Rank #1: Episode 8: The Plane Crash
When the pilot of a plane saw a fireball explode on Emigrant Peak, about 15 miles north of Yellowstone National Park, the dispatcher called out for another plane that was supposed to be on that flight path. Fido 15! Fido 15! But Fido 15 never responded. It’s been more than five decades since an Air Force bomber on a Cold War training mission crashed in Paradise Valley. People who live there know vaguely that it happened. Oh yeah, they’ll say. That plane crash. When was that again? But one man, Bryan Wells, who lives at the base of the mountain and somehow found the wreakage when he was 15, has more recently made it his life’s mission to make sure the men who died up there are never forgotten.
This story is a collaboration between Last Best Stories podcast and the Bozeman Chronicle. It’s narrated by Michael Wright, a staff writer at the paper, and by Jule Banville, who co-reported it. Find Michael’s written feature and great photos by the BozeChron’s Adrian Sanchez Gonzalez at the bozemandailychronicle.com.
As a bonus, the end of the episode also details what happened after Bryan led us to the plane wreck. For awhile there, we didn’t think we’d make it off the mountain to tell the tale. Spoiler alert: We did.
Jul 17 2016
Rank #2: Episode 7: Death + Bike Polo
When Erwin Byrnes died, it was not exactly sad. That’s because his wife of 63 years and his family were ready when he picked the day and time to open the valve of his feeding tube and ingest the right dose of prescribed medicine to drift off. Montana’s Death With Dignity laws are pretty unique. This story explains why.
Also in this episode: 3-2-1 Polo! Making up the rules on a parking garage in the shadow of a mountain.
Photo credit: Kurt Wilson of the Missoulian. Used with permission.
Jul 05 2016
Rank #3: Episode 6: Madmen, Poets + Singers
David Poole woke up in the snow in Colorado, his lower half numb, and has been working since then to get back to his life outdoors near home: Townsend, Montana. It’s the long story of the episode by independent producer Danielle Thomson.
Plus: Tyler Knott Gregson, world-famous typewriter poet, profiled by Clay Scott of Mountain West Voices. And a Christmas bonus! Producer Colin May’s portrait of Mary Hickman, a caroling force outside the Orange Street Food Farm in Missoula.
Jun 28 2016
Rank #4: Episode 13: Death Cafes + Time Trippers
After Nancy Reece Jones’ mom died, she realized she needed to talk more about death, about how to have a good one, about how to be kind to others who also need to talk. Maybe all of us should say what we want to say about the inevitable over tea and cookies. Turns out there’s a movement for that and it’s called the Death Cafe. Reporters Katheryn Houghton and Nicky Ouellet visited the Flathead Valley’s cafe and talked to the living about death.
Also: Nicky is back with this episode’s short feature, a story about a Whitefish ’80s cover band with dreams to blow it up, maybe even pay rent or play Vegas. It’s a story about ambition, punctuated with some killer kick drums.
Jan 15 2018
Rank #5: Episode 12: Singers + Runners (The Beer Episode)
What makes a person screw up enough courage to try open mic night at a brewery, where people are there mostly to drink beer and not hear you sing? You might be surprised and even impressed with what expert pint-pourer and audio producer Colin May watched evolve on the small stage of one Missoula brewery.
Also in this episode: Runners with a drinking problem. You think pounding beer and running a mile is easy? Photographer and filmmaker Erik Petersen lived to tell the tale. Barely.
[credit: Open mic photo of Jeff Overturf by Colin May. Beer Mile photo by Erik Petersen.]
Aug 31 2017