Arts & Culture

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, many farmers wage a never-ending battle with weeds. “Pigweed” or as folks in Arkansas call it “Satan’s Weed” -- is one of the hardest to get rid of. 

Farmers across the nation are divided over the use of the controversial herbicide called Dicamba. The chemical has the tendency to drift and damage nearby crops and plants.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Us & Them host Trey Kay and his colleague Loretta Williams have been following the issue with their developing story called “Farm Wars.”

Eir-Anne Edgar / Courtesy Photo

West Virginia-raised musician and artist Daniel Johnston died this week at the age of 58. Known best for his earnest and harrowing lo-fi pop songs, Johnston remained an underground hero for most of his life. His influence, though, continues to stretch across musical and artistic genres -- and around the world.

Whether you’ve heard of Daniel Johnston or not, here’s a quick warning: There’s really no way to fully condense his life and work into a few minutes worth of radio or a short written article. 

There are full-length documentaries for that -- films that show a brilliant, yet tortured person. There are flashes of genius interspersed with dark stories about psychotic episodes, bad hallucinogenic trips, and unrequited love.

In the backdrop, of course, are songs that have inspired countless people.

A view of the Monogahela River in Morgantown, W.Va., from beside Woodburn Hall, on West Virginia University's Downtown Campus.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Inside Appalachia’s What’s in a Name segment explores the history and folklore of the names of Appalachian places. For the latest segment, we dug a little deeper into a debate we’ve had here in our newsroom -- the origins of the name of one of our rivers --- and how to pronounce it.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

We have a very musical West Virginia Morning for you. We’ll hear from singers in Oregon, a pop musician from the Northern Panhandle, and fiddlers in Clay County who have been handing down old-time music for a long time.

First up, get your popcorn ready — this Saturday evening, you can watch our new documentary, In Tune, about the old-time music community in West Virginia.

As Roxy Todd reports, one of the musicians in the film is teaching traditional music to the next generation through the West Virginia Humanities Council’s Folklife Apprenticeship program.

Harry Cabluck / AP Photo

Musician and artist Daniel Johnston was known for eccentric and sometimes harrowing pop songs colored by childlike innocence and romantic longing.  His life and work have been seen as an inspiration to many artists and musicians.

Johnston was found dead at home Wednesday morning at the age of 58. According to a statement from his family, he died of natural causes. 

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

West Virginia's new Roman Catholic bishop was installed late last month at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling. Bishop Mark Brennan was previously auxiliary bishop of Baltimore.

Pope Francis named the 72-year-old Brennan to replace Bishop Michael Bransfield, who resigned in September 2018 amid allegations of sexual and financial misconduct. Glynis Board spoke with the new bishop. Here’s some of that conversation.


Images of the covers of the books fantasy author Craig Halloran has written.
Courtesy image

Swords, sorcery, other worlds and plenty of action are staples of the fantasy book genre. Craig Halloran, from Charleston, West Virginia, has written 70 books in 10 years, taking his readers to far-off lands. 


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.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, more than 200 mines are idled or not producing coal across central Appalachia. About half of them have been that way for three or more years, avoiding regulatory requirements for mine cleanup.

The Ohio Valley ReSource partnered with the Center for Public Integrity to learn more about how mine operators capitalize on this regulatory loophole.

In the second of two reports, energy and environment reporter Brittany Patterson introduces us to a resident who lives below a coal mine that has been idled for years.

The Axis 1 is an adaptive controller that was created by BlueTip Gaming. Adaptive controllers like this one help people with disabilities play video games.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


For people with disabilities, video games can help them feel more included and accepted in social circles. 

“In a video game, you don't know that I have a disability,” Mark Barlet, the founder of The AbleGamers Charity in Kearneysville, Jefferson County, explained. But not everyone with a disability can play video games with a traditional controller. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, video games can help who have disabilities feel more included and accepted among their peers in social circles. But not everyone with a disability can play video games with a traditional controller. As Liz McCormick reports, one nonprofit organization in Kearneysville, West Virginia, has been trying to change that.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This Labor Day, members of the United Mine Workers of America marched eleven miles from the town of Marmet in West Virginia to Racine. As Emily Allen reports, the route traces part of a much longer journey miners made almost a century ago. 


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.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a few counties throughout the state are implementing a new kind of court for families dealing with abuse and neglect cases. We also bring you a preview of this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia on waterways and this week’s Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

Trish Hatfield with her husband Jim and their son Ben. Trish’s question “Where does the phrase, ‘West by God Virginia’ come from?” won our latest Wild, Wondering West Virginia poll.
Courtesy of Trish Hatfield

Here at West Virginia Public Broadcasting we’ve been asking listeners what they wonder most about West Virginia.

The latest question that won out in an online poll came to us from St. Albans resident Trish Hatfield. She asked “Where does the phrase ‘West by God Virginia’ come from?” WVPB reached out to experts across the state and discovered one of the first times the phrase was found in a publication — and we have a good idea why it has stuck around.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we explore the history of a certain, very well-known phrase throughout the Mountain State – “West by God Virginia.” And we look at the latest news headlines.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as the climate continues to change, ongoing research considers how the Mountain State will have to adapt. We hear from researchers looking closely at the matter. We also hear a conversation with author Christy Smith on her debut novel "Killed It."

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Joseph Turner grew up in the hills and hollers of West Virginia. He went on to attend an ROTC program at then-West Virginia State College and Institute. He was one of more than a dozen generals produced by that program. He served as a pilot on the front lines in Vietnam, and then had a lifetime career with the Army Reserves serving in Atlanta and in the Pentagon, as well as being a long-haul Delta pilot.

He was recently inducted into the West Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame. Freelance reporter Douglas Imbrogno interviewed Tuner for 100daysinappalachia.com and learned about how his aviation career, including how he was inspired as a boy by a certain Daredevil, West Virginia pilot.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as kids begin to return to school this year, many adults are unpacking new education legislation state lawmakers passed a few months ago. Among many changes, new rules will make charter schools an option for the first time in the state’s history.

Emily Schultz is the director for state advocacy and policy with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Lawmakers consulted her as they shaped the education reform bill. But Schultz wasn’t happy with all the aspects of the bill. Glynis Board spoke with her about West Virginia’s new law.

Scott McCloskey / The Intelligencer via AP

West Virginia's new Roman Catholic bishop is set to be installed this week.

A ceremony is scheduled for Thursday at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling for the Most Rev. Mark Brennan, who previously was auxiliary bishop of Baltimore.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we speak with a police officer turned sociologist. He offers a researcher’s perspective on gun violence. We also hear a report from The Allegheny Front on fracking concerns in Ohio, and we hear this week’s Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

The train bridge across the New River as seen from Hawk's Nest in Fayette County, W.Va.
Eric Douglas / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Our next Wild, Wondering West Virginia question comes to us from Trish Hatfield of St. Albans, West Virginia. Her question won the latest voting round of popular questions.

Trish asks, “Where does the phrase, ‘West By God Virginia’ come from?” West Virginia Public Broadcasting got in touch with her to learn more about her curiosity. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we continue a series that considers how some communities in our region have been impacted by deindustrialization. We also hear the latest in our ongoing series, “Wild, Wondering West Virginia.”

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.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, West Virginia lost one of its finest traditional musicians earlier this summer -- ballad singer Phyllis Marks. State folklorist Emily Hilliard reads a tribute Marks and her legacy in Appalachia.

Associate Producing Director Peggy McKowen and Founder and Producing Director Ed Herendeen speak at an event for the 2019 season of CATF. Photo taken May 2019.
Contemporary American Theater Festival / catf.org

The Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia just closed on its 29th season. The festival draws visitors from all over the world to West Virginia and has helped the state stand out in the professional theater scene.

Courtesy: University of Illinois Press

When Cicero Fain began working on his Ph.D., he took a deep look at the black community in Huntington, West Virginia. He wanted to understand where it began and what helped i to thrive. That research ultimately became his new book “Black Huntington: An Appalachian Story.”

One major factor that boosted growth in Huntington was the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad. When Collis P. Huntington decided to build a depot in Huntington, he needed workers. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown just closed on its 29th season. The festival draws visitors from all over to West Virginia and has helped the state stand out in the professional theater scene. Liz McCormick sat down with Associate Producing Director Peggy McKowen to talk about the festival’s legacy, impact and what’s ahead for its 30th season.

Phyllis Marks performing outside the Humanities Council’s MacFarland Hubbard House, in 2016.
Mike Keller / West Virginia Humanities Council

Ballad singer Phyllis Marks, a native of Gilmer County, West Virginia, passed away June 22, 2019 at the age of 92.

According to folklorist Gerry Milnes, Marks was the last active ballad singer in the state who, as she says, “learned by heart,” via oral transmission, namely from her mother, Arlene Layfield Frashure, and her grandmother, Sarah Margaret Messenger Layfield, who were of Irish ancestry.

Marks was among West Virginia’s finest musicians and was an exceptional bearer of traditional unaccompanied singing in the Appalachian region.

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