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

Wyoming Legislature

State Representative Mike Madden and the joint revenue committee will be busy next week. They have a number of issues from local government funding to how to pay for school construction that they need to address. With the recent revenue projections, the committee will need to see if there are new ways to pay for such things. One idea could even be a property tax. Madden, who chairs the House Revenue Committee talks with Bob Beck. 

Wikimedia Commons

Earlier we heard Representative Mike Madden discuss two key funding challenges the Joint Revenue Committee will tackle next week, one other topic of discussion will be whether to raise the state tobacco tax. A dollar increase would raise 20 million dollars but the hope is that it will also curtail smoking.

Jason Mincer is the government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. His organization is strongly in favor of increasing the tax.  

Tom Rea

  

The news that African American football players at the University of Missouri threatened not to play a football game against Brigham Young reminded some Wyoming players of the time they got kicked off of their team prior to a game with BYU. In Wyoming lore, they are known as the Black 14.

Wyoming U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis says she will finish her term and not seek re-election. She made the announcement Thursday afternoon in Cheyenne. Lummis tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck that she’s been thinking about this for several months.

Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming is among eleven states who received an F for the lack of transparency and accountability in government. 

The Center for Public Integrity dinged Wyoming for having few laws when it comes to government ethics enforcement and for the lack of government and judicial accountability. 

The report called most Wyoming laws vague and complained that few documents are online. It was also was critical of Wyoming’s open record laws. Wyoming Press Association Executive Director Jim Angell actually thinks most of the laws are good.         

Wyoming PBS

Next Friday Wyoming PBS will air its long-awaited documentary called Dick Cheney: A Heartbeat Away. Producer Geoff O’Gara joins us and says the two-year effort putting the 90-minute program together was interesting. He admitted that it’s tough to do a documentary on someone that most people have a strong opinion about.

Dick Cheney: A Heartbeat Away will be broadcast by Wyoming PBS on Friday, November 13 at 8 p.m. and be re-broadcast at 9:30 p.m. You can learn more here.   

Bob Beck

 

When you drive north into Torrington on highway 85 you see an iconic place. Since 1926 the Sugar beet factory, currently owned by Western Sugar Cooperative has been a mainstay of the local economy. Now is the busy season for the plant and you can hear it hum. Torrington is a small agriculture town of 7,000 people and according to Gilbert Servantez,  who is the manager of the Torrington Workforce Services Center, the sugar factory has been a major employer. 

sastrugipress.com

  

Laramie author and poet Lori Howe’s new book CloudShade: Poems of the High Plains, is due out on November 18. Poems from CloudShade have been nominated for a Pushcart award, and the collection itself nominated for several first-book awards. She begins our conversation by reading one of her poems called On the Ice. 

CloudShade is available on the Sastrugi Press website or via her website.

Aaron Schrank

As state lawmakers mull the latest revenue projections it appears that in a few years the state will have a lot less money for education, especially new school construction. 

It’s largely because revenue from coal lease bonus sales is down and that’s what pays for school construction. But a court ruling mandates that the state pay for school construction and maintenance so Wyoming will need to find another way to pay for it. 

Wyoming legislative leaders will be looking at budget cuts and using reserve funds after receiving a report that state revenues have declined substantially. 

The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group or CREG said that falling energy prices will lead to a decline of 617 million dollars in revenue from July first of this year through June of 2018. Senate Appropriations Chairman Tony Ross said they will need to look at targeted cuts and use some reserve funding to get through the next two years. He said lawmakers have planned for this day and that will help.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

Listen to the full show here.  

Wyoming's Revenue Picture Will Lead To A Lean Budget

The Consensus Revenue Estimating group or CREG will release its much-anticipated revenue forecast on Tuesday. Wyoming’s revenues are expected to drop 500 to 600 million dollars, which means legislators will have a lot less money to spend compared to the last budget. 

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

The Consensus Revenue Estimating group or CREG will release its much-anticipated revenue forecast on Tuesday. Wyoming’s revenues are expected to drop 500 to 600 million dollars, which means legislators will have a lot less money to spend compared to the last budget. 

This comes at a time when the governor has already asked state agencies to find ways to trim 200 million dollars from the existing budget. The culprit is falling energy prices, specifically from oil and gas. 

WINhealth To Leave Wyoming

Oct 21, 2015

The health insurance company WINhealth will be pulling out of Wyoming. 

A variety of financial difficulties including low reimbursement via the Affordable Care Act is causing the company to leave Wyoming at the end of the year. Insurance Commissioner Tom Glause says the state will take over management of the company and make sure its financial obligations are taken care of.       

“Do not panic, your claims will continue to be processed and paid and we will assist in an orderly transition of those policies to another carrier.” 

The city of Laramie is joining the state of Wyoming in setting a hiring freeze until the state’s financial difficulties get sorted out. 

Laramie City Manager Janine Jordan notes that the state is cutting its current budget by 200 million dollars and state lawmakers will likely cut back on local government spending as energy prices remain low. 

University of Wyoming

  

The day the Berlin Wall came down and the Unification of Germany is still an important day in the mind of a University of Wyoming graduate. Andrew Denison is a long time German political commentator who came to Laramie to talk about the 25 year anniversary of unification and whether it has met expectations. He spoke with Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck.  

Bob Beck

To put it mildly, eliminating smoking from bars has been in tough in Casper. Since 2000 the Casper City Council has twice approved smoking bans, and they were both overturned. Now the issue is up for another vote next month. The public has a chance to decide whether it agrees with a city council effort to allow smoking in bars and some other places. It’s being framed as a battle of business rights versus health.

Wyoming Highway Patrol

State Forester Bill Crapser said that between 15 to 20 structures have been lost in a grass fire that burned some 15 square miles north of Casper. 

Crapser is blaming warm and dry conditions for the fire that he says is unusual for this time of year.  Hundreds of residents had been evacuated. When they return to their homes Red Cross spokeswoman Pat Kondas said they will need more than food and water.

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming said it will follow the governor’s order and implement a hiring freeze, as well as try and find ways to return some money to the state. 

Governor Matt Mead this week said that the state needs to cut up to 200 million dollars from its existing budget due to a revenue shortfall. He hopes to acquire 18 million dollars through leaving unfilled positions vacant. 

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says a dip in energy revenues will require the state to cut up to 200 million dollars from its existing budget. 

The governor has instituted a hiring freeze and will be looking to every agency to return unspent money. Mead would like to avoid layoffs.

“I do not think that this is an area I will be looking at. I think we can get roughly 18 million dollars by not filling vacant positions and with a hiring freeze.” 

Mead said citizens will accept some reduction in services, but added that the state will likely need to dip into savings.

Craig Blumenshine / Wyoming PBS

Wyoming’s first ever Job Corps center was dedicated in Riverton on Monday. The Wind River Job Corps center serves students between the ages of 16 and 24 and will train them to work in the oil and gas industry. 

Officials are hopeful that it will specifically help young people on the Wind River Reservation. U.S. Senator Mike Enzi worked with Riverton officials to secure the funding and he said it’s a thrill to see the operation open. Enzi said it will help the entire state.           

Bob Beck

  

Last weekend Wyoming’s annual sage grouse hunt began. Many hunters were worried that this could be the last hunt in a while, since the bird was facing the possibility of getting listed as an endangered species. When the chicken-sized bird started seeing declines in the 1990’s, some states stopped sage grouse hunting altogether. Wyoming continued its hunt after changing the start date and limiting the take. That will continue, even as the state continues mandated conservation efforts. 

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming is looking to find more space for the WWAMI medical program. The program is run by the University of Washington and trains students from Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho to be doctors. 

Wyoming Department of Transportation

The Wyoming Department of Transportation is working with federal officials on a project to make driving safer. The plan is to use interactive technology to tell drivers about road and weather conditions as well as safety information. Wyoming is focusing on making travel safer along Interstate 80. 

University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming President Dick McGinity said that falling energy prices could have a dramatic effect on UW’s budget request. 

Speaking during his annual address to University Faculty and Staff McGinity noted that the revenue picture for the state budget is dire and that could especially impact his number one priority, salary increases for faculty and staff.

“But we may need to face the sobering prospect that tuition increases at UW and the reallocation of resources within the University may be our most likely avenues for compensation increases for faculty and staff.”

Ross Doman, WYDOT

A single-engine plane crashed east of Laramie Friday morning on Interstate 80. Albany County Undersheriff Rob DeBree says 67 year old Steven Stam from Holland, Michigan was traveling eastbound around 8am when he experienced engine trouble and was forced to make an emergency landing on the westbound lane of Interstate 80. 

"He actually started to come down into the median area. May have possibly hit the median itself but not bad. And he was able to put it down and skidded off the highway at that location," says DeBree.

It will be a young and mostly inexperienced University of Wyoming football team that takes the field against North Dakota this weekend. 

Wyoming has only eight seniors on its roster, the second fewest of any team in the country. Head Coach Craig Bohl said that 13 freshmen will see playing time for the Cowboys this year. That is an unusually high number. But Bohl quickly added that they have a huge upside.

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