Valley Public Radio News

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Hear local reports on the economy, government, education, health and the environment on Valley Public Radio during All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Valley Edition. 

Laura Tsutsui

The city of Hanford in Kings County is celebrating its 130th birthday, and residents have filled the weekend with activities and events commemorating the milestone. To hear more about the celebration and how the city was founded, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Brad Albert, Hanford’s parks and community services director. 

Yosemite National Park Facebook


Last week, an unidentified Yosemite park ranger shared on Facebook the heartbreaking account of a mother bear mourning the loss of her cub after it was hit by a speeding vehicle. The post went viral, and drew national headlines, calling attention to the danger posed to wildlife by speeding motorists. To get a better sense of the magnitude of the issue, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Yosemite National Park ranger Jamie Richards.


Kern County Museum

A project is underway throughout July to remember when the now dry Kern River flowed through the city of Bakersfield. The organization Bring Back the Kern is collecting photos, videos and stories of the once moving river for an upcoming exhibit. Valley Edition host Kathleen Schock spoke with the project’s organizer Miguel Rodriguez about what the river once meant to the community and why he wants to bring it back.

Amy Wu

A new book from journalist and author Amy Wu explores how a growing number of women are blending agriculture with technology to find new solutions to feed the world. Valley Edition host Kathleen Schock spoke to Wu about her book, “From Farms to Incubators: Women Innovators Revolutionizing How Our Food is Grown,” and how women are bringing a diversity of perspective to the agricultural industry.

Tarjan Center at UCLA website, Barc website, John Bolle and Vivian Haun LinkedIn

Since 1938, employers in California have been able to apply for a certificate that allows them to pay employees with disabilities less than minimum wage - in some cases as little as $2 an hour. Some say the program, called 14(c), creates opportunities for people who otherwise could not find employment. Others say it is exploitative, and a state bill has been introduced to end the practice.

Data from EPA and San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District

California’s 2020 wildfire season was indisputably historic: Fires burned a record-high 4.3 million acres in the state, and five of the blazes went down among the 10 largest in our recorded history. Many were touched off by widespread lightning sieges, which hadn’t occurred at such a high rate since 2008.

Alice Daniel / KVPR

Pete Oliver likes to say that his small green Army jeep is older than he is, and he’s 76. But it still runs well after a few starts, and he uses it to drive around his small farm west of downtown Fresno. On this day, he takes the jeep out to where his watermelons are fading in the heat. 

“See that little light area in the middle of the melons there,” he says pointing to white spots on the leaves that have been baked by the sun.




 In 2020, the Creek Fire and other blazes throughout California billowed so much smoke into the San Joaquin Valley that, at times, the sky turned brown and ashes accumulated on cars and sidewalks like snowflakes. 

Office of Senator Melissa Hurtado

When the one working well serving the unincorporated community of Teviston in Tulare County stopped working last month, the roughly 1,000 people who live there were left without running water in the middle of a drought. As the community waits for bureaucracy to clear the way for the well to be repaired, State Senator Melissa Hurtado has been pushing for a legislative fix to the Valley’s water infrastructure. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with her about the status of the bill she authored, and what’s next for the people who call Teviston home.  

Derek Kravitz, Caitlin Antonios and Laura Salcido

Vaccine rollout is proving far more challenging in rural communities, creating what are called vaccine deserts. And according to the Documenting COVID-19 project, a national effort to make pandemic related data more transparent, vaccine deserts are springing up across the San Joaquin Valley, causing concern among public health professionals. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with the project’s lead, Derek Kravitz, who works at Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation.

Governor, Lawmakers Add $500 Million to Wildfire Prevention Budget, Following CapRadio Investigation

Jul 9, 2021
Governor’s Office

Governor Gavin Newsom is set to approve an extra $500 million for wildfire prevention — a last-minute change that would more than double what’s in the current budget deal. 

Last year, 30 patients died at Coalinga State Hospital, a psychiatric facility in western Fresno County. That's more than 2 percent of the population--a death rate that's almost twice the average of California’s entire state hospital system, and almost seven times higher than the rate within the state prison system. 

Recently, we investigated why, and whether any of those deaths could have been prevented.

Department of State Hospitals

Earlier this year, Jeff Gambord realized he couldn’t remember the last time he had a physical exam. So he requested his medical record from Coalinga State Hospital, the psychiatric facility where he’s been a patient since 2006.

Gambord learned it’d been more than a year, and he was curious if this was common—so he encouraged others to request their records, too. “When we went back and looked up a couple other patients on this unit, some go back as far as two or three years as not having received exams,” he said.


Bakersfield Museum of Art

In the 1950s, a new style of country music, influenced by rock-n-roll, emerged from Bakersfield’s honky-tonk bars. Pioneered by music legends like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, the Bakersfield Sound became one of country music’s most influential sub-genres. And now it is being celebrated with an exhibit that runs through the end of August at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. To find out more, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with the museum’s curator of collections and exhibits, Rachel Wainwright.

Fresno State

On July 4th, 1776, the United States declared its independence from Britain, a monumental move that many at the time thought was a bad idea. The new book, “Resisting Independence” by Fresno State history professor Brad Jones, explores the reasons why British loyalism deepened for some following the War of Independence. Jones spoke with Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock about the popularity of loyalism in the revolutionary British Atlantic.

Scott Rodd

Last week, CapRadio, along with NPR’s California Newsroom, reported that Governor Gavin Newsom dramatically overstated the amount of wildfire prevention efforts that had taken place leading up to this year’s fire season. CapRadio's Scott Rodd was the journalist behind that investigation. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with him about how lawmakers are responding.

Lily Jamali/KQED)

It’s been a year since Pacific Gas and Electric Company left Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. That exit deal included a promised $13.5 billion settlement to pay victims of wildfires that were caused by the company’s equipment.

Flickr user / Creative Commons

As drought settles over the San Joaquin Valley, a new report warns of other circumstances that could result in entire communities losing drinking water.

More than a million Valley residents could lose their public water in coming decades under the sweeping groundwater legislation known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), according to the paper published earlier this month by the non-profit Pacific Institute.


Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Wherever you are in the Valley, you’ve likely been enjoying the reprieve from the heat wave that left us all sweaty and guzzling water earlier this month. Beginning Saturday, unfortunately, most of us are in for another round of triple-digit days, this one even longer.

Paul Hernandez


Paul Hernandez designs and sews his own costumes and entertains audiences  through the art of drag with his alter ego Leilani Price. He also does his own makeup before performing at LGBTQ night clubs like Fab in Fresno’s Tower District.