West Texas Talk

West Texas Talk — Marfa Public Radio’s flagship program — made its debut when the station launched and is now a repository of hundreds of local profiles.

The show is hosted by Diana Nguyen and other contributors. The program is also produced by Diana Nguyen. 

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.

The show also 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. 

Subscribe to the West Texas Talk podcast on Apple Podcasts.

West Texas Talk broadcasts on Thursday at 6 pm and rebroadcasts Friday at 9 am.

The show’s theme music was composed by Andy Stack.

Friday Interview:
Marilu Hastings and Dr. Michael Young on Respect Big Bend; Space Reporter Brendan Byrne on Blue Origin in West TX

Marilu Hastings and Dr. Michael Young (Courtesy of)

Marilu Hastings and Dr. Michael Young

Diana Nguyen talks to Marilu Hastings and Dr. Michael Young about Respect Big Bend.
Their coalition’s mission is to empower stakeholders to conserve the unique resources of the Big Bend while developing energy responsibly.

Marilu Hastings is the vice president of sustainability programs for the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation — the primary funder of the Respect Big Bend initiative.

Dr. Michael Young is a scientist with the Bureau of Economic Geology at UT Austin. He’s been working with a team to study energy projections in Far West Texas.

They discuss Hastings’ impetus for helping start the initiative and the findings from Dr. Young’s research.

New Shepard lifts off on its 12th mission on December 11, 2019. (Courtesy of Blue Origin)

Brendan Byrne

Nguyen talks to Brendan Byrne — a reporter for NPR member station WMFE in Orlando. He covers all things space and is the host of “Are We There Yet?”, a podcast about space exploration.

They discuss Blue Origin’s mysterious operations in West Texas.

Recently on West Texas Talk:

Thursday, Jun 20, 2019:
Drew Stuart of Nature Notes; Musician Steve Gunn

Drew Stuart (Bob Anderson)

Drew Stuart

For the first half of the show, Diana Nguyen speaks to Drew Stuart.

Stuart is the producer for the Marfa Public Radio series “Nature Notes” and was one of the first employees at the station.

After living in Alpine for several years, he moved to Dell City in 2009, where he writes remotely for the station.

They discuss the early days at Marfa Public Radio, his life in Dell City, and his writing.

Earlier this year, Stuart was awarded an environmental reporting award from the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.

The Unseen In Between (Matador, 2019)

Steve Gunn

Later, Elise Pepple talks to musician Steve Gunn.

They spoke in January when he was in Marfa to kick off the tour for his fourth album, The Unseen In Between, also released that month.

This week, Gunn released two new singles — “Be still Moon” and “Shrunken Heads.”

They discuss Gunn’s most recent record and inspirations, life on the road, and his connection to Marfa.

Thursday, Jun 13, 2019:
Border Journalists Alfredo Corchado And Angela Kocherga; Writer Toni Jensen On Gun Violence, Fracking, And Sex Trafficking

Alfredo Corchado (David Spuro), Angela Kocherga (Patty Aleman)

Alfredo Corchado and Angela Kocherga

Carlos Morales talks to journalists Alfredo Corchado and Angela Kocherga. They’ve both spent their life’s work covering the U.S.-Mexico border.

Alfredo Corchado is the border correspondent for the Dallas Morning News and is the author of Midnight in Mexico and Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration.

Angela Kocherga is a journalist who’s worked in radio, tv, and print. She’s currently covering the border for the Albuquerque Journal.

They discuss their work as journalists, immigration policy, and the roots of the mass migration from Central America.

Toni Jensen (Sophia Spirlock)

Toni Jensen

For the second part of the show, Rachel Monroe talks to Lannan writer-in-residence Toni Jensen.

They talk about Carry, Jensen’s forthcoming memoir-in-essays about gun violence. They also discuss Cowboyistan, Jensen’s forthcoming fictional novel that looks at the links between fracking and sex trafficking.

Jensen currently teaches at the University of Arkansas and at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

She will read at the Crowley Theater on Sunday, June 16 at 6 pm.

Thursday, Jun 6, 2019:
Challenges To Dying In The Big Bend; David Shook On Translation

Hospice of the Big Bend closed its doors in 1997 due to a lack of funding. (Courtesy of former Executive Director Marvie Burton)

Suzanne Dungan & Marvie Burton

On this episode, reporter Sally Beauvais talks to Marfa resident Suzanne Dungan and Marvie Burton, the former director of Hospice of the Big Bend.

They discuss the lack of access to end-of-life care in the region and the challenges of providing these services in Far West Texas.

Suzanne found out about the lack of resources first hand when her husband, Tom Dungan, relocated to Santa Fe for care.

That’s the reason she asked West Texas Wonders — a Marfa Public Radio journalism initiative — why there’s no hospice in the Big Bend when Medicaid and Medicare pay for those services.

Beauvais’ original story, reported at the end of 2018, can be found here.

David Shook (Nina Subin)

David Shook

In the second half of the show, Laura Copelin talks to poet, translator, and editor David Shook. They are currently in Marfa as a Lannan writer-in-residence.

In 2013, Shook founded the nonprofit publishing house Phoneme Media, editing over 30 books translated from 25 languages during their five years there.

A longterm resident of California, Shook currently lives in Iraq, where they are Artist in Residence at Kashkul, an arts and research collaborative at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani.

On Sunday, June 9th at 6 pm, Agave Festival Marfa and the Lannan Foundation will present a reading with Shook.

Thursday, May 30, 2019:
David Keller On The History Of Pinto Canyon; Josh T. Franco On La Virgen De Guadalupe’s Appearance In Marfa

On this episode, Diana Nguyen talks to archaeologist David Keller about his latest book, In The Shadow Of The Chinatis: A History of Pinto Canyon in the Big Bend. Keller dives into the history of the early ranchers who settled the area and examines the forces that changed the land’s use over time.

As part of Agave Festival, Keller will read from his book at 6 pm on Tuesday, June 4th at the Crowley Theater.

Later, Elise Pepple talks to Josh T. Franco. He grew up in West Texas and is an artist and the National Collector at the Archives of American Art.

Franco talks about the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Marfa in the nineties and the altar that commemorates the sighting located at the home of Ester Sanchez. In the conversation, he unpacks the altar’s relationship to the works of Donald Judd.

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Thursday, May 23, 2019:
Borderland Collective Collaborates With Blackwell School Alliance; Emily Esfahani Smith On Living a Meaningful Life

Elise Pepple talks to Borderland Collective’s Jason Reed and Mark Menjivar. The organization is a long-term art and education project that utilizes collaborations between artists, educators, youth, and community members to engage complex issues and build space for diverse perspectives, meaningful dialogue, and modes of creation and reflection.

Reed and Menjivar recently collaborated with the Blackwell School Alliance — an organization that preserves the history of the once-segregated school for Mexican American children in Marfa.

The public art project combines oral history and archival photos that can be seen on buildings around Marfa for the rest of the year.

You can find more about the project here, and hear stories at the Blackwell School Alliance SoundCloud. A Blackwell newspaper can be picked up at Marfa Public Radio. 

Later in the program, Pepple talks to writer Emily Esfahani Smith. She writes about culture, psychology, and relationships. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She’s the author of The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters.

They discuss the four pillars of a meaningful life.

Thursday, May 16, 2019:
Remembering Wile Quintana & Natalie Diaz On Poetry, Love, and Language

On this episode, we wanted to celebrate former co-host of “Una Hora Con Primo,” Wile Quintana, who died earlier this month at 78. We’re featuring a conversation he had with former Marfa Public Radio intern Mia Warren in 2015. They talk about what it was like to grow up in Marfa in the forties and fifties, and how Quintana became an amateur historian. 

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Thursday, May 9, 2019:
Filmmakers Joe Cashiola and David Fenster On “A Texas Myth,” Poet Kaveh Akbar

For the first half of the episode, Diana Nguyen talks to filmmakers Joe Cashiola and David Fenster about A Texas Myth. The documentary looks at the resistance that sprung up in 2016 at the Two Rivers camp against the Trans-Pecos Pipeline.

A Texas Myth will be screened at the Crowley Theater on Tuesday, May 14th at 7:30 pm.

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Thursday, May 2, 2019:
Carolyn Pfeiffer and Eileen Myles

This is the first episode of the new hour-long format of West Texas Talk!

The first half hour will feature conversations with interesting West Texas Personalities and discussions about regional issues. The second half of the show will focus on arts and culture. That’s where you’ll hear from the Lannan writing residents, artists, and musicians passing through town.

The guests on this inaugural episode will both be featured this weekend during CineMarfa. First, you’ll hear film producer Carolyn Pfeiffer discuss her life and illustrious career. Later in the program, Eileen Myles talks about their work and the economics of being a poet.

On Sunday at 1 pm, Pfeiffer will talk about her work and Present Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard at the Crowley Theater.

On Sunday at 5:45 pm, there will be a screening of Myles’ film The Trip at the Crowley Theater. 

You can find the full schedule of CineMarfa events here

Thursday, Apr 25, 2019:
Turning The Pages Of Texas With Lonn Taylor

On this episode, Diana Nguyen talks to historian Lonn Taylor.

The Rambling Boy published Turning the Pages of Texas earlier this year through TCU Press — a collection of essays about some of his favorite Texas authors. They discuss the book, his life, and his forthcoming memoir.

You can find Taylor’s broadcasts on The Rambling Boy podcast on itunes, or here.

Thursday, Apr 18, 2019:
Poet Carolina Ebeid On Making and Unmaking

On this episode, Ryan Paradiso speaks to Lannan Resident Carolina Ebeid. Her first book, You Ask Me To Talk About The Interior, was named one of the ten best debut collections by Poets & Writers Magazine in 2016. Ebeid is a Poetry Editor at The Rumpus.

They talk about the ephemeral nature of poetry, silence, and the poetics of whispering.

Ebeid will read at 6 pm on Saturday, April 20 at the Crowley Theater.