Commentary: Over 40 Years, Crossing Paths With KVPR
Many of you know me as Valley Public Radio’s Director of Program Content, and host of Valley Edition. It’s been a great honor to serve you over the past eight years, helping to build the station’s local news department, deploying major advances in technology, and helping to better connect with our listeners.
Now, I am entering a new role at the station, as Valley Public Radio’s next President and General Manager. To facilitate this move, I’m stepping aside from my on-air role, and from directly supervising our news department. Along those lines, we are thrilled to announce the hire of Alice Daniel, a longtime contributor to KQED’s The California Report, as FM89’s new news director. You can read more about Alice elsewhere in this edition of Audiophile.
I can’t think of a greater honor than to lead Valley Public Radio, but I am the first to recognize that I have very big shoes to fill. Mariam Stepanian was a dynamic leader, who not only had great vision and talent, but also an undeniable determination and the ability to make dreams reality. She quite simply built the station we know today, both metaphorically and physically. She epitomized the role of a leader, and I am often reminded about the many conversations we had about radio, about leadership and about life.
I’m eager to take on this new role in leading the station into an era of new challenges and opportunities. Lately, as I’ve been reflecting on my career and on the history of the station, I’ve noticed that we share a lot in common.
I was born in 1978, the same year as Valley Public Radio. I grew up in a rural area east of Clovis, just on the edge of the foothills. My dad was a fig grower, and I spent many days out in the field exploring the land. At night, I was always intrigued by the throbbing red lights on a radio tower just east of our home, on Round Mountain. A few years ago, when going through some old papers at my grandparents’ house, I found a crayon drawing I made of that tower, maybe 35 years ago. I didn’t know it at the time, but that tower was KVPR’s first transmitter site, and that red light wasn’t just an anonymous beacon, it WAS Valley Public Radio.
I remember taking my first clarinet lessons in the mid 1980’s with my instructor David Johnson, who also happened to be an evening announcer on Valley Public Radio. I distinctly remember him telling me to listen to the station one night, as he would be playing the famous recording of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, and soloist Robert Marcellus. I remember recording the broadcast on cassette tape and playing it over and over, as I attempted to play along.
After college, I got a job working weekends at Valley Public Radio, announcing Weekend Edition and Weekend Classics, from 2002-2004. It was both exciting and terrifying, but it was a great way to learn radio. I distinctly remember being on-air the morning when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over the American southwest. NPR host Scott Simon’s on-air composure, professionalism and humanity that day made a big impression on me, both as a broadcaster and as a human. To this day, he’s still my favorite NPR journalist.
I returned to Valley Public Radio in 2010. I found a station that was filled with a talented staff, supportive listeners, and great potential. But more than anything else, I found a place that felt like home. We have a great team in place, and the station is well positioned to build on what has made FM89 a success, and to adapt to a changing world. Much of that credit goes to our senior management team of Shirin Assemi and Joe Garcia, as well as our executive assistant Kristina Richardson. I’d like to specifically thank them for their leadership over the past year, during challenging times. They are wise, thoughtful and most of all dedicated to this station and its listeners.
As we look to the future, Valley Public Radio will continue to be your trusted source for voices and sounds that inform and inspire. We’ll be looking for new ways to reach new audiences, to evolve in a changing region, to take advantage of technology, and improve every aspect of our service. You, our listeners are at the center of all of those efforts. We thank you for your generous support and your commitment to enriching our community.