Exploring The Evolving Identity Of The American West

Winner of a 2020 Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Documentary, The Modern West takes listeners on a sound-rich journey into some of America’s most iconic landscapes to discover the people and places shaping the American West’s present and future.

Writer Wallace Stegner called the West “the native home of hope” because it’s here we’re striving to create a society to match our scenery. In the shadows of that scenery, our cities grow, our small towns shrink, our ranches are consolidated, our National Parks overflow.

Yet, as Westerners, we continue to feel deeply connected to our mountains, prairies, forests, and deserts. It’s what we came for (or our great-great grandparents came for) and it’s why we don’t plan to leave, no matter the boom or bust.

Guided by host Melodie Edwards’ personal connection to the region, The Modern West seeks out the people who still believe that the West is the native home of hope.

We’re digging deep, searching out diverse perspectives that recognize not only the origin stories of this place but also its darkest days. And as a new vision for the future forms, The Modern West podcast is here to document the evolving identity of the American West.

The Podcast Team

Melodie Edwards

Melodie Edwards

Host & Senior Producer

Melodie Edwards has covered a wide variety of Western topics, from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture to rural health. She is the recipient of two national PMJA awards, one for her investigation of the reservation housing crisis, another for a civil discourse over a confrontation at a Gillette, Wyoming mosque. She’s also won numerous regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, two for “best use of sound.” Her work has also won two Native American Journalism awards.

Melodie grew up in Walden, Colorado where her father worked in the oilfield and timber industries and her mother was the editor of the Jackson County Star. She graduated with an MFA from the University of Michigan on a Colby Fellowship and received two Hopwood Awards there for fiction and nonfiction. She is the recipient of the 2019 Pattie Layser Greater Yellowstone Fellowship, the Doubleday Wyoming Arts Council Award for Women and is the author of the young adult novel, Akorena & the League of Crows and Hikes Around Fort Collins.

Melodie and her husband own Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse in Laramie, Wyoming.

Erin Jones

Erin Jones


Erin Jones is The Modern West’s story editor, helping shape the narratives you hear on the podcast. She is also the host and senior producer of another award-winning podcast, HumaNature. Erin began her audio career as an intern in the Wyoming Public Radio newsroom, and her work has been featured on WHYY Philadelphia’s The Pulse and the podcast Out There

Erin earned her Bachelor of Arts from The University of Texas at Austin in geography, and her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Wyoming in creative writing and environment and natural resources. Her writing has won the Frank Nelson Doubleday Award, a Kimmel Harding Nelson residency, and publications in The Normal School and Western Confluence

Erin grew up in Texas, Utah, and Georgia, but she’s mostly Texan. Her partner in crime is her Hurricane Harvey rescue lab mix, Frankie.

Anna Rader

Anna Rader

Digital Producer

Anna Rader is the digital producer for multiple podcasts at Wyoming Public Media, including the station’s award-winning flagship podcast HumaNature. She helps shape what you see on this website, along with social media outreach and branding. She is also involved with production, hosting, and programming in various areas at the station.

Anna is a born and bred Wyomingite and graduated from the University of Wyoming, where she majored in Journalism. Her passion for public radio—and her career in it—began during a college internship at Wyoming Public Media.

When she’s not geeking out over sci-fi/sci-fantasy pop culture (or playing DnD) she enjoys being a cinephile, hiking, and going to concerts.


Micah Schweizer

Micah Schweizer

Production Director

Micah Schweizer oversees podcast productions at Wyoming Public Media. He started his career at Wisconsin Public Radio, and before moving to Wyoming, Micah worked as an award-winning reporter, producer, and host in Indiana.

Micah has contributed to networks including NPR, SiriusXM, and ABC Australia, and his work at Wyoming Public Media has garnered wide recognition, including multiple Best Podcast awards from the Public Media Journalists Association. Micah received his B.A. in French and German from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

Logo by Casidy Mittelstadt

Theme song “The Parade” by Screen Door Porch, written by Seadar Rose and Aaron Davis

Ghost Town(ing) episode art by John McNamis

Ghost Town(ing) digital postcard art by Sarah Ortegon and Abigail Schneider

The Modern West is a production of Wyoming Public Media, Christina Kuzmych, General Manager

Wyoming Public Media is part of the University of Wyoming
The Modern West also offers training and experience for Wyoming Public Media interns.

This program, as part of PRX’s Project Catapult, is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Photo Credits:
Red Bluff Sunset – Sandi Dunn
Snowy Range Wildflowers – Melanie McCormack
Migration – Joe Riis