Melodie Edwards

Reporter

Phone: 307-766-2405
Email: medward9@uwyo.edu   

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture. Her civil discourse project called, "I Respectfully Disagree," brought together people in the state modeling how people find compromise to make change. One of these conversations, "Time Heals All Wounds," won a national PMJA award. She is also the recipient of a national PRNDI award for her investigation of the reservation housing crisis and several regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, two for "best use of sound."

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. Later her parents ran an Orvis fly fishing store there. She graduated with an MFA from the University of Michigan on a Colby Fellowship and received two Hopwood Awards for fiction and nonfiction. She was the first person to receive the Pattie Layser Greater Yellowstone Writing Fellowship through the Wyoming Arts Council and was the recipient of the Doubleday Wyoming Arts Council Award for Women. She's the author of two books,Akoreka and the League of Crows, a young adult novel, and Hikes Around Fort Collins. Melodie and her husband own Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse. She also loves to putz in the garden and backpack and ski in the mountains with her twin daughters, her husband and her dog.

Ways to Connect

Missing And Murdered Indigenous People

Gov. Mark Gordon's Taskforce on Missing and Murdered Indigenous People has released a report on the severity of the problem in Wyoming. It found that Indigenous people make up 21% of homicides in the state even though only 3% of the population is Indigenous.

But Wyoming Survey and Analysis Research Scientist Emily Grant said these numbers could be underestimates. For instance, murder rates could be off because coroners misclassify victims.

Pilot Hill Project

A public land project in Laramie has been awarded the 2020 Project of the Year by the Wyoming Planning Association.

In 2018, community members started trying to figure out how to purchase a 7,100 acre ranch on the outskirts of town in hopes of protecting it from development.

Laramie Mural Project-Laramie Main Street

A new national study of how leaders can help small towns thrive examines three communities that are succeeding. One was Laramie, Wyoming.

Not Our Native Daughters

Last year, at a UW campus march for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Not Our Native Daughters Director Lynette Greybull pressed Gov. Mark Gordon to start a task force to study the problem. He agreed on the spot and since then the taskforce has been working to meet several goals.

Jordan Dresser

On the heels of the national election, the Northern Arapaho Tribe just wrapped up the election of their business council. Jordan Dresser was a new name on the ballot and won a seat with a lot of support, especially from the tribe's youth. He's known as a mover and shaker.

Over the last few years Dresser worked to find and repatriate numerous artifacts from around the country. Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards talked with him about his vision going forward.

Cynthia Lummis

Cheyenne Republican Cynthia Lummis has won the U.S. Senate race in Wyoming. Lummis is a seasoned political figure in the state who served in the U.S. House for eight years from 2009 to 2017 and before that in the state legislature. 

Mark Elbroch

Mountain lions are one of the great conservation success stories. Hunting once whittled their numbers down to a few thousand. But when they were re-classified as a game instead of vermin, they made a big comeback. But it's also led to more conflicts with humans.

A new book called the Cougar Conundrum: Sharing the World with a Successful Predator offers ideas for how to live with these big predators and how to better manage them. Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards chatted with author Mark Elbroch, the Director of Panthera's Puma project.

Tommy Clark via Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Wyoming Public Media's podcast The Modern West has been gearing up for a new season. They're doing something quite different this time around. Instead of a lot of separate stories, they're going to tell one big story over the course of eleven episodes. Bob Beck sat down with the podcast's host Melodie Edwards to hear what's coming down the pipe.

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CC0 Public Domain

Listen to the full show here.

Taxes Continue To Be A Hard Sell For Many Lawmakers

This week, Gov. Mark Gordon started addressing Wyoming's $1.5 billion shortfalls with $250 million in budget cuts.

Tate McKinney

In his teens, Tate McKinney started coming to terms with his sexual orientation and gender identity. Like many LGBTQ kids in small towns, that led to hard conversations with his family, but then he found out he was related to Aaron McKinney, one of Matthew Shepard's murderers.

Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards sat down with Tate to hear his uniquely Wyoming story. Tate came forward to share his story after hearing the episode "The Small Town Drag Queen" on The Modern West podcast about the hardship of growing up LGBTQ in the rural West.

Amazon.com

Even before the pandemic struck, rural American communities were suffering, and the blow from this new downturn could hurt even more. But a new book is optimistic that small towns can thrive, if they learn to embrace the innovations of the future.

There's an ongoing debate in the American West about which state granted women the right to vote first. Wyoming ratified the decision first in 1869 but didn't vote until the fall of the next year; but Utah women actually went to the polls seven months earlier than that.

Either way, it was Western states that made the leap, and a new book called No Place For A Woman: The Struggle for Suffrage in the Wild West explores what it was about Western women that made them such suffragists.

Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards interviewed author Chris Enss.

You've probably heard about all the companies stepping up to help deal with the COVID-19 crisis: distilleries making hand sanitizer, outdoor clothing companies sewing face masks.

But what about the lack of quarantine spaces?

Enviremedial Services

As some rural health clinics fill up and jails try to quarantine sick inmates, a military contracting company in Pinedale has come up with a solution.

Minot Air Force Base

People aren't just stockpiling toilet paper, but an analysis of federal data shows they're also stockpiling more guns. It's a worrisome trend in the rural West, the region that suffers from from the highest rates of gun suicide. 

Flickr Creative Commons/The Red Baron

Last week, Gov. Mark Gordon gave variances to most counties allowing them to lift restrictions on some businesses, and officials said he'll lift more by the end of the week. But Wyoming Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell said it could take a while for the state's economy to truly get back on its feet, not just because customers are wary but because business owners will be trying to figure out how best to safely reopen.

Flickr Creative Commons/Jasperdo

Governor Mark Gordon gave county officials permission to apply for variances so they can begin lifting pandemic restrictions. Church services can now be held in Platte and Niobrara Counties, and Lincoln, Park and Natrona Counties will allow restaurants to offer dine-in services. 

Flickr Creative Commons/Dubois Drugs

When a business folds, normally the owner doesn't qualify for unemployment, but since the COVID-19 crisis hit, the federal government through the CARES Act has changed that. Now, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) is preparing to roll out a system to help the self-employed, gig workers and contract workers get the aid they need to survive the pandemic.

Flickr Creative Commons/She Paused For Thought

In the last round of stimulus funds from the federal government, 7,618 Wyoming businesses received money from the Paycheck Protection Program, injecting more than $837 million into the state’s economy that business leaders hope will help soften the blow of the pandemic. 

Flickr Creative Commons/Jordan Barab

It's unknown exactly how many immigrant workers have been laid off in Wyoming in recent weeks, but it's likely quite high, according to Jackson immigration attorney Reilly Ward with Trefonas Law, especially since Teton County's service industry saw large numbers of layoffs.

facebook.com/wyomingworkforce

Back in mid-March, Governor Mark Gordon shut down all public spaces to stop the spread of coronavirus. At the time, Destiny Irwin was plugging away on a political science degree at the University of Wyoming and working at two Laramie restaurants to pay her bills. Both went to curbside delivery, and Irwin got laid off.

Flickr Creative Commons/Menards Casper

Wyoming's unemployment rate spiked 350 percent in the last few weeks, an unprecedented rate that puts it as one of the hardest hit states in the country.

This week's Wyoming Workforce Services' report shows 4,652 new people have applied for unemployment, 900 more than the week before, and 6,010 continued claims from people who'd already filed them, 1,811 more than the week before.

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