Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Laura Tsutsui

Laura Tsutsui is a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She first joined the station as a news intern, and now covers local issues for KVPR and produces the weekly program Valley Edition. 

A Fresno native, Laura graduated in the spring of 2017 from California State University, Fresno as a member of the Smittcamp Family Honors College. She studied journalism, with a focus in multimedia. While attending Fresno State, Tsutsui was an intern for California State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon through the Maddy Institute and an intern for Congressman Sam Farr in Washington, D.C. through the Panetta Institute. In 2015 Laura won an Associated Press Television and Radio Association award for her audio documentary, "Netflix and Chill." 

Courtesy of Darnell Abraham

Actor Darnell Abraham’s new role as George Washington in the San Francisco run of Hamilton - described as “America then told by America now" - makes it a little harder for him to go unnoticed.

 

“One of the adjustments for me has been going out in public,” said Abraham after a performance Sunday at the Orpheum Theater. “Folks will come up and ask, ‘Are you Washington in Hamilton?’”

 

He stepped into the new role last month and Abraham said he’s continually learning about the nation’s first president. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: The award winning musical Hamilton! In San Francisco, the iconic role of George Washington is now being played by a Central Valley native. We talk to actor Darnell Abraham about his journey to the stage.

And why does Bakersfield have such great modern architecture? It's a two-pronged answer that includes an innovative high school teacher and the 1952 earthquake. We learn more about Bakersfield Built: Architecture of the 1960s.

Lindsay Fox, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

A Tulare County resident is the second person to die in California from a vaping-related illness. Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County’s Public Health Official, says the man who died Saturday had been in the  hospital with respiratory problems. He had a history of vaping and smoking.

“The CDC has suggested that people not vape because of these risks, they’re unknown, it’s too dangerous, and I would say the same thing,” Haught told Valley Public Radio.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

A prominent Fresno family has filed a lawsuit against the Wonderful Company for breaching a contract of payment. The complaint, filed last week in the Fresno County Superior Court, alleges that the Wonderful Company, which also markets other Central Valley agricultural products, retroactively reduced the price it promised the Assemi family for pistachios delivered in 2018. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

If you’re a news junkie, you may have noticed a new online media outlet called the San Joaquin Valley Sun. The editor in chief is Alex Tavlian. He used to be a reporter for the Fresno Bee and then he became an attorney and political consultant. Now, on top of publishing The Sun, he’s also doing some campaign work for Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, who is running for mayor. We spoke with Tavlian and other journalists about the ethics of covering politics while also being involved in the political process.

On this week’s Valley Edition: September is National Suicide Prevention Month. We bring you the story of one Kern County woman who says helping someone in need could be as simple as asking questions. 

 

We also tell you about the 30th annual Reel Pride Film Festival coming up next week. It’s the sixth-longest-running LGBTQ film festival in the country.

 

And we meet a man whose street photography helps him cope with cancer.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

On this week’s Valley Edition: caring for a child with acute mental illness can be really difficult especially when resources to keep the child safe are limited. We get feedback from parents and profressionals.

We also dig into why the Selma City Council wants to get rid of at-large voting and map out districts. And the Friant-Kern Canal delivers water to farms and communities on the east side of the Valley but excess groundwater pumping is causing it to sink in some areas. We hear about one possible, but expensive, fix.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Steel tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie built libraries all over the U.S. with at least 14 of them in the Central Valley. Today, only a handful of those original buildings remain. One of them is in Hanford. There’s now a museum inside, but its future may be at risk.

On this week’s Valley Edition: We return to 1619, the first year enslaved Africans were brought to the shores of Virginia. Four hundred years later, what are the repercussions of this brutal institution? 

Also the National Science Foundation has picked up RadioBio, a podcast produced by students at UC Merced. Scientists at the top of their fields explain everything from flying lizards to T-cells.

And will Hanford’s historic Carnegie Museum remain open? We visit the Kings County city to learn more.

National Transporation Safety Board

Medevac helicopters transport patients to hospitals that can provide them with the best care. So when a helicopter meant to save lives crashes, it can feel doubly wrong. Four years ago, a medevac helicopter crash near McFarland sent shock waves through the first responder community and made headlines all over the Valley. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

After months of community meetings and a nationwide search, city officials said today that the next man to lead Fresno's police department already works there. Protesters outside the press conference said the city’s efforts to include citizen input seem disingenuous.

Inside the City Hall Annex, Jerry Dyer’s successor as police chief was announced as Deputy Chief Andy Hall. He’s a veteran officer with more than 40 years in the department.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

For the Weekend, we’re bringing you poetry from writer, poet, and Fresno State professor Brynn Saito.

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: The National Transportation Safety Board has released its findings on the 2015 medevac helicopter crash that killed four people in the Valley. 

We also hear from both sides of the Senate Bill 1 debate -- that’s the state bill that aims to safeguard California from rollbacks in federal laws like the Endangered Species Act.

Later, we’ll introduce you to a young Mariachi singer from Delano. She’s just recorded her first album, and now she’s on her way to Harvard. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

High-profile workers rights activist Dolores Huerta was one of several people cited with misdemeanor charges while protesting at a Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting today. The 89-year-old who helped establish the National Farmworkers Association with Cesar Chavez was calling for higher wages for caregivers. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Late last month, those hoping for the City of Fresno’s top job filed their semi-annual campaign disclosures, showing the cash campaigns have on hand up until the end of June, and where it came from. 

The adage is that those who raise and spend the most money often win elections. Last year, Fresno County Prosecutor Andrew Janz raised millions in his effort to unseat Congressman Devin Nunes. In his current bid for Fresno mayor, Janz raised nearly $70,000 in monetary contributions in about two months.

 

 

This week on Valley Edition: we visit residents of a community surrounded by highways, agriculture fields, and oil and gas development. We learn about their grassroots efforts to find out whether those industries are polluting their air.

In Kern County, we look into the case of Supervisor Leticia Perez who faces two conflict of interest charges relating to her ties to the marijuana industry.  

We also speak to an author who knew the Marlboro Man; he was a real cowboy from the San Joaquin Valley.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The California Public Utilities Commission is holding forums around the state to get feedback from Pacific Gas & Electric customers about the company’s proposed rate hike. It’s a process most utilities undergo every three years.  

PG&E is asking its regulator, the CPUC, to approve a rate increase that would add a billion dollars to the company’s revenue in 2020. The utility says the increase is to cover operating costs and to fund a wildfire safety program. 

Twitter

A Central Valley Sheriff is encouraging carriers of concealed weapons to use their guns in the event of an active shooter or other threat. It started when Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreax decided he was tired of hearing about active shooters taking innocent lives.

“They’re going into situations where the playing field is not an even game by any means, and that we have people that are having to run for their lives based on someone coming in, overpowering them with a gun,” says Boudreaux.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Over the last 200 days of legislative session, freshman Congressman TJ Cox has brought the House Committee on Natural Resources Chair Raul Grijalva to the San Joaquin Valley for a water tour, co-sponsored Valley Fever legislation, and thrown his support behind a number of Democratic party agenda items. Last weekend, he held an open house at a new district office in Selma. 

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: The Fresno Unified School Board voted to censure Trustee Terry Slatic for unethical conduct. We’ll hear from Slatic himself and from Trustee Veva Islas, who wants him recalled.

And later, when you’re homeless, health care becomes much more complicated. We talk to a 68-year-old woman about the obstacles she’s experienced.

We also hear from freshman Congressman TJ Cox in his new Selma District Office.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Pages