Jessica Lilly

Host & Co-Producer of Inside Appalachia - Southern West Virginia Bureau Chief

Jessica Lilly covers southern West Virginia for West Virginia Public Broadcasting and is the host and co-producer of Inside Appalachia. The show airs Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. and is also available as a podcast. Jessica can also be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program.

Jessica joined West Virginia Public Broadcasting in 2008 as the Southern West Virginia Bureau Chief. She’s committed to reporting stories of the people in her region and across Appalachia. She's passionate about following issues and developments in worker safety, community tap water, and more.

Inside Appalachia won a Regional Murrow in 2016 for the Inside Appalachia show called, "What Happens When Strangers with Cameras Travel Inside Appalachia?" Jessica was named "Best Radio News Anchor" two years in a row by the Virginias Associated Press beginning in 2016.

Concord University chose Jessica as, "Alumnus of the Year" in 2015. Jessica was instrumental in launching Concord University's first FM station, WVCU-LP FM in 2015.

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 among other awards throughout her career.

While studying broadcasting and journalism, public relations and business administration at Concord University, Jessica worked as the weekend producer and fill in reporter for WVNS-TV in Raleigh County, West Virginia. 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, W.Va., 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 is the faculty advisor at Concord University's radio station, WVCU LP-FM "Mt. Lion Radio".

She recently took on the role of Concord University cheerleading coach.

In her spare time, she enjoys attending sporting events and theatre productions, singing, antiquing, skiing, riding ATV’s, and traveling with family.

Ways to Connect

Jessica Lilly

For communities in the rugged Appalachian Mountains - when it rains hard, water doesn't have anywhere to go but straight down into the hollers. Floods - especially flash floods - are simply a way of life. In fact, our region has experienced some of the largest measured flash flood events in the world.

USDA/ Daniel Boone National Forest

In this week's episode of Inside Appalachia, we visit communities impacted by creation of flood-control lakes. Like the Village of Lilly, where back in the 1940s, about 40 families were pushed off their land along the Bluestone River in Summers County, West Virginia. Many of these families had lived there for more than 200 years. 

Inside Appalachia Host Jessica Lilly has deep roots to this community, as we hear in this episode. 

courtesy Emily Hilliard

Here in Appalachia, it’s apple season. And that means apple growers are sending this year’s crop to farmers markets and grocery stores. But the majority of the apples grown here get sent to manufacturers to be used in apple sauce and apple juice. By the way, did you know that Golden Delicious Apples originated right here in West Virginia?  In fact, apples are our state fruit. 

Jack Corn/ U.S. National Archives

Coal mine owner Andrew Jordon and environmental attorney Joe Lovett grew up together in Charleston, but have taken two completely different, even adversarial, paths in life. On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear “Two Tales of Coal” from the Us & Them Podcast


Emily Hilliard/ WV Folklife Program

Eighty-seven year-old Jim Shaffer has had his hands busy since 1946. He is the last commercial broom-maker left in West Virginia. People from all over the country have come to see, and take home, some of Shaffer’s work.

A short film about Jim Shaffer is being screened at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress later this month at an event called "Reel Folk: Cultural Explorations on Film". The video was produced earlier this year by Inside Appalachia, in collaboration with the West Virginia Folklife Program

Mark Regan Photography

Today, more than 45 million Americans live in poverty. After decades of widely publicized campaigns with names like “the War on Poverty”, living on low income often comes an extreme sense of shame and self-doubt. On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear different ways of reporting on financial security, or lack thereof. From a coal miner who lost his job, to a long-time welfare director, how do we talk about folks who are good at making do with what they have? How do we react when we hear these stories? 


EMILY SARKEES

There’s no place in America that’s gained a bigger reputation for country and rock and roll music than Nashville, Tennessee. So what does it take to make it there? Well, perhaps having West Virginia roots might help. There are so many talented musicians from our region who’ve found success in Nashville that some refer to the scene as the “WV music mafia.” But what about the folks who stay here in the Mountain State? What does it take to “make it” in the current music scene here?  


Courtesy / West Virginia House of Delegates

A member of the West Virginia House of Delegates says she is resigning to tend to her family and her business.According to a release, House Delegate Nancy Reagan Foster announced Sept. 1 that she is stepping down.

Katie Fallon

Author Katie Fallon was inspired, in part, by her own children to write the book, Look, See the Bird! In the book, Fallon writes about children from different parts of the world. It's an imaginary trip across parts of the world, and the perspectives of migratory birds help guide the story.

Emily Hanford / APM Reports

The start of a new school year can be a stressful time, but it’s also a season of transition, and of new beginnings. In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear the conclusion to Crystal Snyder's Struggle to Stay story, as she juggles school, work and family responsibilities. And we travel to McDowell County, where people are exploring new ways to deal with a chronic teacher shortage. 


Mark Regan Photography

Best selling author Jeannette Walls spent most of her childhood west of the Mississippi River but her father eventually brought her family back to McDowell County where she lived for four years.  She wrote about her time growing up in extreme poverty across the country in her memoir, “The Glass Castle.” The book has been on the New York Times best selling list for more than 7 years and the movie is now out in theatres. Inside Appalachia host, Jessica Lilly spoke with Walls a few days before the movie hit theatres.
 

Claire Hemme

On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we go on a road trip along the backroads of Appalachia. We discover a rare orchid, a natural icebox and even get the story behind a bus on a rock. 

It's all to help launch a new series called Hidden Gems of Appalachia, celebrating the outdoors and the stories behind mysterious and wondrous places throughout these mountains.

Roxy Todd/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

It’s been about 20 years since the opioid epidemic started. Appalachia has been called ground zero for this crisis, and the mountain state leads the country in drug overdose deaths. This episode of Inside Appalachia explores how the epidemic is affecting veterans, who are twice as likely to become addicted to opioids, compared with the general, or civilian, population. So some veterans are trying some alternatives to taking opioids for their chronic pain.

stock photo

President Donald Trump's Commission on the Opioid Crisis recently recommended that the president declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. The commission said that such a declaration could free up money to fight the epidemic.

Back in April, we aired a special report about the opioid epidemic here in Appalachia. So this week, we’re going to revisit that story to remember how some Appalachians became addicted, and what a battle for sobriety can be like.

Courtesy Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC)

It’s been 10 years since The Erma Byrd Center opened in Raleigh County. State officials, students, faculty and community members gathered at the Center on Friday to celebrate the anniversary.

The Erma Byrd Center, was West Virginia’s first collaborative higher education campus. The Center offers classes and student services from Bluefield State College, Concord University and Marshall University.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Appalachian economy is changing. In this episode of Inside Appalachia, hear from people who are switching careers, including former coal miners who are learning computer programming and non-traditional students who’ve graduated from college. Meet the next person in our Struggle to Stay series, a mother of two named Crystal Snyder. She’s also switching careers.

Benny Becker

Back in March, Inside Appalachia aired a report about a rise in the number of chronic black lung cases. Since then, NPR’s ongoing investigation uncovered an additional 1,000 cases of the worst form of black lung disease in Appalachia. 

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Do people who identify as LGBTQ struggle for acceptance in Appalachia? In this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we explore how ideas about gender are changing across the country and in the region.

 

Still, some people, like 20-year-old Soleil-Dawe, who lives in Shepherdstown and identifies as gender queer, have found that coming out to their family isn’t easy.

 

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

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.  

Recently, Inside Appalachia won first place in Public Radio News Directors Inc.’s (PRNDI), Long Documentary category for an episode titled “Hippies, Home Birth and the History of Birthing Babies in Appalachia.”

U.S. National Archive Jack Corn

This week time travel back to your own childhood summer memories with the Appalachian storytellers.      

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