Inside Appalachia

Sundays at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Inside Appalachia tells the stories of our people, and how they live today. Host Jessica Lilly leads us on an audio tour of our rich history, our food, our music and our culture.

Subscribe to our Inside Appalachia podcast here or on iTunes here, or on Soundcloud here or on Stitcher here.

Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with help from public radio stations in Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Affiliate Stations

  • Allegheny Mountain Radio Marlinton, W.Va., WVLS Monterey, Va. and WCHG Hot Springs, Va.- Saturday 7 a.m.
  • WETS, 89.5 FM, Johnson City, Tn.- Sunday 6 p.m.
  • WMKY, 90.3 FM, Saturday mornings at 6 on Morehead State Public Radio.
  • WMMT, Appalshop Mountain Community Radio, Whitesburg, Ky.- Sunday 11 a.m. & Tuesday 6 p.m.
  • WEKU Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Ky.- Saturday at 5 a.m.
  • WSHC, Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, W.Va.- Sunday 9 a.m.
  • WUOT-2, Knoxville, Tn. - Tuesday 7 p.m.
  • WVCU, Concord University, Athens, W.Va.
  • West Virginia Public Broadcasting - Sunday at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • WMOV, Ravenswood, W.Va- Saturday at 8:00 a.m.

Ways To Connect

Courtesy of Kenneth King and the WV Mine Wars Museum

Amid news of more mine lay-offs, one former coal town has built a labor museum to attract visitors. Driving down to the new West Virginia Mine Wars Museum , you really feel the fading towns and cities, sliding into the backdrop of the mountains. It's surreal. Many places in Appalachia are. It’s sad to many people who remember the thriving economy here when coal was booming. Wilma Lee Steele says she hopes the museum in Matewan will become a place where people throughout the coalfields can come to reclaim their identity. “I think that we have a lot to say, and I think we’re gonna say it. We’re gonna tell our history, and we’re gonna come together as a community.”

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’re taking a road trip through the region to find people who are reviving the old recipes and bringing something fresh to our plates. This episode is also helping us kick off a new segment, called Appetite Appalachia, which features restaurants and recipes with Appalachian roots.

Why the Struggle for Water in the Coalfields?

May 8, 2015
Derek Cline

Water: it's a basic human need. On this episode, we'll get a glimpse into some of the water infrastructure needs in southern West Virginia. It's not easy to bring treated water to some of the remote places in the mountains. Wading through the bureaucratic application process, and finding creative solutions with multiple funding sources is often the only way to bring potable water to some rural communities. Find out what it's like to live with frequent outages and advisories, and the folks working to bring clean water to these areas.

Catherine Moore

If you live in Appalachia, you know that one of the most sensitive topics to talk about can be coal. In this episode of "Inside Appalachia," we'll hear liberal and conservative points of view, as we take on the complicated subject of the future of coal.

In this episode, we’re revisiting a show from the Inside Appalachia archives. Remember those Love Letters that the town of Thomas wrote for another small town back in February? Well, they were delivered. We’ll find out which town received those letters in this episode. We’ll also hear a love letter written to a famous racehorse named Zenyatta, a story about bald eagle mates who remained together till death, and other stories about our complicated love of Appalachia. 

Robert Sharpe Productions, Before the Mountain was Moved

In honor of National Service Week and the 50th Anniversary of VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), this week we're looking back to the stories of some of the first VISTA volunteers who came to West Virginia.

Wendell Smith/Flickr

Here in Appalachia, it’s ramp season, and that means many small towns have their annual ramp feed to help raise money for their communities. This week we’ll travel to the Feast of the Ramson in Richwood, West Virginia, where we’ll meet 12-year-old ramp digger, Tyler McCune. And we’ll head to the Shenandoah Valley to hear a crowd of shape note singers. Although more and more people are leaving Appalachia, we will also hearing from some, like musician John Wyatt, who have returned home.

LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton

It’s been more than 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the War on Poverty. During the 1960s, the Appalachian region was facing economic hardships, partly because of mechanization in the coal fields. In 1965, President Johnson signed the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965, which created the Appalachian Regional Commission. 

NPS

In this episode: Appalachians who love their land and their mountain homes. But history reveals some unsettling stories about some Appalachians who were forced off their land in the 1930s to make room for the Shenandoah National Park. 

Roxy Todd

In colder regions of Appalachia, the third week in March is maple syrup season. That’s right, maple syrup isn’t just for New England farmers. This weekend marks the 31st annual maple syrup festival in Pickens, West Virginia.

Christine Cover

Appalachia has certainly been stereotyped by many people in the media. But not all storytellers are the same, and the stories that are told about Appalachia are often complicated with layers of misunderstandings. 

Daniel Walker/WVPB

This week, Inside Appalachia is featuring some incredible stories about dogs that help people heal. Like Paca, who helps children overcome emotional trauma and even helps encourage them to read. And we'll travel to a special cemetery, reserved only for coonhound dogs.

Most of us are familiar with the concept of seeing eye dogs, but service dogs do plenty of other jobs to help people. Roxy Todd takes us on a journey with a few service dogs helping folks in unique ways.

West Virginia and Regional History Collection, West Virginia University Libraries

Earlier this month in West Virginia, a CSX train derailed, causing giant fireballs to stretch hundreds of feet into the air and one home to be destroyed. Investigators are trying to figure out what happened to cause this derailment. February also marks the anniversary of other industrial accidents. On this episode, we'll hear from folks who have survived them, and hear why many people are concerned that more of these accidents could happen in the future.

Glynis Board

On this episode, we’re learning more about Appalachian roots. Some industries are growing in Appalachia that aren’t really new at all, but new practices are building on traditional crafts. While these  changes develop across Appalachia, we inevitably want to hang onto our identity. Strong roots, after all, are one of the characteristics many of us take pride in.

Today we’re talking about love – but wait, it’s not what you think. This episode is kind of one big love letter to Appalachia. We’re showing off some of that Appalachian pride by talking about our complicated love for this place.

Bettman/Corbis / NPR

In this episode, we'll hear reactions to Obama's proposed tax credits and other funding for Appalachia. And we'll talk with documentary filmmaker John Nakashima, whose new film, "The First 1000 Days," explores the effects of poverty on young children.

 

We'll also take a look back at how the lessons from the War on Poverty could shine light on present day economic development efforts.

While the fame of Punxsutawney’s groundhog is nationally recognized, this week, in honor of Groundhog Day, we wanted to shine a spotlight on a very special pair of West Virginia groundhogs who perhaps aren’t celebrated as well as they deserve. Also, we hear how increased drilling is affecting folks in PA and W.Va. Some politicians and residents are touting the natural gas industry as the best solution to bring jobs back to central and northern Appalachia. And while some people are finding well paying jobs and economic opportunities because of the boom in the gas industry, others are finding discontent.


The Struggle to Find Jobs Forces Some Appalachians to Leave the Mountains

Often on our show we hear about people who are trying to maintain hope in the midst of what many across the country would probably consider a life of poverty or despair.

Sometimes the temptation to lose hope is powerful. What future do we face in Appalachia? The need to feed our families is very real- but for many, the struggle to find jobs means they must cast their nets further and further away from home. We Appalachians know that it isn’t resignation that keeps us here- it’s pride for our mountains, our deep roots in our local communities and our strong connection with home. Part of what we love about Appalachia is the natural beauty, the simple sound of clean snow crunching under our feet.

Snowshoeing 101

When it comes to exploring the wintry outdoors in deep snow, it can be hard to get started, it helps to have a guide. That’s what Allegheny Front Contributor Ashley Murry found out when she tried snowshoeing for the first time She joined beginners to the sport, as well as seasoned outdoor trip leaders, Bill Grove and Katie Getsie, as they strapped on snowshoes in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.

Click here to search for guided snowshoeing trips like the one Ashley Murry took in Pennsylvania.

Click here to find directions to the Cranberry Nature Center in West Virginia, located along the Highland Scenic Highway. After a good snow, you can sometimes snowshoe along Kennison Mountain. Even with a light dusting of snow, it's an incredibly beautiful place for a winter hike.
You can also find snowshoe trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, in Tennessee.

And here's a link where you can find information about snowshoeing and cross country skiing in North Carolina.

Increased Gas Drilling in W.Va. and PA Brings Jobs, but also Some Discontent

New technology now allows energy companies to blast water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground at high pressures to release gas from shale formations. With hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, gas companies are able to drill for more natural gas in some areas in Appalachia.

After Living Next to Drilling Activity, 100 W.Va. Residents Sue Companies

Almost a hundred residents from several counties throughout West Virginia are filing lawsuits for nuisance and negligence against several companies engaged in horizontal drilling activities. Glynis Board went out to Doddridge County to catch a glimpse of life in the growing rural gas fields of the state.

Gas Companies Rush to Build New Pipelines in PA

State Impact’s Marie Cusick has been following the gas boom in Pennsylvania. She reports that the pace of gas production is driving energy companies to build more pipelines that are needed to transport the new gas to markets.

Congress Considers Bill to Fast Track Gas Pipeline Projects

On January 21, the US. House of Representatives passed a resolution called the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act. The resolution directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve or deny pipeline projects within 12 months after receiving a complete application. Whether or when that bill might be taken up by the Senate is unclear.

In West Virginia, there are at least two major pipeline projects in the pre-filing stage with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline will each go through environmental analysis and a public comment period before being approved or denied by the Federal Government. Tamara Young Allen, spokesperson with FERC, says this process normally takes 12-18 months. The House Resolution says that FERC review should only take a year. 

Click here to make a comment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about the Mountain Valley Pipeline [docket number  PF15-3-000]  or the Atlantic Coast Pipeline [docket number  PF15-6-000]

Click here to make a comment to the U.S. Forest Service, which is considering whether to issue a special use permit to Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, which would allow the company to conduct site survey and testing in a 17.1-mile segment of the Monongahela National Forest and 12.6 miles of the George Washington National Forest.

What's in a Name?

In this episode we’re looking at a town that got it’s name for sand flies-it’s also a town that is home to the famous Punxsutawney Phil that we see each year on Groundhog Day.

Yes- Punxsutawney PA got it’s name  from a Native American word for sand flies. Known as “town of the ponkies”- a word for sand gnats- became Punxsutawney.

French Creek Freddie and Concord Charlie

While the fame of Punxsutawney’s groundhog is nationally recognized, this week, in honor of Groundhog Day, we wanted to shine a spotlight on a very special pair of

West Virginia groundhogs-who perhaps aren’t celebrated as well as they deserve.

West Virginia's groundhogs both predicted an early spring this year. At the West Virginia Wildlife Center Monday morning, the groundhog named French Creek Freddie did not see his shadow.  At Concord University, Concord Charlie also did not see his shadow.
However, in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter.

 

 

The West Virginia Wildlife Center will have their Groundhog Day celebration on Feb 2, 10:00 am.

Our theme music is by Andy Agnew Jr., Our What’s in a Name Music is by Marteka and William with Johnson Ridge Special. Music in today’s show was also provided by Bing Crosby, Billy Pollard, Jake Scheppes, and the Glennville State Bluegrass Band.

 

 

 

 

Racism and homophobia, love and tolerance--none of these are new to Appalachia. Today, we explore the stories of Appalachians who are moved to spread love, not hate.

In West Virginia, a racist hate crime shakes a community to spread a message of tolerance.

And a Kentucky songwriter’s high lonesome tune is inspired by a gay coal miner’s true story.

Water Outages and Advisories Continue in W.Va. Coalfields

While the chemical spill in Charleston left more than 300,000 without usable water, it's a problem that folks in the coalfields deal with on a regular basis.

Last week, we heard stories of the water smelling of licorice, emptied shelves once stocked with bottled water, and other quests for clean water.  The water crisis in West Virginia's capital city lasted just a few weeks, but folks in the coalfields continue to deal with boil water advisories and outages.

Mountainous regions like southern West Virginia have an abundance of water, but the terrain along with aging infrastructure have been creating access issues for decades. Many of the current water systems in place today in the coalfields were installed in the early 1900's by coal companies. Coal operators, jobs, and most people left the area, leaving remnants of a once bustling economy including some beautiful buildings, coal tipples, and water systems. 

For some communities a boil water advisory is a way of life, like in Keystone, West Virginia, in McDowell County, where residents have been on an advisory since 2010. The town's neighboring sister city, Northfork, has been on a boil water advisory since 2013.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’re marking the one-year anniversary of the Elk River Chemical Spill in Charleston, W.Va. that temporarily left 300,000 without water.

Remembering West Virginia Native, "Little" Jimmy Dickens

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