Exploring The Evolving Identity Of The American West

Winner of a 2020 Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Documentary, The Modern West story 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


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 PRNDI 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. They also ran an Orvis fly fishing store for several years. 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. She also loves to putz in the garden, and hike and ski in the mountains with her family.

Erin Jones

Anna Rader
Digital Producer 

Micah Schweizer
Production Director

Logo by Casidy Mittelstadt

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

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.

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