Interview

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Last August, we introduced you to a Delano teen who had just released her own mariachi album and was preparing to attend Harvard University with her older sister. In mid-March, sisters Anaí and Xóchitl Morales returned home to Delano to finish their semester at Harvard online, due to COVID-19. Since being home, they’ve joined their father, Juan Morales, in moving music instruction for The Mariachi Studio online. 

 

Valley Writers Respond

Nikiko Masumoto and Brynn Saito founded the Yonsei Memory Project to honor the stories of Japanese-Americans. And when the pandemic hit, they created a new program to give voice to valley writers called Valley Writers Respond. With funding from the California Wellness Foundation, they asked three writers - Will Freeney, Samina Najmi and Steven Church - to share their wisdom about the times we’re living in. Each writer was given a prompt. Here are excerpts from their essays. 

Maurice O. Ndole

This week the staff at Kaiser Fresno Medical Center said goodbye to Sandra "Sandy" Oldfield, a registered nurse at the hospital who died of COVID-19 after treating an infected patient. On Wednesday evening, hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil to honor her memory. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with ICU nurse Amy Arlund, one of the organizers of the observance.

UC Merced

The UC Board of Regents announced last week that Juan Sánchez Muñoz will become UC Merced's fourth chancellor. As a UC alum and first-generation student, he has a lot in common with the university's student body. He currently serves as president of the University of Houston-Downtown, and was still in Texas when Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with him about assuming leadership during a pandemic. 

African American Farmers of California

Small farms are at the heart of the San Joaquin Valley’s rich agricultural industry, but the challenges facing these operations are numerous. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock checked-in with three Fresno County farmers about the most recent obstacle they are facing: COVID-19. She spoke with grape and raisin farmer Steven Cardoza, Chue Lee of Lee's One Fortune Farm and Will Scott Jr. who in addition to running Scott Family Farms is also the president of the African American Farmers of California.

UC Merced

The San Joaquin Valley is accustomed to dealing with drought, but when those conditions last for decades, scientists call it a megadrought. According to a study recently published in the journal Science, the Southwest is currently experiencing a nearly two-decade megadrought that is fueled in part by global warming and is among the worst in human history. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with John Abatzoglou, a co-author of the study and climatologist who will join the faculty at UC Merced this summer.

 

Courtesy of Diana Vidales

Over the next month, many students will be graduating from college, but without the traditional pomp and circumstance or cap and gown. So we asked two students and their mothers about missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and what songs come to mind when they reflect on their journey.  

We spoke to Greyson Canterbury and his mom Kim Canterbury who live in Visalia. Greyson is a Fresno State Dean’s Medalist and is planning to go to Sri Lanka as a Peace Corps Volunteer, though the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed those plans.  

Rey León's Facebook Page

The population of Huron, California, a rural town in southwest Fresno County, more than doubles during harvest season with an influx of migrant farm workers. FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke with the city’s mayor, Rey León, about how the coronavirus is affecting this population and what it's like to lead a community through a pandemic.

UCSF Fresno

Near the beginning of the pandemic, we talked to an ER doctor who said the emergency room at Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno felt like “the calm before the storm.” So, more than two months in, what’s it like now? FM89’s Alice Daniel spoke with Dr. Jim Comes, chair of the emergency department at Community Regional Medical Center and chief of emergency medicine at UCSF Fresno.

 

John Fensterwald, Monica Velez and Ema Sasic

This week governor Gavin Newsom announced a revised budget plan to address the more than $54 billion dollar deficit the state is facing in the wake of COVID-19. In his address, Newsom called on the legislature to dramatically reduce funding to public schools. It’s the latest blow to districts already grappling with campus closures and an uncertain future. To learn more about how COVID-19 is impacting education and school budgets, FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke with education reporters.

Noriega Hotel Facebook Page

When the news broke in late March that Bakersfield’s Noriega Hotel was closing its doors for good, it sent shock waves through the community. As the oldest Basque restaurant in town, and a winner of the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award, the Noriega Hotel was a Bakersfield institution. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Bakersfield Californian reporter Steven Mayer, who was the first to report on the restaurant's closing.

Rudy Parris Facebook

This weekend, why not tune into a concert from home? Visalia musician Rudy Parris has been hosting live stream performances on his Facebook page every Friday and Saturday night for the past six weeks. He plays a little of everything: country, classic rock, and even his own songs. Parris is known for his time on the competition show, “The Voice,” and has spent the last year singing with the Buckaroos, the backup band of Bakersfield country legend Buck Owens.

Central California Food Bank

COVID-19, and the stay-at-home directives enacted to minimize its spread, have led to a shocking decline in employment. For many, the loss of wages means an increased reliance on food distribution centers. The Central California Food Bank works with churches, community centers and schools to distribute food in Fresno, Madera, Kings, Kern and Tulare counties. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with the non-profit’s Chief Operations Officer Natalie Caples about how the coronavirus has escalated the Valley’s hunger crisis. 

Chef Paul's Cafe, Max's Bistro and Bar, and Vino Grille & Spirits

Restaurant dining rooms have been closed since the stay-at-home order was issued in March in response to COVID-19. To learn more about how the dining industry is coping with the pandemic, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with the owners and operators of three well known Fresno restaurants: Chuck Van Fleet from Vino Grille and Spirits, Paul Pearson of Chef Paul’s Cafe and J.J. Wettstead from Max’s Bistro & Bar. 

 

May 1 is College Signing Day for many students, although some universities have extended their deadlines. Valley Public Radio’s news director Alice Daniel spoke with three seniors from the farming town of Woodlake about what it’s like to make such an important decision during a pandemic. Selina Lopez-Curiel, Rogelio Chavez and Daniela Frausto-Santoyo are seniors at Woodlake High School; all three will be first-generation college students in the fall. Listen to their audio postcards above.

 

Armen Bacon

Author and former Fresno Bee columnist Armen Bacon is known for exploring her emotional life through her writing. She spoke to FM89's Kathleen Schock from her home in Fresno about how to navigate our emotions during the pandemic and the ways our reactions to COVID-19 resemble the grief process.

 

 

These days, do you ever find yourself looking out the window of your house or apartment and wondering ‘how are my neighbors doing during this pandemic?’ I was thinking a lot about my neighbor Dorothy Jones so I reached out to her. She turns 100 this year and she still lives in her Fresno High home.

When Dorothy calls me back, she gets my voicemail. She leaves this message: “Well Alice, I’m delighted we’ll be seeing you. The fact that we’ll be sharing some thoughts and visitation is exciting!”

Lisa Blecker, Kristen Beall Watson and Laura Moreno

COVID-19 is disproportionately hurting vulnerable communities like seniors, ag workers and the homeless. To learn about efforts to protect these at-risk populations, FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke with Lisa Blecker, pesticide safety education program coordinator for the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Laura Moreno, chair of the Fresno Madera Continuum of Care, and Kristen Beall Watson, CEO of the Kern Community Foundation.

Donald Barclay

One of the most important tools to fight a pandemic is a well-informed public, but much of the information online is questionable or outright false. FM89's Kathleen Schock discussed how to separate fact from fiction with Donald Barclay, a UC Merced librarian and the author of Fake News, Propaganda and Plain Old Lies. 

Fresno State history professor Ethan Kytle has been reviewing news reports about a pandemic, but not this one. He’s been reading the Fresno Morning Republican. That’s the newspaper that covered the Spanish Flu in 1918.

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