On this West Virginia Morning, Civil War historians are recognizing a unique local celebration that happened during the conflict in the wilds of southern West Virginia, when 20 Jewish Union soldiers came together during the conflict for a Passover feast known as a Seder.
From the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to a visit from President Barack Obama highlighting issues surrounding substance abuse and addiction, headlines about events from West Virginia in 2015 often pushed into the national spotlight.
But despite the national appeal of Blankenship and Obama, the metrics tell a different story as to the most popular stories on our website this year.
Here’s a look at the top five most viewed stories produced by our team this year:
With stunning images of Pietro’s Castle on Tyrone Road in Morgantown, this story from Jesse Wright was by far the most popular story on our website in 2015. The history is as stunning as the building itself. As Jesse reports:
Italian immigrant and stonemason Thoney Pietro earned his slice of the American Dream by building infrastructure across the region, from Mingo County to Pittsburgh. When he retired in 1928, he built a home for his family that reflected his strong Catholic faith, complete with a large cross sitting between two soaring parapets.
Data visualizations were a big draw for our audience in 2015, but it was this piece that highlighted heroin overdose death rates from our radio/digital series The Needle and the Damage Done that captivated the state and those beyond.
In 2015, everyone seemed to want to discuss what it will take to keep West Virginians from leaving. There were editorials and letters to the editor, podcasts and all other sorts of discussions on the matter. At the end of the day, though, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that West Virginia is losing population faster than any state in the country.
As I previously mentioned, 2015 was a huge step forward in West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s data and digital news efforts, this piece highlighting population change from 2010 to 2014 was another huge hit.
West Virginia is no stranger to industrial and environmental disasters and 2015 was no exception. In February, a CSX train carrying Bakken crude oil from North Dakota derailed in Fayette County, sending fireballs hundreds of feet in the air and destroying one home. This listicle–one of our initial posts on the incident–became one of the most viewed of the year.
While similar (and deadly) incidents had recently occurred elsewhere in North America, the Federal Railroad Administration cited the Fayette County incident as a reason to push for more strict regulation on crude-by-rail transport.
It’s not often a historical resort goes up for sale at auction but when the Sweet Springs Resort in Monroe County sold in November, our audience was all eyes and ears.
Ashby Berkley purchased the property, which was built in 1791, for just over half a million dollars.
As Roxy Todd reported:
[The Sweet Spring Resort] was sold to the state of West Virginia in 1941. The state renovated it as a home for the elderly in 1945. The facility closed in 1991, and the property has stood empty since. Some attempts to renovate the property have so far have failed or stalled.
Bonus: Our Most Popular Podcast Episodes
Podcasts were another huge hit for us in 2015. From the growing success of Us & Them, Inside Appalachia and The Front Porch, West Virginia Public Broadcasting began attracting a wider audience with discussions about everything from what was on everyone’s minds in the area to culture wars looming across America.
Edible Mountain follows botanists, conservationists, and enthusiastic hobbyists in the field as they provide insight on sustainable forest foraging. The episodes are designed to increase appreciation and accessibility to the abundance found in Appalachia, celebrating the traditional knowledge and customs of Appalachian folk concerning plants and their medical, religious, and social uses.
Tim James, a music education teacher at Cabell Midland High School, has earned West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Above and Beyond Award for December 2022, which recognizes excellence and creativity of Mountain State teachers.
West Virginia Public Broadcasting is proud to announce that Education Director Maggie Holley will serve on the newly formed West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) Leaders of Literacy Advisory Council.