Interview

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

It’s nearly summertime, which means a whole new season of theater, music and art to enjoy, and possibly distract us from the Valley’s soon-to-be oppressive heat. Back in the studio is Donald Munro, a longtime Fresno arts reporter and creator of The Munro Review.

UC Merced

UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland announced Monday she will be stepping down from her position on August 15. After eight years as chancellor at the university, 71-year-old Leland says she is ready to follow other academic pursuits and spend more time with her family.

Listen to the above interview to hear more about what made her want to work in the San Joaquin Valley and what's next for UC Merced's 2020 project. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

We’ve looked at how redlining has influenced the development of certain regions in the city of Fresno, but what about the history of a particular neighborhood? One tract of homes in the Tower District is turning 100 this year. Those homes, in the so-called “Wilson Island”, have been recognized for their architectural significance and the social influence of their early inhabitants.

Jeannine Raymond lives in the Tower District today, and just published a book about those homes called “Fresno's Wilson Island, and Rosanna Cooper Wilson, the Woman Behind It.”

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

On Thursday, Fresno State alumna Marisol Baca was named Fresno’s fourth poet laureate. She is the first woman to hold the title. Baca is an English instructor at Fresno City College, and the co-founder of the Women Writers of Color-Central Valley collective. Her debut book, “Tremor,” published last year, won the Three Mile Harbor Press First Book Prize.

 

Listen to the interview above to hear about Baca's plan to expand connections between Fresno's elementary school students and local poets during her two-year term.

Monica Velez

Andrew Janz, a prosecutor with the Fresno County District Attorney's Office, made national headlines in 2018 when he challenged Devin Nunes for his congressional seat. Last week, he announced his run for Fresno mayor.

Listen to the above interview to hear more about why he isn't challenging Nunes again and why he thinks he can be the candidate to bring change to Fresno. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Step inside the Fresno City Council Chambers and you’ll likely find residents making public comments, rallying around issues of housing and health. In some cases, these residents are persuading council members to change their minds about projects and policies. One possible reason for the boost in civic engagement? Social justice groups.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

This weekend, Fresno State’s Valley Public History Initiative is debuting “Roots and Routes: Fresno’s Global Soccer History,” a project that traces the sport in the Central Valley through oral histories, photos, and other documents, with a focus on immigrants who have made soccer in Fresno what it is today. A series of talks and presentations will take place Friday afternoon at Tioga Sequoia, before the Fresno Foxes game, and Saturday morning at Fresno State’s Henry Madden Library.

Right on the heels of Easter, the Fresno Master Chorale concludes its season on April 28 with an epic work by Johann Sebastian Bach. In this interview, we speak with Artistic Director Anna Hamre and soloist Terry Lewis about their upcoming performance of Bach’s "St. John Passion".

Listen to the interivew above to hear why "St. John Passion" is different from other classic choral works, and how Lewis approaches the character of Jesus Christ throughout the performance.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Monday was Earth Day, and to commemorate, Fresno City College hosted a talk about how climate change is increasing our risk of wildfire—as well as some new climate change-related legislation making its way through the U.S. Congress. 

Listen to the audio for an interview with one of the speakers, Jerry Hinkle, an economist based in Northern California and a board member of the non-profit Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Angelina Spicer

After the birth of her daughter four years ago, Angelina Spicer fell into a depression so severe she was eventually admitted to a psychiatric facility. At the time she says she struggled to find friends who’d shared her experience, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate as many as one in nine women suffer from post-partum depression. Now, Spicer wants to raise awareness and reduce the stigma around this form of depression – by joking about it onstage as part of her standup comedy routine.

Kaden McAllister

April is spring break month for many schools, which for some families means it’s time for a vacation. But if you’re one of those parents who finds traveling with kids to be daunting, especially when it involves setting up tents and cooking outside, one guidebook series with a spin might help you out. It’s called Adventuring With Kids, and its newest installment focuses on Yosemite National Park.

California State Senate

Before State Senator Andreas Borgeas was elected to to represent the 8th District in November, he spent time as a Fresno city councilmember, and later a county supervisor. Now, he represents a much larger region that extends as far north as Sacramento County, and as far south as Tulare County. But Borgeas says it was his time in local politics, occupying non-partisan positions, that taught him how to work with colleagues and seek solutions.

David Mueller and Lynn Salt

Four years after the Hollywood blockbuster McFarland, USA, another film is featuring a small town in Kern County. This time it’s right outside Bakersfield in the unincorporated community of Oildale.

The movie’s a fictional family drama, but the filmmakers say it pays tribute to the community’s musical heritage and its compassion – especially to its veterans. It was filmed on location in Oildale, Bakersfield National Cemetery in Arvin, and other parts of Kern County.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he will introduce a tax of up to $10 a month to water customers in order to fund safe drinking water in disadvantaged communities. Valley Public Radio has reported in the past about how many of those communities are right here in the San Joaquin Valley. To learn about Newsom’s plan, we spoke to Jonathan Nelson, policy director at the Community Water Center.

© 1978 George Ballis/Take Stock

Adios Amor tells the story of one woman who should have made it into the history books but didn't. Maria Moreno was the first female farm worker to be hired as a union organizer.

 

Originally from Texas, Moreno lived with her husband and 12 children working in the fields. She was an indigenous woman with only a second-grade education but used her voice to rally support for farm workers' rights. 

 

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

“Fish vs farms”: It’s the perennial tug-of-war for water between environmentalists, who want to see stable ecosystems in the Sacramento-San-Joaquin River Delta, and farmers, who feel slighted that they need to fight with endangered fish in order to irrigate their fields.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

March is Women’s History Month, and here at Valley Public Radio, we wanted to spend a part of it talking to women who are young leaders here in the Central Valley.

We spoke with Yasmin Mendoza, organizer of the Fresno Chapter of March for Our Lives and a community organizer with the Dolores Huerta Foundation; Alexandria Ramos-O’Casey, who most recently was a consultant on the campaign for Kingsburg City Councilmember Jewel Hurtado; and Kamaljit Kaur, who is the Fresno County community organizer for the Jakara Movement.

Alex Emslie/KQED

A new police transparency law, SB1421, requires police departments to make public internal investigation records regarding officer misconduct and use of force. Now more than 30 news agencies statewide, including Valley Public Radio, are collaborating to request and report on these records. I spoke with Alex Emslie, a criminal justice reporter at KQED who helped spearhead the project.  

 

Monica Velez

A new exhibit at Arte Américas in downtown Fresno shows the history of Latinos in the San Joaquin Valley through pictures, paintings, maps, and stories. The exhibit, Caminos: Latino History of the Central Valley, covers the 1700s to present day. 

For two years, a multitude of people have been working to put together this exhibit. Dr. Alex Sarargoza was the lead researcher on this project and Nancy Marquez was the director. 

Stars Behavioral Health Group

Mental health care is a constant need here in the San Joaquin Valley, especially for those who can’t afford to go elsewhere—and for those whose symptoms are tough enough to require some treatment but not hospitalization.

Last week, Fresno County opened a new crisis residential facility to house those who fall in that in-between space. In this interview, we speak about the new facility with Dawan Utecht, director of the Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health.

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