We’re Hiring a Development Director!

West Texas Public Radio believes in the capacity of public media to shape and animate who we are, where we live, and how we relate. Public media from West Texas serves a critical role in our state and our nation: from border stories to energy stories, West Texas is a part of the country whose stories need to be amplified.

We are looking for a dynamic Development Director who is passionate about facilitating the financial health of our stations. The Development Director is an integral member of our team. S/he will develop and implement our annual fundraising strategy with know-how, wit, and attention to detail. Our Development Director is a passionate advocate for the power of public radio.

We are seeking candidates who can demonstrate success at generating revenue through multiple funding streams: membership, major donor cultivation, underwriting, and grants. Other important attributes include being a team player, having a sense of humor, and a strong belief in the power of storytelling.

This is a full-time, salaried position.
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We’re Hiring a Development Director!

Marfa Public Radio believes in the capacity of public media to shape and animate who we are, where we live, and how we relate. Public media from West Texas serves a critical role in our state and our nation: from border stories to energy stories, West Texas is a part of the country whose stories need to be amplified. MPR has been one of the most awarded small-market stations in the nation for excellence in journalism.

We are looking for a dynamic Development Director who is passionate about facilitating the financial health of our stations. The Development Director is an integral member of our team. S/he will develop and implement our annual fundraising strategy with know-how, wit, and attention to detail. Our Development Director is a passionate advocate for the power of public radio.

We are seeking candidates who can demonstrate success at generating revenue through multiple funding streams: membership, major donor cultivation, underwriting, and grants. Other important attributes include being a team player, having a sense of humor, and a strong belief in the power of storytelling.

This is a full-time, salaried position.
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Robert Fabian (Alpine Police Department)

No Trial Location Set for Suspect in Zuzu Verk Murder Case

Robert Fabian, the main suspect in the murder of Zuzu Verk, appeared in a courtroom in Alpine this morning as part of a pre-trial hearing. Verk was a student at Sul Ross State University, when she disappeared last year. Fabian is facing first-degree murder charges in her death.

Fabian’s attorney, Harold Danford, filed a motion today for information about the prosecutors’ witnesses. A change of venue for Fabian’s trial was granted back in August. But there was no talk today of where or when the trial will take place.
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Rick Treviño is one of the four candidates running in the democratic primary for District 23 (Photo courtesy of Rick Treviño)

District 23 Candidate Rick Treviño on his Congressional Run and What Inspired It

Rick Treviño is hoping to bring his “progressive platform” to District 23. Held by Helotes Republican Will Hurd, the district is often considered one of the most competitive and is a target district for Democrats in 2018.

Treviño recently talked about his campaign and the inspiration for his platform.

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Mayan Interpreters Scramble to Meet Demand ‘Before the Wall Goes Up’

Since the late 1970s, Guatemalans been crossing the border into to the United States in large numbers – taking their indigenous languages with them. As Guatemalan immigration continues, paired with anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies, demand for translators of America’s ancient languages is on the rise.

Carmelina Cadena wanted to be an interpreter since she was a child. At five years old she left her home country of Guatemala. Her family was fleeing extreme violence.

“My uncles, my cousins were put in a house and they were set on fire while they were still alive,” Cadena says.

After a couple years in Mexico, Cadena and her family crossed into U.S. territory where they were met by Border Patrol.

“We turned ourselves in to immigration and we were just there at their mercy.”

Her family, unlike many Guatemalans at the time, were able to understand some Spanish. But, they mostly spoke the Mayan language Akateko. Cadena watched her mom struggle to understand court documents and proceedings as the immigration status of the family hung in the balance. She says the family could have received residency sooner if there had been an interpreter working with them.

Though it took decades, Cadena eventually did get her residency and citizenship. Her experience inspired her to found Maya Interpreters, an organization that hires speakers of 14 Mayan languages to do telephonic interpretations all over the United States, including West Texas.

Business has been good – too good. She’s struggling to meet demand for interpreters,  which are hired by refugee resettlement programs, immigration courts and other organizations.

“As soon as January hit we noticed there was a spike and it has been incrementing little by little to at a point to where it’s becoming harder and harder to have everybody.”

Cadena says she attributes increased demand on the election of President Trump.

“I see it we all need to get in before the wall goes up.”

Mexico-United States Border at Big Bend Sector (Photo by Elizabeth Trovall)

Guatemalans have been immigrating to the United States for decades. When civil war violence spiked in Guatemala during the late 1970s, people fled their country in droves.

And it’s still an issue today. From 2007 to 2015, the number of Guatemalan immigrants in the U.S. increased 31%, while Mexican immigration decreased 6% (Pew Research Center, 2017).

In terms of illegal immigration, more than half of people apprehended crossing the Southwest Border last year were from Central America, a total of 222,847 (CBP). During the 2017 fiscal year, 33,570 Guatemalans were removed by ICE, second only to Mexican removals (ICE).

“We’ve seen a steady increase in the what we term as ‘other than Mexicans’, majority of those being Guatemalans,” says Rush Carter, Border Patrol Special Operations Supervisor for the Big Bend Sector.

The sector makes up a quarter of the southwest border.

Border Patrol Special Operations Supervisor Rush Carter (Photo by Elizabeth Trovall)

Parked on the side of highway 90 near Alpine, Carter points to a hill where agents are tracking a group they suspect are Guatemalans. Carter says they’re hard to track. To avoid leaving footprints, they wear carpet on their shoes and usually are being guided by professional smugglers, or coyotes.

When the Border Patrol does find a group, communication is crucial.

“With the Guatemalans we do hear more of that indigenous language,” says Carter, “of course our agents are all trained in Spanish, however when they hear something like that it’s a foreign language to them.”

Though most Guatemalans do speak Spanish, organizations like the Border Patrol and immigration courts sometimes have to call on translation services like Cadena’s for help.

Communication is especially tricky in court, when a Guatemalan might understand some Spanish, but it’s their second language. Last year, of the ten most commonly-used languages used in U.S. immigration courts, two were Mayan languages. This demand for interpreters, combined with low supply and the fact that some Mayan languages are incredibly rare, creates extra challenges for Guatemalan immigrants.

“Unfortunately, the issue of facilitating translations for Guatemalans going through the immigration system has been difficult,” says Benito Juarez, of the International Mayan League. He also works for New American and Refugee Affairs for the City of Houston.

“If you don’t have language services available for somebody who is going through the immigration system, it basically makes more difficult the process and can affect the outcome, resulting in people just giving up and saying well, I’m just going back or being deported.”

He says there are just three organizations nationwide that provide translation assistance for indigenous Guatemalans going through the immigration process. One is Maya Interpreters – Cadena’s company.

She says with the increase in Guatemalans coming to the U.S., she’ll be scrambling to facilitate translations. Cadena is up for the challenge – she sees it as her American duty.



There’s A Democrat Running For Every Texas Congressional Seat Next Year

In deep-red Texas, Republicans will have to fight for every congressional seat in next year’s midterm elections. For the first time in 25 years, Democrats are running in all of Texas’ 36 congressional districts, according to documents filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

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Crew Capsule 2.0 features large windows, measuring 2.4 feet wide, 3.6 feet tall. (Photo courtesy of Blue Origin)

Blue Origin Completes Successful Test of “New Shepard”

On Tuesday, the commercial space flight company Blue Origin completed it’s latest rocket test in West Texas.

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West Texas Border Towns Face Barriers to Affordable Health Care

Texas continues to drag behind the rest of the country when it comes to health coverage, with a 16.6% uninsured rate, compared to 8.8% nationwide (U.S. Census Bureau). Within the state, counties along the border are where you see the highest uninsured rates. As the December 15th Affordable Care Act enrollment deadline approaches, navigators scramble to help people find an affordable plan. Despite their efforts (and improving uninsured rates) there are still many barriers keeping Texans – especially along the border – from finding affordable coverage.

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Texas Landowners Take The Wind Out Of Their Sales

Owning land in Texas isn’t as simple as just owning land. The rights to some properties are divided between “surface rights” — who can build on the land — and “mineral rights” — who can extract oil and other things from underground. Now, there might be a new category in the mix: wind rights.

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The moment New Shepard's crew capsule separated from its rocket booster during last year's test launch. (Blue Origin)

Blue Origin Set to Begin Test Flights This Week

After a year-long hiatus, the commercial space company Blue Origin is resuming test flights at its West Texas facility.

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Emilio Gutierrez, seen here with Associated Press journalist Michele Salcedo, received a press freedom award from the National Press Club in October. (Noel St. John/National Press Club)

Mexican Journalist Seeking Asylum in the U.S. is Detained

Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez fled his home in the state of Chihuahua in 2008. After reporting on cartels and military corruption, he says his life was under threat and he’d been put on a “hit list.” Now, after nearly ten years in the U.S., Gutiérrez was arrested by immigration agents last week and told he would be deported, according to his lawyer.

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Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez suffered injuries to his head and body while on patrol in Van Horn. Officials have yet to comment on the events that led to the officer's death. Photo courtesy of Border Patrol.

Two Suspects Emerge in the Death of Border Patrol Agent

According to federal documents, the FBI is closing in on two suspects they believe may have been involved in the death of Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez last month in Van Horn, Texas. It is still unclear exactly what happened, but the FBI has been investigating Martinez’s death as a “potential assault.”

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Photo by: Jackie Wasiluk. 185 pounds of liquid meth seized at the San Diego/San Ysidro crossing.

Meth traveling to the Permian Basin “spills” along the way

A drug sweep in the tri-county area last month lead to more than 30 arrests for distribution of drugs, specifically methamphetamine.

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Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, A Democrat, Is Running For Governor

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez announced Wednesday morning that she is running for governor, giving Texas Democrats a serious candidate for the top job with five days until the candidate filing deadline for the 2018 primaries.

“Like so many hardworking Texans, I know it’s tough deciding between buying food, finding a decent place to live, and setting aside money for college tuition,” Valdez said in a statement. “Opportunity in Texas ought to be as big as this great state, but it is out of reach for far too many, that’s why I’m running for Texas Governor. I’m a proud Texas Democrat. I believe good government can make people’s lives better, and I intend to do just that.”

Valdez’s campaign said she will file for governor at 11:45 a.m. at the Texas Democratic Party headquarters in Austin.

Until Wednesday, six little-known Democrats had filed to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is seeking a second term in 2018. Andrew White, the son of late Gov. Mark White, has been exploring a run for weeks and is set to announce his campaign Thursday in Houston.

Here’s the statement the Valdez campaign campaign released Wednesday morning:

After 13 years of service to the good people of Dallas County, Sheriff Valdez will seek the Democratic nomination for Texas Governor. From migrant farmworker in a humble family of eight children to U.S. Army captain, federal agent to sheriff, Valdez has dedicated her life to hard work, service, and defending Texans.

“Like so many hardworking Texans, I know it’s tough deciding between buying food, finding a decent place to live, and setting aside money for college tuition. Opportunity in Texas ought to be as big as this great state, but it is out of reach for far too many, that’s why I’m running for Texas Governor,” said Lupe Valdez. “I’m a proud Texas Democrat. I believe good government can make people’s lives better, and I intend to do just that.”

This morning, Sheriff Valdez will officially notify the Dallas County Commissioners Court of her decision to pursue the next chapter of her service and step down, initiating the process for the appointment of an interim sheriff and the primary and general election of her successor.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.


Texas Heads Back To Federal Appeals Court In Long-Winding Voter ID Fight

NEW ORLEANS — State officials and the minority rights groups suing Texas over its strict voter identification restrictions are headed back to court.

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BP Agent Death Still Unresolved, and Politicians’ Rush To Judgement May Be Part of the Reason

More than two weeks later, there are still more questions than answers in the death of Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez. He died after he and a fellow agent were seriously injured while on patrol around Van Horn in West Texas. After the incident, prominent politicians wasted no time weighing in, saying the officers had been attacked. Senator Ted Cruz called it a quote “Stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses to the safety of our communities.” President Donald Trump tweeted “We Will, and must, build the Wall!”

The investigation was quickly taken over by the FBI, which steps in whenever there’s a potential assault on a federal officer. Since then, they’ve released few details on the case. As Mallory Falk reports, those early statements by politicians may be part of the reason.

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Science teacher, Joel Chavez, stands in front of a TexNet earthquake monitor at Crockett Middle School in Pecos, Texas. (Bayla Metzger)

Despite Expert Reassurance, Pecos Residents Are Concerned About Earthquakes

Earthquakes have been on the rise in Texas for almost a decade. A lot of scientific research links these tremors to oil and gas activity, specifically to injection wells where frack wastewater is disposed of deep below the earth’s surface. In Pecos, an oil-rich town in the Permian Basin, residents have been experiencing a lot of earthquakes lately.

Joel Chavez, a middle school science teacher, experienced his first earthquake last December. He says he was lying in his bed reading at around 1:30am when it hit. “I definitely heard a boom. And then I felt a sensation go through my body,” he says. He knew right away that he needed to do something about it. He initially approached the Pecos City Council about setting up an interactive map where residents could self-report the earthquakes they felt, but the council opted not to help.
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Gina Ortiz Jones is a former intelligence officer. She's running in a packed primary field, hoping to challenge District 23 incumbent, Rep. Will Hurd.

District 23 Challenger Gina Ortiz Jones on her Congressional Run and the “Gut Check” that Led to It

Gina Ortiz Jones is one of the candidates running for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District 23. It’s currently held by Helotes Republican Will Hurd. It’s one of the most competitive congressional districts in the state, stretching from San Antonio into West Texas.

Jones recently talked about her decision to run and how her experiences following the 2016 election were a “gut check.”

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(KRTS Photo/Lorne Matalon)

A market solution to Texas’ groundwater woes?

Fracking has dramatically increased the demand for water in the nation’s most productive oil field, Texas’ Permian Basin. Water usage has already risen sixfold since 2011, and according to research firm IHS Markit, demand will double again by the end of this year.

The market for water is booming, but many in West Texas worry about the depletion of groundwater. But there are new market developments that could meet the demand for frack water and mitigate environmental concerns at the same time.

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The El Paso Christian Home School Panthers’ coaches speak to the team after their loss against Fort Davis ISD. Photo by Natalie Krebs

Texas Home Schoolers Have a League of Their Own

Barred from UIL competition, home schoolers have banded together to play six-man football and other sports.

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What Does The Senate Tax Bill Mean For Texans?

From Texas Standard.

The U.S. House passed its version of a tax bill on Nov. 16, and now the Senate is racing to pass its own version before the end of the year.

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This picture by Jack Nolan shows the old Bankhead Highway south of the railroad tracks in Odessa, Texas. Photo courtesy of Petroleum Museum, Richard Donnelly Collection (69-029.003).

Did You Grow Up in an Oilfield Company Camp? We Want to Hear From You!

For the better part of the 1900s, oil field companies set up housing camps near boom towns to lure both white-collar and blue-collar workers. These camps provided basic shelter for workers and their families. But they also created a sense of community. The stories from these camps are part of a new project we’re working on in Marfa Public Radio and West Texas Public Radio.

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Dumas-area farmer Dee Vaughan checks the ground after a short test run in one of his combines. Vaughan has been farming since 1978 and worries increasing corporate control of agriculture may price farmers out of their jobs. Gary Rhodes for The Texas Tribune

As Bayer and Monsanto push for merger, Texas farmers fear rising prices

Multinational agricultural firms Bayer and Monsanto say their planned merger will boost innovation by consolidating resources. But some farmers say the merger eliminates competition and could lead to higher seed prices.

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If Congress Doesn’t Fund CHIP, Thousands Of Pregnant Texans Will Lose Health Insurance, Too

If Congress doesn’t reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) soon, it’s not just Texas children who could lose access to health insurance; thousands of pregnant women could lose coverage, too.

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More than 500 Say Goodbye as Border Patrol Agent is Laid to Rest

More than 500 law enforcement officers, family and friends paid their respects Saturday to a West Texas border patrol agent who died last week. Details surrounding the agent’s death have yet to be revealed. Some Texas officials say the agent was the victim of an attack,  while others claim the agent might have accidentally fallen while on patrol.

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Border Patrol, Alpine, Texas (Photo by Frank Heinz, CC-BY-2.0)

Details of Border Patrol Agent’s Death Still Unclear

Details are still murky about what led the death of a US border patrol agent over the weekend. Agent Rogelio Martinez was found unconscious on Saturday night, in a culvert about twelve miles from Van Horn, Texas. 

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The site of a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities in Conroe, Texas that will house up to 1,000 immigrants at a cost of $44 million a year to U.S. taxpayer. JOHN BURNETT / NPR

Big Money As Private Immigrant Jails Boom

The Trump administration wants to expand its network of immigrant jails. In recent months, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has called for five new detention facilities to be built and operated by private prison corporations across the country. Critics are alarmed at the rising fortunes of an industry that had fallen out of favor with the previous administration.

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Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez suffered injuries to his head and body while on patrol in Van Horn. Officials have yet to comment on the events that led to the officer's death. Photo courtesy of Border Patrol.

Border Patrol Agent Dies While on Patrol in Van Horn

A U.S. Border Patrol Agent has died and another remains hospitalized after sustaining multiple injuries while on patrol in the Van Horn area this weekend.

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Marfa City Council

Marfa PD Discusses Department Report at City Council

The Marfa Police Department presented its first “Police Department” report at the Marfa City Council meeting Tuesday night. The report outlined department activities since the municipal force was launched on October 23rd of this year.

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Jeff Williams in front of an irrigation ditch on his family's alfalfa farm and ranch in Fort Stockton. Photo by Sally Beauvais

New Demand, Same Old Story: West Texans And Their Water

In arid west Texas, where rain is infrequent and rivers and lakes are few, groundwater – water from sources beneath the surface of the earth – is key to survival. And as the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin demands more of this resource from the surrounding area, researchers are scrambling to study the systems of webbed aquifers that feed households, farms, ranches and industry in the region.

But for residents there’s a familiar tension, over who gets to decide the fate of their water.

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Credit: Travis Bubenik

Despite A ‘Downturn,’ West Texas Oil Production Expected To Hit A Record High

Cost-cutting and advances in drilling technology are helping companies withstand persistently low oil prices.

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The growing number of oil rigs pulled in from the oilfield and stored in this lot in Odessa, Texas is a testament to the steep decline in the price of crude oil in the last year. (Lorne Matalon/KXWT)

Report: West Texas Oil Boom Gives Rise to Gas Flares

A new report out this week by the Environmental Defense Fund finds the amount of gas lost to intentional releases and burnings — known as venting and flaring, respectively — ranges widely, suggesting a sizable performance gap between the Permian’s top producers.

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Source: Texas Department of Transportation

Safety Concerns Spur New Study of Traffic on U.S. 67

The Texas Department of Transportation is undertaking a 2-year long project on a major highway in West Texas.  The study will evaluate future needs for the major West Texas artery with input from people in the tri-county area.

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Despite A ‘Downturn,’ West Texas Oil Production Headed For A Record High

It was almost three years ago when the oil industry took a nosedive.

The headlines told stories of lost jobs and struggling towns,but now, despite the continued downturn, things seem better. At least in the Permian Basin of west Texas.

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Children’s Health Program In Texas Is Weeks Away From ‘Chaos,’ Advocates Warn

The families of roughly 400,000 children in Texas could be receiving letters from state officials in a matter of weeks, letting them know their health care is ending.

Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired at the end of September, and Congress still hasn’t reauthorized the program. Legislation aimed at shoring up the program has bipartisan support, but there’s disagreement in Congress about how to pay for it.

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After Sutherland Springs Shooting: Songs, Prayers, Tears

One week after the mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, the congregation gathered for its Sunday service to mourn the loss of the 26 lives while also celebrating the faith that brings them together.

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Children’s Health Program In Texas Is Weeks Away From ‘Chaos,’ Advocates Warn

The families of roughly 400,000 children in Texas could be receiving letters from state officials in a matter of weeks, letting them know their health care is ending.

Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired at the end of September, and Congress still hasn’t reauthorized the program. Legislation aimed at shoring up the program has bipartisan support, but there’s disagreement in Congress about how to pay for it.

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Texans Add Seven Amendments To State Constitution

Voters added seven amendments to the Texas Constitution on Tuesday. The mostly noncontroversial propositions won by wide margins of up to 70 points, via KUT News.

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AP via NPR Blood donations, as well as financial donations, are the main ways in which people can help the victims of the Sutherland Springs massacre and their families.

How To Help Victims Of The Sutherland Springs Massacre

Blood donations, as well as financial donations, are the options at this point.

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Multiple Casualties Reported In Church Shooting in South Texas

Multiple people are reported dead after a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, about 30 miles east of San Antonio.

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Marfa resident Emily Hocker in her adobe home. Hocker says her home appraisal increased by $39,000 this year. (Bayla Metzger)

The Cost of Living in a Dirt Home

A new classification system for adobe structures has caused a big jump in property taxes for some Presidio County homeowners.

Adobe is one of the most humble building materials around: it’s essentially mud, water and straw, shaped into brick, and dried in the sun. However, it’s also gained cachet in and around Marfa.

“Adobe is cool,” according to Paul Hunt, who formerly served on the Presidio County Appraisal District (PCAD) board of directors and the Appraisal Review Board. He says home buyers from Austin, Houston and New York have driven up the valuation of adobe properties. On real estate site Zillow, several adobe homes are currently listed for over half a million dollars; that’s in one of the poorest counties in the country.

At the beginning of this year, the PCAD created a new classification for adobe structures to reflect their true market value. According to Hunt, 380 homes were reclassified as adobe, resulting in a markup of approximately 60% for many.

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Presidio County commissioners discuss embattled precinct 3 commissioner Lorenzo Hernandez at their meeting this week.

Months After Federal Bribery Arrest, Presidio County Official Resigns

At a Presidio County Commissioner’s Court meeting Wednesday, embattled Precinct 3 commissioner Lorenzo Hernandez officially resigned from his position. 

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Photograph courtesy of Archives of the Big Bend, “Dolores Garcia Collection”, Bryan Wildenthal Memorial Library, Sul Ross State University, Alpine Texas

From Richest Acre in Texas to Ghost Town: the Story of Shafter

On highway 67, some 20 miles before reaching the Mexican border, a green sign reads “Shafter Ghost Town”. A dusty drive takes you past adobe ruins with a glimpse at what’s left of this once-thriving mining town.

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West Texas Representative Reacts to Manafort Charges

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort surrendered to federal authorities this morning for 12 charges ranging from Money Laundering to conspiracy against the United States. Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos were also asked to turn themselves in. via Texas Public Radio.


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The Gateway International Bridge crosses over the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in Mexico. Photo: GABRIEL CRISTÓVER PÉREZ / KUT

What Stood Between An Undocumented Minor And An Abortion? One Trump Appointee

A 17-year-old girl who entered the U.S. without documentation or family told the staff at a Texas shelter in March that she wanted an abortion, reports KUT News.

The shelter is one of many in the U.S. under contract with the federal government to provide services to unaccompanied children (UACs). Those services include food and shelter, as well as health and education services.

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Porkers Into Profit: How Some Are Dealing With Texas’ Problem Pigs

At 2.6 million, there are more feral pigs in Texas than any other state. They do an estimated $52 million worth of damage to the state’s agriculture.

Hovering a few hundred feet above a cotton field outside College Station, Chase Roberts is pointing out just some of that damage.

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For Years Texans Ranched in Lobo. Now it’s Boarded up and Owned by Germans

Driving west out of Marfa, Texas, you’ll pass a foreboding sign. “No service next 74 miles.” You won’t see much on that stretch of highway 90. But past the small town of Valentine, population 134, there’s a place where the mountains stand guard over a row of desert-worn, derelict buildings. There’s a rundown 4-room hotel. A boarded up gas station. All covered in overgrown brush. This is Lobo

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West Texas Public Radio’s Fall Membership Drive

It’s a bit chilly now. Leaves are starting to fall. The sun is beginning to set a little earlier. They’re all the telltale signs of fall officially arriving — including, our big membership drive.

Beginning October 16th we will enter our 2017 fall drive. Below are some of the events we will have throughout our membership drive:

There will be an open house on Thursday, October 19th. You can come and hang out with your fellow public radio aficionados. We will have snacks, refreshments and a space to dance the night away as our wonderful DJs play their favorite tunes.

On Friday, October 20th: We will have a membership drive-thru. Come on down to the station for a grab-n-go breakfast. When you donate to public radio in West Texas you will receive a breakfast burrito from Marfa Burritos.

Lastly, keep an eye on this page as we will update it with membership giveaways and let you know once we reach our fall membership goal.

A frack operation in​​ the Permian Basin of Texas, the nation's highest-producing oilfield. The Permian was once the floor of an ancient seabed that today is laden with hydrocarbons ; Lorne Matalon

New Approach In Texas To Cutting Use Of Fresh Water In Fracking

MIDLAND, Texas—Water in west Texas is both an environmental issue and a major stress on overhead for oil and natural gas producers in the Permian Basin. A private- public partnership in Midland is trying to address both concerns at the same time.

Hydraulic fracturing (known colloquially as fracking) is unlocking once inaccessible oil and gas in the country’s highest producing oilfield. Perfected in Texas, fracking has changed the global dynamics of  oil and gas. Right now, U.S. oil production trails only Saudi Arabia but not by much. But a U.S. Geological Survey study finds that on average, oil and natural gas fracking uses more than 28 times the water it did 15 years ago. A well typically uses between two and eight million gallons of water which the study says puts farming and drinking sources at risk in arid places Texas.
Fracking, now banned in New York state, injects industrial amounts of sand, water and chemicals into the ground—-at high pressure—-to release trapped oil and natural gas. The American Geological Union says fracking takes place in places where water may become scarcer in a warming world, including Texas, the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains—regions hit by drought during parts of the last five years. When it comes to fracking and water use, one mitigating tactic may lie within the wastewater treatment plant in Midland, Texas. It’s the site of a new partnership between Midland and Irving, Texas-based Pioneer Natural Resources. The deal simultaneously addresses city finances, environmental responsibility and oil and gas production. Pioneer is paying to upgrade the plant, which will ultimately save Midland 110 million dollars.

Midland Mayor Jerry Morales summed up the deal as a boon to the taxpayer.

“(It is) a savings for the citizens of Midland by not having to go after any debt or affect our budget,” he described it. In return for paying for the upgrade at the water treatment plant in Midland, Pioneer gets to move some of that treated water to its oilfields saving hundreds of millions of gallons of fresh water.

“We made a commitment several years ago that we need to move away from fresh water,” explained Pioneer’s Executive Chairman, Scott Sheffield at Energy Week 2017, an annual gathering of energy experts hosted by the University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute and UT’s Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law and Business.

Sheffield told me Pioneer isn’t just doing this to help the environment. It’s also about saving money on the cost and transport of water to the oilfield. “We’re doing it at a price which is much less than what it costs to truck fresh water in,” he continued. Sheffield said this all began several years ago.

“We put together a geologic team to look for formations below the fresh water sands. And we found several sources of water there. We went to the cities of Midland and Odessa. And we’ve worked out agreements with them to use rated wastewater.”

So now the question is, can this be replicated? Energy consultant Kinnon Goleman in Austin says yes. He cited Concho Resources, another major player in the Permian Basin that has its own, similar deal with Odessa.

“Originally everyone thought we had to do it with freshwater. In the last 15 years we’ve learned  that we don’t  have to use nearly as clean a water, or fresh water” said Goleman.

Goleman said this kind of private-public partnership is a good fit for cities such as Midland and Odessa given their rapid population growth. Upgrading a wastewater treatment plant is expensive and cumbersome. But it has to be done to meet government certifications. Meantime, oil and gas interests save on one of the biggest strains on their overhead.

“Lowering the cost of drilling and completing the well is very, very significant. And it’s been changing rapidly and part of it is the water equation,” Goleman continued.

To get more context on the relationship between energy production and water use, I spoke with Michael Webber of the University of Texas at Austin. He is Deputy Director of the school’s Energy Institute and the author of “Thirst for Power:Energy, Water, and Human Survival,” a work that considers how both resources, energy and water, can be sustained.

“I think this kind of deal will be replicated,” said Webber, though he explained not quite everywhere. He said the mix of heavy drilling and stress on water supplies found in the Permian Basin isn’t universal. But he does think society will at some point abandon the notion that water is an inexhaustible resource. And that, he said, will spur innovation in the way water is deployed and paid for in energy production.

“When you have the situation with oil and gas companies that have a lot of money and need water and you you have big users like cities or agricultural operations that have a lot of water and need money, then his is the perfect opportunity for a trade. And because that water is worth so much money to oil and gas, it’s worth more money per barrel to oil and gas than it is to a farmer, because the oil and gas operation can take a barrel of water and produce a lot of money with it, they’re willing to invest that money. That’s the right set of ingredients for it.”
Webber believes it will ultimately be the free market and not only environmental concerns that may change the way freshwater is deployed in energy production.

Protesters follow hand-painted signs to the Two Rivers camp in Presidio County. (Sally Beauvais)

Protesters Continue Direct Action Planning as Pipeline Nears Completion

As protesters in Standing Rock clean up camp and head home, Sioux Tribes in North and South Dakota are still battling in court to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Their fight has inspired protesters who are trying to stop pipeline construction in other parts of the country.  In the Big Bend Region of Texas, construction on the Trans-Pecos Pipeline is nearly complete.

Destiny Willcuts is a native Lakota Sioux. She left Standing Rock with her mother when extreme winter weather hit the area. They headed south, to a newly erected pipeline protest camp in Presidio County, Texas.

“I didn’t want to give up the fight so I just decided to head to another front line,” Willcutts says.
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Vandalized Terlingua Ruins ; Voni Glaves

Terlingua Ghost Town Ruins Vandalized

Four 125-year-old, stone landmarks in the Terlingua Ghost Town were vandalized over the weekend.

The ruins, homes of quicksilver miners built in the late 1880’s, are located on private property which has been designated a historic sight near the Starlight Theater, and have become a popular tourist destination for visitors to the far-west Texas town.

Workers of the Starlight Theater said they did not notice anything out of the ordinary when they left for the night after the late shift Saturday, but upon returning the next morning found the structures had been knocked down.

Officials are asking anyone who was in the area and may have witnessed any unusual or suspicious behavior to contact the Brewster County Sheriff’s Office at (432) 837-3488.

A reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and capture of those responsible.

Mexican soldiers work in the mountains of Sinaloa burning this marijuana field, part of an eradication program supported by the United States. (photo: Lorne Matalon)

US-Mexico Intelligence Cooperation Braces For Possible Change

Intelligence cooperation between Mexico and the United States has become closer in the last decade on issues important to both countries such as illegal immigration, border security, drugs and human trafficking. But that critical intelligence relationship may be under examination in Mexico. The country is trying to fashion a response to a suite of economic threats issued by the new U.S. administration. And security is one serious chip to play.

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(Left to right) John McKirgan, John-Chau Nguyen, Cinthya Roman, Brian Smith and James Park of the NRC.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Hosts Public Meeting in Andrews, TX

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is in the early stages of an environmental review for Waste Control Specialists’ application to expand its low-level nuclear waste facility in Andrews to include a portion of the nation’s high-level nuclear waste. On Wednesday night, the commission held a public meeting in Andrews, Texas to hear comments about a plan to expand the existing site. 

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Quarterly Board Meeting is Coming Up Soon (Saturday, February 18th)

Marfa Public Radio and West Texas Public Radio will be hosting a quarterly board meeting this Saturday at 12 p.m. until around 2 p.m.

The meeting is open to the public. If you would like to attend, we will be in the board room inside of the Marfa Public Radio building in Marfa,  located at 106 E San Antonio Street.




Librarians Are on the Front Lines in the Fight Against Fake News

From Texas Standard:

Fake news is all over the place – you’ve probably got at least a few people in your Facebook feed that share it. Even some of our elected officials Tweet it out.

But across the nation, educators are ramping up efforts to teach students how to discern real the information from what’s fake. Librarians are at the forefront of that fight for media literacy in schools, colleges and beyond.
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VOTE! What Do You Want To Know About Lawmaking in Texas?

For the last few weeks, we’ve been asking what you wanted to know about the Texas Legislature: how it works, why it works the way it does and what you want lawmakers to do. And you didn’t disappoint! We received questions from all corners of Texas. Now it’s your change to vote for your favorite. Which query do you want answered?

It’s all part of a project we’re calling “Texas Decides.” We want to shine some light on the often confusing inner workings of the Texas Capitol.

We’ve teamed up with public radio stations across Texas KUT in Austin, Texas Public Radio in San Antonio, Houston Public Media, and KERA in Dallas – to collect and answer your questions about the Texas Legislature over the next few months.

We want your voice to be heard as we cover the state Capitol, so vote for your favorite question or send in one of your own! What are you wondering? Let us know by filling out the form below. Just use the form below.

Valentine, T Post Office ; Elise Pepple

Valentine’s Day in Valentine, Texas

It’s Valentine’s Day – a holiday marked by cupid’s arrows, those chalky yet traditional candy hearts that seem to only appear around this time of the year, and of course showing the ones you love, well love.

People from all over the world celebrate his holiday of love and appreciation for their partners, and one of the hotspots when it comes to the holiday is…Valentine, Texas, Where thousands of people, from all over the world – every year – send their love letters to be forwarded from the post office there.

Stacks of fresh vegetables from Mexico await loading into north-bound trucks at the McAllen Produce Terminal. (Douglas Young/Texas Tribune)

Texas agriculture experts: Mexico may retaliate if U.S. imposes tariffs

Texas agricultural producers say if the White House slaps a tariff on Mexican products, the state’s farmers and ranchers — as well as Texas consumers — could suffer from a Mexican retaliation against U.S. exports.

Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump said the border wall he promised to build between Mexico and the United States could be paid for by placing a 20 percent tax on all Mexican imports. Hours later, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer clarified that this proposal was just one of many approaches currently under review by the administration.

Mexico’s economy minister, Idelfonso Guajardo, said in an interview with Mexican television that his country would need to be prepared to “immediately neutralize” the impact of any U.S. border tax.

“And it is very clear how – take a fiscal action that clearly neutralizes it,” he said.
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22-year-old Alpine student Zuzu Verk had been missing since October 12, 2016 (Alpine Police Department)

Alpine Remains Identified as Missing Student Zuzu Verk

The Brewster County Sheriff’s Office announced this afternoon that the remains found Friday morning near Alpine have been positively identified to be missing Sul Ross student Zuzu Verk. 

Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson said the identification was made this afternoon by the medical examiner’s office of the Dallas Institute of Forensic Science — where the remains were sent over the weekend. Dodson said the identification was made through dental records.

Alpine Police Chief Russell Scown added that Chris Estrada has been arrested in connection with the case.
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A Pemex gas station in front of Pemex headquarters, Mexico City. The state-owned agency is dealing with several challenges as it participates in Mexico's deregulated energy markets. (Lorne Matalon)

Mexico’s Energy Reform And Pemex: Both Challenged As US Energy Sector Watches

MEXICO CITY–President Donald Trump says he’ll renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. That has a lot of businesses that do cross border trade concerned. That includes some U.S. energy executives though energy was excluded from NAFTA. American energy companies such as Exxon Mobil, led until recently by new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, are now pitching once unthinkable exploration and production partnerships with Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned energy agency. It’s all part of Mexico’s attempt to modernize, inject cash and reform its energy sector.  But there’s reform that has to take place at Pemex itself before more U.S. companies invest.


The nerve center of Mexican energy is Torre Ejecutiva Pemex. It is unmistakable on Mexico City’s skyline, a monument to oil and gas when both produced massive, steady income. That is no no longer the case. When Mexico ushered in energy reform three years ago, inviting foreign players into the market for the first time since 1938, crude oil sold for a hundred dollars a barrel. Today it’s news when it cracks 50. These days Pemex is slashing its workforce, dumping pension obligations and selling off non energy-related assets.

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Welcome sign outside Presidio, Texas. (The Brit_2/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Trump’s Plans Could Cripple Small Businesses on the Border

Last week when President Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer dropped the possibility of a 20% tariff on Mexican imports to pay for Trump’s wall, pubic voices around the country cried out. Big corporations complained tariffs would ruin them. Experts said Trump is just passing the buck to the consumer. Outside of the press storm, a cafe and a grocery story that do business with each other across the US border, voiced their own fears. 
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Carl Buntion, 72, is the oldest inmate on Texas’ death row. (Jorge Sanhuez-Lyon/Texas Standard)

For Elderly Inmates, There’s More Than One Way to Die on Death Row

Death row inmates often spend decades between the day they’re sentenced and the day they’re executed. That can be due to many factors – from lengthy appeals to the state being unable to get the drugs it needs to carry out executions.

In the meantime, inmates age. Some are dying of natural causes. Such was the case last April when two inmates passed away – one right after the other.

Texas faces many challenges treating inmates’ health on a limited budget. To understand, we must look at inmates’ overall living conditions. Conditions differ between the more than 230 men and the six women on death row in Texas.

In a way, the lives of the women on death row are exceptional. They wake up in their cells, head out to a job, and then socialize or exercise until sundown when they’re locked up again.

But the men’s day-to-day is very different.
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State Representative Harold V. Dutton Jr. (D-Houston) (Andrew Schneider, Houston Public Media)

State Rep. Dutton Renews Uphill Fight To Abolish the Death Penalty

Texas is set to carry out its second execution of the year this week, barring a last minute reprieve. There are another seven planned by July. The use of the death penalaty has been on the decline in Texas in recent years. But one state representative from Houston has made it his mission to end it all together.

Harold Dutton’s law office sits two stories above the Main Street rail line in Midtown. One morning in 2002 he was drinking a cup of coffee and reading his daily paper, “and it talked about an execution that had taken place. And it said that it did it in the name of Texas,” he says. “And I thought, ‘Oh, that’s me.’ And so they did it in my name.”

The idea really bothered him. “And I said, ‘I really don’t want them doing it in my name.’”

He had already tried to stop new death sentences in Texas, after seeing states like Illinois take similar steps.
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Worried they may lose access to free and low-cost contraception through places like Planned Parenthood, some women are seeking out longer-term options like intrauterine devices -- also known as IUDs. (Sally Beauvais)

Uncertain Future for Contraceptives Has Some Women Seeking Long-Term Options

President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to dismantle the Affordable Care Act has women across the country seeking out long term birth control before they may lose access to free contraception. In rural West Texas, over 300 miles from the closest Planned Parenthood, some women are opting for a specific device.

Chloe Gallagher is a tour guide at an art foundation in Marfa. One November evening, she was scrolling through her Twitter feed when a hashtag caught her eye. Vice President Elect Mike Pence had just attended a performance of Hamilton, the hit Broadway musical. And Twitter users were re-imagining titles to other Broadway classics ad tagging their posts with #NameAPenceMusical. One of them was “Annie get your IUD.”

“And I laughed out loud,” she says, “I was just cracking up. And then I had this moment where the laughter sort of faded out, and I thought about it and I went, I really need to go do that.” 

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Part of the existing border wall sits close to a Brownsville neighborhood. (Michael Seifert)

Residents Concerned Wall Would Affect Cultural, Business and Familial Ties That Transcend the Border

This story was originally broadcast on a special episode of the Texas Standard called “The Wall”, an hour-long look at the prospect for an expanded border wall under the incoming Trump Administration.

It’s just before the holidays in McAllen, a town of 130,000 on the U.S.-Mexico border. Basilisa Valdez sits in the kitchen at her sister’s house, waiting for relatives to arrive. Here, that means some come from across town, and some from Reynosa, just across the river in Mexico. Before 2008, when a concrete and steel border fence went up along the Rio Grande, she says the two cities could seem like one. But after the wall, she says it’s tough for people who’ve spent most of their lives seeing the borderlands as a single entity.

President-elect Donald Trump and border-wall proponents forget that for decades before 9/11, passage between the U.S. and Mexico was easy, especially for the towns separated by just a sliver of the Rio Grande.

Families spread out and set down roots on either side, creating a web of cultural interconnectivity – a unique shared identity.

“When I see the wall, I feel like they’re trying to separate people,” she says. “I feel like we’re not united.”

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We’re Hiring! Morning Edition Host & Reporter Position Now Open

TITLE: Morning Edition Host & Reporter
REPORTS TO: General Manager

Marfa Public Radio believes in the capacity of public media to shape and animate who we are, where we live, and how we relate. Our aim is to use the power of storytelling to engage our listeners, celebrate our region, and generate dialogue. Our focus is both excellence and relevance. Marfa Public Radio (along with West Texas Public Radio) has been the most awarded small-market station in the nation during the regional Murrow Awards for excellence in journalism for two years. As public media shifts, we are asking ourselves as a sole service station that covers a vast range: what is the special capacity of our station?
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Elise Pepple

West Texas Public Radio Names Maine Producer Elise Pepple as General Manager

Elise Pepple, a producer of community outreach programming for public radio and podcasts will become the general manager of Marfa Public Radio (KRTS) and West Texas Public Radio (KXWT) this fall.

She has produced for the nationally recognized Story Corps radio series as well as for isolated radio stations in Alaska. Pepple has been a TEDx speaker. She is a resident of Portland, Maine.

“This is a dream position for me,” Pepple said. “It’s an opportunity to help sustain and shape remarkable public radio stations. KRTS and KXWT are a platform to celebrate the wide range of Far West Texas.”

She said she has a strong interest in programming that engages residents in remote rural communities and encourages them to tell their life stories.

Jim Byerlotzer of Midland, president of the Marfa Public Radio Corp. board, welcomed Pepple’s experience in remote parts of the country.

“Our stations in the Big Bend and Permian Basin serve truly distinctive communities set in a huge, magnificent but sometimes isolating landscape,” he said. “Their common radio stations can be a vital unifying force.”

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Fri. Dec 8 Interview: Rob Rosenthal Visits Marfa with the Transom Traveling Workshop

Rob Rosenthal has taught hundreds of students with Atlantic Public Media’s Transom Story Workshop – a celebrated program that has taught radio fundamentals to numerous audio producers. The website is a resource for those looking to learn the ins and outs of making radio.

For the first time ever, Rosenthal came to Marfa to teach a traveling workshop hosted by this station. Students visited from around the country to learn and produce stories about people who live in the Big Bend – all in a single week.

In this conversation, Pepple and Rosenthal discuss how he got into radio, the workshop, and what makes audio storytelling special.

“Think about how long we’ve been communicating in sound with one another… I don’t know what that sound was like, but I know we were doing it. I think it’s become, over the millennia, essential to who we are as critters… It’s part of what makes us human…” Rosenthal explains.

On Saturday, December 8, you can hear the stories produced during the Marfa Traveling Workshop from 6-8 pm at the Lumberyard.

Rosenthal also produces the podcast HowSound – a show that delves into the backstory to great radio storytelling.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Finnish Ski Troops During the Winter War

Finland is a small country. It covers 130,666 square miles, about half the size of Texas, and its population of 5.5 million people is about a fifth of that of Texas. On this episode of Rambling Boy, Lonn celebrates the centennial of Finnish independence from Russia, which was declared in the immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution on December 6, 1917.

Lonn has a personal tie to the country. His wife’s mother’s uncle, Karl Wilhelm Kankkonen, immigrated to America in 1879 from the coastal town of Kokkola, Finland to Astoria, Oregon. Lonn and his wife will fly the Finnish flag all weekend long.

The Rambling Boy is broadcast Monday evenings after the 7 pm newscast.
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Thu. Dec 7 Interview: FullyMaxxed – Creator of Electro-Funk in Far West Texas

On this edition of West Texas Talk, a conversation with local musician FullyMaxxed (Max Ferguson) about creating and producing the unique sound of electronically-focused funk music in Far-West Texas.

FullyMaxxed, who hails from the bordertown of Presidio, has been making music since 2013 – mostly from his “bedroom studio”. He is also a full-time student, studying music at Sul Ross State University.

His latest EP, Until Then, sees a slight departure from his earlier “drop-focused” electronic music, and is available now on most streaming services.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Wed. Dec 6 Interview: Midland Storytelling Festival’s Sue Roseberry on the Importance of Sharing Experiences

Sue Roseberry is the Executive Director of the Midland Storytelling Festival. In this interview, she talks about how she became a storyteller and the organization’s upcoming events. Roseberry also shares a personal Christmas story.

A night with Donald Davis, Story Unplugged, will take place on December 8, 2017 at First Presbyterian Church (800 West Texas Avenue, Midland, Texas). The program will begin at 7 pm.

Community Concerts will take place on December 9, 2017 at First Presbyterian Church (800 West Texas Avenue, Midland, Texas). Times are 10:00 am, 11:15 am, and 7:30 pm.

West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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Tue. Dec 5 Interview: West Texas Grassroots Historian & Author Israel Mendoza de Levario

Israel Mendoza de Levario has dedicated decades of his life towards researching his indigenous Jumano ancestry – a heritage many West Texans fail to acknowledge, even though DNA tests show that some 90% of people living in the Presidio-Ojinaga have indigenous blood. On this episode of West Texas Talk, we chat with De Levario about his self-published books and plans for a museum that focuses on the indigenous history of West Texas.



West Texas Talk is broadcast live at 6:30 pm each weekday.
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