The Front Porch

Fridays at 4:50 p.m.
  • Hosted by Scott Finn, Laurie Lin
  • Local Host Rick Wilson

Welcome to “The Front Porch,” where we tackle the tough issues facing Appalachia the same way you talk with your friends on the porch. 

Hosts include WVPB Executive Director and recovering reporter Scott Finn; economist Jessi Troyan of the free-market Cardinal Institute; and liberal columnist and avid goat herder Rick Wilson with the American Friends Service Committee.

An edited version of “The Front Porch” airs Fridays at 4:50 p.m. on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s radio network, and the full version is available at wvpublic.org and as a podcast as well.

Share your opinions with us about these issues, and let us know what you'd like us to discuss in the future. Send a tweet to @radiofinn or @wvpublicnews, or e-mail Scott at sfinn @ wvpublic.org

The Front Porch is underwritten by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Charleston Gazette-Mail. Find the latest news, traffic and weather on its CGM App. Download it in your app store, and check out its website: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

GOP leaders proposing a tax overhaul that would eliminate West Virginia income tax, while increasing the sales tax and expanding it to services that are currently exempt.

Is this a good idea? Rick Wilson of the American Friends Service Committee calls it “the second-cousin of all bad ideas, because its regressive, it puts more burdens on the working class than the wealthy.”

Laurie Lin says, “It’s not a great idea for West Virginia,” – even if it works in other states. A state with so many border towns may suffer a loss of business, she said.

Is Justice Tax Plan DOA in the Legislature?

Feb 16, 2017
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

"In a rhetorical flourish almost certainly unlike any in the history of West Virginia gubernatorial oratory, Jim Justice spread his arms wide and moaned in an impression of Frankenstein’s monster."

That's how WV Metronews reporter Brad McElhinny described the end of Gov. Jim Justice's State of the State address. Justice was making a point about the state budget mess, a deficit of almost $500 million.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Change is coming to education in West Virginia, at both the state and federal levels.

At the federal level, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education is Betsy DeVos, a businesswoman and philanthropist who’s led the fight for vouchers and charter schools.

And at the state level, we have two resignations from the state school board, which will give Governor Jim Justice a majority – and the ability to reshape public education in the state.

West Virginia’s economy has a “chicken and egg” problem.

To grow more jobs here, we need better-educated, healthy employees.

But before we can afford to pay for better schools and health, we need more jobs and more businesses.

As you might imagine, liberals and conservatives have different ideas which should come first – lower taxes or higher education and health spending.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  

He bought the ax and the tackle box from a desperate woman by the side of the road.

"She was selling her life away, her memories, just to have enough money to have food," Jim Justice said in his first speech as governor, as he held the ax and the tackle box.

"She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, 'Mister, you don't have any idea how bad I'm hurting,'" Justice said.

Justice is promising big changes, now that he's governor. In his inaugural speech, he said he wanted to:

- Raise the pay of teachers

What do Donald Trump, goat yoga and West Virginia's budget have in common? Find out on this week's Front Porch podcast.

Woody Thrasher says West Virginians don’t give themselves nearly enough credit.

“West Virginians do have a self-esteem problem,” the incoming W.Va. Secretary of Commerce told “The Front Porch.”

“I oftentimes see where we don’t shoot as high as we should. I think it’s understandable, but regrettable, and it’s very much at the center of what Governor-elect Justice wants to change,” he said.

Charleston Gazette-Mail

Since Donald Trump’s election, membership in the ACLU of West Virginia has gone up 30 percent, according to executive director Joseph Cohen.

On The Front Porch podcast, Cohen discussed how his organization is preparing for President Trump in three areas:

Six W.Va. Stories to Watch in 2017

Dec 30, 2016
Frances Brundage / Wikimedia Commons

Front Porch hosts Scott Finn, Laurie Lin, and Rick Wilson tell us which stories they'll be following in 2017:

WVPA

Drug wholesalers sent 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into West Virginia over six years, according to an investigation by the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Meanwhile, 1,728 West Virginians died from overdoses of these two powerful painkillers.

Who let it happen? Investigative reporter Eric Eyre, of the Charleston Gazette-Mail, answered our questions about his series on The Front Porch.

Tom Williams / Getty Images

This week on the Front Porch, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito gives her take on what the new Trump administration means for West Virginia.

We discuss recent resurgence of black lung among coal miners, what comes after the promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act, what can be done to build rural broadband networks, and more.

Donald Trump
Darron Cummings / Associated Press

What were the top stories in West Virginia from 2016? We searched our archives from the past year and compiled this list of the most popular stories.

UC Hastings

How could a billionaire born into wealth become the champion of the white working class?

That question stumped a lot of liberal commentators, but Joan Williams wasn’t surprised.

Williams studies the white working class and is founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law at UC Hastings College of the Law.

Last week in Charleston, a white man shot and killed a black teen, 15-year-old James Means. The accused told police, “The way I look at it, that's another piece of trash off the street."

Unlike other cities where similar things happened, Charleston did not erupt into violent protests.

This week Scott, Laurie, and Rick are joined by guest Sharif Youssef. Youssef is the child of an Egyptian immigrant who grew up in the town of West Liberty, West Virginia, who now works as a producer on the popular podcast "99% Invisible" in the San Francisco Bay area.

Why did so much of middle America vote Trump? J.B. Akers says it’s too simple to write it off to racism and misogyny.

Akers is a West Virginia lawyer whose blog post on the Trump election went viral. It’s called, “Trump Won and I Don't Understand Why You Don't Understand.”

Akers said he was motivated to write the essay after reading the reaction of his more cosmopolitan friends on social media.

Spencer Platt/Scott Halleran / Getty Images

Jim Justice and Donald Trump both won big in West Virginia, and now it's time to get down to the real challenge of governing.

Steve Helber / AP File Photo

If the new President Trump repeals the Affordable Care Act, what would happen to West Virginians? If Clinton wins, what does that mean for coal?

Should Union Group Call Itself "Family Values"?

Oct 31, 2016
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

When you think of the term "family values," chances are you think of the Republican Party, circa 1994. But recently, a labor-backed organization called "West Virginia Family Values" is funding attack ads against exclusively Republican targets.

On this week's Front Porch podcast, Laurie Lin suggests this is an attempt to muddy the waters and co-opt conservative messages.

Rick Wilson contests that the Republican Party neither holds a monopoly on family values, nor is it even particularly conservative.

Are Elections in West Virginia Rigged?

Oct 21, 2016
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

On this episode of the Front Porch, we deal with Donald Trump's claim that the race is rigged.

West Virginia had its share of election fraud in the past, but is it really at work today?

Also, what about another type of rigging - media bias?

Justice or Cole, Who Won the WV Governor Debate?

Oct 14, 2016
Associated Press

The two leading candidates for governor attacked each other over unpaid bills and Donald Trump at the last major party debate. Who won, and will it matter?

Battling Big Sugar in West Virginia

Oct 7, 2016
Roman Behar / Wikimedia Commons

The sugar industry spent years denying the harm it does to the nation's health, according to investigative reports.  

This week on the Front Porch, Laurie and Rick speak with Mandy Curry, co-founder of Healthy Kids, Inc.

They discuss the sugar industry's attempt to downplay health risks associated with sugar consumption, and the effects this has had on the sugar content of the food we all eat.

West Virginia Press Association

Does our focus on revitalizing the coal industry hinder the state from diversifying its economy?

A majority of West Virginians want the focus to be on diversification over protecting the coal industry, according to a new survey.

Do You Have a License for That?

Sep 23, 2016
Whitehouse.gov

On this episode of "The Front Porch," Scott, Laurie and Rick are joined by Ted Boettner of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

They discuss the effect the increasing number of professions requiring licensure or certification has on the state's economy. Are all these licenses really necessary? If not, what's the best way to eliminate the ones we don't need?

Also on the podcast, a discussion of "Sit-gate" in the 2016 gubernatorial race and more.

Subscribe to "The Front Porch" podcast on iTunes or however you listen to podcasts.

An Elegy Too Soon?

Sep 16, 2016
Mark Lynn Ferguson / The Revivalist

Does the bestselling book “Hillbilly Elegy” unfairly stereotype Appalachians as uniformly violent and poor?

That’s the case Mark Ferguson makes on this week’s episode of “The Front Porch.” Ferguson says things in most of Appalachia are improving, and the book paints an overly negative picture of our region.

The book has gotten a lot of buzz – we talked about it on The Front Porch recently and interviewed Vance for a recent episode of our show Inside Appalachia.

Who's to Blame for the $600 EpiPen?

Sep 9, 2016
Dylan Acker / Bloomberg via Getty Images

It seems like everyone is angry about the huge price increase of Mylan's EpiPen. But what's the real cause?

On "The Front Porch" podcast, Laurie Lin blames federal regulations which inhibit market competition.

We also discuss the future of the Affordable Care Act. Both Bill Cole and Jim Justice, the two leading candidates in West Virginia's 2016 gubernatorial election, have said they will maintain the state's expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Twitter

The working class is in trouble - especially the part with roots in Appalachia.

In his best-selling memoir "Hillbilly Elegy," J.D. Vance tells how he escaped the chaos of his mother's drug abuse and serial boyfriends/husbands.

In an interview with "Inside Appalachia," Vance acknowledges the role de-industrialization plays in working-class decline. But he says cultural decline may be even more important.

Going Home Again with Ed Rabel

Aug 26, 2016
Ed Rabel for Congress / Facebook

Author and journalist Ed Rabel joins Scott and Laurie on this edition of "The Front Porch" to discuss his recent op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

He describes what it was like to return after spending most of his career away from his native West Virginia, and the changes which he noticed had taken place over that time.

He, Scott, and Laurie try to get to the root of the challenges faced by the state and what we need to face them.

Photo Crafters Inc., Morgantown, W.VA. / Wikimedia Commons

On this week's Front Porch podcast: Rick argues for increased state funding for higher education (naturally), while Scott attempts to channel his inner Laurie Lin by suggesting universities can do more with less by focusing on education, not amenities.

clockwise from top left: Ashton Marra/WVPB, Steve Helber/AP, Rick Wilson, Christopher Gregory/Getty Images

On this Front Porch podcast, Scott, Laurie and Rick debate Bill Cole's drug policy, Jim Justice's tourism plan and a resurrected rooster.

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