Cover art for podcast The Modern West

The Modern West

33 EpisodesProduced by Wyoming Public MediaWebsite

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… read more

33 Episodes | 2019 - 2021

Season 1 Preview

August 21st, 2019

4:18

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…)

Episode 1: Carpetbagger

September 17th, 2019

29:17

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.

Episode 2: Both/Neither

September 24th, 2019

18:05

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 …

Episode 3: Adult-Onset Hunting

October 1st, 2019

21:40

The number of Americans hunting and fishing is declining, but women are bucking the trend. Host Melodie Edwards finds a sisterhood at an …

Episode 4: The Midwife

October 9th, 2019

25:37

Most births are uncomplicated. So in rural areas where hospitals are shutting down, women want to give birth at home. Now, states across the …

Episode 5: Belonging

October 23rd, 2019

23:57

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 …

Episode 6: The Next Yellowstone

November 6th, 2019

49:19

Imagine Congress agreeing to create national forests and wildlife refuges these days. Probably wouldn’t happen. So when a billionaire …

Episode 7: Bringing The Buffalo Home

November 13th, 2019

27:46

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 …

Episode 8: The Man From Lodge Grass

November 20th, 2019

36:23

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…)

Episode 9: What You’re Missing About Coal Country

December 5th, 2019

37:04

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 …

Episode 10: The Widower

December 20th, 2019

26:50

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 …

Coming Soon To A Feed Near You...

June 3rd, 2020

3:32

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.

The Rancher And The Wild

June 17th, 2020

37:33

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 …

A Walk Across The Prairie

July 1st, 2020

28:44

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 …

The Small-Town Drag Queen

July 22nd, 2020

32:08

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 …

Season 2: Ghost Town(ing) Trailer

September 9th, 2020

4:09

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 …

"You Can’t Eat The View": Ghost Town(ing) Part 1

September 16th, 2020

21:36

Years ago, small towns like Walden, Colorado were vibrant. Street dances, a health food store, a movie theatre, the works. At least, that's …

Bust Town: Ghost Town(ing) Part 2

September 30th, 2020

36:02

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 …

A Stranger Comes To Town: Ghost Town(ing) Part 3

October 14th, 2020

40:36

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 …

Meet Your Neighbor: A Conversation About The Rural West And The 2020 Election

October 28th, 2020

3:11

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.

The Environmental Billionaire: Ghost Town(ing) Part 4

November 4th, 2020

37:44

2020 feels apocalyptic. It's not just the pandemic; there's also drought, mega-fires, melting glaciers. Meanwhile, the ultra-wealthy are …

Gabby's Story: Ghost Town(ing) Part 5

November 18th, 2020

38:00

The rural West has been seeing a steeper and steeper decline into despair, especially among white men. But when a Vietnam vet's mental breakdown threatens the safety of Walden, the small town has a response …

The Doctor In The Screen: Ghost Town(ing) Part 6

December 2nd, 2020

37:57

Living in a pandemic doesn't have many plus sides to it. But there is one bright side for rural America. Telehealth is finally getting to …

The Garden On The Prairie: Ghost Town(ing) Part 7

December 16th, 2020

36:10

Many places in the American West are becoming food deserts, where it's hard to get healthy food. Sometimes that's because people can't afford it or because it means driving long distances. And for really …

Bonus: Stranger In A Strange Land

December 30th, 2020

19:17

We're on a short holiday break, so here's the first part of a podcast called Grouse, a show about the most controversial bird in the West …

A Tale Of Two Towns: Ghost Town(ing) Part 8

January 13th, 2021

41:50

Some former Southern enslaved people and their descendants followed the American dream westward, where they created towns to homestead …

Immigrations, Interrupted: Ghost Town(ing) Part 9

January 27th, 2021

34:40

Right now, the West is struggling to diversify its economy. But would our economy have already been diversified if a greater diversity of

Mountains In The Rearview Mirror: Ghost Town(ing) Part 10

February 10th, 2021

39:07

The out-migration of rural youth is one of America’s great migrations--even the history books are calling it that. Younger generations leave because they have a need to feel connected to the great, big world …

Small Town Democracy: Ghost Town(ing) Part 11

February 26th, 2021

38:38

Small town politics has a lot to teach us about how fragile democracy is right now. In Walden, we sit in on a beautification committee …

The Fine Art Of Coexisting: Ghost Town(ing) Part 12

March 12th, 2021

29:50

In the final chapter of Ghost Town(ing), host Melodie Edwards revisits her parents' decision about whether to move away from Walden. Her mom has been trying to lure her dad away with all sorts of stratagems. …

My Modern West: From Surviving To Thriving

March 26th, 2021

18:25

From the nurse who moved back to Walden, to the foreign diplomat who grew up in Nebraska, from the ranch kid who's seen the wealthy moving in, to the Asian-American daughter remembering her father's migration …

Bonus: Reversing Ghost Town(ing)

April 21st, 2021

33:11

In the process of reporting on rural decline, we discovered an underground movement of people thinking hard about how to help small towns revitalize. We partnered with the Rural America Chamber of Commerce to …

Bonus: Carbon Valley Part 1

May 7th, 2021

37:03

We're hard at work on our next season but, while you're waiting, we wanted to share Carbon Valley, another podcast from Wyoming Public Media …

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