Inside Appalachia Announces Second-Year Folkways Corps

Mar 13, 2020

West Virginia Public Broadcasting has selected 13 storytellers to be a part of the second year of its Inside Appalachia Folkways Reporting Project.

The project expands the reporting of the Inside Appalachia team to include more stories from West Virginia, as well as expanding coverage in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and Ohio. Storytellers will explore Appalachia’s rich folklife, arts and material culture.

There are seven new corps members from across central Appalachia including Brian Koscho, Rebecca Williams, Connie Bailey, Caitlin Myers, Clara Haizlett, Trevor McKenzie and Kelley Libby. Six corps members are returning from last year including Mason Adams, Heather Niday, Lexi Browning, Rachel Greene, Zack Harold and Nicole Musgrave.

Inside Appalachia producer Roxy Todd said competition for the positions was fierce.

“We had more than 50 applicants to choose from so, this was a difficult choice for us to make,” Todd said. “Each of the reporters we selected brings something unique and creative to the project.”

The 2020-2021 Folkways Reporting Corps members are

Mason Adams of Floyd County, Va., was born in Clifton Forge and has covered Blue Ridge and Appalachian communities since 2001. Adams shifted from a career as a biologist to become a reporter in 2001 through an internship at High County News in Paonia, Colo. From 2003-2012, he wrote for The Roanoke Times, in Roanoke, Va., and has pursued freelance opportunities for a variety of outlets, including The New Republic, Politico Magazine, Yes! Magazine, Virginia Mercury, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 100 Days in Appalachia, Vice, Belt Magazine and others.

With a path in journalism shaped by her story-telling veterinarian father, Connie Bailey-Kitts of Bluefield, Va., left her home to study journalism at Iowa State University, then worked as a science journalist before returning to her native southwest Virginia for a life-altering period as a caregiver. Coming home also meant a rediscovery of Appalachia and the chance to write about its people, places and problems while reporting for a weekly newspaper and freelance writing and editing.

Lexi Browning of Milton, W.Va., is a freelance visual journalist and a second-year photojournalism graduate student at Ohio University. She earned her B.A. in Online Journalism from Marshall University in 2016. She contributes to Reuters and The Washington Post as a regional correspondent and ultimately aims to work as a staff photojournalist for a sports-centric publication.

Rachel Greene is a freelance journalist based in Durham, N.C. A 2018 graduate of the UNC School of Media and Journalism, Greene’s work focuses on environmental issues and folkways throughout Appalachia and the South.

Clara Haizlett of Bethany, W.Va., is a recent graduate of West Virginia University and producer of Sandstone Podcast. She is a multimedia storyteller inspired by folklife, cross-cultural dialogue and the natural world.

Zack Harold of Ashford, W.Va., is a southern West Virginia native, the grandson of two coal miners, the son of a Pentecostal preacher, a former staff writer with the Charleston Daily Mail, and former managing editor of WV Living and Wonderful West Virginia magazines. He currently works with WVU Extension. He enjoys playing music with his band The Sycomores.

Brian Koscho is from Athens, Ohio. He moved there in 2001 to attend Ohio University after growing up in the Rust Belt city of Lorain, Ohio. He is currently back in school, as a graduate student seeking an MFA in Communication Media Arts from Ohio University focusing on Audio Storytelling, Publication Design and regional history. He spent 12 years as the marketing director for Stuart’s Opera House and the Nelsonville Music Festival in Nelsonville, Ohio.

Kelley Libby is a radio producer based in Charlottesville, Va. Her work has been heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, BackStory, With Good Reason, Re:sound and Inside Appalachia. She enjoys traveling, listening to stories and documenting the excellence and diversity of Virginia through its folkways.

Trevor McKenzie lives in Deep Gap, N.C., where he works with manuscripts, field recordings, and other materials detailing Appalachian history and life in the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection at Appalachian State University. On nights and weekends, he performs traditional music at square dances and concerts both as a solo artist and with various string bands.

Nicole Musgrave of Whitesburg, Ky., has a Master of Arts degree in Folk Studies from Western Kentucky University and works as a public folklorist and media producer in southeast Kentucky. She currently serves as the Folklife Specialist at Hindman Settlement School, developing and implementing arts- and folklife-based programming in public schools.

Caitlin Myers is a writer, environmental educator, and amateur water scientist. She splits her time living in both Knoxville, Tenn., and Whitesburg, Ky., She's covered southern politics, social movements, and environmental justice issues with Scalawag, Science for the People, Current Affairs, Commune Magazine and others.  She is a recipient of the Kristi Havens Fellowship through Sundress Academy for the Arts.

Heather Niday of Green Bank, W.Va., is the program director for Allegheny Mountain Radio. She began as a volunteer deejay in 1998 and joined the AMR staff in 2007 as news director and became program director in 2013. Heather is a long-time musician (flute and vocal), choir director for Arbovale United Methodist Church. She and her husband co-host "Something Different," a weekly show on AMR.

Rebecca Williams of Swannanoa, N.C., is a writer, director, educator and digital media storyteller who has facilitated community­-based arts and cultural development projects for the past 25 years in Virginia, Florida, Kentucky, Oklahoma and North Carolina. Along with her husband, Jerald Pope, she co-­founded Serpent Child Productions, a non­profit dedicated to the collaborative creation of multi­disciplinary art that draws on the history and stories of community participants. Rebecca is a graduate of Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies.

These 13 storytellers make up the 2020 Folkways Reporting Corps.