Support the news

Diving Deep Into Coal Country With 'Embedded'46:59
Download

Play
In this May 2016 photo, coal miner Scott Tiller prepares to head into an underground mine less than 40-inches high at dusk in Welch, W.Va. (David Goldman/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
In this May 2016 photo, coal miner Scott Tiller prepares to head into an underground mine less than 40-inches high at dusk in Welch, W.Va. (David Goldman/AP)

With David Wright

A year after President Trump said coal is back, NPR’s Kelly McEvers goes deep inside coal country for the podcast “Embedded.”

Guests:

Kelly McEvers, host of the NPR podcast “Embedded,” which is in the midst of a new season called "Coal Stories." (@kellymcevers)

Bill Estep, reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader covering Southern and Eastern Kentucky. (@billestep1)

From The Reading List:

NPR: "Embedded: Coal Stories 1" — "But do the miners end up working their asses off? Like, can Trump keep his promise? Those are the questions we're going to ask over our next few episodes because the people in coal country were important in the election, and they're going to be important in the next elections. Like it or not, whether Republicans or Democrats can connect to them matters to who ends up running this country."

The Lexington Herald-Leader: "These fading Kentucky coal towns might merge. They face hard choices either way." — "For decades, each city was something of an island, each with its own schools, jobs and places to shop, worship and play, even though they are strung together end to end near the state’s highest peak over just a few miles.

U.S. Steel and International Harvester sold the houses in Lynch and Benham to residents decades ago, turned over buildings to city governments and closed their mines, but the cities remained separate.

They have been in decline for awhile.

Lynch lost 57 percent of its population between 1980 and 2016 as residents died or moved away to find work; the loss for Benham was 51 percent and for Cumberland 44.5 percent, according to the Kentucky League of Cities study.

More recently, the coal industry across Eastern Kentucky has shed more than 60 percent of its jobs since 2011, adding to the financial strain."

President Trump knows his base. And you might say one of the deepest veins is in coal country. In West Virginia, Trump won every county, 69 percent of the vote. He promised to fight for them.

But the reality on the ground is a good deal more complicated than campaign promises.

This hour, On Point: NPR’s Kelly McEvers is here to talk about her podcast "Embedded." Embedded, these days, in coal country. Plus, the latest on Trump's trade talks and how Chinese tech giant ZTE factors in.

-- David Wright

This program aired on May 17, 2018.

+Join the discussion
TwitterfacebookEmail

Support the news