Jesse Wright

News Director

Jesse was born in Swaziland and grew up in South Africa. During his high school years, he witnessed the end of Apartheid and South Africa's transition to democracy.

Jesse moved to West Virginia in 1996 to attend West Virginia University, where he earned a bachelor's in journalism and met his wife, a West Virginia native, in the process.

He came to West Virginia Public Broadcasting from The Dominion Post newspaper in Morgantown, where he served as copy desk chief and worked on almost every aspect of the newspaper's editorial production.

Jesse leads the WVPB newsroom as news director and serves as executive producer of Inside Appalachia. He helped start several internal and external editorial collaborations and projects, including Appalachia Health News, the Ohio Valley ReSource and 100 Days in Appalachia.

Jesse is interested in the effects of government policy on West Virginia citizens' lives.

Based in Morgantown, he has developed a great passion for West Virginia and its unique culture and history.

Jesse lives in the Cheat Lake area of Morgantown, with his wife and three sons.

Ways to Connect

The Morgantown High School Marching Band makes its way down High Street in Morgantown on Wednesday, Nov. 11, during the city's Veterans Day parade.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Dec. 7, 2016 will mark the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which thrust America into World War II. Morgantown High School’s marching band has been selected to represent West Virginia during a commemoration next year in Hawaii to honor that milestone.

One of the few remaining survivors of the attack came to the Mountain State from Texas to share his first-hand account of that fateful day with the band members and take part in Veterans Day ceremonies.

The West Virginia state employee and retiree insurance program is asking the public to weigh in on cuts in benefits it proposed earlier in October.

The Public Employees Insurance Agency said it plans to cut benefits by nearly $83 million for active employees and about $41 million for retirees, primarily through sharply higher deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.

Neil Gaiman
Kimberly Butler

Author Neil Gaiman has earned many accolades for his books and graphic novels, including Hugo and Nebula awards for American Gods and The Graveyard Book. Two of his books, Coraline and Stardust, were made into blockbuster movies. 


Gaiman will be one of the featured speakers at the West Virginia Book Festival later this month. West Virginia Public Broadcasting is one of the festival’s sponsors.

Gaiman is primarily a fiction writer. He has crafted vivid characters who inhabit worlds that straddle the familiar and the fantastical. Strands of ancient and modern mythology run through much of Gaiman’s work.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia has joined Ohio and Pennsylvania in an effort to grow the shale gas industry on a regional level. An agreement solidifying that partnership was signed Tuesday, Oct. 13, in Morgantown.

The agreement spells out four main areas that the three states will work together on to grow the natural gas industry: Marketing, workforce development, infrastructure and research.

If you’re looking for an indoor escape from the dreary weather, two film festivals are being held in different parts of the state this weekend.

The Williams River Valley
Thomas Fletcher

An area of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia known as the Birthplace of Rivers is getting some special attention this week.

The name Birthplace of Rivers refers to a wilderness area in the eastern part of the state that contains the headwaters for the Cranberry, Cherry, Gauley, Elk, Williams and Greenbrier rivers.

In this undated photo released Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, on a social media site used by Islamic State militants, shows smoke from the detonation of the 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin in in Syria’s ancient caravan city of Palmyra.
Uncredited / Associated Press

The idea of preserving artwork during times of war was brought into the public consciousness by a recent movie called "The Monuments Men." The movie is based on a true story about an international team of experts who saved works of art from the Nazis during World War II. 


There is a modern-day version of that story playing out right now in the Middle East and an American cultural preservationist says everyone should be concerned about what Islamic State militants are doing to destroy the world’s common cultural heritage. 

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., visited Preston County for a town hall meeting on Friday, Sept. 4. Manchin heard from residents about everything from education and Social Security to America’s debt problems, but much of the discussion revolved around the Iran nuclear deal.

Division of Highways

A former director of the West Virginia Division of Highway’s equipment division has died after being indicted on federal racketeering charges.

U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld announced Tuesday, Aug. 1, that Robert Glen Andrew II, of Bridgeport, was charged with 29 counts relating to what the government calls the creation of a “culture of corruption” within the Division of Highways.

wikimedia commons

The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department and the city of Wheeling are asking residents to use caution after blue-green algae was found in water samples taken from the Ohio River.


According to a health department news release, water testing on Wednesday, Aug. 19, at the Pike Island Lock and Dam on the Ohio River showed elevated levels of blue-green algae. The algae, at high concentrations, can cause health problems such as skin irritation, eye irritation or intestinal illnesses.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Augusta Heritage Center is known around the world for its many music workshops and jam sessions. But Augusta actually started as a way to keep traditional arts and crafts alive in Randolph County.

Mountain Valley Pipileine, LLC.

A judge has ruled that the developer of a proposed natural gas pipeline can’t survey a West Virginia couple’s property without their permission.

Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Robert Irons said Mountain Valley Pipeline failed to show that the project would provide sufficient public use to justify entering private property without an owner’s permission.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Things got heated on Capitol Hill Wednesday when a committee met to debate the ARENA Act -- a bill West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito introduced in May in anticipation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

Capito’s bill is an attempt to scale back the EPA’s new rule. The bill passed through the committee, but not before all the Democrats got up and walked out in protest. 

West Virginia University

West Virginia University is teaming up once again with the University of Rome Tor Vergata for this year’s 2015 Solar Decathlon home-building competition.

The team is tasked with designing, building and operating an energy-efficient, solar-powered house. The winning entry must produce as much or more energy than it consumes, and must be attractive and environmentally friendly.

James Wickline
Photo courtesy of Maarten Vossen

Seventy years ago, a soldier from West Virginia died trying to liberate the Netherlands from the Nazis. A Dutch man has been tending the soldier’s grave and trying to find out more about him for half his life. Now the story has caught the attention of a filmmaker.

An annual summer concert series held in the mountains outside Morgantown has become a favorite destination for musicians and fans alike. The venue’s high elevation often provides a respite from hot and humid weather, making it a fun, family-friendly experience.

A study released earlier this week about the potential of the Utica Shale formation was met with praise from the Consumer Energy Alliance. But the West Virginia Sierra Club doesn’t share that enthusiasm.


The Utica Shale Play Book Study released on Tuesday says there may be 20 times as much recoverable gas and twice as much recoverable oil in the Utica Shale formation as was previously thought.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A study released Tuesday, July 14, at a workshop in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, shows there may be 20 times more recoverable natural gas in the Utica Shale and surrounding hydrocarbon-rich formations than previously thought.


While a 2012 study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be extracted from the Utica Shale reservoir using existing technology, Tuesday’s study puts that number at 782 Tcf.

  Since its launch in November, the online community portal Weelunk has attracted web traffic from all 50 states in the U.S. and around the globe. The website serves as a platform for in-depth stories about Wheeling and also provides a forum for new ideas and community events.


Now the site’s creators have taken that formula and applied it to a similar project in Randolph County, called Elkinite.

Downstream Strategies, Leonardo Technologies, Inc.

Businesses and homeowners in Morgantown have a variety of inexpensive options to significantly reduce their energy costs while also cutting greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report released on Monday, June 29.


Morgantown-based environmental consulting company Downstream Strategies compiled the report as part of a three-phase project. Commissioned by the Morgantown City Council’s Green Team, the project is funded by the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation and aims to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate the West Virginia Black Bears opened their first season Friday, June 19, to a crowd of 3,019 fans.


“Good evening and welcome to Monongalia County Ballpark for the first ever professional baseball game here, in north-central West Virginia,” Black Bears General Manager Matthew Drayer boomed over the ballpark’s PA system.

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

In the world of medication-assisted substance abuse treatment, there are three prescription drugs that are the most widely known: methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol.

Traditional Opioid Agonists

Methadone and Suboxone have been the most widely used drugs in addiction therapy in West Virginia. Both are synthetic opioid-based medications that react with opioid receptors in the brain just as heroin or prescription narcotics would. These drugs are often used to wean people off of illicit drugs like heroin or prescription painkillers like oxycodone.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

About 150 people from six states gathered in Morgantown Tuesday, June 16, to tell the Appalachian Regional Commission what they think the organization can do to help the region take advantage of emerging opportunities. The ARC will use the information collected at the Morgantown listening session and four others to develop a plan to guide its economic and community development efforts during the next five years.


The Appalachian Regional Commission was created as an economic development agency in 1964 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. The ARC partners with federal, state and local government to advocate for sustainable community and economic development across the region.

Tim Kiser / Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee passed a bill this week that calls for the creation of 10 natural gas pipeline corridors through federal lands within 2 years of the bill’s passage.

The committee passed HR 2295, also known as the National Energy Security Corridors Act, on a vote of 21-15, essentially along party lines. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., sits on the Natural Resources Committee and voted for the bill. Rep. David McKinley, also R-W.Va., co-sponsored the bill.

Keep Your Promises Campaign

An advocacy group has called for closer federal scrutiny of DuPont Chemicals’ plan to spin off its performance chemicals unit.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts rallied members at a meeting on Wednesday, June 3, in Morgantown. Roberts says the union will fight the Federal Environmental Protection Agency to keep miners employed. 

Joe Ravi / wikimedia Commons

Several provisions of the USA Patriot Act expired at midnight on Sunday, May 31, including the National Security Agency’s ability to indiscriminately collect data about U.S. citizens’ phone calls.

The U.S. Senate voted to begin debate on a House bill that would renew some of those provisions and alter the phone data collection program.

West Virginia sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., were among those who voted to take up the House bill.

A law that goes into effect on May 27 allows police officers and those close to addicts to carry the opioid overdose antidote drug Naloxone. While law enforcement officials generally agree that it’s a good idea to carry the drug, there are some questions about safety, training and exactly how the new law will be implemented.

“I totally agree with trying to address the problem at its root but there are a lot of other issues that have to be overcome along the way,” Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston said. 

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Even if Backbone Food Farm didn’t sit below Backbone Mountain, its name still would be very appropriate. That’s because Max Dubansky and his family farm the way he learned from the old folks, letting pigs turn the soil and using horses to work the land. 


Max Dubansky and his family farm 50 acres in Pleasant Valley outside Oakland, Maryland, on the edge of the Allegheny Mountains.

Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin joined four other U.S. senators to unveil new legislation aimed at pushing back on proposed federal clean air regulations.


Standing beside four other Republican senators and Democrat Joe Manchin, Shelley Moore Capito introduced the The Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act on Wednesday, May 13, at a press conference in Washington, D.C.