Before her spontaneous move to Tulsa, Abby Wendle had only visited Oklahoma once. Raised in Ohio, she’s spent most of the last decade bouncing around the east coast working for the BBC, NPR and RadioLab. After graduating from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Wendle slowly began her journey into America’s heartland, seeking the right media outlet to fit her unique point of view. A fellow Columbia journalism classmate told Wendle about an audio opportunity with This Land, and examining the website was all she needed to pack-up her belongings and head west–after telling editor Michael Mason she was willing to move into a tent and work for free.

Mason insisted on paying her. While such a bold move might be seen as risky to other journalists, Wendle believes the medium is in a place where brave experimentation is a requirement. Since arriving, Wendle has made herself at home by eating more red meat than she has in the past decade and acquainting herself with how to handle an AK-47.