Bob Beck

News Director

Phone: 307-766-6626
Email: btwo@uwyo.edu 

Bob Beck has been News Director of Wyoming Public Radio since 1988.  During his time as News Director WPR has won 94 national, regional and state news awards.  Bob has received the WEA School Bell Award for education reporting and was honored by the Governor’s Council on Impaired Driving for his reporting.  He was also the voice of an Emmy award winning documentary on memory.  He has covered the Wyoming Legislature longer than any broadcaster in the state and is a frequent political guest and host on Wyoming PBS.   

Bob also taught broadcast news at the University of Wyoming for 20 years and his 1998 television reporting class won a regional Emmy for reporting excellence.  He also was twice given a Top Prof award by the UW Mortar Board.   Bob is also active in community events and co-chaired the 2009 Albany County United Way Campaign with his wife Debra. 

Prior to coming to WPR, Bob worked as a News and Sportscaster at stations in Wyoming and Illinois.  He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Radio-Television from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and is a native of Wheaton, Illinois in suburban Chicago.  When he is not working he is running, mountain biking, doing CrossFit, walking his dog, or cheering on his beloved Packers, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs and Salukis.

Ways To Connect

Bob Beck

After years of planning the state of Wyoming is finally going ahead with a multi-year effort to renovate the state capitol building and to completely re-do the neighboring Herschler building. 

Construction Manager Dennis Egge stands outside the building as he watches a variety of people tap on the capitol exterior

“The design team has actually looked at every stone on this building, they have taken a forklift and looked at it. These guys are looking at it from a means and method, what’s the best way budget wise to make this work.”

Forest fire activity has been among the worst on record across much of the West this summer, but it should be a typical fire season here.

State Forester Bill Crapser says that’s because of the unseasonably rainy weather Wyoming saw in June and July.  Crapser says Wyoming’s fire season has started to pick up, but he doesn't expect things to get out of control.

Courtesy Wyoming NORML

  

A Wyoming group has received permission to collect nearly 25 thousand signatures by February in an effort to get an initiative on the ballot. It would legalize the use of medical marijuana among other things. Chris Christian is the Executive Director of the group Wyoming NORML and she says it was time legalization became a topic of discussion in Wyoming. She explains her interest to Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck. 

You can learn more about Wyoming NORML’s effort at wyomingnorml.org

Bob Beck

It’s another day at the bull riding event at the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo and it’s another day of the rodeo announcer thanking bullfighter Darrell Diefenbach for knocking a bull away from a helpless bull rider who’d fallen to the ground. It’s something Diefenbach and his Frontier Days partner Dusty Tuckness do every day.

Courtesy of the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming

Wyoming’s Episcopal Bishop John Smylie wants the state to have a conversation about gun violence following shootings that killed three men and seriously injured another this week.

Smylie says the shooting of two people at a detox center in Riverton and the shooting of two people at a Cheyenne business shows him that gun violence issues across the country have come to Wyoming.  

Two pieces of legislation that could reform the controversial No Child Left Behind law are going to a conference committee. 

The Senate version of the bill allows states to determine how to use federally mandated tests for accountability purposes and lets states decide if they will allow parents to ask to opt out of standardized tests. The House version would just give parents that right. Wyoming Representative Cynthia Lummis hopes that stays in the bill.

Gonorrhea Cases Double

Jul 22, 2015
knowwyo.org

Wyoming health officials say they are seeing a gonorrhea outbreak. They had 61 reported cases earlier this month compared to a total of 31 last year. Half of the cases involve people in their 20’s.

The Director of the state’s communicable disease surveillance program, Courtney Smith, says the problem is that couples are not using condoms. 

Cynthia Lummis

Wyoming Congressman Cynthia Lummis will be the western states co-chair for Senator Rand Paul’s run for President. Lummis, a fiscal conservative, says that she’s been impressed with the Kentucky Senator’s efforts to stop federal spending. 

“The direction we are heading is not sustainable and Rand Paul is the one person that I’m sure will do what he says he’s going to do. We will quit kicking the can down the road and address some of these issues that are going to unleash the American economy.”

University of Wyoming men’s basketball coach Larry Shyatt has signed a contract extension through the 2019-2020 season. 

Shyatt will make a base salary of $210-thousand dollars this season, increasing to $230-thousand in the last year of the contract. Shyatt will also earn extra money if players meet academic goals and he meets performance incentives. The contract also includes extra money for his coaching staff. 

Shyatt says some friends wondered if he would leave Wyoming after appearing in the NCAA tourney last season.

health.wyo.gov

Wyoming residents are being asked to discuss ways cancer can be better detected and treated at a meeting today in Casper. 

Julie Tarbuck oversees Wyoming’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. Tarbuck says they are developing the next State Cancer Control plan and they want to develop new ways to address everything from diagnosis to quality of life.

She says overcoming the challenges faced by those in rural parts of the state remains an issue. For instance, Tarbuck says the lack of health care providers makes detection difficult.         

Wyoming NORML

Those wanting medical marijuana legalized in the state will soon be able to collect signatures. The Wyoming Secretary of State’s office has certified the application for ballot initiative concerning the Peggy A. Kelly Cannabis Act of 2016. 

For it to actually get on the ballot the group Wyoming NORML must collect 25,673 signatures. Executive Director Chris Christian says while it’s a first step…it’s a big one.

The U.S. Census Bureau says Wyoming’s minority population has increased since 2010, but Wyoming is still among the whitest states in the country ranking 41st in minority population. 

Economist Wenlin Liu says Wyoming’s total population increased 3.6 percent, but it was driven by a growth in the number of Hispanics and other minorities coming to the state in an effort to find jobs.

“From 2010 to 2014 the minority population increased 17 percent compared to the white population that only increased 1.4 percent.”

Governor Matt Mead is creating a task force that is intended to gather information on the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana in Wyoming. 

The governor says he continues to oppose any legalization of the drug. But he says he wants to get ahead of a possible 2016 general election ballot initiative that could ask voters to decide whether to legalize medical marijuana. 

National Park Service

Fire Reforms Heat Up Congress

Pine beetles and drought is leaving Wyoming and other states more susceptible to wildfires than at any point in recent memory, yet the federal fire policy doesn’t seem to be keeping up with the new climate. Wyoming lawmakers are trying to solve the problem.

Pharmacists are currently not recognized as health care providers and despite their obvious knowledge of medications, they are not currently allowed to help people manage their medication. There are two bills in Congress that could change that. Tom Menighan is the CEO of the American Pharmacists Association and he say this would help those in rural areas.

Bob Beck

Earlier this year when the legislature voted down Medicaid expansion, lawmakers realized that some hospitals were struggling to make up for the fact that some people cannot afford to pay their medical bills.  So after a lot of discussion, they provided roughly three million dollars to be spread among the smaller rural hospitals. But some thought that was not enough, so two legislative committees are looking into what else can be done to help. 

Wyoming’s decision to not set up a set health care marketplace could haunt it if the United States Supreme Court rules that federal marketplaces or exchanges cannot receive federal subsidies. The King vs. Burwell case could impact close to 20 thousand Wyoming residents, especially the 17 thousand who would lose subsidies to purchase insurance. 

Wyoming lawmakers are considering working with communities to allow them to determine their own health care needs.

The Joint Labor and Health committee is trying to find ways to improve health care in the state and reduce costs to hospitals. Hospitals say the care they are required to provide to poor and uninsured patients is costing them millions.

State of Wyoming Legislature

The legislature’s joint Labor and Health Committee praised state health officials for their quick response when two nursing homes threatened to close last month.

The state took over the facilities in Rock Springs and Saratoga after the company that owned them said it was suddenly closing them. Senator Bernadine Craft of Rock Springs said Monday that it was a terrifying time in her community. 

State Health Director Tom Forslund noted that the state was criticized by some for getting involved with a private business. He said that leads to policy questions for the future.

Sara Hossani

Last Monday saw the close of the public comment period concerning a proposed rule put forth by the U.S. Department of Labor that could cause serious harm to Wyoming’s sheep industry. Currently, most sheep herders in Wyoming are foreign and hold what are called H-2A visas. Under those visas, they are required to be paid $750-dollars a month and be provided room and board.

Jeff Henry

In 1988 much of Yellowstone National Park was engulfed in flames. At the time a young employee and budding photographer named Jeff Henry was asked to take photos of the fire.

Over 25 years later Henry has written a book about the fires that includes numerous photographs that he took on the front lines. The book is called The Year Yellowstone Burned: A 25 Year Perspective. Henry joins us and recalls how politicians and others were critical of the Parks approach to the fires. 

Rebecca Martinez / Wyoming Public Radio

The U.S. Department of Labor is considering whether to institute a new rule that would raise the required pay of foreign sheep herders with visas.

The rule would increase pay from $750 dollars a month plus room and board to $24-hundred dollars a month plus room and board. Those in the sheep industry say the increase could put them out of business and they apparently aren’t crying wolf.

A 27 year veteran of the National Park Service has been selected to be the new Superintendent of Devils Tower National Monument. Tim Reid has spent the last six years working as the Chief Ranger at Yellowstone National Park. 

Reid is known as someone who provides a balance of resource protection, while providing an excellent visitor experience. He says the key is communication with stakeholders.

University of Wyoming

For the last several years the University of Wyoming has been working on issues of recruiting and retaining students. UW President Dick McGinity says the University is averaging over three thousand new students in the fall and roughly half of them are freshman. 

Some legislators believe that if UW’s enrollment increases, it will generate more internal dollars for the University. McGinity says there is some truth to that, but they need to determine if they have enough faculty to fulfill the needs of more students.

Conservation groups are expressing huge concern over the proposed Bureau of Land Management proposed resource management plan for the Powder River Basin.  

The plan authorizes 10 billion tons of coal production along with oil and gas development. With concern being expressed over Sage Grouse habitat, some conservation groups thought the BLM would proposed reduced energy development.

BLM Director Neil Kornze said last week during a trip to Cheyenne that Sage Grouse will be monitored and that the declining coal market will take care of a lot of the carbon dioxide concerns.

Officials Are Optimistic About Sage Grouse Protection Plans

Secretary of Interior Sally Jewel came to Cheyenne to announce a massive plan to conserve Sage Grouse habitat in several western states. Wyoming started its own conservation efforts in 2007 and Jewel says it is a model state. The question is whether the federal efforts can keep the Sage Grouse from being placed on the endangered species list. 

Pages