WAMU 88.5 :

Wyoming -- The New Old West

People are few and far between in Wyoming.  Those that do live here prize tradition, self-reliance, and their connection to the land.  So when change comes to the high plains—an oil boom, a minister with new ideas—communities here are tested.   And neighbors have to strike a balance between preserving their independent way of life, and learning to rely on one another. We trek to the small towns and remote ranches of Wyoming, meeting people as they adapt to the New Old West.

Segment A
We listen in as four charismatic cowgirls compete at Laramie’s annual ranch rodeo.  Then, out on far-flung ranches west of the Snowy Mountains, we meet cowboy Chuck Larsen and 10 year-old Cora Wood, distant neighbors united by a mutual love of cowboy poetry.

Segment B
We hear an untold story of how Matthew Shepard’s murder changed the town of Laramie: Sheriff Dave O’Malley, a lead detective on the case, had to confront his own demons in order to investigate the crime.  Laramie writer Alyson Hagy reads her letter to Wyoming.  And a new minister in Cheyenne makes a bold move to liven up his dwindling congregation.

Segment C
When oil and gas speculators swarm the landscape outside of Cheyenne, seeking to drill on public and private land alike, ranch neighbors must learn to confront the coming change together.  Then, two National Guard soldiers from Wyoming meet on a deployment to Iraq and start a country band.

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