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Five People Who Make a Difference at West Virginia Public Broadcasting

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Ken Young
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It has been a while since I have named a “Storyteller Award" winner for West Virginia Public Broadcasting. To make up for it, I am naming five – that’s right, five – WVPB Storytellers. Each employee was nominated by their peers for excellence in telling West Virginia’s story.

1. Jessica Lilly, Inside Appalachia host/southern W.Va. bureau chief

2. Roxy Todd, Inside Appalachia producer/reporter

Working with Beth Vorhees and the rest of the news crew, Jessica and Roxy have transformed “Inside Appalachia” in many ways.

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Roxy Todd

They have found a way to focus each weekly show around a topic – for example, mine safety, or clean water, or Appalachian food.

The podcast was recently recognized as one of the best in America by thetimbre.com, a site devoted to reviewing podcasts:

“I don’t know what it’s like to be from West Virginia. Short of moving there, I may never know. But for an hour every week I can suspend whatever judgments I have and look past the empty statistics about poverty and methamphetamines and try to get a sense of what it means to live there.”

Here’s what Roxy’s nominator said about her willingness to go above and beyond to get the story:

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Brynn Kusic
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Roxy Todd told the story of Hillsboro, W.Va. coming together after racist graffiti was painted on the side of a local business.

“Roxy heard of an incident in Pocahontas County where racist graffiti was painted on the side wall of a building in Hillsboro.  The business was a restaurant owned by a local woman who is married to a Jamaican man. 

“Roxy insisted that she drop her producing duties for an afternoon, drive two and a half hours to Pocahontas County and attend a meeting the residents were having to talk about racism in their community. 

"She was back in Charleston late that night.  The next morning, she was at the state Board of Education meeting at 9:00 a.m.  The board was discussing the climate change science curriculum that had made headlines.

“Through her effort and work ethic, Roxy went to great lengths to cover stories that mattered to our listeners. I admire that initiative and drive.”

And here is what Jessica Lilly’s nominator said about her initiative and drive:

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Jessica Lilly interviewing Betty Younger about water in McDowell County

“Jessica Lilly has been championing the causes of the people of Southern West Virginia her entire carrier. In the past year, we had a water crisis here in Charleston that effected about 300,000 people across the state. It reached the national news.

"Jessica took up the cause of letting everyone know that fresh running water is a daily struggle for folks in the southern part of the state, not just a couple weeks of their lives.

“In October, Jessica had a car accident that took her out of work for a few weeks. She injured her arm and had to do rehab for it. Her car was totaled. Her family came up with a loaner, but unfortunately it broke down on her.

“Through all of this, she worked from home, and at times walked to work at Concord University. Never taking a ‘woe is me’ attitude, Jessica just powers through.”

3. Teresa Wills, Morning Edition Host

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Teresa Wills

Do you realize how hard it is to talk on the radio at 5 a.m. every morning? Even harder to sound calm and pleasant, consistently, every day.

But that’s what Teresa Wills does. She’s the voice of Morning Edition on West Virginia Public Broadcasting, teaming up with Beth Vorhees to deliver news, traffic, weather, and yes, school closings. Teresa has been at WVPB for almost 13 years.

Teresa also is in charge of traffic at our radio operation – which has nothing to do with cars and trucks, but is the scheduling of underwriting and other messages throughout the day. In the past few months, Teresa also has dealt with major changes to our schedule and the “clocks” NPR uses.

More than one person submitted a nomination for Teresa. Here’s what one person said:

“She is reliable, pleasant, & frankly, is gifted with an ambassador's 'voice' for our state. She is a steady anchor for us no matter what else is going on around us. She also has an excellent way of finding better & more efficient ways to do things, which is a huge boon to our workloads!”

4. Eddie Isom, Media Sales Associate

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Credit Eddie Isom / WVPB
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WVPB
Separated at birth? Eddie Isom and Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey.

I have yet to meet a person who does not like Eddie Isom. His energy and enthusiasm for West Virginia Public Broadcasting is infectious.

Eddie was asked to switch from the TV programming department to underwriting last year. He brought his enthusiasm into his new job, and it has paid off for WVPB. Here’s what his nominator said about him:

“Eddie came on board as a member of the underwriting team last winter, and jumped into the work like a pro. Right away he brought on a brand new $10,000 underwriter from southern West Virginia, and he hasn't stopped racking up the contracts since.

“He brings a deep knowledge and love of public media to his work, and it shows when he meets with our constituents. Eddie is always upbeat and ready to take on any challenge.

“He never says ‘no’ to anything. He is a joy to work with AND he plays a mean ukelele!”

5. Dale Malcomb, IT Director

Dale is in charge of IT at West Virginia Public Broadcasting. For us, this is more than keeping our computer network running. It also means figuring out ways to transport and store huge amounts of data required for audio and video files.

Dale has worked at WVPB for 15 years, and he quietly has done his job with excellence. He also has a knack for hard-bargaining and getting the most out of our limited resources.

Dale also was nominated by more than one person. Here’s what one said:

“He works largely unseen and behind closed doors, and is not always the most popular guy because of his goals of protecting the information that belongs to the EBA. He works more hours than anyone but me probably knows about, and he does not seek credit, but deserves thanks.”

Right now, Dale is working on “The Interconnect,” a system to share and backup files between our three main facilities. Here’s what his nominator said about that:

“The Interconnect is about to come past a giant milestone, once the circuits are connected. We are a little ways out from calling it "completed", but his maneuvering and system design will give us a great infrastructure, while saving the state large dollars on our circuits.

“He also saved large sums of cash by obtaining 13 routers from the Office of Technology that were basically going to be dumped because they had been tainted as pork spending by the newspaper.

"We will be using these routers as part of the interconnect project, and for the first time since I've been here, because of the numbers of routers he got, we have backups, and automatic failovers, not just one box to nervously wait to fail.”

Each storyteller award winner will each receive a $50 gift certificate to the retailer of his or her choice.

Meanwhile, we’re always looking for new candidates for Storyteller of the Month. It can be any employee or volunteer who goes above and beyond to “Tell West Virginia’s Story.”

Please provide the following information:

1. How long has the nominated person worked here?

2. What is one example of something this person has accomplished lately - a story of success we can share?

3. We need a good picture of the person from the nominator.

Send nominations anytime to Belinda McCallister, bmccallister@wvpublic.org.


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