The Modern West Exploring the evolving identity of the American West.
The Modern West

The Modern West

From Wyoming Public Radio

Exploring the evolving identity of the American West.

Most Recent Episodes

Bonus: Those Who Can't Teach Anymore

A few seasons back, we had a series called Cowboy Up that dug into the juvenile justice system in Wyoming. If you liked thinking about education in the west, you're going to love this. We are sharing an episode from the podcast Those Who Can't Teach Anymore, produced by one of our very own, Charles Fournier. This is a narrative podcast series that takes a look at why teachers are leaving education and what can be done to stop the exodus. In this episode, we'll hear from Charles' wife, Jennie and two other former teachers about why they left teaching. From struggles with mental health, to low pay, to a lack of autonomy in the classroom - they give insight into why we are losing good teachers across the country. This episode sets the stage for the series, which will take you through the history, pop-culture, and politics of education.

Bonus: Reframing Rural

For all you Modern West fans who love our last season about ranching and the cowboy mythos in the American West, have we got a treat for you. We're going to share an episode from our good pals at the podcast Reframing Rural. It's now in the middle of its third season "Groundwork," and they've been sharing stories about host Megan Torgerson's family farm as well as the widening wealth gap in Montana...think towns like Bozeman and Missoula. This episode we're going to hear about Jeanie Alderson, a fourth-generation Montana rancher and the co-owner of Omega Beef. In the '70s, Jeanie's parents were among the rural organizers to form the Northern Plains Resource Council. Today, Jeanie continues the council's work standing up for family ranches by fighting against the "Big Four" meatpacking monopoly that's dictating prices and forcing some ranchers out of business.

Revising the Wilderness Tale

This time on The Modern West, we join an 1896 hunting expedition to America's first national park. The journey reveals cracks in our concepts of Yellowstone, a place entangled with violence toward the Indigenous people who long took care of the region.

The Great Dying: Revisited

November is Native American Heritage Month...and in recognition, we thought we'd re-release the first episode of our third season "Shall Furnish Medicine." In it, we connected the dots between the spread of European diseases among Indigenous communities when Europeans first arrived and we examined what that history of genocide meant when the COVID-19 pandemic struck home in Native communities. This episode, "The Great Dying," recently won a couple of big awards – a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for best news documentary and a national Public Media Journalism Association award for best long documentary. Kudos to reporters Savannah Maher and Taylar Stagner! Hope you enjoy!

The Great Individualist Bonus Episode

It's very important when you introduce a new technology, to make sure early adopters don't fail. And I want virtual fencing to work. It's a bonus episode! Binge the whole season of the Great Individualist now. Find the Modern West under podcasts at Sponsored by the Lor Foundation. Listen at or wherever you get your podcasts.

Neighbor Is A Verb: The Great Individualist Part 9

Some think the cowboy has gone riding off into the sunset, never to return. But in our final episode, we hear stories of resilience and community pride. We return to Antonito, CO to hear how Aaron Abeyta started a school there to teach children that success doesn't mean fleeing your hometown. It means staying to celebrate the unique heritage of the community.

Slow Waters Run Deep: The Great Individualist Part 8

Wyoming helped develop western water law, including the very idea that public waters belong to all of us. But the state's reluctance to update its laws has left ranchers scrambling to protect their streams and wells, as drought and water hoarding make water scarcer than ever.

Bonus: Out There

If Out There isn't already on your radar, it should be. It's an award-winning show that uses stories about the outdoors to help you make sense of your life and your world. Just like the Modern West, Out There gets up close and personal, but at the same time, each of its episodes invites you to think big, exploring deeper questions that matter to all of us. In this episode, Out There explores something on a lot of our minds this time of year: wildfires. Becky Jensen had given herself the perfect present for her 50th birthday: a two-week solo backpacking trip. But when she emerged from the trail, she learned that a wildfire had started near her home in northern Colorado. Her house might already be gone. Becky takes us from the tranquility of the San Juan mountains to a cramped basement where she waited out her evacuation, and explores the difficult process of finding a sense of peace, when a natural disaster threatens everything you've built.

Big Is Fragile: The Great Individualist Part 5

We follow the cow's journey from the mountain pasture to the feedlot and eventually the slaughterhouse. Along the way, we hear from animal welfare advocate Temple Grandin and cattle handlers who all want a fairer, more humane market – and one not so monopolized by large corporations.

Bonus: Middle of Everywhere

The Modern West brings you heartfelt stories about poignant issues happening today in the rural west. A lot of these issues are also felt in other rural communities, across the country. Today we take you to the foothills of the lush Appalachian Mountains in East Tennessee. There you'll meet people who lost their way of life when a federal agency decided to take their land and flood their rich river valley, burying beneath the water much of our country's early history, including many sacred Cherokee sites, and threatening an endangered species. This was all done in the name of progress. From our good friends at the award-winning podcast Middle of Everywhere, with WKMS in Kentucky, this is The Story of Tanasi, the first of a five-part series following a decades-long battle that took the river's people all the way to the Supreme Court as they tried to save their way of life in the Little Tennessee River Valley. In this first part, called The Birth of a River, you'll hear a history of the river valley, and learn about the cultural significance and importance of the river to the Cherokee Nation.