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Dear Red States and Blue States, Can We Talk?

Anne Li
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Coal miner Jonathan Griffith sits with his wife, Jessica Griffith, 2017. The family lives in Wyoming County, West Virginia.

This week on Inside Appalachia, 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. 

One person who doesn’t shy away from these difficult discussions is reporter Trey Kay, a native West Virginian who spends most of his time in New York now. Last fall, in the weeks leading up to the midterm election, Trey used his position at the crossroads of red and blue to produce a special series that explores political divides in our country. It’s called "Red State Blue State", and it was a partnership between West Virginia Public Broadcasting and KCRW in Santa Monica, California.

And we'll hear how Trey Kay’s politically diverse family finds a way to be together and even stir the pot...a pot of apple butter, to be more precise. There are some things that can still bring us together. Like food, and hard work. Every year, Kay’s family comes together for a bit of both, in an annual tradition they call “Apple Butter.”

Two years ago, Appalachia voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. Many national political reporters are asking the question, how do Trump voters feel President Trump is doing now, two years in? For one view, host Jessica Lilly revisits someone we heard from in 2017, back when Trump was first elected.

Coal miner Jonathan Griffith recalls how the excitement grew in a coal mine on the evening shift during election night. “You could just tell that the more throughout the night everybody just got a little more productive. The next day everybody was excited to go because they knew something better was going to happen,” Griffith said.

We’ll hear how he and his family are doing now, two years later, and if their views of President Trump have changed.

Inside Appalachia is produced by Roxy ToddJesse Wright is our executive producer. Eric Douglas is our associate producer. Catherine Moore edited our show this week. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. We’d love to hear from you. Send us tweet @InAppalachia.


Jessica can be heard on Inside Appalachia and West Virginia Morning the station’s daily radio news program. You can reach her at jlilly@wvpublic.org
Roxy Todd joined West Virginia Public Broadcasting in 2014 and works as the producer for Inside Appalachia. She's the recipient of a National Edward R. Murrow Award for "Excellence in Video," for a story about the demands small farmers face in West Virginia. She also won a National PMJA Award For "Best Feature" for her story about the history of John Denver's song "Country Roads." You can reach her at rtodd@wvpublic.org.
Eric is a native of Kanawha County who graduated from Marshall University with a degree in journalism. He has written for newspapers and magazines throughout his career. He is an author, writing both nonfiction and fiction, including a series of thriller novels set in locations around the world. You can reach Eric at edouglas@wvpublic.org