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.

Ways to Connect

On February 1, 1798, publisher Nathaniel Willis shortened his newspaper’s name from the Potowmac Guardian and Berkeley Advertiser to just Potomak Guardian.

  

Why is this paper important? It’s the oldest known newspaper from present West Virginia.

Nathaniel Willis was a native of Boston who’d taken part in the Boston Tea Party and fought in the Revolutionary War. He founded the Potowmac Guardian and Berkeley Advertiser in Shepherdstown in 1790.

Dru attended Wheeling High School but, relocated to New York, where she worked as a model and cover girl.
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Movie and television actress Joanne Dru was born in Logan on January 31, 1922. Originally named Joan Lacock, her father was a pharmacist in Logan.

The family moved to Huntington, where Dru’s brother, Ralph Pierre Lacock, was born. He later changed his name to Peter Marshall and was the longtime host of the Hollywood Squares game show.

Mingo County
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On January 30, 1920, the United Mine Workers of America launched a concerted effort to unionize southern West Virginia. Relations between the UMWA and coal operators had regularly turned violent over the previous 30 years.

However, the two sides had reached a tenuous truce during World War I. During the 19 months the United States was involved in the war, coal production soared and miners’ wages rose.

It devastated communities along the entire 1000-mile stretch of the Ohio.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 28, 1937, the Ohio River crested in Huntington nearly 20 feet above flood stage. Days earlier, it’d crested at the same level in Parkersburg and 10 feet above flood stage in Wheeling.

The Ohio River had always been prone to flooding. Just 10 months before, the Ohio had hit record levels at Wheeling.

He later recalled that the spirit of God had told him to build crosses across the countryside.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online, Charleston Newspapers, Frank Herrera / WV Humanities Council

On January 27, 1925, the Reverend Bernard Coffindaffer was born at Craigsville in Nicholas County.

During World War II, he served in the Marines and was wounded on Iwo Jima. After the war, he returned to West Virginia and amassed a small fortune through a coal-washing business.

at least 476 men died of silicosis while working in the tunnel
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On January 25, 1936, Newsweek magazine ran a story about deadly cases of silicosis associated with the Hawks Nest Tunnel construction in Fayette County.

It was the first time many Americans had heard of the tunnel disaster, which the magazine attributed to an “atmosphere of deadly dust.”

In 1875, Alexander Martin left WVU
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Educator and clergyman Alexander Martin was born in Scotland on January 24, 1822. When he was 14, he moved with his parents to Jefferson County, Ohio, adjoining the Northern Panhandle.

Martin became principal of Kingwood Academy in Preston County in 1846 and later taught at and served as principal of Clarksburg’s Northwestern Academy.

He also was a Methodist pastor in Charleston, Moundsville, and Wheeling. During the Civil War, Martin became the West Virginia president of the Christian Commission, a social services agency that relieved some of the war’s hardships.

UMWA District 17, encompassing most of West Virginia
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On January 23, 1890, the United Mine Workers of America was formed in Columbus, Ohio. Three months later, UMWA District 17, encompassing most of West Virginia, held its first meeting in Wheeling.

District President M. F. Moran immediately launched what would become an extraordinary struggle to unionize the state’s coal mines over the next four decades.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Virginia seceded from the Union, and Jackson was appointed a Confederate brigadier general.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Thomas Jackson was born in Clarksburg around midnight on the evening of January 20, 1824. He was raised by an uncle at Jackson’s Mill in Lewis County and then attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

He fought gallantly during the Mexican War but resigned from the army after the war.

He spent the next 10 years teaching philosophy and artillery at the Virginia Military Institute.

Hardy’s hanging probably would have been the end of the story if not for a ballad written about the event.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

John Hardy was hanged in the McDowell County seat of Welch on January 19, 1894.

The black railroad worker had been convicted of murdering a man in a gambling dispute at present-day Eckman.

Hardy was just one of tens of thousands of African Americans who poured into southern West Virginia in the late 1800s and early 1900s to work in the coal and railroad industries.

Hardy’s hanging probably would have been the end of the story if not for a ballad written about the event. The song circulated by word of mouth, with the details changing over time.

Neely, who died at age 83, was one of the leading political figures in West Virginia history.
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On January 18, 1958, Matthew Neely died in Washington, D. C., while serving in the U.S. Senate. Neely, who died at age 83, was one of the leading political figures in West Virginia history.

Over his long political career, the Democrat served two terms as mayor of Fairmont, five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, one term as governor, and parts of five terms in the U.S. Senate.

Perhaps most significantly, though, Neely headed the powerful pro-labor liberal faction of the state’s Democratic Party from the 1930s until his death.

In November 1918, just as Nitro was nearing completion, World War I ended.
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On January 17, 1918, the U.S. War Department hired a New York engineering firm to build a nitrocellulose plant along the Kanawha-Putnam county border. The DuPont Company had previously chosen the site to manufacture munitions for World War I.

However, there were political objections to one company receiving such a large contract, so DuPont abandoned its plans, and the federal government picked up the task.

At Caperton’s urging, the legislature enacted a major reorganization of state government, new ethics legislation, and the largest tax increase in state history.
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Gaston Caperton—our state’s 31st governor—was sworn into office on January 16, 1989. He was born in Charleston in 1940 and eventually worked at his father’s insurance company, where he rose to president.

By the late 1980s, the McDonough-Caperton Insurance Group was one of the nation’s largest privately owned insurance companies.

The Register was then published in the afternoons and on Sundays.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Newspaperman Charles Hodel was born in Ohio on January 13, 1889. After learning the printing trade, he moved to Beckley at age 24 and became editor and general manager of the Raleigh Register newspaper.

Thanks to the rapidly expanding coal industry, Beckley was a booming town.

In 1929, Hodel and his associates acquired the Register’s competitor, the Post-Herald, which became Beckley’s morning paper. The Register was then published in the afternoons and on Sundays.

. One of the most significant established ‘‘Mother’s Pensions.’’
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Anna Johnson Gates died on January 12, 1939, just before her 50th birthday. In the 1910s, the East Bank native fought for women’s suffrage.

After women were granted the vote nationally in 1920, she served as the associate chair of Kanawha County’s Democratic Executive Committee.

Then, in 1922, she was elected to the West Virginia Legislature, becoming the first woman ever to serve in that body.

Senator John Kenna
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

U.S. Senator John Kenna died in Washington, D.C., on January 11, 1893, at age 44. He was born in Kanawha County. When he was just a child, his father was shot and killed in Charleston. Afterward, his mother moved the family to Missouri, where Kenna served in the Confederate Army for about a year during the Civil War.

Pond Creek Number 1
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On January 10, 1940, the Pond Creek Number 1 mine exploded at Bartley in McDowell County. The blast killed 91 miners; 47 men escaped. Most of the men who perished died instantly. Although, some asphyxiated following the explosion, and two left farewell letters.

Pond Creek Number 1 was a deep-shaft mine owned by an affiliate of Island Creek Coal. Investigators blamed methane gas for the fatal explosion since the mine’s coal dust had been treated properly.

On January 9, 1986, West Virginia sold its first “scratch-off” lottery tickets.
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On January 9, 1986, West Virginia sold its first “scratch-off” lottery tickets. The state lottery had been authorized by an amendment to the state constitution, passed by voters in 1984.

As the number of lottery games expanded, so did revenues. Within eight years, instant ticket sales had increased by 336 percent and would eventually bring in more than a billion dollars a year.

At the end of the Civil War, Lamon was dispatched to Richmond, making him unavailable to guard the president on that fateful night at Ford’s Theater.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 6, 1828, Ward Hill Lamon was born in Jefferson County. He was raised at Bunker Hill, in Berkeley County, before moving to Danville, Illinois, at age 18. In 1852, Lamon’s life took a historic twist when he became the law partner of a former congressman—Abraham Lincoln.

This new Victorian Capitol was a massive stone-and-brick structure built on the site of Charleston’s first capitol.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

On January 5, 1887, Governor E. Willis Wilson hosted a ball and banquet to dedicate West Virginia’s new capitol building in downtown Charleston. The event marked the end of what had become a running joke in the state’s early years—the location of the capital city. In the first two decades of statehood, the capital had already been moved from Wheeling to Charleston and back to Wheeling, again.

The dedication event in Charleston marked the capital’s final journey—at least in terms of host cities.

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