Bob Powell

Radio Operations Director

Bob is West Virginia Public Broadcasting's 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 / Courtesy of E. I du Pont de Nemours & Company, Belle

  On April 1, 1926, the DuPont plant at Belle produced North America’s first ammonia made from a high-pressure process. A few years before, chemical giant E. I. DuPont had decided to build an ammonia plant, using technology developed by Germany during World War I. The technology consisted of giant mechanical compressors, called ‘‘hypers,’’ which generated up to 15,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. In 1925, DuPont started construction of its new hyper-pressure plant in the eastern Kanawha County town of Belle.

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 / 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.

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 / 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 / via Earl Benton

  On February 26, 1972, a coal mining dam collapsed at the head of Buffalo Creek in Logan County. Over the next three hours, 132-million gallons of black water raged down the hollow. The deluge obliterated or badly damaged 17 communities and claimed the lives of 125 people, including entire families. The disaster also injured 1000 people and left 80 percent of Buffalo Creek’s residents homeless.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / via Doug Chadwick / Goldenseal

  Newspaperman Jim Comstock was born in Richwood on February 25, 1911. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he returned to his hometown and established the Richwood News Leader. Then, in 1957, he founded the legendary West Virginia Hillbilly newspaper. The Hillbilly became a forum for Comstock’s conservative politics and wry wit.

A consummate practical joker, Comstock once injected ramp juice into his ink as a nod to Richwood’s annual Feast of the Ramson. After the pungent newspapers were mailed to subscribers, Comstock was reprimanded by the U.S. postmaster general for sending the offensive-smelling ink through the mail. And he founded the University of Hard Knocks, an honorary society for successful individuals who never completed college.

Comstock also published the book Pa and Ma and Mr. Kennedy and the 50-volume West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia. 

Cecelia Mason / Shepherd University

Author Homer Hickam Jr. was born in Coalwood on February 19, 1943. After serving in Vietnam, he worked for NASA for 17 years as an aerospace engineer. During this time, he wrote his first book, Torpedo Junction. His second book, published in 1998, brought Hickam international acclaim.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia Humanities Council

Henderson played the tournament with only eight players due to budget restrictions on travel.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

For years after Haley’s death, stories circulated about the fiddler’s remarkable talent.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Legendary fiddler “Blind Ed” Haley died in Ashland, Kentucky, on February 4, 1951. The Logan County native never made any commercial recordings during his lifetime because he feared that record companies would cheat a blind musician.

More than 7,000 men—including many African Americans—laid track through the New River Gorge and cut tunnels through the mountains between Hinton and Covington, Virginia.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

He also managed to pull down 32 rebounds. His Burnsville team routed the Widen squad 173 to 43.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 26, 1960, 17-year-old guard Danny Heater of Burnsville High School scored a record-breaking 135 points in a basketball game against Widen High School. He easily shattered the previous state high school record of 74 and the national record of 120.

In 1857, he graduated first in his class at the Virginia Military Institute and returned a year later to teach mathematics.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Confederate Brigadier General John McCausland died at his Mason County home on January 22, 1927. He was 90 years old and the next-to-the-last living Confederate general. He was survived by a little more than a year by Felix Robertson.

When he started on the Coal & Coke, all but 107 miles of the track between Elkins and Charleston already existed as part of other railroads.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

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