Frankie Barnhill

Idaho Matters Senior Producer

Frankie Barnhill is the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast. She's always interested in hearing surprising and enlightening stories about life in the West. Have an idea for Idaho Matters? Drop her a line! 

She's also the host and producer of Wanna Know Idaho, Idaho's audience-powered podcast. 

Frankie's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition and Weekend Edition. The award-winning journalist has received national accolades from the Public Radio News Directors Incorporated for breaking news reporting, as well as regional Edward R. Murrow awards for both hard news and features. She co-hosted Boise State Public Radio's first podcast, Speaking of Serial, which won an Idaho Press Club award. 

She earned her production chops at American Public Media, where she interned for Marketplace Tech Report and American RadioWorks. Frankie was also a researcher in Minnesota Public Radio's newsroom for an investigative report on bullying.

As a freelance reporter in 2014, Frankie won a grant to profile five emerging artists for Boise State Public Radio's audience. The project, entitled "Artist Statement," was an exploration of Boise's burgeoning artistic scene.

Frankie was a fellow with the Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources in 2013 and again in 2015 and 2018, where she began to hone her environmental reporting skills.

Frankie graduated from the College of St. Catherine with a degree in English literature. The Missoula native spends most of her free time dreaming about owning a dog someday, going to concerts and serving on the board of Story Story Night.


Idaho Fish and Game officials say despite national trends showing a decline in hunting, the Gem State's numbers are steady. But most people will never participate in the sport, and some see it as morally wrong. We learn more about hunting and the culture surrounding it, which is a significant source of revenue for the department's conservation efforts. 

Boise City Hall Brick Building Logo
Lacey Daley / Boise State Public Radio

Monday, incumbent Boise Mayor Dave Bieter accused City Council President Lauren McLean of raising "dark money" in an interview with Idaho Matters. McLean responded by defending her company and involvement by saying that her company worked to "support organizations that seek to stem the tide of out-of-state dark money." But what actually is "dark money"? To shed some light on the subject, we talk with a political scientist to better understand what the term means when it comes to money in politics. 


The American Legion is designed to help those who have served active duty in the U.S. military, and the organization has several posts across the country. On this Veterans Day, Idaho Matters take a special visit to an VFW post -- behind bars. Boise State Public Radio's George Prentice reports this story from the Idaho State Correctional Center.

Washington State University Press

Niels Sparre Nokkentved spent decades as an environmental reporter, mostly in Idaho. Now in retirement, he's turning his attention away from daily stories in a fast-paced news cycle to longer form writing. His newest book asks readers to consider the longterm consequences of ecological decisions we make today. He joins Idaho Matters to discuss "To Think Like A Mountain."

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Money in politics is not new to statewide and federal elections in Idaho. But what is unusual is the amount of  money we’ve seen poured into Boise’s mayoral race from a variety of political action committees. After this week’s historic mayoral election leading to a runoff on December 3, Idaho Matters is taking a closer look at one of those groups -- Conservation Voters for Idaho -- which has endorsed and is supporting candidate Lauren McLean.  

Correction: In the original version of this story we incorrectly quoted the amount of money CVI has spent on McLean's campaign. The group has spent $130,000 on the candidate. 

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

With no candidate receiving a majority of votes, Boise is planning its first mayoral runoff election. How will it work? What do you need to know to vote? How much will it cost, and who will pay for it? Idaho Matters talks with Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane to get answers to these questions, and gets his take on the county's remarkable turnout numbers from the November 5 election.

Christopher Smith / AP Images

Although Mayor Tammy de Weerd will no longer lead the City of Meridian come January, her policies could largely live on in the winner of the November 5 election. Robert Simison will take the job in January, after serving as de Weerd's longtime chief of staff. Idaho Matters talks with de Weerd, along with Boise State Public Radio reporter Rachel Cohen about Twin Falls and Blaine County elections. Finally, we connect with Valley County Commissioner Sherry Maupin to find out what a failed levy means for the counties deteriorating roads.  

Boise City Hall Brick Building Logo
Lacey Daley / Boise State Public Radio

There will be two new faces on Boise's City Council. Jimmy Hallyburton and Patrick Bageant will join the council in January, while incumbent councilwoman Elaine Clegg retained her seat. We analyze these races, along with the results of two Boise ballot initiatives. The initiatives were passed by a significant margin, asking voters whether the city should require voter approval on funding for library and stadium proposals.  

Lauren McLean for Boise Mayor

In a surprising turn of events, incumbent Boise Mayor Dave Bieter took just 30% of the vote in Tuesday's election, while City Council President Lauren McLean took 46%. Since neither gained a majority, Boise is preparing for its first mayoral runoff on December 3. We talk with McLean to find out what her next steps will be. 

Note: Idaho Matters reached out to Mayor Bieter for an interview. He declined our initial request but says he will join the show next week. 

Joel Wayne / Boise State Public Radio

Boise State Public Radio's You Know The Place podcast explores some of the lesser known businesses and locations in Idaho. In the most recent episode, hosts Lacey and Joel visit Steele Apiaries, a bee farm in Eagle. Idaho Matters presents a special broadcast of the podcast, which you can find wherever you find your streaming audio. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Images

Wildfires have taken place across the West for centuries. But as climate change and explosive growth create dangerous conditions for folks who live in Idaho, how does wildfire smoke factor in? Turns out, smoke has a more widespread effect. But according to a new study people in the Treasure Valley do not percieve this danger in the same way. Idaho Matters talks with two Boise State University researchers looking at the gap between public perception and the hazards of smoke. 

John Bazemore / AP Images

Last weekend, a 16-year-old e-scooter rider in Boise was struck and killed by a truck while riding through a crosswalk. The other teen rider on the scooter was taken to a hospital and treated for injuries. The accident has reignited conversations about who is responsible for the safety of riders. Idaho Matters is joined by a University of Washington pediatrician about what cities, users and companies can do to prevent crashes and injuries. 

Ethan Webber / Boise State Public Radio

In 1600, a Basque-born nun named Catalina de Erauso escaped the nunnery in Spain where they lived and began to dress as a man. They boarded a ship to South America where they spent 17 years fighting as a male conquistador. De Erauso returned to Spain where both the king and the pope gave them permission to live openly as a transgender man. This unbelievable story is the subject of a 17th Century Spanish play based on real events. Boise State professor Mac Test is translating the play to English, and joins Idaho Matters.

Charlie Litchfield / AP Images


Valley County, which encompasses McCall, Donnelly, Cascade and plenty of rural and Forest Service land in Idaho's West Central Mountains, is struggling to maintain its roads. Years of lower budgets coupled with a threat of a sunsetting federal funds has forced county leaders to look at other ways to make up the difference. Their solution? A new tax on homeowners, which is on the November 5 ballot. 


Boise City Hall Logo South Capitol
Lacey Daley / Boise State Public Radio

When Boise mayoral candidates released their campaign finance reports earlier this month, Boise State Public Radio reported that Amber Pence, Boise’s former chief lobbyist, was still employed by the city when she began to work on incumbent Mayor Dave Bieter's campaign. Now, we've obtained emails that confirm there was an overlap of job duties. We get the latest on this story from Boise State Public Radio reporter James Dawson, who has been following this issue. 

Idaho Matters logo
Boise State Public Radio

  • Boise Mayoral Conversations: Adriel Martinez.
  • Email dust-up in Mayor Bieter's campaign.
  • CBD oil and the law.  
  • Opioids and dental care.

Ethan Webber / Boise State Public Radio

Refugees have a lot of things to sort out in a quick period of time when they arrive in Idaho, but one of the most important things is finding sustainable and dignified work. Saint Alphonsus Hospital in Boise has started a pre-apprenticeship program to help train refugee workers as “environmental services” employees, a role that keeps the hospital clean and safe. Idaho Matters speaks to one refugee who has gone through the program, where she earns about $12 per hour and hopes to become a nurse one day. 

Idaho Matters logo
Boise State Public Radio

  • Boise Mayoral Conversations: Wayne Richey.
  • Apprenticeships for refugees.
  • Student Veterans of America in Idaho.

Nate Hegyi / Mountain West News Bureau


It’s that time of year when many of us head out to corn mazes, pumpkin patches...or haunted houses. But some people want more than the typical haunted house. How about getting waterboarded, electrocuted or even force-fed maggots? That’s the world of extreme haunted houses. Mountain West News Bureau reporter Nate Hegyi visited one in Utah, and shares his frightening experience on Idaho Matters.


City of Twin Falls

With November 5 quickly approaching, South Central Idaho has several important issues that will be on the ballot on election day. From a Twin Falls jail bond measure, to the Blaine County school board elections and more, Boise State Public Radio reporter Rachel Cohen joins Idaho Matters to preview these elections.

John Minchillo / AP Images

Gun control has become a topic driving national politics over the last several years. With a 2020 presidential election looming over the political scene, candidates will have to create a compelling argument on a divided issue. Guns & America reporter Heath Druzin attended an event based around the subject of gun control and joins Idaho Matters to expand upon the discussion.

  • Meridian's city elections.
  • Changing nature of gun politics.

Allison Joyce / AP Images

When families are unable to have children, some parents turn to surrogacy. Boise has become a hub for this option, which is growing in popularity. That's why filmmaker Beth Aala decided to make a documentary about the subject. She joins Idaho Matters to talk about “Made In Boise," which is now going to be distributed on PBS October 28. In Idaho, you can watch it at 10:00 p.m. on Idaho Public Television. 

Franklin Reyes / AP Images

Small scale solar production has become a popular way to decrease carbon emissions, but may people also view it as an investment. When solar panels are installed, there is an opportunity to sell any excess power back to the power company. But Idaho Power would like to change the way folks receive credits. Idaho Matters talks to a solar advocate about why these changes could set back Idaho homeowners who have already installed the panels.

Joshua Lindgren - BSPR

The Boise metro has grown by more than 100,000 people since 2010. One of the most significant side effects fo this explosive growth has been a decrease in housing affordability. And it seems like everyone is talking about it. Now, the James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy at the University of Idaho is sponsoring a discussion about growth from a variety of angles. We talk with a panelist and organizer of the upcoming October 28 event at Pengilly's Saloon in downtown Boise.