West Texas Talk

West Texas Talk is your nightly interview program that broadcasts Thursday at 6 pm, and rebroadcasts Friday at 9 am.

The program features interviews with community members discussing issues that affect our region, along with upcoming local programs and events. You’ll also hear from local and visiting, artists, musicians, authors, scientists, and other interesting personalities.

The program made its debut when the station launched, and as a result, it’s become a repository of hundreds of local profiles. The program is hosted by a revolving list of community members. The theme music for West Texas Talk was composed by Andy Stack.

Do you have an idea for a West Texas Talk topic or guest suggestion? Email diana (at) marfapublicradio (dot) org. Below is a list of current interviews. See previous interviews here.

Listeners can sign up for our podcast feed on iTunes. Subscribe today.

Recently on West Texas Talk:

Thursday, Jun 21, 2018:
Stephen Motika

On this edition of West Texas Talk, Laura Copelin speaks with Lannan poet-in-residence Stephen Motika – His first book of poems, Western Practice, was published by Alice James Books in 2012.

Motika is also the author of three poetry chapbooks: Arrival and at Mono(2007), In the Madrones (2011), and Private Archive (2016); editor of Tiresias: The Collected Poems of Leland Hickman(2009); and co-editor of Dear Kathleen: On the Occasion of Kathleen Fraser’s 80th Birthday (2017).

His articles and poems have appeared in Another Chicago MagazineBOMBThe Brooklyn ReviewThe Constant CriticEleven ElevenMaggyThe Poetry Project NewsletterStaging Ground, and Vanitas, among other publications.

Thursday, Jun 14, 2018:
Maestra Tequilera Bertha González Nieves and Journalist Alfredo Corchado

On this episode we hear from the world’s first woman to become a certified maestra tequilera. Bertha González Nieves started the small batch tequila company Casa Dragones in 2008, with the hopes of elevating how people consume and think about tequila. Since then, the brand has gained a loyal following.

“We’re trying to open the curtain and showcase, really, the sophistication of Mexico,” says González Nieves.

In this conversation, González Nieves talks about how she began working in the tequila business, and how she hopes her projects shape the contemporary understanding of Mexico.


We also talk to journalist Alfredo Corchado about his book Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, & the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration. 

Corchado discusses his experience of emigrating to the United States as a child, and how his experience as an immigrant growing up in the Southwest influenced his perspective as a journalist. His work questions a reality for many immigrants – was the sacrifice worth the lives they build in the United States? 

Thursday, Jun 7, 2018:
Director of the Center for Big Bend Studies Andy Cloud

On this episode, we talk to Andy Cloud, the director for the Center for Big Bend Studies. He discusses the importance of the Genevieve Lykes Duncan Site, where archaeologists have unearthed artifacts that shed light on the Paleoindian way of life in West Texas.

Cloud also talks about the center’s partnership with Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH). He hopes bi-national cooperation will give archaeologists a better sense of life that has existed on both sides of the border.

“As we look at different cultures through time, in similar locations, we do see similar situations. As a modern day cultures, we’re going to face some of the same things because of the same geography,” Cloud said. “It’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.”

Thursday, May 31, 2018:
Lannan Resident Claire Vaye Watkins on Deserts and Her Mom

On this episode, Rachel Monroe speaks to writer Claire Vaye Watkins about her upbringing, growing up in California, and her mother’s influence on her writing. She is the author of the novel Gold Fame Citrus and the short story collection Battleborn

Claire Vaye Watkins will read at the Crowley Theater on Sunday, June 3 at 6 pm.

Thursday, May 24, 2018:
Lannan Resident Elmaz Abinader on Writing the Personal into the Political, and Growing Up Arab American

On this episode, Sally Beauvais speaks with writer Elmaz Abinader about her family’s dislocation from Lebanon to the United States, and how that has informed her work.

Abinader is an award-winning author of two volumes of poetry, This House, My Bones and In the Country of My Dreams, and a memoir, The Children of the Roojme: A Family’s Journey from Lebanon. She’s also written plays that uncover personal narratives of Arabs living through political trauma.

She teaches at Mills College in Oakland, CA and is co-founder of the Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation, which holds annual workshops for writers of color.

Abinader will read at the Crowley Theater on Sunday, May 27 at 6 pm.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018:
Artist and Composer Tarek Atoui

On this episode, we speak to artist and composer Tarek Atoui and curator Jennifer Burris. Marfa Live Arts, in collaboration with Fieldwork Marfa, will showcase his “examination of sound, place, and the social practice of improvisation across the varied landscapes of Marfa” during Marfa Sounding. This will be the third and final year of this project.

Atoui discusses his background, influences and practice of creating instruments and spaces which question the definition of listening. The artist insists that his improvisational and collaborative performances are meant to be experienced in-person. Atoui’s performances are something that “not only involves the ears as a way of listening, but also involves the eyes, the body, the sense of touch. It’s a very experiential way of listening to a concert of musical performance.”

The entire schedule for site-specific musical performances during Marfa Sounding can be found here.

Thursday, May 17, 2018:
Exploring the Big Bend with Ben English

On this episode, Diana Nguyen speaks to Ben English. He’s an eighth generation Texan who moved to the Big Bend when he was two years old. At one point, his grandparents ran the the old Lajitas Trading Post, while he worked and lived on ranches. He went on to become a DPS trooper and is now retired. He finally ended up back in the region a few years ago.

They discuss English’s childhood and his first book, “Yonderings: Trails and Memories of the Big Bend,” which was published last year by TCU Press.

Thursday, May 10, 2018:
Literary Criticism, Earthquakes, and Walking with Lannan Resident David Ulin

On this episode, Rachel Monroe speaks to writer David Ulin about how his experiences in New York and Los Angeles influenced his writing. They discuss two of his non-fiction works, The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith, and Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles.

The writer spent several years at the LA Times as a book editor and critic. He is currently assistant professor of English at the University of Southern California.  A second edition of his book, The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time, will be published September 4, 2018 with a new introduction and afterword.

Ulin will read at the Crowley Theater on Sunday, May 13 at 6 pm.

Thursday, May 3, 2018:
Music and Community in Terlingua

On this episode, William “Chase” Peeler talks about his research on music and its vital role in community and identity building in Terlingua. Peeler received his doctorate in ethnomusicology at the University of Colorado Boulder. His dissertation is called “On the Porch: Music and Community in Terlingua, Texas.” He is currently working on turning his research into a book.

Peeler discusses the uniqueness of the inclusive participatory music scene in the town. “You have people who have only been playing their instruments for a matter of weeks playing right along side people who have been playing for decades,” he says. “That’s a really special thing that doesn’t happen often enough, but it should.”

Peeler also discusses some of the changes residents are experiencing in south Brewster County.

Thursday, Apr 26, 2018:
Ballroom Marfa’s Stone Circle and Blackwell School Alliance’s Marfa Storybook Mural


On this episode, Diana Nguyen speaks to two artists with work debuting this weekend in Marfa.

First, internationally acclaimed artist Haroon Mirza joins us to talk about stone circle, his newest work with Ballroom Marfa.

“The work features black marble boulders that produce patterns of electronic sound and light from energy generated by solar panels. Each of the eight stones in the circle is carved to integrate LEDs and speakers. The ninth stone, the “mother” stone, sits outside the circle. The mother stone’s solar panels charge a bank of batteries that will power a sound and light score that we will activate with each full moon.”

Mirza hopes that people will forget their own relationship with the sculpture, regardless of what activities may be involved. “It’s not up to me to judge or prescribe. It can be whatever it needs to be. And I think that’s what these monuments sort of represent,” he says.

The “solar symphony” will take place on Sunday, April 29th at 9:03 pm. The location of the sculpture is at the end of Golf Course Road, across from The Marfa Municipal Golf Course.

El Paso-based Muralist Jesus “Cimi” Alvarado also joins us to discuss Marfa’s newest mural. The work is commissioned by the Blackwell School Alliance, and seeks to celebrate the culture and heritage of Marfa.

Alvarado discusses the importance of telling stories of Mexican Americans, how murals can serve as a point of pride, and how El Paso’s Segundo Barrio has influenced his work.

The mural will be unveiled during the first Blackwell Block Party on April 28, 2018. The celebration will begin at the mural on the east side of Marfa’s Casner Building at 11 am.