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

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.

A truck hauls coal away from the Coalfields Expressway site.
Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Residents in southern West Virginia are hopeful that the next state and federal budgets will include funding for the Coalfields Expressway. The 4-lane highway broke ground back in 2000 but the idea for the road goes back to the late 1960's, when the road was called the Beckley to Grundy Road. The infrastructure project is more than 27 years in the making.


Here in Appalachia, thousands of young people are leaving each year, moving from their hometowns to find opportunities elsewhere.  In this episode, you will hear part of Colt Brogan’s Struggle to Stay in Appalachia.

It’s part of a series on Inside Appalachia called, “The Struggle to Stay.” This decision is different for each of us. While academic studies might provide a generalized view, the complexities are found in the individual journey as we try to find a place where we belong. 


Roxy Todd/ WVPB

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 than the general, or civilian, population. 


Adobe Stock

It’s been about 20 years since the opioid epidemic first exploded across Appalachia, and now doctors are shifting away from prescribing opioids for long-term pain. 

But this shift away from pills has met resistance from some  doctors and patients.

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we'll hear why addiction hit Appalachia so hard. We'll also find out what the medical community is doing to fight the pain pill epidemic.

Roxy Todd/ WVPB

It’s not always easy to live in these mountains, but some of us are determined to stay. In this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we'll explore the deep roots to the region in a new series called The Struggle to Stay.

Appalachia isn’t alone in watching its young people fight with the decision to stay or go from their homeplace—it’s a conversation happening all over the country. But people are leaving parts of Appalachia at a rapid pace. 

Office/Sen. Jay Rockefeller

In this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear three of our favorite stories from the Inspiring West Virginians series.  

The series highlights leaders in health, business and science.

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