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KVPR History

A look at the history of KVPR, Valley Public Radio.
Valley Public Radio's Broadcast Center
Valley Public Radio's Broadcast Center

Valley Public Radio Timeline

For over 44 years, KVPR has served the residents of the San Joaquin Valley with news, music and entertainment. While a lot has changed over the years, the station continues to follow the path set by our founders as a vital media resource for our community. Through the generosity of our local listeners, business sponsors and foundations, the station has grown and continues to enrich our community. Here's a look back at our history.

KVPR founders Richard Mays, Jän van Oosten and Von Johnson in 1975
Courtesy Von Johnson
KVPR founders Richard Mays, Jän van Oosten and Von Johnson in 1975


1975 - White Ash Broadcasting, Inc is established in 1975 by Jän van Oosten, Von Johnson and Richard Mays, with a vision to bring public radio to the Fresno community. The founders are awarded a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help fund startup costs for KVPR.

1976 - The Federal Communications Commission issues a Construction Permit for KVPR to begin broadcasting on 89.3.

1977 - KVPR staffers work to refurbish the former McClatchy (KMJ) studios at 1515 Van Ness in downtown Fresno. The station's transmitter site is built out at Round Mountain east of Clovis.

1978 - A wet winter delays efforts to build the station's transmitter site at Round Mountain east of Clovis. This delays the planned on-air debut of KVPR by several months.

1978 - KVPR begins broadcasting October 15, 1978. A special series called "Radio Comes Alive" features live performances from top local musicians to celebrate the occasion.


1982 - The KVPR transmitter site is moved from Round Mountain to Meadow Lakes, near Auberry. This new site, at approximately 4,500 feet in elevation, greatly expands the area reached by the signal and makes possible the establishment of a translator facility to serve the Bakersfield area as well.

1982 - The KVPR studios are relocated to a historic building at Warehouse Row on P Street in downtown Fresno.

1982 - The station hosts the first of several "Jazz Valley" festivals, featuring top musicians including Herbie Mann, B.B. King, Poncho Sanchez, and others.

1983 - In honor of Gilbert Rodriguez, a music instructor at Fresno City College, a Memorial Endowment Fund is established specifically to build the station CD library of music.

1985 - The FCC approves a construction permit for KPRX, a full power transmitter licensed to White Ash Broadcasting, Inc. to serve Kern County on FM 89.1 in Bakersfield.

1985 - The station's Endowment Fund for station operations and special projects is established.

1987 - KPRX begins broadcasting in Bakersfield in February 1987.

1987 - In October, a capital campaign is launched to raise the funds to relocate the studios and offices of Valley Public Radio to a new home at the Shaw Westgate office complex.

1988 - On May 27th, broadcasting begins from the new facility located at W. Shaw and Valentine Aves in northwest Fresno. The approximately 5,000 square foot facility includes production space and the Bonner Performing Arts Studio.

KVPR announcer Bill Tanner works in the Master Control Room at the Shaw Westgate studio
KVPR archives
KVPR announcer Bill Tanner works in the Master Control Room at the Shaw Westgate studio


1990 - The station hosts a wine tasting event, which becomes an annual tradition held the first Sunday in May. It soon becomes the station's largest fundraiser event of the year.

1994 - The first broadcast of Just the Good Parts is aired. This is a collaborative effort between the Fresno Philharmonic and Valley Public Radio. Conductor Raymond Harvey hosts a program which explores the music to be performed in the upcoming concert at the Philharmonic. This program, produced by KVPR, is a recurring series during the Philharmonic concert season.

Franz Weinschenk, host of Valley Writers Read
Franz Weinschenk, host of Valley Writers Read

1994 - The first broadcast of Valley Writers Read occurs. This is a locally produced program hosted and co-produced by Franz Weinschenk featuring valley authors who read short stories on the air.

1996 - In June, a new transmitter replaces the antiquated 25-year-old KVPR transmitter, thus providing the station with a more reliable, cost-effective piece of equipment and a back-up transmitter, should it be necessary.

1997 - In January, the "Broadcasters' Circle" is formed, comprising individuals who support the station on an above-average level. This founding circle of friends provides the station with ongoing annual support gifts, as well as endowment gifts, for the future.

1997 - In April, the production console which served the station for 19 years is replaced due to permanent failure.

1999 - The Legacy Society is established in search of ten founding members. Society members contribute $1,000 to the endowment fund of their choice with annual gifts of $250 or more (including membership).

Young Artists Spotlight students in the Bonner Performing Arts Studio
KVPR archives
Young Artists Spotlight students in the Bonner Performing Arts Studio

1999 - KVPR launches Young Artists Spotlight, a program featuring live performances by students musicians, from the station's Bonner Performing Arts Studio.

1999 - Endowment opportunities are expanded to include Legacy Society, Project Development, Music Library, Technology Projects, General Endowment, and Entrepreneurial Opportunities.


2000 - The station launches KVPR.org

2002 - KVPR begins live audio streaming on the Internet, providing 24-hour access to its programs from any computer.

KVPR's talk show Quality of Life brought important community issues to the air in the early 2000's.
Valley Public Radio
KVPR's talk show Quality of Life brought important community issues to the air in the early 2000's.

2004 - The station launches a public affairs/talk program called Quality of Life.

2004 - KVPR launches the E-Newsletter, keeping subscribers up to date on programming and events.

2005 - KVPR replaces the old broadcast antenna at Meadow Lakes.

2006 - New digital transmitters installed for both 89.3 and 89.1.

2007 - The station begins broadcasting in digital HD (Hybrid Digital) in both Fresno and Bakersfield, and establishes a satellite uplink to connect the station's studios to the Bakersfield transmitter site.

2008 - The station publicly announces plans for a new broadcast center in Clovis. These plans are soon put on hold due to the 2008 financial crisis and recession.


2011 - KVPR launches "Classics All Night" overnight music programming.

2011 - Valley Edition debuts, a new weekly program featuring in-depth local reporting, talk segments and arts features.

KVPR hired its first full-time local journalists in 2012.
Joe Moore
KVPR hired its first full-time local journalists in 2012.

2012 - The station hires its first full-time journalists, Rebecca Plevin and Ezra David Romero.

2012 - The station begins producing local newscasts during All Things Considered.

2013 - The station's news department participates in the Reporting on Health Collaborative's Just One Breath series about the a rise in cases of the regional airborne fungal disease known as valley fever. The series earns a prestigious "Laurel" in the Columbia Journalism Review, a national broadcast on NPR's Morning Edition, and inspires coverage of the issue from the New York Times, the BBC and CBS News.

2015 - KVPR breaks ground on a new 10,000 square foot broadcast center in Clovis in May.

2015 - For the first time, the station is honored by the Southern California Radio Television News Association, winning three Golden Mike Awards for local journalism.

2016 - Valley Public Radio moves into the newly completed broadcast center.

2017 - The KVPR App is launched for iOS and Android devices.

2018 - Valley Public Radio celebrates its 40th anniversary with a series of events throughout the valley.

2018 - The station's longtime President and General Manager Mariam Stepanian dies.

2019 - KVPR wins its first-ever Regional Edward R. Murrow Award.

2019 - The station is named California Non-Profit of the Year by CA State Senator Melissa Hurtado.

2019 - The station dedicates the studio complex at the broadcast center in memory of the late Mariam Stepanian, who served as General Manager of KVPR for over 30 years.

The StoryCorps Mobile Tour visited Fresno in February 2020.
Joe Moore
The StoryCorps Mobile Tour visited Fresno in February 2020.


2020 - StoryCorps partners with KVPR to bring the annual StoryCorps Mobile Tour to Fresno and Bakersfield.

2020 - Valley Public Radio launches a 24/7 all-classical service, KVPR Classical on streaming devices and on 89.3 HD-2 in the Fresno/Clovis area.

2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic forces employees to work from home, and the cancellation of the station's annual wine tasting fundraiser.

2020 - The station makes significant midday programming changes, adding 1A, Marketplace, Forum, and Think to the weekday broadcast schedule.


2020 - KVPR partners with The Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, Radio Bilingüe in apilot project funded by Microsoft to form the Central Valley News Collaborative.

2021 - KVPR wins three 2021 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.

2021 - The station launches the Escape From Mammoth Pool podcast.

2021 - The station debuts a new KVPR logo, rebranding all broadcast, digital and print offerings under the KVPR name and launches a new version of the KVPR.org website.

2022 - The station launches the podcast The Other California with support from Cal Humanities.

2022 - KVPR wins a National Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigative report by Soreath Hok.

2023 - KVPR hosts national broadcasts of NPR's 1A as part of the 1A Remaking America Initiative.

2023 - KVPR replaces its main broadcast transmitters for the first time since 2006. KVPR Classical comes to the Kern County airwaves for the first time on 89.1 HD-2 in Bakersfield.