WOMEN YOU SHOULD KNOW IN WYOMING: Nomadic Teacher Turned her Passion for the Equality State into Successful Podcast

Carla Mowell’s ‘infectious personality’ and love of storytelling inspired launch of ‘Wyoming My 307’

Carla Mowell, host of the podcast "Wyoming My 307," stands by her camper at the Medicine Lodge State Park in July 2022. Mowell often travels in her camper to explore new towns for her podcast's "Dot on the Map" segment. (Photo by Jade Smith)

By Sarah DiMuro

Special to the Wyoming Truth

This story has been updated as of August 30, 2023 at 9:30 a.m. MT to correct the name of the podcast.

Carla Mowell didn’t know anything about producing a podcast. But that didn’t stop her from creating one that celebrates Wyoming’s unique people and places.

After all, Wyoming is where Mowell left her heart. 

Mowell, a 59-year-old former educator, lived in 10 countries growing up. Her father, a Greybull native, was a rig superintendent in the oil industry who moved the family over 14 times when Mowell and her brother were young. 

It was exciting for Mowell to live in Nigeria and Spain, and she loved walking the streets of Aberdeen in Scotland on her way to school, the stunning granite buildings lining her path. Yet Mowell always looked forward to spending summers with her paternal grandparents in Big Horn.

“I loved the open space of the state; it gives you the freedom to make it your own,” Mowell said. “I remember spending time outside as a child painting and the wide-open space giving me room to daydream.”

In 2019, when Mowell retired as Executive Director of Texas’s HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) program, she knew where she would spend the next phase of her life and how she would spend her time.

“Having grown up and lived in so many different places, Wyoming is the one place where I feel rooted. It’s the home of my heart, and I always knew I would land here,” said Mowell, who currently lives in the same Big Horn cottage where she and her family spent those summers.

Carola Mowell sits by her camper at the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains in August 2022. In 2020, she launched “Wyoming My 307,” a podcast that celebrates the people and places of the Cowboy State.  (Photo by Jade Smith) 

This Wyoming life

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mowell researched and listened to podcasts to prepare her to launch “Wyoming My 307,” which focuses solely on the people and places of the Cowboy State. She wanted to model her podcast after Ira Glass’ “This American Life” radio program, which has a theme for each hour-long episode.

And while her guests and topics rotate, each show always includes the “Wyoming Wildlife” and “Dot on the Map” segments, focusing on the animals and places that make Wyoming unique. Some featured locations have included Byron, Cheyenne and Greybull. The black-billed magpie, the pika and the black-footed ferret are three creatures that have been showcased on the wildlife segment. For “Dot on the Map,” Mowell only features places she has actually visited, most likely in her trusty camper.

“It’s a state with such variety and a surprising amount of diversity, if you look for it,” Mowell said.

Mowell produces the show on her own, having taught herself the technical side of podcasting and editing. She also provides a companion blog, featuring show summaries and photos of the episode locations.

“My love for Wyoming, my love for writing, my love for good stories, all comes together,” she told the Wyoming Truth.

Mowell’s transient childhood forced her to make quick connections with people, a skill that serves her well when she’s interviewing everyone from Wyoming author Cheryl O’Brien to  geologist and Wyoming native Erik Kvale and Wyoming game warden Bill Robertson. She also has tackled social issues, interviewing author Jackson Lassiter about his challenges growing up gay in the 1960s and 1970s in Wyoming, and Grant Ujifusa, founding editor of  “The Almanac of American Politics,” about growing up Japanese in Wyoming.

Mowell is always seeking potential guests and was pleased to meet Wyoming photographer Barrie Lynn Bryant, who secured a grant from the Wyoming Arts Council to curate a project featuring photographs depicting communities in the Big Horn Basin. As part of the project,  Bryant taught photography courses at local libraries. Mowell was so impressed with the project that she volunteered her time to interview all 14 participants and create a QR code soundbite that was posted next to their featured photograph.

“Carla brought their voices, their oral history about their projects…She just loves sharing people’s stories. She also has an infectious personality and sets people at ease,” Bryant said.

‘The story behind the story’

For her podcast, which currently has over 10,000 downloads, Mowell interviews most of her guests remotely, traveling whenever she can to conduct the interview in person.

And while she currently doesn’t have any advertisers, she truly enjoys this hobby and all it entails, even the eight-plus hours it can often take to produce and edit an episode. Telling people’s stories is payment enough. 

An avid reader, Mowell draws inspiration from books, periodicals and lectures at the local library to develop podcast topics. Each episode runs just under an hour, and listeners can find “Wyoming My 307” on platforms such as Google podcasts, Apple podcasts and Spotify.

Since officially launching “Wyoming My 307” in May 2020, Mowell has aired 15 episodes. She is presently working on podcasts about small town bars, driving in Wyoming and the state’s coal industry.

“My goal is to provide listeners with the story behind the story, not just information they could Google on their own,” Mowell said.

Producing a podcast also fulfills an earlier career dream for Mowell. While she had hoped to study journalism at University of Southwest Louisiana (now known as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette), the program at the time was very small, so she earned a degree in sociology instead.But Mowell always kept a journal and maintained her passion to share stories.  

Regardless of where you are in life, Mowell encourages anyone interested in starting something new to just go for it.

“You don’t have to be an expert,” she said. “Just try in small ways. If it’s meant to be, it will grow into something bigger.”

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