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

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.      

courtesy Crystal Wilkinson

Ever hear the word 'Affrilachian'? In the 1990s, a poet in Kentucky named Frank X Walker came up with the term. It refers to African Americans living in Appalachia. 

Chuck Roberts / WVPB

Last year, we spoke with Keith Thompson and his mother Gerda right after the flood. Keith’s dad Edward passed away from complications of hypothermia after being in floodwaters for several hours. Inside Appalachia host Jessica Lilly went back to Rainelle to see how things have changed since the flood. She found that for Keith, the flood was just the beginning of his heartaches in the past year.

Chris Oxley/ WVPB

This week on Inside Appalachia, we are revisiting some of the people whose lives were changed forever after the flooding of 2016. This episode was part of a TV special called A Year of Recovery. We hear about the hurt of losing loved ones and how flood victims are coping after the disaster. We hear why when a community goes through devastation together, they can come out stronger.

Chuck Frostick

There is more to recovery than physically rebuilding a house, or a building. Communities are also recovering mentally and emotionally. Dr. Carol Smith is a Professor of Counseling at Marshall University, says finding basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter is just the beginning.

Inside Appalachia co-producer and host Jessica Lilly sat down with Dr. Carol Smith to discuss the year of mental and emotional recovery that West Virginia faced since the flooding of June 2016. Parts of this interview are included in a special TV show, “Inside Appalachia: A Year of Recovery.” You can watch the show Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. on WVPB or listen on radio.

Chuck Frostick

Inside Appalachia co-producer and host Jessica Lilly sat down with Major General James A. Hoyer of the WV National Guard to discuss the year of recovery that West Virginia faced since the flooding of June 2016. Parts of this interview are included in a special TV show, “Inside Appalachia: A Year of Recovery.” You can watch the show Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. on WVPB or listen on radio.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcast

It’s been nearly a year since West Virginia was hit with historical flooding. In this episode, we’re listening back to the voices of those who were impacted by last summer’s floods. On Thursday June 23, 2016, massive flooding swept across most of West Virginia.

Within a tragic 24-36 hour period, at least 23 West Virginians perished. Thousands of homes were flooded, many of them destroyed. There were stories of terror and heroism that came out of this flood.

Christopher Ziemnowicz / CZmarlin / wikimedia Commons

Concord University’s Upward Bound Program has been awarded more than $660,000 per year for five years.

Katie Fallon

Summer is often a time for road trips, so we put together a few stories that made us think of summer break. And our Struggle to Stay series continues as we catch up with Mark Combs on his journey to find a home outside of West Virginia.

Dobree Adams

Beans and cornbread are something that seem almost as big a part of growing up in Appalachia as the mountains themselves. But did you know that these beans and seeds have a history that dates back to Native American culture?

Rebecca Kiger

This week on Inside Appalachia, we talk with Marcus Murrow, a West Virginia native who’s telling the story of southern West Virginia, and the surprising way cultural divides are sometimes bridged in and around Appalachia. He's working on a film called Staring up from the Mine Shaft.

Charles Kleine

Our next Struggle to Stay story comes from someone who might be familiar to you -- Mark Combs. He’s a veteran who helped us produce a documentary last fall called Still Taking Casualties

The documentary features veterans speaking about how their experiences in war taught them what it means to support their fellow soldiers. 

And our host Jessica Lilly speaks with Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Eric Newhouse, author of Faces of Combat.


Roger May/ Looking at Appalachia

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we talk about faith and music. We learn about Sister Rosetta Tharpe,  one of the first great recording stars of gospel music, find our the story behind a song that became an American icon, and we’ll learn more about a project Glory that depicts images of Pentecostal style tent revival in Kentucky and West Virginia.

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