Roxy Todd

Reporter/ Producer Inside Appalachia

Roxy Todd is a reporter and co-producer for Inside Appalachia and has been a reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting since 2014. Her stories have aired on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Marketplace. She’s won several awards, including a regional AP Award for best feature radio story, and also two regional Edward R. Murrow awards for Best Use of Sound and Best Writing for her stories about Appalachian food and culture.

In 2017, she won first place in Public Radio News Directors Inc.’s (PRNDI) Nationally Edited Soft Feature category for her story titled “In Coal Country, Farmers get creative to bridge the fresh produce gap.” The radio show and podcast she helps produce, Inside Appalachia, won first place in PRNDI’s Long Documentary category for an episode titled “Hippies, Home Birth and the History of Birthing Babies in Appalachia.”

Roxy is a native of middle Tennessee. In 2005 she graduated from Warren Wilson College, where she studied Creative Writing, theater and education. 

Ways to Connect

Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Across Appalachia, thousands of coal miners have suffered from black lung disease. In the 1960s, miners organized a movement to end the chronic condition. They convinced Congress to pass new laws that were supposed to make black lung a thing of the past. Today, conditions underground have changed, and the disease has come roaring back. For this episode of Inside Appalachia, we are taking another listen to this show which aired in the spring. 

Eric Douglas / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Immigration lawyer Paul Saluja represents many immigrants in West Virginia who are trying to get their citizenship. But an increased need for pro-bono lawyers nationally has inspired him to spend a few months this fall volunteering out West. He’ll be representing families and children who traveled across the Mexican border.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting spoke with Saluja about immigration across the country and here in the Mountain State.


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A religious organization in West Virginia has issued a statement, condemning recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton, and other hate speech invoking violence against immigrants. 

The West Virginia Council of Churches released a press release Friday, calling on lawmakers to fund efforts to understand the root causes of gun violence, white supremacy, and hate crimes against immigrants. The Council also urged foundations to assist in these efforts to curb the tide against hate and violence, and asks people in power to refrain from hateful remarks against those of other faiths.


Brian Peshek/ The Allegheny Front

The economy of central Appalachia has long revolved around extractive industries: timber, coal, oil and natural gas. The jobs associated with these industries are often good paying jobs. They also can bring environmental and health issues to the region. 

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll explore how an increase in natural gas development has brought challenges and concerns, both for our health and our natural environment. But for some, the jobs and economic benefits that come with this increased activity are welcome, especially as so many jobs have left our region in recent years. 


John Hale / WVPB

School is, or soon will be, back in session, so we wanted to take another listen to an episode we originally aired in May, about the devastating effects a school closure can have on a community.

Basketball was a big deal for the small town of Northfork, in McDowell County, West Virginia. The high school team won the state championship eight years in a row.

“Little old ladies who wouldn’t know a football from a basketball became big fans because it brought positive notoriety and attention to the community,” Northfork alumni Gary Dove recalled.

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The West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training confirms a fatal incident occurred around 8 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, at the Kanawha Eagle South Hollow Preparation Plant.

Preliminary information indicates a plant electrician sustained injuries from an electric shock. State officials say the victim, whose name has not yet been released, was transported by paramedics to a local hospital but did not survive. 


Benny Becker/ WMMT

Our region has faced major economic changes and challenges in the past decade. But if you know our region’s history, this story of boom and bust, renewal and recession, is an all too familiar story. In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll explore how these economic changes affect people, our friends, our neighbors, and how entire communities can be uprooted by the closing of a local factory, or coal-mine layoffs. 


Dept. of Defense

About 40 percent of veterans who receive medical care through the Veterans Health Administration are now covered at urgent care clinics. This expansion of benefits for veterans is part of the Mission Act, which went into effect last month. 


Caitlin Tan / WVPB

For many people in Appalachia, the lakes, rivers and creeks are the first places we swam, played in the water or caught crawdads. For many adults, our waterways are some of the best places to get outdoors and cool off in the summer. We have whitewater rafting, swimming, boating and even scuba diving to choose from (yes, scuba diving, you read that right.)  


For many, summer is often associated with camp and quintessential camp activities like swimming, making s’mores and telling ghost stories.

Last week, a group of nine students in Pocahontas County took telling ghost stories a step further, by learning how to make short, animated films at Monster Movie Camp.


Caitlin Tan/ WVPB

On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’re taking another listen to a show we aired in March. It’s an off-the-beaten-path tour of some of the region’s alternative cultures and economies. We’ll visit a factory where workers are reviving the art of glassmaking. We’ll hear how farmers and chefs are returning to some of our old-fashioned recipes for inspiration and attempting to reshape our region’s economy in the process.

And we’ll go back to the 1970s to hear what it was like to be part of the LGBT community in Roanoke, Virginia.

Michelle Hanks

What is the human impact of a failure to prioritize workplace safety? In this episode, we’ll explore how weak regulatory laws, and a failure to prioritize worker safety, may be contributing to more deaths, and a higher risk of workplace accidents -- both at the state and national levels. 


Daniel Walker/ WVPB

The West Virginia Historic Preservation Office is awarding 21 grants, totaling more than $400,000, to help rebuild and restore historic sites across the state. One of the projects includes a grant to help make repairs to one of the last remaining operational gristmills in the state.


Dolly Sods, spruce trees, landscape of valley below
Chad Matlick / WVPB

“Montani Semper Liberi ⁠— Mountaineers Are Always Free” is West Virginia’s state motto, but it is more than that. It is a belief system that is not just true about the Mountain State. It rings true throughout Appalachia and even mountains on other continents. 

On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we'll take a look at how the natural environment has influenced our lives. 


Jesse Wright / WVPB

“Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis”, a personal memoir by JD Vance, was on the New York Times Bestseller list for 24 weeks. After the 2016 presidential election, some people read the book hoping to gain insights into the region. It sold more than a million copies, and a Ron Howard film is now in the works.

West Virginia University Press recently published a new book called “Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy.” The book includes essays, poetry and photos from 40 activists, artists and poets.

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More than 1,400 bridges across West Virginia are in “poor” condition, according to the Federal Highway Administration. According to a new report by the agency, 1,444 bridges in the state, or nearly 20 percent, are in disrepair, the second highest rate in the country. Some advocacy groups are voicing concerns that the state's infrastructure problems could worsen if a federal proposal to allow larger cargo trucks to hit the road is approved. 

Anne Li / WVPB

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’re taking another listen to an episode we aired last winter. With the political season heating up, we probably all need another reminder.

We’re wading into the American political divide and bringing you voices with distinct points of view from opposite sides of the country. It’s no secret that these days, we live in the divided states of America. Sometimes, it can feel like the only thing that unites us anymore is that now-nearly universal experience of sitting awkwardly around the Thanksgiving table with family members who have different political beliefs, trying to find a way to avoid politics altogether. 


courtesy Still Hollow

Still Hollow Distillery isn’t close to any interstate exit. It’s in Randolph County, West Virginia, not far from the Pendleton County line, and it’s nestled in the high Allegheny mountains. You can only get there by driving curvy two-lane roads.  


Adobe Stock/ Yurii Zushchyk

For a variety of reasons, breastfeeding is just not possible for everyone. Formula was a lifesaving development when it was first created. Before formula, a lot of babies who did not have access to adequate breast milk starved to death. 

Sometimes wet nurses provided babies with nourishment, if their mothers could not, or did not want, to breastfeed. These were usually women who earned an income by breastfeeding other women’s babies. In some cultures around the world, even today, milk sharing is a socially accepted practice among sisters and close friends who support each other by feeding a baby if the mother cannot produce enough milk. 


Caitlin Tan / WVPB

People in Appalachia have made spirits for hundreds of years. Some people even say Appalachians are among the best at making whiskey and moonshine. But this history is sometimes coupled with negative stereotypes. Outsiders have long portrayed Appalachians as dangerous, lawless moonshiners.

courtesy PETA

Three young pigs who were involved in vehicle accidents are being honored with a billboard - sponsored by PETA, the animal rights organization. The billboard is located off Interstate 64 Westbound near the Cross Lanes Exit.


Ben Curtis / AP Photo

Updated: Thursday, June 13, 2019 at 4:05 p.m.

A Morgantown drag performer who told police they were attacked over Memorial Day weekend has filed paperwork to discontinue an investigation into the incident. Local police say they found inconsistencies in the alleged victim's account of the incident and are following up on the matter.

Adobe Stock/ Robert Hainer

Only 17 percent of Americans have paid family leave from their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the early 1990s, the Family Leave Act was passed. It requires most employers to offer workers 3 months off after the birth of a baby — both men and women. But here’s the catch, employers don’t have to pay them for the time off.


Patrick Semansky / AP Photo

Three priests have resigned from their high-ranking positions in West Virginia, according to a press release from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. 


Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Doctors point to overwhelming evidence that breast milk is superior to formula. But breastfeeding rates in the United States continue to be low. Reasons for that may be lack of paid maternity leave in the U.S., challenges breastfeeding at work, the role of WIC in subsidizing formula and the fact that for many women, breastfeeding, although natural, is a learned skill and there aren't enough people teaching techniques. 

In this episode more than a dozen women will share their stories about motherhood, breastfeeding, and society’s demands. 


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**This story has been updated on June 7, 2019.

A 15-foot python escaped a week ago in Morgantown. As of today, it has not been found and local police have stopped their official search. According to Morgantown police, the snake was last seen Friday, May 31. 

Photos by StoryCorps, graphic by Jesse Wright/WVPB

StoryCorps producers brought their mobile recording studio to Charleston, West Virginia, in fall 2018, and recorded more than 100 stories. These recording are between friends, co-workers and family members. StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. These recordings will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in the largest collection of oral histories in the world.

We edited and selected a few of those conversations for this episode of Inside Appalachia.

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West Virginia has the third-highest rate of African American homicide victims in the nation, according to a study by the Violence Policy Center


Caitlin Tan / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia, we explore how our cultural traditions change over time and evolve as they get passed from person to person.

 

How does foklife fit into our already busy, and frankly, quite stressful lives?

“Henry Glassie, another folklorist, says that folklore is the creation of the future out of the past. So in order to know where we're headed, we have to know about these traditions in the past,” explained West Virginia state folklorist Emily Hilliard.


Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Across most of central Appalachia, the population is declining as young people leave to find work. Those who stay, are rapidly aging. In West Virginia, for instance, about 16 percent of the population is 65 or older, according to a Department of Health and Human Resources report. Seniors are expected to be about a quarter of the total population by 2030. 


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