Roswell Driving around Eddy County in southeastern New Mexico, I was looking for something we could use as a tower to mount an antenna for KEDR-FM around Loving, less than a dozen miles south of Carlsbad. My little rental car, some kind of hybrid thing from Ford, but 4WD and fine for my purposes, was swallowed up on the Pecos highway by the big rigs, heavy-duty pickups, tankers, and supply trucks. This was oil and ranch country, dusty, dry, and flat. A water tower in Loving looked like it might work, and the mayor is on my call list now.
This was not my first time here. My family had been here when I was 9 or 10. My dad was a field auditor for the California Company, and for several years, we packed up before school ended in the spring and returned to New Orleans around Labor Day and traveled from one tank farm, oil patch, and refinery all over the West from New Mexico up to Montana. We stayed in motels that advertised kitchenettes for days and company camps for weeks, while he worked, and we did whatever. Some referred to this area of New Mexico then as Little Dixie, because cotton was grown here back when. I didn’t see any of that, but pecans and pistachios were being raised in rows, flooded with water. We visited Carlsbad Caverns that trip, but I was working now, not sightseeing.
Earlier I had been through Hope, but I couldn’t find any there, even though that’s the town named in our FCC construction permit. Artesia down the road was another ranch and oil town that looked like it was in the middle of an attempted makeover with a downtown development project that squeezed the road into two lanes in what they saw as their business area. The main attractions were giant sculptures. One featured a drilling team under an oil derrick laying pipe in the hole. Others drove cattle. I wasn’t sure our signal would reach here. There might not be enough people in the broadcast range to sustain this one. Cows and horsehead pumping jacks don’t donate on noncommercial pledge drives.
Roswell up the road with 50,000 folks was the big town in the area. There were little green men everywhere and a UFO museum, beckoning tourists, I guess. Reading the local paper, the front page story was the bench trial of an elected county commissioner from Otero County, the next one over. He felt he was being discriminated against, because although he and a videographer, who has been granted immunity by the Justice Department, had indeed crawled over several barriers at the Capitol on January 6th 2021, where they shouldn’t have been, but he claimed Vice-President Pence was not in the area when they were. That’s his defense. Having brought the cameraman along, he obviously thought that this was going to be a big political boost for his career here in hardcore Trump country. Who knows how that will turn out?
Pulling the 2020 election returns, this area wasn’t a close contest, even though New Mexico went for Biden. Trump won here in the 75-25 range, as did the Republican who ended up in Congress. There’s no accounting for people around here like the commissioner. These are good, hard-working folks, who need to know what’s really happening in the world without a Fox News filter. The folks at the Loving Water Department couldn’t have been nicer, even though they had never heard of noncommercial radio. She didn’t even know what NPR was or that the USA had such things, but as I described our potential station, she thought it sounded like a good thing to have around here.