Arts & Culture

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Inside Appalachia is looking at some of the ways artists are challenging stereotypes in Appalachia in a new episode out today. People on the outside looking in often misunderstand Appalachia’s cultural ways and traditions. This may come as a surprise, but those same attitudes are often leveled at people from the Middle East.

Eric Douglas brings us the story of a podcast that wants to connect the people of Appalachia and those of the Arabic World.

Christy Salters, who hails from Itmann, Wyoming County, speaks at the 10th anniversary gala for Fairness WV on Sept. 28 in Charleston.
Courtesy of David Whittaker

It’s 1996. We’re in Las Vegas. Wyoming County native Christy Martin is in the ring, fighting the Irish boxer Deirdre Gogarty.  

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the U.S. Department of Labor recently announced nearly $5 million dollars for worker training programs in Appalachia. It’s the latest influx of funding aimed at blunting the job losses in the region’s coal sector. But critics of those programs say worker training alone is no solution. The Ohio Valley ReSource’s Becca Schimmel reports.

On a recent Friday afternoon, Sandra Hill leads a painting class at an arts center nestled amid rolling Virginia hills, about an hour and a half drive northwest of Washington, D.C.

Each of the 10 adult students has a canvas balanced on an easel in front of them. They're dabbing paintbrushes loaded with dark green paint along the edge of a lake, the beginnings of a glowing sunset in the background.

"And think tree! Don't just go tap, tap, tap any old place. Remember, trees have depth to them!" she reminds the class.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, Charleston hosted the annual West Virginia Book Festival during the weekend. Organizers estimate the event draws between 3,000 to 5,000 attendees each year.

But some would-be attendees promised not to show up and others came to protest this year. Emily Allen has more about the event and the conservative sci-fi author in this year’s speaker line up, Orson Scott Card, whose presence created the stir.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, growing up in poverty makes it difficult to access good opportunities and to succeed in our society. But when you live in an area of concentrated poverty, the struggles intensify. That’s according to new information from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Eric Douglas brings us the story.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the best-selling author of all time will be at the West Virginia Book Festival this weekend. James Patterson has sold more than 100 million books. He told Eric Douglas by phone he will be telling stories, but he also has a greater purpose.

Courtesy Photo

The best-selling author of all time will be at the West Virginia Book Festival this weekend. 


Author Crystal Wilkinson.
Courtesy Crystal Wilkinson

Author Crystal Wilkinson is the 2019 Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence at Shepherd University.

Wilkinson’s second book Water Street was chosen by the West Virginia Library Commission as this year’s One Book One West Virginia common read.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, author Crystal Wilkinson is this year’s Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence at Shepherd University.

Wilkinson grew up in Kentucky with her grandparents. Her work celebrates being black in Appalachia. Liz McCormick spoke to Wilkinson last week. Here’s an excerpt from the interview beginning with Wilkinson sharing one of her short stories from her book, "Blackberries, Blackberries".

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, communities along the Tug Fork River in Mingo County are touting their waterway as a draw for outdoor recreational events. But there’s still a lot of work to be done in the river, to make sure it’s safe and clean. 

Emily Allen joined a group of volunteers and state workers yesterday [Monday] as they removed hundreds of old tires from the river.

Journalists Sarah Smarsh and Ken Ward Jr. discuss the state of rural journalism at Robert Wood Johnson's Life in Rural America symposium.
Shawn Poynter / Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

In 2018, Sarah Smarsh released her New York Times bestselling memoir The Heartland, exploring her childhood growing up on a farm in central Kansas. It was a national book award finalist and thrust her into the spotlight for writing about life in rural America from rural America.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, as the Ohio Valley’s coal industry continues to decline, many coal-dependent communities are left asking, ‘What’s next?’

For some, a different kind of natural resource could be the key. Energy and environment reporter Brittany Patterson visited one community in southwest Virginia that is betting big on outdoor recreation – and getting some help from an unusual local resident.

Appalachia’s Deep History Of Resistance

Sep 27, 2019
Becky Crabtree sits chained in her 1971 Ford Pinto, suspended over a trench at a Mountain Valley Pipeline construction site on her property in Monroe County, W.Va..
Appalachians Against Pipelines

When a group of Kentucky miners decided to block a coal-laden train from leaving a bankrupt mine in July, they weren’t just laying claim to missing paychecks.

The miners in Harlan County won attention across the United States for their willingness to put their bodies on the line for their beliefs. In doing so, they’re invoking the long-entrenched spirit of civil disobedience and direct action in the Appalachian Mountains. The mine wars of the early 20th century led to the rise of American unions in the 1930s and 1940s, but it’s not just coal miners who have laid claim to a history of activism.

Courtesy of Lacy Hale

Scavenger. Trash animal. Chicken killer. Hero. People here in Appalachia have lots of feelings when it comes oppossums — or "possums" as some people call them. A town in Harlan County, Kentucky found this out first-hand when they decided to feature a possum on a mural in their downtown.

It was a clear, sunny day in May and Lacy Hale was putting the finishing touches on a mural destined for a brick wall in downtown Harlan, Kentucky.


Love And Tradition Passed Down Through A Guitar

Sep 27, 2019
John Nakashima/ WVPB

Mill Point is a blink-and-you'll miss it wide spot off the twisty mountain roads of Pocahontas County, West Virginia.  It's also the home of Bill Hefner, a luthier who isn't just making guitars, he's passing his tradition of meticulous craftmanship down to the next generation.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, at least two organizations in West Virginia specialize in bringing medical care to those without housing. Corey Knollinger followed one of those organizations on their weekly street rounds in the Northern Panhandle to find out how nurses and doctors interact with those who are experiencing homelessness.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a website that brings local history to life is expanding, thanks to a hefty grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Emily Allen visited Marshall University in Huntington, where the program was developed, and learned about some of the town’s culture and history, silently embedded in structures left behind and often overlooked.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In the latest episode of Inside Appalachia, we hear how the opioid crisis is reshaping life in some Appalachian communities, and why people across our region are calling for new approaches to care for babies who are exposed to opioids in the womb, and their mothers. Our assistant news director, Glynis Board, guest-hosts this episode. On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear the first part of Inside Appalachia’s show.

West Virginia University

A project to digitize historical newspaper archives in West Virginia has landed another grant.

The West Virginia University Libraries' West Virginia & Regional History Center received a nearly $202,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to keep digitizing newspapers published in the state from 1790 to 1923. It's the fifth grant contribution from the National Endowment for the Humanities, bringing the group's total contribution to the center's efforts to $968,000.

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. 

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