The Modern West

The Modern West is a rich collection of news and cultural stories from the Mountain West. Features, interviews, oral history, readings, and more offer a snapshot of Western life. Catch our monthly digest of stories on The Modern West podcast.  

Supported in part by a grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, a program of the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources.

Want to take a tour across Wyoming? Check out the Cowboy Country tour with Collette. Use the Reference Number 21279 and help support Wyoming Public Radio.

Author Ron Carlson new novel “Return to Oakpine” tells the story of four high school buddies reuniting in their fictional Wyoming hometown, now that they’ve reached middle age. 

One character, Jimmy Brand, is dying of AIDS, and he and his friends get their high school garage band back together one last time. Carlson tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez that this is a “quieter” book, in which the reader keeps company with these characters.

StoryCorps

This summer, StoryCorps set up a booth in Cheyenne to record Wyomingites interviewing one another and sharing their stories.

Today, we’ll hear from 95-year old Pinedale native Guy Decker, better known as “Bud”. Decker tells his longtime-friend Jim Latta about what it was like to grow up on the Wyoming Frontier.

Produced by Rebecca Martinez with interviews recorded at StoryCorps, a na­tional nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. (storycorps.org.)

Kurt Johnson of Wilson is the author of a new field guide for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden spoke with Johnson about the book. He says that while there were already a lot of field guides for those parks, he felt he could still add something.

Although millions of visitors will flock to Yellowstone National Park this summer, Atlantic City-based author and journalist Marjane Ambler is one of the few people who’s lived there when the park is buried in snow.

The former High Country news editor lived with her husband – who drove a snow plow – inside Yellowstone for nine winters during the 1980s and 90s. In her new book, “Yellowstone has Teeth,” Ambler recounts stories of terror and wonder during her time there. She talks with Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez in the studio.

The grazing land of Wyoming is currently filled with young calves out to pasture. Calving season lasts through the spring and early summer in Wyoming and once the calves are born ranchers have to brand them to identify which ranch they belong to. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov attended a branding and found that in the 21st Century, some ranchers are happily keeping up old, social customs during their brandings.

IRINA ZHOROV: Scott Sims’ ranch in the Rock Creek Valley in Southeast Wyoming branded a batch of their calves at the end of June.

prx.org

Writer, musician, and photographer Jessie Veeder reads her essay about visiting a ranch in North Dakota, “There’s Nothing Wilder.”

Historian Phil Roberts at the University of Wyoming recently published a book called “Cody’s Cave,” which tells the story of a vast set of caverns near Cody. The cave was once a national monument, but was then turned over to local control, and Roberts argues that that was a grave mistake, because the site is now just a hole in the ground, off limits to the public. Roberts joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden to talk about the cave, and its demise.

Photo courtesy Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site

Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck spoke with author and historian Mac Blewer about his entertaining book called “Wyoming’s Outlaw Trail.”  It’s about the outlaws that frequented Wyoming in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  For instance he says Baggs, Wyoming was a popular hangout.

bhp imaging

The Wyomericana Caravan pulled into Wyoming Public Radio on May 14, 2013 ahead of their kickoff show in Laramie.  J Shogren, Jalan Crossland and Screen Door Porch each played their Wyoming brand of Americana music.  They also talked with Grady Kirkpatrick about the tour.

Zarif Khan: A Wyoming Life

May 31, 2013

Zarina Khan speaks about Sheridan’s Zarif Kahn on Mountain West Voices.

As a graduate student in UW’s Creative Writing Program, LuLing Osofsky was fascinated by the various ways she saw Indian culture present in Laramie. South Asian students celebrated traditional festivals on campus, and the town had a good place to get curry. She writes about experiencing these pockets of India in her series of vignettes called “Wild Wild East: Finding Hints of Asia in the West.”

Pinedale singer-songwriter Jared Rogerson has been influenced as a musician from 17 years of bronc’ riding in rodeos. He’s also explored thousands of miles in the remote Wyoming backcountry as a brucellosis biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. His new album, Dirt, was released April 17.

Rebecca Martinez

Going to the movies has been a favorite pastime since the dawn of film… but Hollywood studios expect to stop printing movies on actual film before the end of this year. They’re switching over to a digital format, which requires all-new equipment… and the cost of the transition is proving prohibitive for some small Wyoming theaters. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez filed this report.

(struggling to open reel box)

Willow Belden

When we think about the Bureau of Land Management, dinosaurs and other ancient creatures aren’t necessarily the first things that come to mind. But the agency has a small team of paleontologists whose job it is to manage fossils on public land. Brent Breithaupt is one of those paleontologists. He’s based here in Wyoming, and he says public land in the west is full of fossils – many of which haven’t been discovered yet.

A documentary about the construction of the transcontinental railroad is set to air on Wyoming PBS this weekend. The film will show how the building of the railroad shaped Wyoming into the place it is today. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden spoke with the film’s producer, Tom Manning. He says before the railroad was built, there was no Wyoming. The film, “End of Track,” premieres on PBS on March 10th at 7 p.m.

Courtesy of the Carol Mann Agency

The Hansen-Mead family has been an important part of Wyoming history.  Not only are they well known ranchers in Teton County, but they are have yielded 2 governors and even a writer.  Muffy Mead Ferro has written a memoir of growing up in that family called Its Head Came Off by Accident.  Much of the book focuses on her view of ranch life and of her mother Mary Mead...

Jerry Bath

One of the world’s most competitive dog sled races is starting in Jackson tonight. The International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog race will cover more than 400 miles, over the course of eight days. Joining us now to talk about the race – and about dog sledding in Wyoming – is Jerry Bath from Lander. He’s doing the race for the fifth year in a row. Bath says his dogs are bred for just this kind of event.

Hub Whitt

Wyoming is still a frontier of sorts, a place where many continue to hunt in wide open spaces. And sometimes they sing about it, too. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that Julian Saporiti is collecting those cowboy poets’ songs to share with others.

ZHOROV: Julian Saporiti is not from Wyoming…

JULIAN SAPORITI: Like this how not-Wyoming or Western I am. I’ve never ridden a horse in my life. I’ve been on a pony ride going around in a circle in a grocery store parking lot when I was 6. That’s the extent of my cowboyisms.

Author Steve Horn lives between Laramie and Cheyenne. Earlier this year he published a novel called “Another Man’s Life.” The book tells the story of a Vietnam veteran from Wyoming after he returns home from the war. So Steve, without giving too much away, tell us about the story.

“The Hitching Post Inn: Wyoming’s Second Capital” is the story about an iconic hotel in Cheyenne that was home to legislators, lobbyists and others over the years.  That includes big name entertainers.  The main portion of the facility burned to the ground in 2010.  Sue Castaneda is the author and she says it was more than just a hotel.

Rebecca Martinez

Now we’ll play the first installation of a segment we’re calling “Upstarts”. It’s an occasional series where we profile Wyoming entrepreneurs and explore what makes them – and their businesses – tick. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez spoke with 38-year-old Nathan Heineke, owner of N.L. Heineke Incorporated, where he designs and builds upscale custom hunting rifles in Laramie. He started his business eight years ago, and business is good but, he says it could be a while before he starts to see a profit.

Country, bluegrass and southern rock group the Teka Brock Band, formed in 2008 and are currently living in Sheridan. They are venturing on tour to promote their newest album 307. Anna Rader produced this profile.

Wyoming Whiskey: Retailers buy up first batch in 4 minutes

Nov 28, 2012
Wyoming Whiskey

After four years aging in barrels, the first batch of Wyoming Whiskey sold out to distributors in only four minutes today.

Three-thousand cases of Wyoming Whiskey went on sale to state liquor license holders at 3:00 p.m. on the Wyoming Department of Revenue’s E-Liquor website. At 3:04, the website crashed because it experienced such heavy traffic. Of the state’s 1,250 retailers, only about 75 were able to purchase the whiskey.

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