Hometown Stories Podcast

From hard-hitting to heartwarming, Hometown Stories will guide you through the Blue Ridge Mountains and into the heart of Virginia. Hometown Stories is a production of WDBJ7-TV based in Roanoke, Virginia.

December 29, 2021: A lot of us tend to make healthier eating a goal for the new year. But how can we actually turn healthy ideas into healthy habits? While working at home during a pandemic? In this episode of Hometown Stories, Dietitian Clarence Tawney gives us practical solutions for eating our way into a better year.

December 21, 2021: Yes Virginia, there is a Mrs. Claus. And she lives in Roanoke, Virginia. In this episode of Lighter Fare, we introduce you to our Mrs. Claus and take you to her workshop, where magic, love, and memory make a WDBJ7 tradition sweet each year.

December 7, 2021: All the way from Quebec, a special delivery to historic Lexington, Virginia takes precise and detailed work to get just right. In this episode of Hometown Stories, reporter Bruce Young brings us to a place where the seemingly mundane carries a tune and a story from the past.

November 11, 2021: In Episode 1 of The Final Salute, we’ll take you to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. Bedford suffered the greatest number of casualties per capita of any American town on D-Day. We’ll hear the stories about the 20 young men who were killed in the first 15 minutes of the invasion and how it affected an entire town for years to come.

October 28, 2021: Roanoke writer Beth Macy has seen her bestselling book Dopesick turned into a Hulu miniseries staring Michael Keaton. In this episode of Hometown Stories, veteran reporter Joe Dashiell talks with Macy about turning stories into screenplays, sticking up for Appalachia and her brief but tough cameo on set.

October 21, 2021: In the mid 1900s, polio outbreaks hit some communities hard - driving families to isolation and creative solutions to keep their children safe. Now, improved sanitation and vaccine campaigns have successfully eradicated most polio strains. Only one wild poliovirus strain remains. Dr. Bill Petri, Chair of the Polio Committee of the World Health Organization, joins us to talk about what’s next in the fight against what he says is an ancient disease.

October 14, 2021: In the summer of 1950, the rural community of Wythe County, Virginia had the highest number of polio cases per capita of anywhere in the country. We look back at an epidemic that has striking similarities to the COVID-19 pandemic - and what we can learn from both. In this episode of Hometown Stories, we examine the “Summer Without Children.”

September 29, 2021: What does it take to start your day? Opinions are as varied as there are ways to prepare your cuppa joe. September 29th is National Coffee Day. Our Editor Ben Riquelmy is using the day to find out which brew is best in the Hometown Stories series, Lighter Fare.

August 31, 2021: “We are literally made of star stuff.” The Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia is home to the largest fully steerable telescope in the world. From inside the observatory people, like newly named director Dr. Jim Jackson, are looking at the cosmos beyond us and within us. In this episode of Hometown Stories, Dr. Jackson helps us take a look at what’s on the horizon for the observatory and beyond.

July 20, 2021: Life after a stroke may be a lonely journey for the Rudder family. But by the numbers, they certainly aren’t alone. People living in Appalachia face greater obstacles when it comes to getting care for strokes. And we’ve learned, some of our hometowns have among the highest rate of strokes in not just Virginia, but the nation. In this episode of Hometown Stories in our series Bridging the Great Health Divide, we’re taking a look at the facts. And the faith that’s kept one Virginia family going, despite it all.

May 14, 2021: The Department of Health and Human Services is making it easier for more health care providers to prescribe a drug that could help people suffering from addiction. How might it make a difference for rural American in general and Appalachia in particular? That’s the focus of our conversation with addiction expert Cheri Hartman,

March 31, 2021: We invited Christine Baldwin, a peer recovery specialist from the Roanoke Valley’s Hope Initiative, and Dr. Robert Trestman, the Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, for a conversation In our round table discussion, we talk about resources for people looking for help for their substance use disorder

March 31, 2021: 2020 will be the worst year on record by far for fatal overdoses for Virginia. That was the grim hindsight projection forecast by one of the Commonwealth’s top medical leaders. But why? And what’s being done to stave off the power of the poppy in communities hit hard by both the opioid crisis and COVID-19? In this episode of Hometown Stories, part one in our series Bridging the Great Health Divide, we’re taking a fresh look at the epidemic inside the pandemic. And we’re looking at the bridges people in these communities are building to bring hope to those who need it most.

January 22, 2021: A Virginia WWII pilot left his cap behind when he returned home from the European theater. No one knows why. And up till now, no one in his family knew it even existed. But with the help of two strangers, a history buff in the Netherlands and a gemologist in Italy, Lt. E.B. Thrasher’s family gets a present that allows a glimpse into the past. In this episode of Hometown Stories, the cap comes home.

October 21, 2020: If the walls of a home in a small, rural town could talk, they’d hold many of the answers to questions Sarah Meadows has had nearly her whole life. Walter Reed the Medical Center grabbed news headlines this month. But Walter Reed the person has a connection to a southwest Virginia hometown that reporter Michael Alachnowicz discovered during a recent Google search.

October 16, 2020: In this episode of Hometown Stories, a story from a home project in progress. In a series we call, Lighter Fare, our Editor Ben Riquelmy puts in some manual labor. He’s shedding some light on the illuminating art of DIY and lessons learned in the shadow of failure, with a few words of wisdom from his high school shop class teacher.

October 6, 2020: Meteorologist Brent Watts is a local TV staple. Known for his trustworthy forecasts, his service to the community and his sense of humor, Watts now finds himself on the mic in a while new way. In this episode of Hometown Stories, weather for the ear.

September 7, 2020: Cities are getting hotter, but not evenly. Studies suggest poorer parts of cities are bearing the brunt of brutal summers. And more studies are working to prove that. Meteorologist Ian Cassette takes a drive around Roanoke to measure the urban heat island effect and discover ways to battle rising inequality with rising temperatures.

August 24, 2020: In a series we call Lighter Fare, our editor Ben Riquelmy tries to get to the bottom of his messy closet and initiate a quarantine clean.

August 14, 2020: It’s been three years since the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. What has happened since then? What is still to come? In this episode of Hometown Stories, we hear from WDBJ7′s Pete DeLuca who covered the events that unfolded that day. And we catch up with the families who were among those most affected by the violence.

August 12, 2020: President Trump just signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law. What could this mean for our local communities? And how did proper care of our parks, like the Blue Ridge Parkway, get pushed off for so long? In this episode of Hometown Stories, we’re taking a drive onto the parkway and detouring into the history of a bill so many are calling historic.

July 31, 2020: Just how well is your face mask stopping your spittle? Face masks are still one of the most widely recommended ways to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. In this episode of Hometown Stories, we’re asking researchers at Virginia Tech to test their effectiveness in the lab, letting their own bacteria do the talking.

July 21, 2020: The Covid-19 pandemic has moved college lectures to living rooms and graduations to front porches. In five, 10, 15, or 100 years from now, what will be remembered about this time? In this episode of Hometown Stories, we’re meeting an archivist from Virginia Tech who’s not waiting until after the pandemic to answer that question.

September 16, 2019: Regine Archer says becoming an American Citizen was one of the best days of her life. She spent part of her teenage years in hiding. In Episode 1 of Hometown Stories, you’ll hear from Regine about growing up as a Jew in Belgium during WWII, where and her sister hid in a convent where only the Mother Superior and a priest knew their true identity. Now a resident of southwest Virginia, Archer recalls what it was like to hide from Nazis, live off of rations and experience liberation by the Americans.

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