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.

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News
6:21 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Wyoming Cowboys Get Ready For CBI

While the Wyoming Cowboys Basketball team did not get invited to play in the National Invitation Tournament, players say they are still happy to be playing in the College Basketball Invitational.  Head Coach Larry Shyatt says the key is that the team gets to keep playing and getting better.  Wyoming center Adam Waddell says it’s nice to play in the postseason.

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News
4:46 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Wyoming is excited to play in the CBI

     The Wyoming Cowboys basketball team will open first round play of the College Basketball Invitational in Laramie Wednesday night.  The Pokes face North Dakota State who finished fifth in the Summit League.  Wyoming had hoped to get selected to play in the more prestigious National Invitation Tournament, but Cowboys Center Adam Wadell  says it’s just nice to play in the postseason.  He says the team has exceeded expectations all year.

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News
6:58 am
Mon March 12, 2012

Open meetings and records laws passed

The Wyoming legislature has approved both Open Meetings and Records laws.

Senator Tony Ross said it was important for transparency to be shed on government.  And Dan Neal of the Equality State Policy Center says the records law was important because it deals with electronic records.

“It makes clear that just because it’s electronic, if it’s people discussing public business, people will have access to it now, guaranteed,” Neal said.

Open Spaces
4:39 pm
Fri March 9, 2012

Wyoming’s wolf management plan is law

Listen to the story

Among the issues the Wyoming legislature dealt with this year is a wolf management plan.  Lawmakers approved a compromise crafted between Governor Matt Mead and federal officials that allows Wyoming residents to shoot wolves on sight if they are not in protected areas of the state.  While a judge may need to eventually sign off on the plan, many lawmakers believe they are closer than managing wolves than ever before.  Senator Bruce Burns chairs the committee the oversees wildlife issues in the state.  I spoke with him shortly after the bill passed.

Open Spaces
4:37 pm
Fri March 9, 2012

Legislature cuts funding for Healthy Frontiers

Wyoming House of Representatives
Irina Zhorov

Listen to the story

Five years ago the state embarked on an innovative preventive medicine approach called Healthy Frontiers.  It offered a version of health insurance to low income people who cannot afford it.  The idea was to try and keep people off of Medicaid and out of the emergency room.  But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports the legislature stripped money from the program essentially killing it.

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Legislature
2:11 pm
Fri March 9, 2012

Highway funding will be a big issue in the coming year

  As legislators wrapped up work on the 2012 session, they acknowledged a number of projects they need to work on in time for next year. 

One is finding a way to replace declining federal funding for roads.  The legislature has created a committee that will look at how to properly address the issue. 

Senate President Jim Anderson says they have thrown money at the issue for years, but they need a long term solution.

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Legislature
8:40 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Gov. Mead approves biennial budget

Governor Matt Mead praised the work of Wyoming legislators as he signed the state’s three-point-two-billion dollar budget. 

Lawmakers say they were pleased they actually reduced spending in the budget without having to make serious budget cuts.  But those cuts are looming as legislators look at lower than projected natural gas prices. 

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Legislature
5:47 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Legislature wraps up session

As the Wyoming legislative session comes to a close, lawmakers say it was a bipartisan session that accomplished a lot of work. 

Senator John Hastert of Green River was impressed by how quickly they took care of a number of issues.

“We had a lot of hot topics out there, we had budget, wolves, redistricting, just to name but a few.  And I really expected this session to go longer.”

Legislature
5:44 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Legislature passes education reform bill

A complicated bill intended to improve how Wyoming tracks education progress has passed the legislature. 

The Education Accountability bill passed following a closed door caucus in the House of Representatives. It was approved with no public debate on the House floor.  

The primary concern of opponents is over how much testing Wyoming will use to both assess student progress and how particular districts or schools are doing.   Earlier in the day the Senate agreed to changes in the bill.

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Legislature
5:41 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

AML spending plan becomes law

The Governor has signed into law a massive bill that spends millions of dollars in Abandoned Mine Land money on a variety of building projects across the state.  A large portion of the money will be directed towards the University of Wyoming. 

Senate Appropriations Chairman Phil Nicholas says that the bill will provide money for some important projects in the state.

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News
6:01 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Legislature approves workplace safety bill

The legislature has approved an incentive based-worker safety bill.

Wyoming is among the leaders in workplace deaths and the bill provides up to seven new officers who will help companies develop and comply with safety requirements on a voluntary basis. It also provides grant money for small businesses to improve workplace safety.

Kim Floyd of the AFL-CIO says he had wanted tougher penalties for companies and people who violate safe working standards, but he says this bill is a good step.

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News
5:56 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Senate kills industrial development money bill

The State Senate has killed a bill that was intended to more quickly get money to counties and communities facing the impacts of industrial development.  Opponents said that the mechanism for funding the communities took away the Joint Appropriations Committee’s ability to oversee such money.   But Senator John Schiffer argued that the current system delays funding to local government entities who need it. “This bill addresses the problem for the little towns, little communities, poorer counties, that gonna get impacted when somebody comes in and builds ...

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News
6:43 am
Wed March 7, 2012

Legislature approves wolf plan

The Wyoming legislature has given final approval to a long-awaited wolf management bill.  

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News
5:34 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Education Accountability Measure Supported, Yet Still Unclear

The Wyoming House of Representatives passed a much-debated education accountability measure. 

Wyoming Education Association President Kathryn Valido is optimistic about the bill, but she still isn’t sure what it will do for education.

“That’s the million dollar question, I really don’t know what it’s going to do,” says Valido. “I do know there are some things that we are a little cautious about.  We still are hearing a little too much about testing, testing, testing and not enough about being creative, thinking skills, that whole side of education.”

News
5:32 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Senate Debates Payments For Developing Communities

The issue of Industrial siting impact payments generated some discussion on the floor of the Wyoming Senate Tuesday.  The payments are intended to help communities deal with the impacts of development. 

Casper Republican Charles Scott expressed concern about the costs to the state of sending money to possibly mineral rich counties to pay for their impacts of development that will ultimately benefit that county.  Baggs Senator Larry Hicks says the impacts are real and notes that the towns of Hanna and Medicine Bow are bracing for impacts from a proposed coal to gas project.

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Legislature
5:13 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

House passes health exchange bill

 The Wyoming House of Representatives has given final approval to a bill that would allow the state to continue to study setting up a Health Insurance Exchange.  Supporters of the legislation would like to see if an exchange works, whether or not the federal health care law remains in place. 

House Labor and Health Committee Chair Elaine Harvey tried to convince the House to speed up the process.

“We need to develop a health exchange benefit package. What package is Wyoming going to have and then we need to set up an actuarial study, what can Wyoming afford to have.”

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News
6:16 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Coal Valuation Bill Dies

A bill that would have changed the way the coal industry is taxed has died after the sponsor removed the bill from consideration.   Senate Revenue Committee Chairman John Hines says that’s because the bill would cost the state too much money.

“It showed a loss to the state of originally several million dollars,” says Hines. “So we had worked on it the whole time as  being revenue neutral, and with the thoughts this year that our income is going to be down in the future there is a lot of concern about reducing the coal income which is one of our major sources of income.”

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News
5:58 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Education Accountability Nearly Wrapped Up

The Wyoming House is wrapping up work on an enormous education accountability bill.  During second reading debate on the bill, Casper Republican Steve Harshman added a massive amendment that clarifies a number of standards lawmakers want students to meet including writing.  Harshman says it also notes that the ACT will be the way the state will track students who are high school juniors and, overall,he says the bill has clear goals.

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News
5:56 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Senate Approves Grants For OSHA Compliance

The Wyoming Senate has given initial approval to a bill that would provide grant money to small businesses to have OSHA determine whether they have a safe workplace. 

Wyoming has consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous states in the country for workers, and Republican Eli Bebout of Riverton sees this as a way to use a positive approach to improve workplace safety.

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Coal Values
5:09 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Coal valuation bill dies in Senate

A bill that would have changed the way the coal industry is taxed has died after the sponsor removed the bill from consideration.  

Senate Revenue Committee Chairman John Hines says that’s because the bill would cost the state too much money.

“It showed a loss to the state of originally several million dollars.  So we had worked on it the whole time as  being revenue neutral.  And with the thoughts this year that our income is going to be down in the future there is a lot of concern about reducing the coal income which is one of our major sources of income.”

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Drug Testing
4:46 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Senate kills drug testing bill

The Wyoming Senate has voted to defeat a controversial proposal to drug test people receiving welfare benefits. 

The Senate version of the bill was weaker than a bill that passed the House.  It required random drug testing to determine whether there really is a drug problem in the population that receives welfare benefits.  It also allowed for drug testing if the Department of Family Services determined there was cause for testing someone.  But a number of Senators wondered about the purpose of the initiative and whether there wasa need for it. 

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News
7:25 am
Mon March 5, 2012

House debates education reform measure

The Wyoming House of Representatives has begun debating a major education reform measure.  The House gave initial approval to the Education Accountability Bill that is intended to improve all levels of education.   Various types of testing will be part of the process, but despite concerns by the State Superintendent and some legislators, House Education Chairman Matt Teeters says additional testing is not part of the bill. “My belief, depends on who you talk to, but my belief the amount of testing we will do, also because we are timing PAWS will actually be less,” Teeters said. Teeters says

Legislature
6:54 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Committee changes plan to random testing for welfare recipients

A Senate committee is supporting a bill that would require all people who receive welfare benefits to submit to drug tests. 

Casper Senator Charles Scott says the committee amended the bill to conduct random drug testing to determine if there is truly a drug use problem within the welfare program.

“Between now and July of next year we will get a sample of 100 of those people tested to see if we really have a drug problem in our welfare population.”

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Open Spaces
5:45 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Wyoming legislators to study ways to reduce the increasing costs of Medicaid

Listen to the story

A major concern in the state budget is the growing cost of Medicaid.  Medicaid is  matching federal and state funded health coverage for lower income people, children, those with disabilities and elderly nursing home residents.  State officials say that Medicaid costs take up a large chunk of the state budget and recently have been growing between 30 and 40 percent a year.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports that has pushed legislators to undertake a major study to find ways to reduce costs.

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Open Spaces
5:39 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Sen. Enzi is eager to wrangle the national budget, Medicare

Listen to the interview

Wyoming's Senior US Senator is trying everything to reduce the federal deficit, but in an election year and a partisan Congress, it's hard to do much.  During a recent visit to Cheyenne, Bob Beck sat down with Senator Mike Enzi to discuss the budget and health care.  On the topic of the budget, he says they must act soon.

Open Spaces
5:27 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Chief Justice Kite wants to make young citizens of middle-schoolers

Listen to the interview

The Wyoming Supreme Court is endorsing a new program to teach middle school students about Civics.  The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Marilyn Kite joined Bob Beck to explain the program.

Legislature
4:57 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Legislature approves stricter DUI penalty

    The Wyoming legislature has approved a bill that would increasethe length of time someone could serve in prison for a fourth driving-under-the-influence conviction.  It would raise the maximum amount of time someone can serve in prison from two to seven years.

During final discussion on the bill, the Senate argued over whether this was going too far.  But a number of Senators defended the measure, saying that people who continue to drink and drive are a hazard. 

Democrat Chris Rothfuss of Laramie says protecting the public should be a goal.

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Legislature
6:13 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Senate to allocate AML money to UW, highways

The Wyoming Senate voted to add more money into highway construction and the University of Wyoming during final debate of a funding measure dealing with Abandoned Mine Land money.

During debate of a bill to spend Abandoned Mine Land money, the Senate restored fundin git had removed from highway aid, and added the opportunity for the University to raise more money for a performing arts center

Senator Phil Nicholas continued his pitch to spend money on the UW College of Engineering.

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