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

Flynn Larsen/Sesame Workshop/AP

Sesame Street has a history of tackling big issues.

Last week, they launched a new short film to help kids going through tough times when their parents are struggling with addiction.

Credit Steve Helber/ AP

Think back to the last time you saw an Appalachian portrayed on TV, in the national media, in a book or a cartoon. Often, when people talk about Appalachians, they portray us as white, or poor, or ignorant -- or all three. But when you dig beneath the surface, and challenge the stereotypes that are often used to misrepresent people who live in our region, the story becomes much more honest, and interesting.

Roxy Todd/ WVPB

Five out of every 100 babies born in West Virginia are born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS, the physical effects experienced during withdrawal from drugs. Many of these babies are put into foster care.

There are a lot of families stepping up to take them in, but many in West Virginia  — which has the highest rate of children taken into state care in the U.S. — say they feel unprepared for the task of taking care of the children with this group of conditions.


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As many American parents struggle with opioid addiction, the number of children put into foster care in the U.S. is steadily increasing. 

In West Virginia, the foster care system has been hit particularly hard; roughly 6,700 children in the state are in foster care, an increase of almost 70% in six years. 


Roxy Todd / WVPB

What foods did your parents and grandparents cook when you were growing up? What memories of food do you hold onto after all these years?

This week on Inside Appalachia, we'll talk about food from our region. We'll explore what happens when fancy chefs start cooking up our traditional fare, and we discuss how what we consider to be staples are called "trash food" by others.

Caitlin Tan / WVPB

Across Appalachia, there are remarkable stories of resilience in the face of adversity. This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll meet several people who are recovering from drug addiction, and are finding a new path forward by learning to build stringed instruments. And we’ll learn about a rare plant that rebounded after being put on the endangered species list. And why this particular plant, called the buffalo running clover, has a secret weapon; when it’s beaten down, it bounces back even stronger.


Photo: Joanie Tobin/100 Days in Appalachia

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’re dedicating our episode to all the children who are affected by substance abuse before they're even born. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is a topic that is heartbreaking, but critically important for us to spend some time understanding. The stigma that follows mothers, and their unborn babies, is keeping them from getting the prenatal care, and help for recovery, that women across our region desperately need. 

The Green Bank Telescope at Green Bank Observatory
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Astronomers using the Green Bank Telescope in Pocahontas County have discovered a massive neutron star. Scientists believe this is the largest neutron star ever discovered. 


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An electrician was killed at a mine in Kanawha County early Tuesday morning. The incident marks the second electrician killed this summer at a mine operated by Blackhawk mining.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Today, many seniors in rural communities don’t have the support they need to live independently, safely. Who’s going to care for our elders in the years to come? In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll explore the resources available to caregivers and their loved ones. We’ll also hear what some people are doing to help seniors feel less alone and isolated.

courtesy Brandon Dennison

The founder of a West Virginia job-training organization called Coalfield Development has been awarded $250,000 from the Heinz Family Foundation. 


Brandon Dennison is being recognized for his work to help address generational poverty in central and southern West Virginia.

A man on the train tracks. Near the scene of the miners' protest in Harlan Co., KY.
CURREN SHELDON

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll look at how our history is intertwined with our future. We’ll hear from coal miners and children about how they are reshaping Appalachia, while remembering the past. Also in this episode, we’ll hear from a woman who found recovery, and a job, after struggling with drug addiction for more than two decades.

And we’ll hear from some of the miners in Harlan County, Kentucky who are protesting their employer, coal operator Blackjewel LLC. We’ll talk about what the protest says about the state of organized labor in the mines.

Some of the crew aboard a tow boat operated by Amherst Madison in W.Va.
Eric Douglas/ WVPB

A decline in coal production over the past decade affected more than just coal miners. It also impacted the riverboat industry. Amherst Madison is a riverboat company based outside Charleston, West Virginia. For decades, the company has made most of their money towing coal barges. But a downturn in coal meant the company had to look for other ways to stay afloat. 

West Virginia Public Broadcasting spent some time with these folks inside the river industry, and we asked them what the future of the industry looks like.

Captain Marvin Wooten pushes five loads of coal along the Kanawha River. He has worked for Amherst Madison since 1979.
Eric Douglas/ WVPB

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’re looking at how water shapes us ⁠— and how we’re impacting our waterways. Our rivers are a vital part of our identity as Appalachians. We depend them for survival, recreation and transportation. And we depend on rivers for economic reasons, too. 

 

The handful of riverboat companies that still operate in Appalachia have primarily made the majority of their money towing coal barges. But a downturn in coal production meant many of these companies had to look to other ways to stay afloat.

DAN SCHULTZ/ TRAVELING 219

The Tygart Valley Homestead Association in Randolph County is celebrating the opening of a new community center inside their historic school building that first opened in 1939. The school was originally part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Homestead projects.


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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