Meet the Staff at Marfa Public Radio

Elise Pepple
Executive Director

Elise began her career in public radio in 2008 when she brought StoryCorps to Alaska. She continued working for StoryCorps during their Alaska Initiative, relocating to the northwest Arctic. In 2011, Elise produced and hosted a radio show celebrating sense of place in Sitka, Alaska for KCAW. She went on study radio at the Salt Institute for Documentary Study in Maine.

Elise was a Creative Community Fellow with National Art Strategies for her work using storytelling to build community. She co-produced Portland Brick: a project building public memory in collaboration with The City of Portland, Maine.

At Marfa Public Radio, Elise aims to use both old school and new school techniques to make the station a lifeline, a beacon for the stories of West Texas, and a center for media innovation.

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Carlos Morales
News Director

Carlos has worn numerous hats at the station over the years — at one point he was simultaneously the station’s Morning Edition host, news director and a reporter.

He was the local host of Morning Edition from April 2017 to July 2020. 

As news director, he has led coverage that won scores of Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and three National Edward R. Murrows — the most the station has ever received.

Carlos has covered a range of topics, including the impacts of the Trump Administration’s immigration policies, West Texas wildfires, the El Paso shooting, and much more.

Before joining MPR, he was a reporter at KWBU in Waco and worked with the Voces Oral History Project, a group the records the histories of Latina/o World War II veterans.

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Carlos strongly believes in the power of radio to bridge divides.

Claudia Saenz
Membership Manager

Claudia is a first-generation Tejana/Mexican-American founder, creative and community builder. Growing up on the frontera of the US-South Texas-Mexico border she learned the importance and power in uplifting community. Over the past decade she has had the unique opportunity of building effective relationships and key partnerships in youth program management and cultivating spaces for empowerment.

Before her work in managing and developing key youth program partnerships at Girl Scouts of Northern California, she founded Chulita Vinyl Club in 2014, a nationwide organization of DJs that use vinyl records as a means of reclaiming identity and forming community. Claudia lives in the Rio Grande Valley and enjoys being a devoted sister, daughter, partner, vinyl collector and music lover. 

Elena Morlock
Office Manager

Elena is a West Texas native, born in Alpine and raised mostly in Terlingua/Big Bend National Park.  After graduating from Big Bend High School, she moved to the Rio Grande Valley for college.  Elena went on to spend a significant amount of time studying; she holds a BBA in Business Management from the University of Texas Pan American, and a BA in English and Modern Language Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio.  Elena studied abroad in Japan during her time at UTSA, and eventually finished her coursework there and chose to stay in Japan and teach.  She taught English for 8 years, 3 of which she worked as an Instructor Manager for her company.  She repatriated from Tokyo in early May of 2020, and still misses Japanese food very much. 

Elena is thrilled to be home in the Big Bend region after almost 20 years of roaming.  She enjoys yoga, nature, books, music, and spending time with her geriatric cat.

Will Floyd

Will Floyd
Operations Manager

Will began his career in community media as an organizer at Prometheus Radio Project in Philadelphia, where he supported dozens of local groups in urban and rural areas across the US to plan, build, and grow Low Power FM radio stations that now serve as tools for community expression.

After traveling to build new stations in places including Minneapolis and the Owens Valley in California, Will relocated to New Mexico to serve as Program Director of KMRD-LP, a locally-focused freeform station in the town of Madrid. Later he took on the role of Operations Manager at Santa Fe Public Radio. In his free time, Will enjoys playing the bass and exploring with his dog Hazel. 

Zoe Kurland
Podcast Producer

Zoe comes to us from KPCC/LAist Studios in Los Angeles, where she worked as a producer. She began her audio career working with the Kitchen Sisters and interning for Marfa Public Radio. After a stint in documentary film, she returned to radio as a reporter and producer in West Texas.

Zoe’s work has been featured on Marketplace and in New York Magazine, and she’s won two Regional Murrow Awards for her feature reporting. She’s covered everything from LA mayoral races to cacti smuggling in the Big Bend, and is excited to be back in the desert. 

Mitch Borden

Mitch Borden
Permian Basin Reporter and Producer

Mitch first picked up a microphone as a radio producer in Nome, Alaska. There he did everything from covering the Iditarod to hosting the morning music show. After his time in the north, he was hooked on radio. So, he attended the Transom Story Workshop to hone his skills and then returned to the 49th state to work as a reporter in Kodiak and Bristol Bay.

When he’s not covering the news you’ll probably find him wandering around with his camera and a cup of coffee.

Travis Bubenik
All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter

Travis has waltzed across Texas throughout his career in journalism, covering everything from pipeline protests in the Big Bend and oilfield flaring in the Permian Basin to Gulf Coast hurricanes and courtroom battles all over the state.

A Houston native and University of Texas alum, he got his start in public radio as an intern at Marfa Public Radio, where he later served as the station’s first full-time Morning Edition host and reporter.

Travis’ reporting on the Texas energy industry and its environmental footprint has frequently appeared on NPR and public radio’s Marketplace. During his time at Courthouse News, a national outlet focused on the courts and litigation, he closely followed legal battles prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the pandemic’s toll on communities across West Texas.

His dog Valentine is indeed named after the town.

Annie Rosenthal
Border Reporter

Originally from Washington, D.C., Annie got her start in local journalism writing for the weekly paper in Homer, Alaska, the “halibut fishing capital of the world.” Since then, she’s reported on a range of issues around the country, from criminal justice in Pittsburgh to immigration in the Arizona borderlands, and edited a longform magazine in New Haven. Before moving to Marfa, Annie was an Overseas Press Club fellow and Yale Parker Huang fellow, contributing essays and reporting to publications like the Washington Post and Politico Magazine and helping to produce a bilingual community radio show. A meandering hiker, avid reader, and devoted documentarian, she’s excited to be back in the desert and getting to know the border communities of Far West Texas and Chihuahua.

Julie Bernal
Morning Edition Host

For Julie Bernal, working in radio is a third career.  She holds a BBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has worked in management and accounting in some iconic Texas businesses including Whole Foods Market and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.

Julie received a teaching certificate in 2001, and taught Kindergarten in the small country town of Coupland for several years. Although her previous careers involved communication, it wasn’t until she moved to Marfa that Julie found her voice both figuratively and literally — on the air. She has hosted music shows at Marfa Public Radio since 2014, and has had her own weekly show, Old’s Cool, since 2017. Julie, who has lived in Marfa for about a decade, hopes her community ties and familiarity with the region will help bring a personable quality to her on-air delivery.