The Wolf Who Became A Legend, And A Pawn In American Culture And Politics

Journalist Nate Blakeslee chronicles the life of a wolf in the Rockies and the forces both natural and human that shape her destiny. His new book is “American Wolf: A True Story Of Survival And Obsession In The West.”

Blakeslee tells Colorado Matters Wild wolves were systematically hunted and by the 1920s they were mostly exterminated in the American West. In the mid-1990s, wildlife managers reintroduced wolves in Yellowstone National Park.  He says the program’s success gave researchers opportunities to see wolf behavior rarely observed in the past. But it wasn’t just scientists watching the wolves, it was tourists too.

O-Six, a wolf named for the year she was born, was a descendant of the reintroduced wolves. She and her pack became well known to parks visitors and millions of people around the world through social media. Blakeslee, who’s based in Austin, Texas, uses her story to illustrate the political and cultural battle over wolves in the West. The book is set in Yellowstone National Park, but in the not-too-distant future Colorado could have a similar story.

Blakeslee spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. To listen to their conversation, see more photos and to read an excerpt of the book, click here.

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A Favorite Public Radio Voice Leaves The Airwaves. NPR’s Robert Siegel Retires Today

Robert Siegel, host of NPR’s All Things Considered

(Stephen Voss/NPR)

Robert Siegel, known to millions as the longtime host of NPR’s All Things Considered, retires today after 40 years with the network.

Siegel covered countless major stories for NPR. He was at Ground Zero in New York after the collapse of the World Trade towers on Sept 11, 2001. When a huge earthquake hit China in 2008, he and his colleagues headed for the epicenter to report on the devastation and its effect on the people who lived there.

Siegel told Colorado Matters the worst moment of his career came when he was NPR’s acting news director at a time when the network was struggling to stay afloat. Once the finances stabilized, he said, he was proud to be part of the launches of Weekend Edition Saturday and Fresh Air.

Siegel said he’ll miss getting to talk to authors and filmmakers and ask questions about their work. “The whole idea of going to see a movie and never talking with the actors or the director, it feels a little incomplete to me at this point.”

Listen to Robert Siegel’s conversation with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner by clicking here.

Listen: By and about Robert Siegel:

​Audio of this interview will be available after noon Friday.

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85-Year-Old Gives An Insider’s Look At Life In Big Eldercare

Sue Petrovski and her husband on their wedding day.

(Courtesy Sue Petrovski)

Moving into senior independent living is a little like being back in a college dorm, with all the pluses and minuses of communal living. Then there’s the fact that much of life is dictated by the corporate bottom line of the “big eldercare” industry.Coloradan Sue Petrovski is 85. She reflects on for-profit elder care in her new book “Shelved: A Memoir of Aging in America.”

Petrovski and her husband lived in the same home in a Denver suburb for 47 years. Her decision to move to a senior independent-living apartment began when it became clear that her husband had dementia.

Petrovski told Colorado Matters she made a list of things to consider as she decided where they should move, ranging from costs and medical help to lifestyle. “Where is this paradise I wanted,” she writes. “Meals, housekeeping, places to exercise and walk, socialization, activities, and help when needed? I had decided that these things were almost a necessity if we were going to go through the work and anxiety of a move at our age.

Listen to Petrovski’s conversation with Ryan Warner on Colorado Matters by clicking here.

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Pueblo’s Forward Thinking Funeral Director: Remembering Charles McCulley

Puebloan Charles McCulley’s family says he was “born into the funeral business.” He assisted with his first embalming at the age of eight. His mortuary served southern Colorado’s African Americans and Hispanics in an earlier time when others wouldn’t. Charles McCulley died in October at age 78. His daughter Yanera McCulley-Sedillo runs Angelus Chapel Mortuaries in Pueblo with her family.  She says her father was a visionary in the funeral business, who implemented many innovations, like taking women out of the back office and putting them in jobs that many funeral homes saw as the exclusive domain of men.

Listen to McCulley-Sedillo speak with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner by clicking here.

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Pueblo’s Newspaperman And Water Guardian: Remembering Robert Hoag Rawlings

Bob Rawlings in The Pueblo Chieftain pressroom in 2009.

Courtesy: John Jaques/Pueblo Chieftain

Robert “Bob” Rawlings worked as a newspaperman for 70 years. More than half that time was at the helm of The Pueblo Chieftain, Colorado’s oldest operating daily newspaper. He also fought to protect southeastern Colorado’s water supply and was a force behind many community projects. Rawlings died in March this year at age 92.

“It was difficult to work for him and also rewarding,” said The Chieftain’s managing editor Steve Henson, who worked with Rawlings for nearly four decades.

Listen to Henson remember his former boss on Colorado Matters.

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Coloradan Makes Poetry Matter For His Students And His Community

A deep sense of the landscape and people of the American West infuses Western State University English professor Mark Todd’s poetry. And for the last three decades he’s wrangled Colorado writers at all kinds of events — from cowboy poetry readings to poetry slams. Todd was recently recognized with the Karen Chamberlain Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry in Colorado.

Along with his work to promote poetry in Colorado, he’s authored a number of books – including two poetry books. He has also collaborated with his wife Kym on a travel guide to Colorado’s haunted hotels and several science fiction and fantasy books.

Listen to his conversation with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner and read his poems at

Mark Todd

Courtesy: Eric Walter

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Digging Into The History Of Wild Horses To Understand Their Future

Wild Horses grazing near Elko NV 2012 (Philipps photo)

Wild horses near Elko, Nevada in 2012 – Photo courtesy of Dave Philipps

Wild horses are symbolic of freedom and are part of the mythology and legends of the American West. Yet growing herds are costing millions of taxpayer dollars as politics and society collide over how to manage them. Pulitzer Prize- winning journalist Dave Philipps of Colorado Springs digs into the history and the current battle over America’s mustangs in his new book, “Wild Horse Country.”

One argument against letting wild horses roam freely on western rangeland is that they aren’t seen as a native species. Many people say that they were brought to North America in the 1500s by Spanish explorers. Philipps says that the earliest prehistoric horses evolved in North America 55 million years ago and fossil evidence of them is found around the west. It’s possible that early humans hunted these wild horse populations into extinction, so he asks the question, if it was because of humans that a native species disappeared and it’s because of humans that the species returned, why isn’t that species native anymore?

Philipps speaks with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner about the history of wild horses in the West, the problems surrounding their current situation and what their future might look like. Listen to their conversation and read an excerpt from the book at

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#Autumn Arrives In #Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo #Mountains


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If You’re Lost On Public Lands, Who Would You Call? There’s No Guarantees

If you got lost in the wilderness would you expect to see helicopters, sniffer dogs and rescue teams searching for you? Think again. Michigan writer Jon Billman has reported all kinds of missing-in-the-wilderness stories over a 20 year career. He tells Colorado Matters about some of them, including Tennessee college student  Joseph Lloyd Keller who vanished in Colorado’s Conejos County in 2015 during a trail run. The man’s body wasn’t found until the following year.

Billman spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner -see links to his reporting and listen to the conversation at

Writer Jon Billman – Photo by Sam Billman

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Colorado Springs Poet Explores Life’s Landscape Of Longing And Belonging


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