Over the past few years, the West Texas region known as the Permian Basin has become the most productive oil field in the country. By some measures, it’s the biggest in the entire world.

When politicians talk about energy independence or fracking bans or the intensifying threats posed by climate change, the epicenter of that fossil fuel activity is West Texas. In fact, the Permian has become one of the most important swathes of land on Earth. The oil boom that’s playing out there today is reshaping the world’s climate, economy—even our geopolitics. Yet few understand this place or the people who call it home. 

Boomtown is a new Texas Monthly podcast series, produced in partnership with Imperative Entertainment, that will take listeners  inside the Permian Basin, past and present. Host and Texas Monthly staff writer Christian Wallace was raised in a small town in the region and spent a year working as a roughneck on oil rigs there. Throughout ten episodes, Wallace and his co-reporters, including staff writer Leif Reigstad, will guide listeners through this world of tumbleweeds and pumpjacks, introducing a cast of memorable characters and painting a portrait of this rugged place most have only seen in the movies. They’ll help you understand who’s winning and losing, and introduce you to cowboys, wildcatters, strippers, high school football players, and billionaire entrepreneurs who call—at least in boom times—this place home. It’s no surprise that even a booming economy comes at a price to those on the ground.

Listen to the Boomtown trailer here:

Boomtown is a production of Texas Monthly and Imperative Entertainment. The first episode debuts on December 10, with new episodes released weekly. Look for Boomtown on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.