West Texas Talk

West Texas Talk broadcasts Thursday at 6 pm and rebroadcasts Friday at 9 am. The locally produced program made its debut when the station launched, and as a result, has become a repository of hundreds of local profiles.

The show is hosted by Diana Nguyen and rotating community members. The program is also produced by Diana Nguyen. The theme music was composed by Andy Stack.

In May 2019, West Texas Talk transitioned from a thirty-minute program into an hour-long show.

The first half of the program features discussions about regional issues and topics with residents and experts. Whether looking at immigration on the border, delving into West Texas history, or having conversations about the Big Bend’s changing towns we hope to explore the topics that matter most to residents of West Texas.

The second half of the show celebrates the creative spirit of Far West Texas and features conversations with writers, musicians, filmmakers, and artists who both live here and pass through the region. Interviews with Lannan writing residents are featured in this half of the show.

We invite you to join in on the conversation by telling us who you think we should interview and the issues you would like to hear about by emailing diana@marfapublicradio.org.

Subscribe to the West Texas Talk podcast on iTunes.

Recently on West Texas Talk:

Thursday, Sep 19, 2019:
Luis Armendariz; Musician Molly Rodriguez

Luis Armendariz at the Presidio Lumber Yard. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

Luis Armendariz

For today’s show, we’re highlighting voices from Presidio to celebrate of the launch our newest broadcast frequency KOJP 95.3 FM. 

Diana Nguyen talks to Luis Armendariz, a 75-year-old Presidio resident who’s spent the majority of his life in West Texas. He was the former superintendent of Big Bend Ranch State Park and took over managing the Presidio Lumber Yard — the Armendariz family business — after he retired from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

They discuss his life and family history.

Molly Rodriguez (Emanuel Burgos )

Molly Rodriguez

Later in the show, Diana Nguyen speaks to Ojinaga-based musician Molly Rodriguez.

She plays across West Texas with Mariachi Santa Cruz and The Resonators. (Her parents, John and Lucy Ferguson, are bandmates in both outfits.)

On top of playing gigs, she’s busy teaching band in Presidio and making her own music, sometimes collaborating with her younger brother FullyMaxxed.

Nguyen talks to Rodriguez talks about growing up in Presidio, what it’s like to split time between two countries, and her music.

You can listen the new song “Descansar” here.

Thursday, Sep 12, 2019:
The Odessa Shooting

Odessans mourn at the memorial for victims of the shooting that occurred on August 31, 2019. (Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio)

Mitch Borden and Carlos Morales

Diana Nguyen talks to Marfa Public Radio reporters Mitch Borden and Carlos Morales about the shooting that began in Midland County and continued into the City of Odessa over Labor Day Weekend.

On August 31st, A 36-year-old white gunman opened fire after being stopped by a state trooper. He proceeded to drive through Odessa on a rampage, killing 7 people and injuring at least 25 others. 

This was the second mass shooting in West Texas within the span of a month. In early August, a gunman targeted Hispanics at a Walmart in El Paso. He killed 22 people and injured 24 others.

They discuss how Odessa is coping and what state and federal lawmakers are doing to address gun violence.

Thursday, Sep 5, 2019:
Marfa Garden; Andy Stack of Joyero

(Trinity University Press)

Jim Martinez and Mary Lou Saxon on “Marfa Garden”

Diana Nguyen speaks to Jim Martinez and Mary Lou Saxon about the book Marfa Garden. The project is a collaboration with their friends, Jim Fissell, and Martha Hughes, that showcases the beauty and variety of native plants of the Big Bend. 

The book includes a selection of vines, grasses, trees, herbs, shrubs, cacti and succulents that can be found in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Andy Stack of Joyero (Logan Caldbeck)

Andy Stack of Joyero

Later on the show, Nguyen speaks to musician Andy Stack. The former Marfa resident is one half of the band Wye Oak and plays with EL VY and Lambchop.

Most recently, Stack embarked on a solo project under the Joyero moniker. His newest record, Release the Dogs, was written in Marfa and came out via Merge Records in late August.

Thursday, Aug 29, 2019:
Rainer Judd; YACHT on Chain Tripping

Rainer Judd (Charlie Rubin © Judd Foundation)

Rainer Judd

Diana Nguyen speaks to Rainer Judd, the daughter of the late artist Donald Judd and the president of the Judd Foundation. The organization maintains and preserves Judd’s permanently installed spaces and archives in New York and Marfa.

They discuss the reasons her father moved to the Big Bend and Rainer’s Marfa roots.

Rob Kieswetter, Claire L. Evans, and Jona
Bechtolt of YACHT (Jaclyn Campanaro)


Later on the show, Nguyen speaks to Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans, two-thirds of the LA-based band YACHT.

Over the years, they’ve made it a tradition to record their albums in Marfa. Most recently, they came out to Far West Texas in 2018 to work on their seventh album, Chain Tripping, which is out on DFA Records this week.

The band talks about how they used artificial intelligence as a creative tool in the writing process for their latest record, their long history as collaborators, and why they keep coming back to Marfa.

Thursday, Aug 22, 2019:
The Permian Basin Prepares for the Future; Luchador Cassandro el Exótico

(Mitch Borden / Marfa Public Radio)

Mitch Borden

Diana Nguyen speaks to Marfa Public Radio reporter Mitch Borden about how the Permian Basin is trying to change how people view the nation’s largest oil patch. Leaders say the oil industry has stabilized and now hope stakeholders will start investing in the infrastructure of its booming cities.

As more growth is expected, leaders are figuring out how to tackle some of the region’s biggest challenges — affordability, education, housing and infrastructure.

Cassandro el exótico (Rowdy Dugan / Courtesy Ballroom Marfa)

Cassandro el Exótico

Later on the show, Nguyen talks to luchador Saúl Armendáriz, better known as Cassandro el exótico.

The El Paso-based luchador has been wrestling for over thirty years, learning to fight across the border in Ciudad Juarez as a teennager. He blazed trails as one of lucha libre’s first openly gay wrestlers, collecting multiple championship titles throughout his career.

Armendariz is the subject of Marie Losier’s 2018 documentary, Cassandro, the Exotico! and was recently in Far West Texas when Ballroom Marfa presented a screening of the film.

Thursday, Aug 15, 2019:
Bill Wren, The Godfather of Dark Skies; Writer Rachel Monroe Discusses “Savage Appetites”

Bill Wren is considered the godfather of the Texas dark skies movement. (Courtesy of McDonald Observatory)

Bill Wren

Diana Nguyen speaks to Bill Wren of McDonald Observatory, whose job is to keep the skies of Far West Texas dark. They discuss Wren’s collaboration with oil and gas companies and municipalities across the region, and what residents can do to help. 

Rachel Monroe (Emma Rogers)

Rachel Monroe

Later in the show, Nguyen talks to writer and Marfa Public Radio contributor Rachel Monroe.

They discuss her new book, Savage Appetites, which investigates our cultural fascination with crime and looks at true stories of four women driven by obsession.

There will be a book launch and reading of Savage Appetites at the Crowley Theater on Tuesday, August 20th, at 6 pm.

Monroe’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Texas Monthly, among others.

Thursday, Aug 8, 2019:
The El Paso Shooting; Writer Jamel Brinkley

Friends embrace one another during a vigil for Javier Amir Rodriguez, the youngest victim killed in the El Paso shootings. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

El Paso Shooting

On West Texas Talk, Diana Nguyen and Carlos Morales talk about the shooting in El Paso, which was just one of three that took place within the span of a week.

The two were in El Paso covering the tragedy that’s left 22 people dead and dozens more injured. The shooting suspect, a 21-year-old white male from North Texas, opened fire Saturday morning, reportedly targeting only Hispanics. He’s believed to have written a 2,300-word manifesto filled with racist and white supremacist language.

The mass shooting in El Paso is one of the deadliest in Texas history.

Jamel Brinkley (Arash Saedinia)

Jamel Brinkley

Later in the show, Rachel Monroe speaks to Jamel Brinkley, the author of the acclaimed story collection, A Lucky Man, published in 2018.

Brinkley is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford University.

He will read at the Crowley Theater on Sunday, August 11 at 6 pm.

Thursday, Aug 1, 2019:
Jason Sabo On Texas Politics; Fashion Designer Carla Fernández

Jason Sabo (Courtesy of)

Jason Sabo

Diana Nguyen talks to lobbyist Jason Sabo, the founder of Frontera Strategy. His work focuses on helping nonprofits and philanthropists reach their public policy goals.

He is back in the Big Bend for West Texas Rural Philanthropy Days
— an event that connects local nonprofits with foundations and government agencies with similar interests and educates funders about the needs and services in rural West Texas.

They look at what’s happening in Texas politics and discuss the impact the 2018 midterm elections had on the past legislative session, new policies affecting rural Texas, the significance of Census 2020, and more.

Carla Fernández (Graciela Iturbide)

Carla Fernández

Later in the show, Nguyen talks to Mexico City-based fashion designer Carla Fernández, who was recently in West Texas for a pop-up with Ballroom Marfa.

They discuss Fernández’s initial interest in fashion, her label’s mission to make ethical clothing, and her work with indigenous communities to preserve the cultural heritage of Mexico.

Thursday, Jul 25, 2019:
Sally Beauvais On “West Texas Wonders”; Artist Pete Schulte

Sally Beauvais

We’re celebrating the one year anniversary of “West Texas Wonders”
— a series that’s driven by listener curiosity.

Diana Nguyen and reporter Sally Beauvais talk about the project and look back at some of the favorites from the series.

You can ask a question or find answers to questions we’ve answered here.

Pete Schulte (Mark Pleasant)

Pete Schulte

Diana Nguyen talks to Chinati artist-in-residence Pete Schulte. Shulte lives in Birmingham and teaches at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He also runs The Fuel and Lumber Company — a curatorial initiative dedicated to contemporary art and community engagement — with his wife, artist Amy Pleasant.

His drawings can be seen at the John Wesley Gallery at the Chinati Foundation on Friday, July 26 from 3 to 6 pm.

You can find Schulte’s work here.

Thursday, Jul 18, 2019:
Reporter Carlos Morales On Immigration In The Big Bend; Poet Carl Adamshick

About six miles outside of Presidio, the Rio Grande is reduced to a sliver about 5 feet across. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)

Carlos Morales

Diana Nguyen talks to Marfa Public Radio reporter Carlos Morales about immigration.

They discuss national policies shaping the fluctuating apprehension numbers along the border, temporary shelters, and the continued practice of family separation.

Carl Adamshick (Julie Keefe)

Carl Adamshick

Later, Ian Lewis talks to Portland-based poet Carl Adamschick, who is in Marfa as a Lannan writer-in-residence.

Adamshick is the editor at Tavern Books, a nonprofit poetry press, and has written four books of poetry. His first book, Curses and Wishes, won the Walt Whitman Award in 2010. His latest book, Birches, was published earlier this year.

Adamshick will read at the Crowley Theater on Sunday, July 21st at 6 pm.