Skip to main content
A graphic of a calculator with a lightning bolt.

Episode 8 - Through the Math Forest

There was this teacher who believed that the way math was taught could be different in her very rural county. That kids could better understand it and make it their own. That they could score much higher. That teachers could stay longer. She was right.

Episode 7 Cover

Episode 7 - Come Home, Daddy

Twenty-two years ago a crime took place in the middle of the night. It left a 5-year-old with scars and without her father. As she grew up, Katie Haught wanted the justice system to know the truth about her dad.

Line drawing of a microscope with a small lightning bolt.

Episode 6 - Fourth-Grade Scientists

Two college students arrived at a school gym and showed young children how water works. By the end of it, the kids knew that water doesn't keep itself clean. And that science is this thing that West Virginians do all the time. And they can do it, too.

Camera icon

Episode 5 - Full Color

What does the word “Appalachia” conjure? For a lot of people, the answer was “black and white photography.” You can still see a lot of the old-timey photos in a Google search. Nancy Andrews and 100 Days in Appalachia are changing that.

Outline of pencil writing

Episode 4 - Eyes Glowing

After the 2016 election, everyone wanted to get to know the real West Virginia. And it turns out that there’s a book that can help them do just that – and it’s full of some of the most noteworthy and fresh literary voices from this place.

Sparked Episode Icon - plants

Episode 3 - Set to Refresh

A lot of people need jobs in Southern West Virginia. And area farmers needed to sell their food. Ben Gilmer put some skin in the game and is putting ex-coal miners back to work on mountaintop and rooftop farms.

Laptop icon

Episode 2 - Girls Can Code

When Ysabel Bombardiere walked into a middle school classroom to recruit girls for a coding club, she heard boys say, “Girls cannot code.” The girls in the Kanawha County Girls Who Code club are now saying, “Wanna bet?”

Sparked Episode Icon - Banjo

Episode 1 - Old Home Place

You might know about Appalachian music. Kids in West Virginia sometimes don’t. Travis Stimeling and his band of college students are teaching them the music from their past and how it can be part of their future.

Sparked Trailer episode icon - Sparked wordmark

Sparked Trailer

Sparked is a podcast of West Virginia University Magazine that is all about the people who are changing Appalachia’s future for the better.

What We Do

Sparked is a podcast of West Virginia University Magazine that is all about the people who are changing Appalachia’s future for the better. We know you’ve heard about our challenges. But there’s more to the story. Reporting on the region every day for several years has shown us how the University’s people are setting off sparks that are changing the economy, jobs, education and perceptions of Appalachian culture.

Sparked is produced by Raymond Thompson Jr. and Diana Mazzella with web development by Austin Isinghood and design by Elizabeth Ford.

Check in every two weeks this fall to hear the latest episodes.

Who We Are
Raymond Thompson Jr.

Raymond is the lead photographer, videographer and multimedia editor for WVU Magazine, and co-producer of Sparked. He recently dragged several case of photographic equipment, a pen and a notebook to the West Coast to photograph and write a story about the endangered California condor. Before joining WVU Magazine he was a staff photojournalist outside Washington, D.C. When he is not podcasting, he can be found chasing his preschooler across the living room floor and developing film into the late hours of the evening. 

Diana Mazzella
Diana is editor of WVU Magazine and co-producer of Sparked. Her stories for the magazine have included the discovery of fast radio bursts in outer space, how a journalist ended up helping to free more than 2,000 enslaved fishermen and how a veterinarian led the charge that saved hundreds of horses after Hurricane Katrina. Before starting at WVU in 2010, she was a newspaper reporter covering police and courts. She fell in love with audio as an intern putting together the daily news capsules for local NPR stations.