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Inside Appalachia Inspires English Principal's Trip to W.Va.

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Our podcast "Inside Appalachia" inspired Matthew Shirley to take a trip to our region. This is a pretty cool fact by itself, made even cooler by where Matthew is from: England.

By pure chance, Matthew was staying as an Airbnb guest with our health reporter, Kara Lofton. Imagine her surprise when she found out why he came to West Virginia!

Matthew is a primary school principal in Callington, England. He became fascinated with our region after listening to the “Inside Appalachia” podcast. So he decided to come here to see it for himself.

When we found out, we invited Matthew to the station for a tour. He says there are many similarities between Appalachia and his region, Cornwall, the rugged southwestern tip of England (it’s where “Doc Martin” is filmed.)

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English native Matthew Shirley in front of West Virginia Public Broadcasting HQ in Charleston

“Certainly, each episode of ‘Inside Appalachia’ reflects things I could think on for Cornwall itself,” he told WVPB’s Bob Powell.

“There’s a really good balance on ‘Inside Appalachia,’ Matthew said. “You sometimes get the heart-rending stories about things like the floods, but you also get the variety, stories about hip-hop in the hills, or discussing the murals on the backroads.

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Credit Jessica Lilly

You never know what you’re going to get each week…I can remember the controversy over the Sheetz pepperoni roll, which quite amused me,” Matthew said.

He said he was also affected by episodes about people coming from out of state and "showing West Virginians in a bad light," he said.

For every Matthew we find out about, I wonder how many people inspired by Mountain Stage or West Virginia Morning to come to West Virginia that we DON’T know about.

If Matthew's story doesn't prove our impact, I don't know what could.


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