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Governor Gordon launches a podcast

Gov. Mark Gordon Headshot
Mark Gordon

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon now has a podcast. He released the first episode of “The Morning Gather” earlier this month. It focused on the hard winter that wildlife experienced this year. The 30 or so-minute episodes will come out monthly on topics that are important to Wyomingites. Wyoming Public Radio’s Kamila Kudelska sat down with Gordon to discuss it.

Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Kamila Kudelska: Why start a podcast? How did the idea come about?

Mark Gordon: I think one of the biggest questions kind of came out of this winter where we saw so many wildlife that had such a tough winter and died on roads and on bridges, under snow drifts. And a lot of concern around Wyoming about what the Game and Fish was doing. What we were as a state going to do about that. We did one community meeting in Pinedale and immediately Rawlins called and said, ‘We need to do something more.’ And so it became clear that maybe reaching out through a podcast might be a great way to talk about topics of interest to Wyoming citizens. We started, obviously, with how devastating the winter was and wildlife, then we thought maybe Colorado River might be the next podcast and just issues as they come up.

KK: So what's the goal? Is it just to have a conversation with leaders in the state or with people in the state?

MG: I think it's a little bit of both. People that are engaged and have responsibility. On the first podcast, we had Josh Coursey [from] Muley Fanatics down in Sweetwater, and Brian Nesvic, the director of the Game and Fish. It kind of came off of the two community meetings we’d had. I think our idea is to try to get people who are knowledgeable about a topic and have a good conversation, hopefully engaged in providing information to people in Wyoming.

KK: And in a sense, you're switching positions. Instead of what we're doing right now, where you're being interviewed and you're answering the questions, on the podcast, you're acting as me, you're being the interviewer. How's that going?

MG: It's a lot of fun to be in your position. It's going well. I think one of the great opportunities, and you've certainly probably got this opportunity as well, is that you can really drive the questions in a little more detail than just responding to questions or trying to come up with talking points. And I think the conversational approach really is valuable, particularly when you're trying to get a detailed, sensitive, contextual information out so people understand it.

KK: And that being said, you chose wildlife as the first episode. And there were some controversial topics that were mentioned in the episode, for example, the place of wild horses on Wyoming landscapes. So is it going to be an open book for these episodes?

MG: I think we should have it as an open book. I would like to see us really start to go through each of these issues, as, obviously, some ones that are of great immediacy. Wildlife populations… we were at the point of setting quotas on hunting seasons and all that. One of the most important topics at that point was, ’What are we going to do about horn hunting and antler collection?’ So those seem very immediate. We went through the whole last year really concerned about water in the Colorado River system. That issue has not gone away. There's a lot of snow melt that’s gone into the system, but we're talking about 20 years of droughts on an over-appropriated system and more demand being put on it. So that one feels very timely. But as we go through this, I think if people want to suggest topics, we'd be happy to take those on. And I think we should kind of walk around the state, the various issues that we have. And as a month goes by, other issues become more pertinent.

KK: So you've kind of already addressed this, but, obviously, the Colorado River is one next one. Are there any other ideas or subjects that you're already kind of thinking of tackling?

MG: A couple of things that come to mind that might be appropriate. One is, if we don't resolve the debt ceiling, what's going to happen with national parks, what's going to happen with tourists? You know, with that, that may be a topic where we can reach out to superintendents Jenkins [of Grand Teton National Park], and Superintendent Sholly [of Yellowstone National Park] and just kind of walk through that. They have a number of businesses that are affected by the park. And how the Infrastructure Act has been deployed. Things like that. There might be opportunities to really kind of look behind the formal meetings of the State Loan and Investment Board and have a chance to bring in one or two of my colleagues to be able to have a conversation about what they see the challenges are. I think there's a wide open book.

KK: What are those opportunities that the podcast can provide?

MG: From my standpoint, the opportunity to be able to take an issue and actually kind of digest it in a little more depth in a conversational framework. And as I was mentioning, I think in your role as a reporter, in my role, hopefully by asking questions of knowledgeable people, we can direct it to things that are contextually very important to the overall discussion.

KK: Diverting away from the podcast, but as we're heading into the summer, what's on your mind? What are some main things that you're hoping to work on?

MG: How do we make sure we have a good summer with the normal businesses that really thrive off of our tourist season? That those aren't affected in some way, either by closures or by disruptions that happen.

We're moving forward very aggressively on the energy projects that we've been focused on, carbon capture to nuclear energy. We're going to see the opening of the largest domestic wind farm sometime this month, I think, and just talking about what that energy portfolio looks like. I've had a chance to talk to a couple of promoters of an actual practitioner of carbon capture -- one in Iceland, one in Texas, one in North Dakota --- and really tried to put a framework around what Wyoming's all-of-the-above energy portfolio is going to look like [and] how we promote it.

We've seen a number of initiatives coming out of Washington [D.C.], which I think are detrimental to Wyoming. So we'll continue to fight some of those. Most of them, I think. So I think it's going to be a very busy summer.

And then, of course, it's coming into a budget cycle, and always on my mind is how fragile our mineral revenues are. And what that could mean for the state, even as we see all those federal dollars starting to subside. So I think the state's going to have to kind of readjust our budgets. We want to make sure that the state government stays competent and effective and efficient.

KK: That's a lot of stuff.

MG: As I always say, having spent a lot of time calving heifers, if you have to get up in the middle of the night, you might as well have something to do.

KK: There we go. Well, where can listeners and Wyomingites find “The Morning Gather?”

MG: So “The Morning Gather” will be on our website, and it'll soon be on Spotify. And as I say, it's about a 30-minute podcast, and we'll try to take topics of primary interest to Wyoming citizens.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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