Bob Powell

Radio Operations Director

Bob is West Virginia Public Radio's Morning Edition host and the Radio Operations director. He first worked for WV Public Radio in 1986 as a part-time announcer, and later returned to host jazz music programs and manage on-air operations in the 1990's.  A graduate of Alderson-Broaddus and Marshall Universities; he taught Speech, Broadcasting, and Rhetoric at Alderson-Broaddus University, West Virginia State University, and WV Institute of Technology of WVU. Bob served 21 years in the Army National Guard, and served oversea in Bosnia and Iraq.

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e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia Division of Tourism / David Fattaleh

  On March 30, 1838, Marshall Academy was incorporated in what is now Huntington. The school had been established the previous year as a private school to educate the children of farmers in the region. The first classes were held in a small log church on the knoll where Marshall’s Old Main building now stands. In 1858, the Virginia Assembly granted college status to Marshall. However, the school closed its doors a little more than two years later when the Civil War began.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Statesman Cyrus Vance was born in Clarksburg on March 27, 1917. After serving as a navy gunnery officer during World War II, he became an attorney in New York City. His first government post was as a special counsel to then-Senator Lyndon Johnson’s committee on space and aeronautics. In this role, he helped write the law that created NASA.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / via West Virginia State Archives

Governor William Marland was born in Illinois on March 26, 1918. When he was seven, his family moved to Wyoming County. After graduating from WVU Law School, he quickly moved up the political ranks. He was appointed state attorney general and, in 1952, was elected governor at age 34.

West Virginia Division of Culture and History / State Archives

Broadcaster Harry Brawley died on March 25, 1992, at age 82. The Charleston native was a polio survivor. He eventually learned to walk but struggled with it his entire life. After earning two degrees from West Virginia University, Brawley became a teacher. At Charleston High School, he had the novel idea of incorporating the radio into the classroom. In 1945, he became the director of public affairs for Charleston’s WCHS radio station and won an award for his “School of the Air,” a pioneering program for high schoolers.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Statehood leader Francis Pierpont died on March 24, 1899, at age 85. He was born near Morgantown in 1814 and raised for part of his childhood in Marion County. As a young adult, he was as an attorney for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and a pioneer coal operator.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Brett McMillan / US Department of Defense

On March 23, 2003, Private Jessica Lynch of Wirt County was captured by Iraqi forces. Soon, Lynch would be a household name throughout the nation.

Two years earlier, the 18 year old had joined the Army to earn money for college. Just days after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, her convoy was ambushed by Iraqi forces, and her Humvee was wrecked. Lynch was seriously injured and then captured.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Musician Frank Hutchison was born in Raleigh County on March 20, 1897. As a child, he moved to Logan County, where he encountered blacks who had migrated from the Deep South to work in the southern West Virginia coalfields. After listening to the music all around him, Hutchison started merging the blues with traditional Appalachian mountain music. He also developed a distinct style, featuring his slide guitar and high-pitched vocals.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / via West Virginia State Archives (WVSA), Coal Life Collection

The West Virginia Mine Workers Union was founded on March 19, 1931. It was a radical alternative to the United Mine Workers of America, known as the UMWA. The new union was the brainchild of Frank Keeney, who had been a key UMWA leader during the West Virginia Mine Wars.

After the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain, UMWA national president John L. Lewis began exerting greater control over local union matters. The year after the battle, Keeney had agreed to a temporary wage cut for miners. Lewis used the wage cuts as an excuse to fire Keeney.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On March 18, 1932, convicted mass murderer Harry Powers was executed at the West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville. The story of his grisly murders unfolded in late 1931, with lurid details that sounded more like a pulp fiction novel than reality.

Over time, the Clarksburg resident had been scamming untold wealthy women through lonely hearts club magazines. When his lies started catching up with him, he murdered two of the women: Dorothy Lemke of Massachusetts and Asta Eicher of suburban Chicago. He also killed three of Eicher’s children. The victims were found at a garage owned by Powers in Quiet Dell, south of Clarksburg.

WVSU campus in Institute, W.Va.
Steve Shaluta / W.Va. Department of Commerce

On March 17, 1891, the West Virginia Legislature established the West Virginia Colored Institute eight miles west of Charleston. It was one of the nation’s original 17 black land-grant colleges.

The school’s initial purpose was to teach trades, but the academic and teacher education programs quickly grew popular. Under the leadership of John W. Davis, the school became one of the country’s most-respected black colleges. Davis was able to recruit some of the nation’s best educators, including Carter G. Woodson. Other faculty members were nationally known artists, musicians, and scientists. In 1927, the school became regionally accredited—the first of the original black land-grant colleges to achieve this status. Two years later, the school’s name was changed to West Virginia State College.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / via Michael Keller

On March 16, 1742, John Peter Salling and four others started out from Natural Bridge, Virginia, on a trip to explore the Mississippi River. Their goal was to strengthen England’s claims to western lands.

Salling kept a journal of the trip, including his trek through what is now southern West Virginia. When they reached the New River, they built a boat and covered it with buffalo hides. They followed the New River until it became too treacherous. Then, they cut overland and found another stream. While traveling downriver in present Boone County, Salling documented the region’s massive coal outcroppings in his journal. Many historians give Salling credit for naming this stream Coal River. Next, the explorers followed the Kanawha and Ohio rivers to the Mississippi, which they reached in June. The next month, they were captured by a band of Indians, blacks, and Frenchmen. The prisoners were transported to New Orleans and held as spies.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

  On March 13, 1756, the beleaguered Sandy Creek Expedition came to a halt. The French and Indian War campaign had been initiated by Virginia’s governor in response to Indian raids in the New, Greenbrier, and Tygart valleys. In the most famous of these raids, Shawnee Indians kidnapped Mary Draper Ingles, who later escaped captivity and walked hundreds of miles back home.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On March 12, 1850, Wheeling Hospital was chartered. Founded by Catholic Bishop Richard Whelan and Dr. Simon Hullihen, it was the only medical facility of its kind between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

In 1856, the hospital moved to the mansion of Michael Sweeney in North Wheeling. It would remain at this location for the next 119 years. In 1864, the U.S. Army took over the facility and used it to treat wounded Civil War soldiers. Both Union and Confederate troops were cared for side by side.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / via Davis & Elkins College

Politician and industrialist Henry Gassaway Davis died on March 11, 1916, at age 92. As a young man, he’d been a brakeman on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. He invested his savings and his wife’s inheritance in cheap, undeveloped land in what is now West Virginia. The timber and coal resources on that land eventually made Davis one of the state’s richest men.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On March 10, 1920, West Virginia became the 34th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Months later, the amendment became law, guaranteeing all women in the country the right to vote.

The fight for women’s suffrage was a longtime coming in West Virginia. In 1867, a Pocahontas County state senator introduced a resolution endorsing suffrage. But the legislature voted it down. Support for the issue lagged until the 1890s, when suffrage clubs became popular in northern West Virginia, especially in Wheeling and Fairmont.

Appalachian Regional Commission

  On March 9, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill creating the Appalachian Regional Commission, known as the ARC. The agency’s goal was to bring impoverished areas of Appalachia into the mainstream American economy. While the ARC serves parts of 13 states, West Virginia is the only one that lies entirely within the boundaries of Appalachia.

ARC programs fall into two main categories. An area development program provides funding to generate jobs and economic growth. Most West Virginians, though, are more familiar with the second category. The ARC’s Appalachian Development Highway System has built a network of roads to connect isolated areas that were bypassed by the interstate highway system. It originally featured 23 corridors, identified alphabetically. West Virginia’s road system includes Corridors D, E, G, H, L, and Q. The Corridor L project also produced the spectacular New River Gorge Bridge on U.S. 19 in Fayette County.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Design by Joseph H. Diss Debar

  Joseph H. Diss Debar was born in France on March 6, 1820. He immigrated to the United States at age 22. On his voyage across the Atlantic, he happened to meet and become friends with author Charles Dickens.

Diss Debar eventually wound up in Parkersburg as a land agent. For 29 years, he lived in either Parkersburg or the Doddridge County community of St. Clara, which he founded for German-Swiss immigrants. During this time, he sketched numerous people and scenes, providing some of our best images of life on the western Virginia frontier.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

  On March 5, 1963, country music star Hawkshaw Hawkins was killed in a plane crash in Tennessee. Born in Huntington in 1921, Hawkins got his start in music after trading five trapped rabbits for his first guitar. In the late 1930s, Hawkins performed on radio stations WSAZ in Huntington and WCHS in Charleston before joining the Army. During World War II, he fought in the Battle of Bulge and earned four battle stars in 15 months of combat.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Library of Congress

On March 4, 1866, Alexander Campbell died at age 77. A native of Ireland, he immigrated to America in 1809 and settled in present-day Bethany two years later. During his lifetime, he was variously a preacher, philosopher, author, scholar, publisher, orator, and sheep farmer. He’s best remembered, though, for two lasting contributions.

First, he helped found the Disciples of Christ. Today, the Christian Church—as it’s commonly known—is one of the largest Protestant denominations ever founded in America. Then, in 1840, he established Bethany College and served as its president until his death. Today, Bethany is the oldest degree-granting institution in West Virginia.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Ohio University Press, publishers of Ancella R. Bickley & Lynda Ann Ewen, eds., "Memphis Tennessee Garrison: The Remarkable Story of a Black Appalachian Woman" (Athens, 2001)

Teacher and civic activist Memphis Tennessee Carter was born in Hollins, Virginia, on March 3, 1890. Her father, a former slave, was a coal miner who moved his family to southern West Virginia when Memphis was a child. She eventually married a coal company foreman and became Memphis Tennessee Garrison. She graduated from Bluefield State College at age 49 and taught school in McDowell County. Serving also as a welfare worker for the U.S. Steel Corporation, Garrison helped settle racial disputes, counseled black miners and their families, and developed cultural and recreational opportunities in the town of Gary.

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