Jessica Lilly

Southern West Virginia Bureau Chief

Jessica Lilly covers southern West Virginia for West Virginia Public Radio and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program, and during afternoon newscasts.

Jessica joined WV PBS in 2008 as the Southern West Virginia Bureau Chief. She’s committed to reporting stories from the people in her region and across the state and is passionate about following issues and developments in mine and worker safety.

Jessica was chosen by the West Virginia Associated Press in 2013 as the winner of the Significant Impact Award for her influence on broadcasting in the state. She was also the winner of the 2013 Associated Press Best Reporter, Best Enterprise Reporting and Best Feature Runner-Up.

In 2011 Jessica was recognized by the Associated Press as Runner-Up for Best Reporter and in 2012 was recognized for Best Breaking News Coverage.

While studying broadcasting, public relations and business administration at Concord University, Jessica worked as the weekend producer and fill in reporter for WVNS-TV in Raleigh County. She went on to work as a full time reporter for WVNS-TV for about a year.  

Jessica graduated from Concord University in 2007, where she was named Concord University’s Reporter of the Year and Producer of the Year.

Born in Bluefield, WV Jessica grew up in the coalfields of West Virginia and Wyoming County. She was always busy with activities such as cheerleading, or theatre.

When she’s not reporting, Jessica advises Concord University's online radio webstream and teaches communications classes at the school. She enjoys attending sporting events and theatre productions, singing, antiquing, skiing, riding ATV’s, and traveling with family.

Ways to Connect

Steve Inskeep/ NPR

It's election season and we want to know what Appalachians are looking for in a new president. We’ll hear from a former coal miner from Whitesburg, Ky, Gary Bentley. We'll also hear from a veteran who lives in Bristol, Va., Ralph Slaughter.

 

You might have heard of this radio show called Mountain Stage. The show, produced by folks right here in Appalachia, has been featuring artists from across the world for more than 30 years.

Mountain Stage is one of the longest running live music performance shows on public radio.  It began in 1983 and has featured nearly 2,000 acts from more than 50 countries--and nearly every conceivable genre--for a catalogue of 871 shows (and counting).  

Rebecca Kiger/ Looking at Appalachia

On this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we’re featuring some of our team's award winning Appalachian stories from the last year.

There are a lot of things that can make you feel connected to home or your childhood, and many of those memories are probably filled with food and family kitchenware.

Jessica Lilly

A jury has ruled in favor of a coal company in Wyoming County Circuit Court. The verdict came in Thursday afternoon after only a few hours of deliberations.

Kara Lofton/ WVPB

The rugged Appalachian mountains can create some interesting birthing situations and it’s been that way for a long time. It used to be that women typically gave birth in home-like environments. Today most women head to the hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that across the U.S., one in every three mothers has a cesarean delivery.  

More and more women seem to want to reclaim this ancient rite of passage as their own by having their babies at home. A recent study in Oregon found that home births are riskier than having a baby at a hospital. The study was published The New England Journal of Medicine

Derek Cline/ Inside Appalachia

We all have a unique way of talking- and here in Appalachia, we have many ways of being understood..and misunderstood, because of our language.

An article in the University of Dayton Law Review defines Appalachiaism as discrimination based on the traditions and lifestyles of Appalachians.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

There’s a growing trend across the country — folks are looking for more local foods. Here in Appalachia we’ve got a reputation for being able to survive. Many families have gotten by with a garden in their backyard.  Not everybody here makes a living mining coal. On this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we’re going to take a look at some of the benefits and challenges of farming.

Jessica Lilly

This story has been updated.

Twenty-six families say that a coal company is responsible for damaging their water supply. Trial for 16 of those families begins Monday, April 11, in Wyoming County Circuit Court.

Roger May

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of a series of novels called The Beulah Quintet.  The novels are by the late Mary Lee Settle, a writer who set out to capture moments in West Virginia history when a revolutionary change was at stake. Today's economic uncertainty here in Appalachia has many people wondering whether we are also living in the midst of a transition.

Courtesy Eric Jordan

Hip-hop might not be the first kind of music you think of when you think about the mountains of Appalachia. We have our share of fiddles and banjos but we also have folks making other kinds of music, like hip-hop. On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we give voice to an often underestimated and overlooked group of folks…the Appalachian hip-hop artist community.

Courtesy / Jamie Smith

This story is featured on an upcoming episode of ​Inside Appalachia focused on hip-hop culture throughout the region. To listen to this episode and others, ​subscribe to the podcast.

In southern West Virginia, The Movement Entertainment Group has hosted an awards ceremony for the past four years.  It’s part of the DubV Fest, a weekend music festival like Floyd Fest, Clifftop or Bonnaroo. Only it’s held indoors, usually at a nightclub, and features mostly hip-hop artists from out of state.

Jeff Pierson

Two artists that were featured on Inside Appalachia recently had their work recognized- and we think that's worth celebrating. So this week we're revisiting one of our favorite episodes from earlier this year- Inside Appalachia Road Trip: Art and Murals Across Appalachia's Backroads.

In this episode, we'll hear stories of loss, grief, and resilience. A lesbian woman who was abused by her husband and left for dead when she came out of the closet talks about her journey to become a boxing champion.

CAIR/ Ikram Benaicha

How do Muslims living in Appalachia feel about increasing Islamaphobia in America? What role does the media play in creating such fear?

This issue has been heating up in the last year. As refugees from Syria have been arriving in Europe, some Americans, like Donald Trump,  have called for barring them from entering the United States.

Judy Sheppard, a dynamic West Virginia entrepreneur
Jean Snedegar

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear from women who overcame a lot of challenges to succeed as students, musicians, entrepreneurs and educators.

WVU

West Virginia University will have a new mascot Wednesday evening. The selection process includes an application, interview and cheer off.  One of the - now four - finalists is Wyoming County native, Savannah Lusk. She's a coal miner's daughter and the first in her family to go to college. Lusk would be the third woman Mountaineer if she’s chosen.

Lance Booth

In this week's episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear about what it’s like to actually work in a coal mine. So often we hear about miners from environmentalists or people who proudly declare they are Friends of Coal. But so much about what we hear about coal mining these days is full of political agendas.

Malcolm Wilson/ Humans of Central Appalachia

Our roots with coal run deep here in central Appalachia. But the future for the people in the Appalachian coalfields is unclear.  Although coal will likely still continue to be mined, it doesn’t seem like jobs in this industry will ever come back, not like they once were. People in the coalfields are worried. Jobs are disappearing -- and there isn’t a lot of hope right now.

Robert Gipe

This week's episode of Inside Appalachia is addressed as a Valentine letter to Appalachia. Like most loves, this one is complicated. Some of the folks we spoke to for our show grew up in the mountains and were eager to move away. But when they did, they felt a strong homesickness that seemed to draw them back. They said their love for Appalachia is for a place that isn’t quite perfect. But they were inspired to write about it. Listen to the show to hear what they had to say.

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