Bob Beck

News Director

Phone: 307-766-6626

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

The Wyoming Department of Transportation says several two-lane rural highways will see their speed limits increased to 70 miles an hour. 

The three highway sections that have been approved for the higher speed limit are US 85 from I-25 near Cheyenne to Newcastle, Wyoming 120 from Cody to the Montana border, and Wyoming 130 from I-80 to Saratoga. 

The legislature allowed for some two-lane rural highways to have their speeds increased, if WYDOT determined that the increase would be safe for motorists.


Incoming University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols has a lot to do prior to taking over her officials duties. She is already working with trustees and UW officials on a transition plan to get off to a fast start when she begins the job May 16th. Nichols plan to come to Laramie for a couple of days a month until that time and also plans to stop by the Wyoming legislative session. She tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck that she’s working hard to make the transition smooth.


The American Cancer Society has awarded a University of Wyoming Researcher nearly 800-thousand dollars for what he hopes will be groundbreaking cancer research. Daniel Levy is an assistant professor in molecular biology. He tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck that he’s been studying cancer cells for a number of years.  

A Casper lawmaker is pushing the idea of the state ending its partnership with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and creating its own health and safety inspection program.  

The discussion comes as OSHA fines will increase 80 percent following the passage of federal legislation. Casper Senator Charles Scott says federal OSHA regulations hurt efforts to improve workplace safety in the state.

Bob Beck

The  Wyoming legislature's management council agrees that more work is needed to reform Title 25 in the state. That deals with people involuntarily detained in a mental health crisis. 

A select committee of legislators recently drafted a bill that gives courts the ability to force people to undergo outpatient treatment, but Wyoming Department of Health Director Tom Forlslund said he and the committee are trying to come up with other reforms as well.

The incoming President of the University of Wyoming said she is busy setting the stage for a fast start when she begins her new job late this spring. 

Laurie Nichols has been working on hiring a new Provost and looking at the best ways to review degree programs on campus. 

Cutting the state budget could be a difficult exercise, but one approach could involve new ways to do things. 

Senate President Phil Nicholas does not think lawmakers have gone on a spending spree in recent years, but he does believe they should revisit some decisions. For instance in the area of mental health the state spent a lot of money providing grants in an effort to improve service. Nicholas says they need to study to see if decisions like that one were effective.

Wyoming men’s basketball coach Larry Shyatt is furious that the Mountain West Conference did not consult with coaches or athletes before deciding this month to only allow eight of eleven conference teams to play in the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament.

The decision was made in a meeting of conference President’s and Athletic Directors and Shyatt says it was done secretly.

"No notice, no inclusion, no communication, not one word uttered to an assistant commissioner in charge of basketball, there seems to be a degree of behind the scenes plotting."

University of Wyoming trustees have chosen South Dakota State University administrator Laurie Nichols to be the next president of UW. She is the first woman to hold the post. 

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Local government funding will be among the most debated topics during the upcoming legislative session. Due to a revenue shortfall, Governor Mead has cut funding for local government from 175 million dollars two years ago down to 90 million for the next two years. 

A number of cities and county governments have instituted hiring freezes and are looking at major cuts in an effort to deal with the shortfall. Laramie Democratic Representative Cathy Connolly says that is a massive cut to local government funding and Republican Senator Drew Perkins said it comes at a bad time.

Bob Beck

Listen to the full show here.   

Wyo. Lawmakers Send Power Over Education To State

It took Congress eight years and countless hours of listening to angry teachers and parents, but No Child Left Behind is soon to be a thing of the past. Matt Laslo reports from Washington that Congress and the White House agreed to scrap the hated Bush-era law.


Tuesday is an important date for those hoping to sign up for health insurance. Enrollment has been underway since November for those who purchase health care coverage through the federal marketplace via the website Kevin Counihan oversees that effort and he joins Bob Beck to explain why Tuesday is so important.

Wyoming Legislature

The legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee has wrapped up its first week of budget hearings. The committee heard from the governor early in the week and has started reviewing agency budgets. The governor wants to eventually divert money going into the state’s permanent mineral trust fund in an effort to keep the state budget where it is. While lawmakers have mixed thoughts on that idea, but they are more concerned that the governor has not given more thought to a major budget threat. 

Wyoming U.S. Senator Mike Enzi is thrilled with legislation that will revamp the No Child Left Behind education law.

Enzi sat on the conference committee that came up with the final version of the bill. He said it returns the responsibility of educating students back to states and school districts. 

Bob Beck

Members of the legislature’s Joint Appropriations committee say they are very concerned about how to pay for the construction and maintenance of new schools. 

In the past, the state used the money coal companies paid for leases, but those funds are drying up. During a hearing on Mead’s proposed budget, House Appropriations Chairman Steve Harshman asked the governor if he had considered increasing taxes to make up that shortfall. Mead said he is not ready to support a tax increase because it would hurt the energy industry.

Bob Beck


With the Consensus Revenue estimating group saying that revenues are dropping, Governor Matt Mead announced his budget this week. While his budget reduces spending that will impact some, it does not feature the deep cuts some feared. The governor is proposing to balance the budget by borrowing from reserves initially and paying it back with future income.  

A new federal transportation bill working its way through congress should provide more money to Wyoming. Interim Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Bill Panos says in highway funding alone the bill provides the state with an increase of 24 million dollars.

“That’s a boon for Wyoming and will help us improve the highway system in our state, preserve what we have invested in over the last few years and make our highways safer.” 

It will also provide the state with additional funding for a variety of other projects said Panos.

Members of a group trying to legalize medical marijuana in Wyoming have set up a political action committee and will buy advertising in an effort to get enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot. 

The former director of the National Organization for the Reform of Medical Marijuana stepped down last week and spokeswoman Amber Sparks said the group is trying to move forward. They need to collect about 20 thousand signatures of registered voters by February, but Sparks says she remains optimistic. But they do need to overcome negative attitudes about marijuana.

Bob Beck

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead unveiled his proposed budget for the next two years. The governor will address the budget shortfall by borrowing short term from the legislative reserve account and pay back that account with investment income.

Mead says his budget is about 200 million dollars less than it was two years ago. Much of the proposed cuts are to local government funding. Mead reduced spending for cities and counties to 90 million dollars down from 175 million dollars two years ago. The governor says that reduction will have a big impact.

James Rumminger

Winter weather conditions with snow and strong winds will make Thanksgiving travel difficult.  Most of the snow will fall in central Wyoming, Fremont County could see around 8 inches. 

But Riverton based National Weather Service Meteorologist Paul Skrbac says snow statewide will make driving a challenge.           

Wyoming’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remains at four percent, but those numbers are being questioned.  

David Bullard is a Senior Economist with the Department of Workforce Services research and planning division. While the latest numbers should that unemployment has increase in energy counties, he says seeing that the overall unemployment rate remains steady is surprising, especially when you consider other economic indicators. 

Since coal companies are no longer buying coal leases, Wyoming may need to find a new way to fund school construction.

Friday the legislature’s joint revenue committee was asked to support legislation that would increase either property or sales taxes to pay for school construction.  But several legislators say it’s too early to consider a tax.  Revenue Committee member Tom Reeder has voted against the last several budgets and he’s calling for lawmakers to stop spending first. 

“I have heard nobody talk about…we could make government more efficient by doing XYZ.”

Bob Beck

It’s been a bad year for concussions for the University of Wyoming football team. While the team does not release exact numbers due to federal health care regulations, media counts put the number above 20. And everyone involved with Cowboy football admits that’s a lot. Head Football Coach Craig Bohl said the high number is surprising.  

Governor Matt Mead said that Wyoming can diversify its economy through technology and that the energy industry will bounce back.

During a speech to kick off his annual business forum on Tuesday, Mead said that technology was poised to be Wyoming’s fourth leading industry. He discussed the enhancement of high-speed internet throughout the state and a number of other advances the state has made to attract technology-based business.

Mead said such work is important to the state’s future and it goes beyond economics.

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.