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Stories of Love, Friendship and Loss from StoryCorps: Inside Appalachia

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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.

Larry Groce and Bob Thompson in the StoryCorps booth talking about Bob's move to the Mountain State.
Credit StoryCorps

West Virginia Music Hall of Fame member Bob Thompson moved from New York City almost 60 years ago to attend what is now West Virginia State University. Listen to Bob and his friend Larry Groce, the host and artistic director of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s nationally distributed music show Mountain Stage, talk about moving from the Big Apple to Charleston, West Virginia and why he stayed.

You will also hear two stories about grief and loss. Coffee shop owner and barista Bridgette Kidd lost a good friend to a drug overdose. She said she wanted to record a conversation when StoryCorps came to West Virginia, so she called her best friend Mark Hatfield. Kidd said later that they didn’t plan any questions for their interview, but partway through their conversation, Mark asked Bridget about her experience with grief and finding a way forward after losing a loved one. In a separate recording, Danny McNeeley and Tim Albee talked about what it was like for each of them to lose their previous life partners.

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Credit StoryCorps
Elizabeth Dinkins and Kathy Zerkle

The rivers of Appalachia have a way of bringing people together and establishing friendships. Elizabeth Dinkins and National Park Service river ranger Kathy Zerkle share their experiences working as river guides in West Virginia and talk about how the river has influenced them.

Mike Friel speaks with his friend and colleague Deacon Stone about his childhood to learn what it was like to be estranged from his father.

Karen Ireland and Roger May discussed the effects the West Virginia water crisis and the opioid addiction epidemic have had on their relationship. Ireland has long advocated for clean water. May is the director of Looking at Appalachia, a crowd-sourced photo archive of the region. Both are community activists.

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We had help producing Inside Appalachia this week from Caitlin Tan, Brittany Patterson and Shayla Klein.

Inside Appalachia is produced by Roxy ToddEric Douglas is our associate producer. Jesse Wright is our executive producer and he also edited this show. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. We’d love to hear from you. Tweet us @InAppalachia.

You can send us an email to Inside Appalachia @ wvpublic dot org - or address your letters to Inside Appalachia at West Virginia Public Broadcasting, 600 Capitol Street, Charleston, West Virginia 25301.

Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

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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 is a reporter and producer for Inside Appalachia and has been a reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting since 2014. She’s won several awards, including a regional AP Award for best feature radio story, and also two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. 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