A Passion for West Virginia History Russ Barbour, Videographer
WVPBS documentarian and videographer Russ Barbour occupies a small edit suite in the Marshall University Communications Building with his colleague WVPBS News Reporter Clark Davis. As the bustle of day to day activities of the students and professors in the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications surround him, Barbour is preserving the best of West Virginia, its culture and rich history, in his award winning documentary productions.
“I WAS WALKING DOWN THE HALL at Southern West Virginia Community College and saw a sign that said, television studio. I went in, thinking it was a lounge, or something like that.” This is Russ Barbour’s start in filmmaking that would lead to a thirty plus year career with West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Videographer, editor, writer, and producer of instructional programs, public affairs presentations, documentaries, including being named West Virginia Filmmaker of the Year, Barbour stresses his love for doing it all. He has provided footage for national broadcast on Fox, PBS and C-SPAN. He credits working at the Huntington bureau of WVPBS with giving him an opportunity to acquire a broad base of production experience. “We did educational films, covered parades, or could be working on a full length documentary. We would shoot in the morning, and put together a three minute story to run by six that night.”
Barbour is a captivating source of knowledge about the history of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, his passion for WVPBS, and his craft, emanates with every word he speaks, even more so, when the word storytelling arises in the conversation, or any utterance of historic subjects. This is how he hooks us, the exchange of topics goes from the history of WVPBS, to the hidden treasures of the WSAZ-TV news film archive located in the Special Collections Department of the Marshall University Library, to a small West Virginia town where women attempted to oust the local male dominated political structure. “They had enough” Barbour says, and he continues to pull me into the story with precisely the right tidbits of tantalizing information—the mayor as “quite a character,” or how they, the women, were just sitting on the porch. His enthusiasm welcomes me into the story, and I feel as if I were sitting on that porch with these women, emotionally involved in their mission. I look over at my colleague who teaches multimedia reporting; sitting quietly to my left in the dim lit office where our conversation is taking place. She is smiling from ear to ear, and then breaks her silence with “I’ve got to take notes,” and rises to retrieve her iPad. “I once thought of becoming a teacher,” Barbour remarks somewhere in the interview. Today, Mr. Barbour you were, a professor to professors.
Russ Barbour graduated from Marshall University in 1989 with a BA in broadcasting. He has worked for WVPBS since 1979 as a videographer, editor, researcher, writer, director and producer on numerous instructional programs, news and public affairs presentations and documentaries.
Barbour was named West Virginia Filmmaker of the Year in
2009 at the West Virginia Filmmakers Festival. His work, Breece D’J Pancack: An Appalachian Voice, received Best Biographical Documentary at the 2003 West Virginia Filmmakers Festival, and Reconstructing Bill: The Story of Governor William C. Marland was also selected Best Biographical Documentary at the 2003 West Virginia Filmmakers Festival. West Virginians Remember World War II, earned a 2008 Ohio Valley Regional Emmy for Nostalgia Programming. Barbour served as videographer in
the production of “New Music” taking the First Place for Performance Programming in the 1996 National Educational Telecommunications Association Awards,“ Hearts of Glass: The Story of Blenko Handcraft”, earned First Place in Cultural Programming at the 1998 Communicator Awards, and Ashes to Glory garnered top Sports Documentary in the 2001 Ohio Valley Regional Emmy Awards.