
A Sense of What’s Possible: A Struggle to Stay Follow-Up
This week we’ll revisit an episode that originally aired earlier this spring about two young people who are learning farming as part of a workforce development program called Refresh Appalachia. We'll also get an update on where Colt Brogan and Crystal Snyder are today. The federal government has tried for years to encourage economic growth in this region, from President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty that launched more than 50 years ago to federally-funded retraining programs for displaced coal miners and their families. The Appalachian Regional Commission approved more than $150 million for economic development in 2017 alone. Crystal and Colt spent two and a half years as farming apprentices with Refresh Appalachia, a job-training program with the nonprofit Coalfield Development Corporation , based in southern West Virginia. The organization’s five apprenticeship programs teach skills like carpentry and solar panel installation, and participants can work toward their associate’s
Nov 23, 2018
Another Look At The Pope’s Long Con
This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll take a look back at a story we aired earlier this year. The story details the life of Kentucky politician and pastor Danny Johnson and the investigation that exposed a long line of questionable actions that preceded his rise to power. “ The Pope’s Long Con ” from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting has earned several national honors, including a Peabody Award . The five-part investigation revealed some shocking facts about Johnson’s personal life, including one account from a woman who alleges that he sexually molested her. On Dec. 12, 2017, a day after a print version of this report ran, Johnson held a press conference at his church, where he denied the accusations. A day later, he killed himself. For more information about this story, see the original post here . Listen on SoundCloud Glynis Board produced and mixed our episode this week. Roxy Todd edited this episode. Our executive producer is Jesse Wright . Molly Born is our web
Nov 16, 2018
Who's Telling Appalachia's Story? Appalachian Writers Discuss Their Work
On today’s show, we’ll hear from people who write novels, short stories and newspaper articles, each one telling Appalachia’s story in his or her own way.
Nov 09, 2018
Revisiting Mark Combs' Struggle to Stay: Headed Home?
On this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll take a look back at the story of Mark Combs — a comedian, an actor and dog owner moving from West Virginia across the country to chase big dreams. What could possibly go wrong? And we’ll get a new update on where he is now.
Nov 02, 2018
Werewolves, Panthers and Ghosts...Oh My, Appalachia!
On this special Halloween episode of Inside Appalachia, we’re doing something a little bit out of the ordinary for us—we’re suspending our disbelief. Telling and retelling stories is part of our Appalachian tradition. Long before TV or the Internet came along, a well-told tale was often how our ancestors entertained each other and kept the crisp chill at bay as the darkness of winter approached.
Oct 26, 2018
Changing Coal Communities and Overcoming Poverty in Appalachia
Jeannette Walls grew up poor in America. She wrote about it in her memoir "The Glass Castle," which has remained on the New York Times bestsellers list for more than eight years. She spent most of her childhood west of the Mississippi River, but her father, who was originally from West Virginia, eventually brought her family back to McDowell County, where she lived for four years. In this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll listen back to an interview Jessica Lilly did with Walls in 2017, just before the movie inspired by her book was released in theaters.
Oct 19, 2018
Appalachian Food: What Happens When Local, Traditional Foods Get Trendy?
The Inside Appalachia team is hitting the road and heading to Beckley for its first LIVE Listening Party the evening of Bridge Day. Join us for an evening of live interviews, videos, art and music. The event will be at the Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre in Beckley on Saturday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. -- and it’s free. Seating is limited, so don’t forget to RSVP .
Oct 15, 2018
The Tough Landscape of Economic Development: Inside Appalachia
Since the War on Poverty in the 1960s, federal funds to help revitalize coal country have poured in from Washington, D.C. And in recent years, a new federal push has brought millions of dollars worth of funding to projects that are intended to create jobs and retrain people in coal country for work in other fields. There are also a number of state initiatives to help generate job growth. But have these projects worked?
Oct 05, 2018