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

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.

Adobe Stock

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. 

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. 


Adobe Stock

**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.

Adobe Stock

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. 


Brittany Patterson/ WVPB

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to clean up a former mining equipment operation in Fayette County, known as the Shaffer site. On Monday, the EPA announced that the Shaffer site has been added to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites. 


Courtesy of Patricia Boyd

This week on Inside Appalachia, 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.

F. BRIAN FERGUSON / CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL

For many families in parts of eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia, the absence of clean, reliable drinking water is part of daily life.

Blaine Taylor, a 17-year-old resident of Martin County, Kentucky, struggles to manage basic hygiene when his water comes out with sediment in it.

“I had to use a case of water last night just to get enough water in my bathtub just to get myself cleaned up for today at school,” he said. “It’s rough.”


Ben Hethcoat/Marketplace

Like a slow-motion tsunami, the opioid epidemic continues to claim the lives of our friends and neighbors. Four of the top five states with the highest rates of drug overdose deaths are here, in Appalachia.

The drug epidemic is changing, but it’s not going away. People are still fighting for their loved ones and communities. This episode of Inside Appalachia looks at traditional and innovative ways law enforcement is tackling the challenge. And we’ll hear from people who end up behind bars anyway, as they struggle with substance use disorder.


Jessica Lilly / WVPB

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.

Courtesy West Virginia National Guard

Updated Story:

A West Virginia Army National Guard Soldier assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group in Kingwood has died. 


Jim Antonini, an occupational health science researcher, fields a ball at shortstop for Chico's Bail Bonds. As team captain, Antonini is in charge of the always-entertaining game write-ups that recap the misery suffered by the Morgantown softball team.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Spring is here and that means baseball season. This week on Inside Appalachia we’re taking another look at baseball throughout the region. We’ll learn about the history of early baseball in the coal camp towns of southern West Virginia and go inside the legendary baseball bat factory — the Louisville Sluggers. And we’ll meet a man who went from living in an isolated timber town in Pocahontas County, West Virginia to being a professional umpire for the Cincinnati Reds.

Kara Lofton/ West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Historically, the coal industry has shaped the economic boom and bust cycle in our region. But major changes to the industry have created new strains on our economic system here in Appalachia, and some wonder if a radical fix is needed to support the poor or underemployed middle class. Some Democrats in Congress have pointed to an idea, called Basic Universal Income, as one possible solution. Lovey Cooper, contributing editor with 100 Days in Appalachia, co-wrote an article about Basic Universal Income, or UBI,  and about what supporters and critics of this proposed economic program have to say.


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. The book sold more than a million copies, and a Ron Howard film is now in the works.

Pages