West Texas Wonders:
Meet West Texas Wonders 2.0

By Sally Beauvais

In the first year of our public-powered journalism series, West Texas Wonders, our goal was to increase engagement from across our wide range and find out what our listeners are curious about.

Some themes emerged. History. Environmental quality. Border life. The oil and gas industry. Local celebrities and oddities. Healthcare and education. Changing small towns.

Together, with your questions, we produced exciting radio. Like this profile of the man behind the Odessa boot shop with the most memorable commercials on West Texas TV. And this national award-winning story about how seniors living in the Big Bend region often have to leave at the end of their lives to seek healthcare. 

Your input makes our work stronger and more meaningful. That’s why, for our second year of West Texas Wonders, we’re folding your participation more deeply into our reporting.

We want to engage with you more often, rather than for one special project. So, our reporters are asking what you want to know about the topics they most routinely cover — and that you most routinely ask about: rural community issues, border culture and immigration policies, and life amid the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin.

Hear from our reporters, read their mission statements, and learn how you can participate in West Texas Wonders 2.0 below.

Reporter Sally Beauvais will cover rural healthcare, education, government and culture in the second year of West Texas Wonders. (Rowdy Dugan/Marfa Public Radio)

Rural Life

Mission statement from Sally Beauvais:

In Far West Texas, our communities are separated by miles of immense country, like islands—each unique, but shaped by similar forces.

And embedded in the minutiae of our daily routines—inside small businesses and homes, out on acres of rangeland, in doctors’ offices, classrooms, and county courthouses—there are stories unfolding that matter.

At a time when the dominant narrative surrounding rural America is that of economic decline, I strive to do two things with my reporting: bring relevant information to our communities, and ask—why are we important?

Reporter Carlos Morales will cover immigration policies and life along the U.S.-Mexico border in Far West Texas in the second year of West Texas Wonders. (Rowdy Dugan/Marfa Public Radio)

The Border

Mission statement from Carlos Morales:

Communities along the Rio Grande are often talked about as sister-cities, places that have more in common than geographic and—in certain stretches—physical barriers.

Border reporting centers on immigration—including experiences of detention, family separation and tightening policies for asylum-seekers. But, it also includes stories of cross-cultural ties, identity and life in our region.

Remote West Texas is home to Latinx and Hispanic populations made of recent arrivals and longtime residents, who come face-to-face with challenges unique to the area everyday. Our stories are more than dividing lines and tell us about the realities of calling this place home.

Reporter Mitch Borden will cover the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin and its impacts on local communities and the environment in the second year of West Texas Wonders. (Rowdy Dugan/Marfa Public Radio)

The Permian Basin

Mission statement from Mitch Borden:

The Permian Basin is shaped by the oil and gas industry. Every day it touches hundreds of thousands of lives in Midland and Odessa. And at the same time, the industry’s web spreads across West Texas and the wider world.

I cover energy and the environment, along with everything else in America’s largest oil patch. Like the characters who make this place unique, the challenges facing the oil industry, and the realities of living in a boom/bust economy—like the housing crisis and struggling schools. My goal is to find the human stories that will illuminate this place for you and the rest of Marfa Public Radio’s listeners.

About Sally Beauvais

Sally Beauvais reports on rural issues in Far West Texas. She also runs Marfa Public Radio's engagement efforts.
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West Texas Wonders is a storytelling initiative from Marfa Public Radio that invites you to take part in the stories we cover. Visit marfapublicradio.org/curious for more information.