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

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.

Daniel Walker/ WVPB

As the coal industry in Appalachia continues to decline, more and more families are struggling. Poor job prospects throughout the region are causing a lot of anxiety in families. And mental health expects say that kind of stress can accumulatively lead to mental illness. What can parents do to help their children cope with stress?

flood
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


After floods ravaged central and southern West Virginia on June 23rd, some residents are wondering how can we rebuild? And can communities bounce back- after a devastating disaster?

Aaron Shackelford / WVPB

On Thursday June 23, massive flooding swept across most of West Virginia. It began with a rare event- a tornado touched down in Nicholas County, West Virginia on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 21. Regional rain storms followed but nothing like what started to fall throughout a 22-county region on Thursday, June 23.

Jessica Lilly

Recent flooding has ravaged entire towns making it hard to find food, water and cleaning supplies. To aid in flood recovery efforts, donations are pouring into West Virginia from across the state and country.

Jessica Lilly

Seventy-five-year-old Carol Holmes lives in Nicholas County, one of the counties hit hardest by the downpours that fell on June 23. Several people have died because of the severe weather. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin called the floods “the worst in a century for some parts of the state.” The Associated Press reports that President Obama spoke to Tomblin by phone Saturday to offer federal assistance and condolences to the people of West Virginia.

This is the second time her home has been flooded in the past 20 years. Listen to her explain why she doesn’t want to leave Richwood. She also explains that tough times are nothing new to her family. She also explains why she's “West Virginia tough.”

Malcolm Wilson / Humans of Central Appalachia

As coal jobs continue to disappear in Appalachia, some families are holding tight to the idea that coal will come back. Surprisingly, it’s not the pay that they miss about the work but the bond that comes with working in the mines. They often call it a 'brotherhood.'

When you think of Appalachia, hip hop isn't often the first thing that comes to mind. But because of the hard work of several generations of Appalachians, there is a growing hip hop scene here in these hills, complete with music festivals, political action, and youth development programs.

Andrew Carroll/ Davis and Elkins College

This week on Inside Appalachia, we're taking a look at Appalachians of all stripes who are retooling tradition to create a brighter future. We'll hear from a family of guitar makers in Virginia, members of Davis and Elkins College's first graduating class of its Appalachian Ensemble, an enterprising young reporter who's working to amplify #WVMusic, one of the few piano tuners in West Virginia, and a group of folks from Letcher County, Kentucky who are bringing square dancing back into vogue. 


Courtesy: Southern Foodways Alliance

Biscuits, gravy, pepperoni rolls, fried chicken, and... salt? This week on Inside Appalachia, we're investigating the history and stories of some of Appalachia's most famous foods with the help of Gravy, a podcast produced by the Southern Foodways Alliance

We'll hear about the revitalization of West Virginia's salt production industry, the complicated history of fried chicken, and the growing popularity of Appalachian food in major urban centers. 

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.

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