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

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. With such a storied history, there is little doubt the show has helped to create a lot of memories over the years.

Candace Nelson

If your father worked in the coal mines, chances are you remember his lunch or dinner bucket and the food that he brought to work. For many families, the extra food that was packed away in these dinner buckets was practical -- it would be there just in case an accident happened.

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.

Jess Schreibstein

Fall is upon us, which means apples are now in season. Apples played a major part in the history of Appalachia, and on this week’s episode, we explore some of that history, and what the apple is doing for the state now.

courtesy Jeremy Harrison

Suicide is a major problem for veterans all across the country. But the problem is even worse in rural areas, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). On this week’s episode, veterans in West Virginia share their stories about what it’s like to return home from war, and what veterans are doing to help and support each other.

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?

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.

U.S. National Archive Jack Corn

On this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we talk about the American Dream and what it takes to reach it in Appalachia. We hear from JD Vance, author of the new bestselling book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, which is about his time growing up in a rust belt town in Ohio, and in Jackson, Kentucky. In this episode, we’re going to hear stories about the working class here in Appalachia and talk about some larger battles they’re fighting today.

Roxy Todd. WVPB

Eating your fruits and veggies is good for you, but it’s not always an easy choice. On this episode, we explore some of the challenges, choices, and barriers to eating healthy. Sometimes it’s the cost, or poor choices, sometimes it’s limited access because they live in what’s called a food desert.

Glynis Board

This week on our Inside Appalachia podcast, we're revisiting some of the stories from our recent TV episode of Inside Appalachia. We hear stories of heroism and survival in towns like Richwood, Rainelle, and Clendenin. Residents and community leaders share their stories of loss and resilience.

Here's a link to the video:

U.S. National Archive Jack Corn

On Inside Appalachia this week, a look back at VISTA workers and the impact they had on our region in the 1960's. They were Volunteers in Service to America.  VISTA was started in December 1964 by President Lyndon B Johnson as part of his "War on Poverty". 

Reid Frazier/ The Allegheny Front

On this week's show, we hear how the natural gas industry is affecting communities in the region. We feature a special report by The Allegheny Front about environmental concerns surrounding the production and transportation of natural gas.  Hundreds of miles of new pipelines are in the works to move natural gas from the shale formations in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio to markets across the country. 

On this week's episode, we’ll hear from a midwife who started delivering babies in the early 1970's. We find out what it’s like to deliver a baby at home. And we speak with one doctor about why she opposes home birth. We also visit a famous hippie commune in Appalachia that's said to be the birthplace of modern midwifery.

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?

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.'