West Texas Wonders

West Texas Wonders is a journalism initiative from Marfa Public Radio that invites you to take part in the stories we cover. It’s guided by you, our listeners, and your curiosity about our region – from the border to the Basin.

In the first year of the program, our goal was to increase engagement from across our wide range and find out what you’re curious about. For our second year, we’re folding your participation into our regular reporting.

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

Have a question that doesn’t fit into one of our beats? Don’t worry! You can still submit your general wonders at the bottom of this page.

Carlos Morales
Border Reporter

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.

Sally Beauvais
Rural Life Reporter

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?

Mitch Borden
Permian Basin Reporter

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.

We know your curiosity about West Texas isn't limited to our focus areas. What other sorts of odds and ends do you wonder about?

Maybe you want to know more about a local celebrity, an architectural oddity, or a mysterious phenomenon.

Silly or serious, big or small, nothing's off limits! Ask away.

Your Questions, Answered:

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 … Continue reading

West Texas Cloud Appreciation: How Do Clouds Form, And What Are Some Identification Tips?

By Sally Beauvais As we approach the end of monsoon season in West Texas, now’s a good time to step outside and take a moment to appreciate the dramatic summer storm clouds that bring the majority of our region’s annual … Continue reading

A Curiosity Tour: Come Search For The Marfa Lights With West Texas Wonders

You’re invited to help Marfa Public Radio celebrate the one year anniversary of our listener curiosity-driven series, West Texas Wonders! On the evening of Thursday, August 22nd, we will trek down to the Shurley Ranch, about 20 miles south of … Continue reading

With A Good Gimmick And Catchphrase, One Man Made A Name For Himself In The West Texas Boot Game

By Mitch Borden If you’re in West Texas and have turned on your TV over the last few decades you have probably seen this on your screen: Boots flying at a spry middle-aged man, who is catching them, all while … Continue reading

Why Is There A Telephone Pole Sprouting Through The Roof Of A Building In Alpine?

By Sally Beauvais If you’ve spent any time waiting for the train to arrive at the Amtrak station in Alpine, you may have noticed it, too: a telephone pole, sticking clear through the pitched roof of a warehouse on the … Continue reading

Does Looking At Distant Galaxies Give Astronomers A More Chill Perspective On Life?

By Sally Beauvais Deana Haggag — who visited Marfa from Chicago with a group of friends late last year — has almost always lived in big cities. And the night sky in West Texas left a big impression on her. … Continue reading