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

ecowatch.com

The largest coal producer in Wyoming declared bankruptcy this week. Companies like Arch Coal, and Alpha Natural Resources have done so as well over the past year, but this filing is particularly symbolic of the industry’s struggles, because of the company’s size. Peabody Energy is the largest privately-owned coal company in the world. Our Inside Energy reporter Leigh Paterson joins Bob Beck. 

Marion Orr

Many homes or apartments in Wyoming are contaminated by methamphetamine and if you move into one of those places, you may not know it. It can lead to health problems and be expensive to clean up. Wyoming is one of the few states that does not require disclosure of a meth-contaminated home.

Sheridan realtor Dan Casey remembers when he first got caught. Casey had a client who had bought a home during a foreclosure sale and after his client fixed the place up he tried to re-sell it. Casey said they were close to a deal when a neighbor stopped by. 

Wikimedia Commons

The Panama Papers data leak revealed that millionaires and others may be hiding assets in shell companies around the world. Wyoming’s secretary of state says 24 of the businesses mentioned in the Papers are registered there. Bob Beck reports on how the state’s tax laws make it a tax haven.

Erik Larson

So-called Historical Mystery Writer Erik Larson is coming to the University of Wyoming this month. UW libraries will host Larson April 20th at 1:30 p.m. in the College of Education auditorium and that evening, UW libraries will host a dinner with Larson.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told supporters that he has a path to the White House and that will continue with a victory at the Wyoming Democratic caucus this weekend. 

Speaking at the University of Wyoming, Sanders encouraged his supporters to get the vote out.

Democrats and progressives win when there is a large voter turnout, Republicans win when people are demoralized, this campaign is giving energy and enthusiasm to millions of Americans.”

With some 465 Powder River Basin coal mine workers laid off it’s been busy at the Gillette Workforce Services Center.

Gillette Workforce Services Manager Ramona Peterson says it was probably the busiest day she’s ever seen. A steady stream of displaced coal workers have stopped in to figure out their next step. For some, it's help with updating their resume, for others it's explaining what their options are. Peterson admits that there aren’t a lot of jobs at the moment.

A national magazine has given Wyoming’s Board of Medicine low marks for failing to provide easy access to the disciplinary records of doctors in the state. 

Wyoming scored 27 out of a possible 100 points, placing the State Board of Medicine 6th from the bottom. California received the highest score with an 84. Wyoming Board of Medicine Director Kevin Bohenblust said his office has worked hard to make its website more user friendly and provide important information for residents. 

Wikipedia Creative Commons, by Greg Younger

A heavy snowstorm that will bring several inches of snow to western, northern and central Wyoming is heading into the state.

National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Hattings in Riverton is keeping an eye on the storm.

“It looks like the main trouble spot is mostly going to be in the central portion of the state. The most snow will be from Lander-Riverton and running through Casper and Douglas. And also, obviously, in some of the higher elevations from the Wind River range over to Casper Mountain.”

Bob Beck

Due to declining revenues and cuts mandated by legislature, the University of Wyoming is preparing for a minimum of $7 million dollars in budget cuts with the expectation that they could be greater than that.

During the UW Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, Vice President for Administration Bill Mai said the state revenue picture continues to decline. And he reported that while the University’s deans and others have been told to prepare for $7 million dollars in cuts, they should probably identify closer to $14 million.           

Bob Beck

Wyoming basketball coach Larry Shyatt said he is stepping down and assistant coach Allen Edwards has been hired to replace him.

Shyatt was emotional when he made his announcement but made it clear he thinks the team is in good hands. Shyatt said that in some ways he found himself out of vogue with college basketball and thought that after 43 years as a basketball coach that it was time to step aside.

Miles Bryan

  

Last year a couple of Wyoming judges ruled that state law does not have specific penalties for marijuana-laced edibles. Wyoming law enforcement officials say that ever since Colorado legalized marijuana they are seeing more of it than ever before and so lawmakers tried and failed to address the issue during the recent legislative session. The main problem was that lawmakers got hung up on how much edible marijuana constitutes a felony and the bill died.

Matthew Shepard Foundation

Family members and law enforcement in Gillette fear that the bullying of a gay man in Gillette may have led to a suicide. The issue has once again drawn concern about a variety of issues, including the treatment of LGBT people in the state and whether a hate crime is needed. Jason Marsden is the Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and we caught up with him this week as he spoke in Gillette. 

Wikipedia Creative Commons

 

In an effort to strengthen Bighorn Sheep herds in the Seminoe-Ferris Mountains near Rawlins, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has relocated 24 sheep from Devils Canyon. Transplants from Oregon in 2009 and 2010 and from Devils Canyon near Lovell in 2010 helped establish the Seminoe-Ferris Herd, but blizzards and years of wildfires reduced the herd. Game and Fish Wildlife Biologist Gregg Hiatt joined Bob Beck to explain that the previous transplant has been a success, but they want to build on that.

WDGF

Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced that it was moving forward with a delisting of the Grizzly Bear. As part of that delisting Wyoming is to come up with a management plan that could include the hunting of Grizzly Bears.

The Game and Fish Commission will soon be holding hearings across the state to discuss that issue. Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott joined Bob Beck to discuss that option. 

Matthew Shepard Foundation

The apparent suicide of a 20-year-old Gillette man came after he was bullied for being gay. The family of Trevor O’Brien says his car was vandalized in December and police confirm that an anti-gay slur was painted on his car. 

The fact that these types of incidents continue to occur in Wyoming depresses Jason Marsden. He’s the Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation—and  says it’s time for Wyoming to reconsider a hate crime law.

Wyoming’s unemployment rate continues to rise. The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services reports that due to a downturn in the energy sector, unemployment rose from 4.4 percent in December to 4.7 in January. 

State Senior Economist David Bullard said that unemployment saw a significant increase of almost a point from January of 2015. While energy rich areas have been impacted the most, Bullard said the downturn is impacting the entire state.

Bob Beck

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has unveiled a new energy plan that still pays a lot of attention to coal, but also looks to boost renewable energy. Mead says Wyoming needs to diversify its energy economy, but denies that the decline of coal did not lead to that choice.

“It was never, hey, coal is having a tough time now and so we are going to move away from coal and to renewables. In fact in some ways I’d say it’s a doubling down on coal and a very good start on renewables.”

Leigh Paterson

A massive wind energy project that will spread from Rawlins to Saratoga received another positive assessment from the Bureau of Land Management Wednesday. 

The Chokecherry Sierra-Madre wind farm is the nation’s largest wind project. It’s expected to power up to a million homes. The BLM says the goal is to mitigate potential impacts and ensure that species needs are met along with along with renewable energy goals. BLM spokesman Dan Purdy adds that it should have a major economic impact.

Wyoming basketball Coach Larry Shyatt is not shedding any light on the dismissal of five players for the remainder of the season, but he’s hopeful that the impact will be limited.

Shyatt dismissed the five for “failing to meet the expectations of Cowboy basketball off the court.” UW officials says there will be no further comment on the details surrounding the suspensions.

Wyoming is preparing to face Utah State Wednesday in the Mountain West Conference tournament in Las Vegas. Shyatt said the team will have a shorter bench than usual and they are preparing for it. 

Bob Beck

A bill that would lead to the sale of two state-owned 640 acre parcels of land inside Grand Teton National Park has failed after a conference committee could not agree to the details in the bill.

The state has been trying to get rid of the land for many years, and the bill would have required the state to sell both parcels at once. Sen. Eli Bebout wanted the federal government to get the deal done this year or pay 500-thousand dollars to extend the deadline, but the House and Senate could not reach agreement on the sale guidelines.  

Wyoming Legislature

After a lot of discussion the Wyoming legislature has finally agreed to a new local government funding bill.

The measure funds local government to the tune of 105 million dollars, and changes the distribution formula so that mineral rich counties will get less money that those without energy revenue. 

Bob Beck

The Wyoming legislative session has come to an end and few seem to be leaving Cheyenne feeling satisfied.

One of the few people leaving with a positive feeling is Casper Representative Tim Stubson. Stubson was heavily involved in crafting the state budget and voted against such things as Medicaid expansion and voted for a number of budget cuts.  But he says when you look at the state’s finances those cuts were needed.

The Wyoming legislative session comes to a close today. Wyoming Public Radio News Director Bob Beck joins Morning Edition host Caroline Ballard to look back at this year's budget session.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming House of Representatives has passed a bill that would allow the state to sell two parcels of state-owned land located inside Grand Teton National Park to the federal government. 

Lawmakers would like 92 million dollars for the two 640 acre parcels.  During final debate the House added an amendment that would also allow the state to lease the land to the federal government if a sale falls through. 

Despite the fact that previous attempts to sell or trade the land haven’t worked out, Jackson Representative Ruth Ann Petroff said she is optimistic.

A bill intended to keep school officials from requiring students to turn over their Facebook, Twitter, or phone passwords has passed the House of Representatives. The controversial bill has received mixed reviews from school officials and lawmakers who say it could put schools in danger. 

Bob Beck / Natrona County High School

A bill that would set up a student safety call center which people could use anonymously to give information about threats to school and student safety has passed the Wyoming House of Representatives.

Supporters say call centers in other states have been very successful, but some lawmakers are not convinced. Torrington Republican Cheri Steinmetz said there are plenty of hotlines and tip lines already in existence. 

But Pinedale Republican Albert Sommers said he believes this effort is necessary.

Despite some concerns from members of the Appropriations Committee the Wyoming Senate passed a bill that provides 105 million dollars to local government over the next two years.  

Several Senators tried to reduce the funding from 105 million back to the 90 million dollar amount suggest by the Appropriations Committee. Senate Appropriations Chairman Tony Ross noted that the funding is coming out of the legislative reserve account. He said lawmakers need to save as much of that money as possible.

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