The Modern West

The Modern West

Exploring the evolving identity of the American West. Produced by Wyoming Public Media and PRX, The Modern West takes you on a sound-rich journey into some of America's most iconic landscapes. Guided by host Melodie Edwards' personal connection to the region, it's an unflinching look at the American West--its problematic history, its modern-day struggles and resilience, and how its present and future are being shaped.

Episodes

August 21, 2019 4 min

The Modern West is getting a reboot! New host, new theme music, and brand-new stories just for this podcast. Season 1 starts September 17. (more…)

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You ask around, and people can’t agree on a quintessential Wyoming writer. And if you can’t identify the literature of a place, you can’t define the place. Authors including CJ Box and Craig Johnson weigh in. (more…)

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September 24, 2019 18 min

The U.S. government only allows Native Americans to register with one tribe. But what happens when two tribes share one reservation for over a century? Two women grapple with how that affected their identity growing up. (more…)

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October 1, 2019 21 min

The number of Americans hunting and fishing is declining, but women are bucking the trend. Host Melodie Edwards finds a sisterhood at an all-women hunting camp—and catches her first fish with her dad. (more…)

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October 9, 2019 25 min

Most births are uncomplicated. So in rural areas where hospitals are shutting down, women want to give birth at home. Now, states across the country are legalizing and regulating midwifery so they can. This is the story of one rural state, one midwife, and one brand-new mama. (more…)

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October 23, 2019 23 min

Young people from Gen Z are moving to cities around the West. But in doing so, they’re also out-migrating from rural hometowns in places like Wyoming and New Mexico. Conversations between young people about why they leave and why they stay. (more…)

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November 6, 2019 49 min

Imagine Congress agreeing to create national forests and wildlife refuges these days. Probably wouldn’t happen. So when a billionaire realized a large swath of the Great Plains needed special protections he decided to do it himself, without the government’s help. His dream is for a new kind of privately-owned national park–one as expansive as Yellowstone.

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November 13, 2019 27 min

It’s been over a century since the U.S. government exterminated bison from the Great Plains as a way to win the war against the Native American tribes there. But now reservations across the West are working to bring them back. (more…)

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November 20, 2019 36 min

Quincy Dabney loved growing up in Lodge Grass on the Crow Reservation in Montana. But then, just like him, it started falling apart. Now Quincy is working to save the hometown that saved him. (more…)

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Once upon a time, coal miners took pride in the hard work they did. But these days the coal industry is sluggish and miners are feeling left behind—even disrespected—by the world. What they want most now is to just figure out how to hold on to the strong community that coal once gave them. (more…)

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December 20, 2019 26 min

Bob was devastated when his wife died of cancer. He’d been her main caregiver, and afterward, he realized that now he had to face his old age alone. No kids, no family nearby. And living in the West, he started worrying about how inaccessible senior care could be. That’s when his gallows humor took over. (more…)

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June 3, 2020 3 min

A preview of our summer mini-season: three episodes that take you deep into the real West to meet people thinking hard about the future of this place. Predators, prairie, and pots of glitter.

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June 17, 2020 37 min

Albert Sommers is a rancher who thought he'd seen it all. When he found a mysteriously dead calf, he started wondering: how wild should our wild places be?

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July 1, 2020 28 min

When Emily Chen-Newton moved to Nebraska, she was worried she’d miss her Kentucky mountains. But then she walked a long section of the new Great Plains Trail and realized her new home was a more magical place than she gave it credit for. And not so flat either.

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July 22, 2020 32 min

It wasn’t easy growing up queer in small-town Wyoming. And when Taylar went to college in Laramie, an assault left her in pieces…until she found community with Giselle and the Dragonettes. Follow them as they head to the big city for a David Bowie drag competition.

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September 9, 2020 4 min

They say those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. So what can Old West ghost towns teach us about today's shrinking rural towns? Starting September 16, we'll take you to the windswept prairie where towns once stood and to new ghost towns in the making. We're exploring rural decline and resilience, and asking, why does it matter if America's small towns disappear?

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Years ago, small towns like Walden, Colorado were vibrant. Street dances, a health food store, a movie theatre, the works. At least, that's how host Melodie Edwards remembers it from her childhood. Now it's shrinking, part of the "ghost towning" of the American West. But can communities like Walden find a way to survive? Or will Melodie's parents be forced to move away, like so many others?

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September 30, 2020 36 min

Why are we so fascinated by old ghost towns? And what can they teach us? We go looking for the ghosts of an old silver mining community called Teller City to see if they have any lessons for how the nearby town of Walden, Colorado can keep from falling into the same cycles of boom and bust.

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The West has long been a haven for the ultra-wealthy. Sometimes, they move into small towns with the aim of revitalizing them. But in Walden, Colorado, one wealthy businessman’s plans went awry, with dire consequences for the community.

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Part 4 of our Ghost Town(ing) series is in the works, coming out next week. But while you’re waiting, here's a way that you can get your voice in on the conversation about the state of the rural West.

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