Madi Bolanos


Madi Bolanos is the immigration and underserved communities reporter at Valley Public Radio. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border. Originally from Fresno, she is happy to be back reporting on important issues in the San Joaquin Valley. 


On the next Valley Edition: Now that pandemic restrictions on places of worship have lifted, some temples serving Punjabi Sikhs have partnered with COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

Plus, what happened after a brush fire tore through four immigrant-owned businesses in a Tulare County community. 

And the danger reckless driving poses to wildlife in Yosemite. Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above. 


Nadia Lopez / Fresno Bee

Ezize Hassan walks through the remains of his trailer home and the minimart that his family has owned for more than 50 years in the Tulare County community of Poplar. As he surveys the destruction, he recalls that on July 9, a power line running through a tree in between his property and his neighbors’ sparked.


“It caught fire on this tree, the first tree,” he says pointing to the pine trees that towered over the ashy remains. “It flamed up from up top; starting going down. Once it hit the floor, the CVA, their garage caught on fire.” 


On the next Valley Edition: With the recent excessive heat wave and the drought, small farmers worry about the survival of their crops. 

Plus, the legislative effort to overturn a state law that allows some workers with disabilities to earn less than the minimum wage.   

And Fresno’s Cambodian community launches a weekly night market. Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above. 



On the next Valley Edition: Rural communities throughout California lack vital healthcare infrastructure: how some local counties are grappling with vaccine deserts. 

Plus, the political fight to bring safe drinking water to San Joaquin Valley communities.

And how to prepare for yet another summer of dirty air. Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above. 


Madi Bolanos


San Joaquin Valley residents could receive a monthly child tax credit of up to $300 starting July 15. The credit will be available to families who make up to $150,000 a year. 

During a press conference Thursday, Fabiola Gonzalez, executive director of First 5 Fresno County, said many residents were struggling to pay rent long before the pandemic and that continued this past year.



On the next Valley Edition: In 2020, more patients died at a psychiatric hospital in Fresno County than at many prisons three times its size. An FM89 investigation looks into why.

Plus, State Legislators and Governor Gavin Newsom arrive at a deal that will allow undocumented residents 50 years and older to apply for Medi-Cal. 



And a new book by a Fresno State history professor looks at the Declaration of Independence from the perspective of those who stayed loyal to Britain.

Madi Bolanos


Laura Cruz, 52, pulls out the salsa from her fridge in her home in Kern County. She’s preparing lunch for her 12-year-old daughter, who will be arriving home from summer school. 

Cruz is undocumented. When she first arrived in Bakersfield from Mexico in 2003, she cleaned houses and took care of the children of farmworkers in her neighborhood. 

Madi Bolanos / Valley Public Radio

State agencies are partnering with community organizations across the San Joaquin Valley to inform farm workers of their rights at work. They’re taking their message straight to the fields, through a three-day caravan through the Valley. 

On Friday afternoon,  a truck parked along Road 60 in Visalia blared information about workers’ rights in English, Spanish, Punjabi, Mixteco, Triqui and Zapoteco. It told people working in the fields about their right to paid sick leave for COVID-19or following the vaccine, and protection from retaliation. 


On the next Valley Edition: When was the last time you really listened to someone with a different political view? We introduce our collaboration with StoryCorps’ One Small Step.   

Plus, author Mark Arax discusses how history intersects with race and real estate in the city of Fresno.  

And how the pandemic forced one LGBTQ entertainer to assess his mental health. Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above. 

On the next Valley Edition: A state law requires schools to track attendance during the pandemic, but the frustrations of teachers and students at one Madera high school tell a different story than the numbers.

Plus, we discuss how school districts are planning to make up for the learning loss students experienced during the pandemic?

And a local historian tells us why he thinks Juneteenth should be a national holiday. Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards board today will consider easing many workplace safety guidelines implemented during the pandemic. Some labor rights organizations are concerned that a relaxation of the rules will lead to more COVID-19 outbreaks among farmworkers.

Under the proposed guidelines, most vaccinated workers would be allowed to go mask-free. That includes farmworkers.

Anne Katten, the Pesticide and Work Safety Project Director with California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, said CAL/OSHA should require employers to verify vaccinations. 

The Fresno Police Department proposed Tuesday a $206 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year during a six-hour budget hearing before the city council. 

Police Chief Paco Balderrama said if the budget is approved, nearly $1 million  would go towards funding 12 new police officers and 19 additional professional staff during the 2021-2022 fiscal year. That would increase the police department’s ranks to 850 sworn positions and 320 professional staff, he said. 

On this week's Valley Edition: Why one small town in the San Joaquin Valley is a destination for unaccompanied minors crossing the Southern border, and how it’s preparing for an anticipated increase this year. 

Plus, how has the pandemic impacted the Central Valley’s LGBTQ+ community? And a new podcast tells the story of a Stanislaus County defense attorney accused of murder. Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above.


Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee

FM 89’s Madi Bolanos reports on the expected arrival of unaccompanied minors to the small city of Mendota, in western Fresno County. She tells us about Marvin Cornejo, a young man who traveled as an unaccompanied minor from a small town in El Salvador to Mendota in 2016. He’s 21 years old now, living in Fresno and attending California State University, Fresno, where he is studying chemistry with the goal of becoming a family doctor.

Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee

Marvin Cornejo left the small village of Azacualpa, El Salvador at just 16 years old. When he first arrived in Mendota as an unaccompanied minor five years ago, he was surprised to learn it wasn’t much different from his hometown. He had imagined the city would have skyscrapers like Los Angeles, but it was surrounded by fields.

“I got to Mendota and I was like, ‘it’s not that bad,’” he says. “You would go to the store and speak Spanish and they wouldn't look [at you] weird; they're going to talk to you in Spanish.”  

On this week's Valley Edition: Beginning last summer, dozens of Fresno County non-profits came together to fight COVID-19. They’ve been so effective at community outreach, other counties are following their lead.

And, Corcoran is sinking. The local author of an article explaining it in the New York Times tells us why. 

Plus, Fresno State’s new president shares his vision for the university. Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above.

On this week's Best of Valley Edition: In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we revisit the story of an immigrant family from Vietnam whose generosity and foresight helped them get through the past year.

Plus, we take a look back at important conversations we’ve had in the past few months about anti-Asian rhetoric and violence during the pandemic, as well as the rise in misinformation and conspiracy theories.  

Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above. 

Fresno City Council Approves Measure Targeting Immigration Fraud

May 27, 2021
Juan Esparza Loera/Vida en el Valle

The Fresno City Council has unanimously approved a resolution that aims to combat immigration fraud against some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

The resolution, introduced by Council President Luis Chavez, aims to regulate how much immigration consultants can charge and what services they can actually provide. It would also require them to identify as accredited immigration consultants.

Young Latinx Women Celebrate Quinceañeras A Year Late Due To Pandemic

May 21, 2021
Navarro Family


Hermila Navarro had been anxiously awaiting her quinceañera. She already had her dress picked out and her little sisters loved it.


On a recent afternoon, Hermila’s little sisters sat at the edge of a bed in their apartment in Kettleman City, watching the 16-year-old pull the dress out of its wrapping. The top of the dress is made to fit like a corset, embroidered with gold sequins that flow down the dress in intricate designs. The bottom is filled with layers and layers of tulle. 





On this week's Valley Edition: Quinceaneras are an important cultural milestone. But due to the pandemic, many young Latinas have had to wait to celebrate the event a year later on their 16th birthday.  


Plus, Fresno’s Southeast Asian community is playing a pivotal role in the new $38 million exhibit under construction at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.  


And why racism is a public health crisis. Listen to these stories and more in the podcast above.