Valley Public Radio - Live Audio


Christina Lopez / Vall

Millions around the country and world made their voices heard this weekend during the second annual Women’s March. Homemade signs for women’s rights, equality for all, and support for immigrants were raised in Bakersfield -- an unlikely scene in the heart of conversative Kern County, which voted majority Republican during the 2016 election. FM89’s Christina Lopez attended the first annual Women’s March in Kern County this past Saturday, exactly one year since President Trump was sworn into office, and shares this report.

CIty of Fresno

This Thursday the Fresno City Council will vote on a proposal for a major new industrial development in south Fresno. Covering 110 acres at Central and Cedar Avenues, the development would allow up to 2,000,000 square feet of new construction for heavy industry. However, developer Richard Caglia is likely to target a very specific type of tenant for the project – warehouse operations known as distribution or fulfillment centers.

Blue Note Records

Gregory Porter is one of the brightest stars in the jazz world. Since he burst on the scene in 2010 with his critically acclaimed debut album Water, Porter has won two Grammy Awards for best jazz vocal album, and is one of the most in-demand artists in the genre. His new record Nat King Cole and Me has earned him spots on NBC's Today Show and Late Night With Stephen Colbert, and soon a concert at Carnegie Hall. 

Valley Public Radio

Mariam Stepanian, president and general manager of Valley Public Radio died Thursday Jan. 18 in Fresno, following complications from an illness. She was surrounded by her family and closest friends.

White Ash Broadcasting Board Chair David Parker issued the following statement on her passing:

Disease Experts Split On Benefits Of Valley Fever Bills Introduced This Week

Jan 18, 2018
Henry Barrios / The Bakersfield Californian

Advocates for valley fever research give California Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) an “A” for effort for what they call the most robust legislative effort to address the disease in California history. But public health officials and disease experts are split on whether the remedies proposed by Salas will bring improvements.

California High-Speed Rail Authority

California High-Speed Rail Authority will soon have a new leader, just as cost estimates for the project’s Central Valley portion have risen by nearly $3 billion. The authority’s board announced Tuesday that Brian Kelly will take over the job starting next month. Kelly is currently the secretary of the California Transportation Agency, which oversees CalTrans, the Highway Patrol and other agencies. He’ll earn a salary of $384,000 a year.

The new way to experience Valley Public Radio is here. Now you can unlock with world of NPR and FM89 with Amazon's Alexa service or with Google Home smart speakers. With a few simple commands, you can access the entire world of NPR – all the latest news, newest podcasts, and discussions of the day.

For Amazon Alexa users:

Here are some general commands:

"Alexa, play NPR."
Stream your local public radio station, live.

"Alexa, play the latest news from NPR."
Hear the latest 5-minute newscast, updated every hour.

Sarah Sharpe / CHAPS

Last week, we brought you a report about the San Joaquin Valley’s recent bout of smoggy air, which in Bakersfield was the longest consecutive episode of unhealthy PM2.5 levels in decades.

This week on Valley Edition we talk with one of the authors of a new study examining how exposure to air pollution can impact both our DNA and our immune system function. We also talk with the NYU professor who is exploring the history of computer gaming, and the role one local company played in pioneering the software industry. And we talk with a photographer who has a new book focused on valley agriculture. 

Randi Lynn Beach / used with permission

California's mammoth feats of water engineering in the 20th century turned the barren west side of the San Joaquin Valley into the most productive farmland in the world. But in the 21st century, as society's appreciation of the environmental costs of these water diversions, many have questioned whether west side farms will last into the next century. Combined with the threats of drought, climate change, and increasing salinity, the question is fertile ground for photojournalist Randi Lynn Beach.

Flickr user Greg Jordan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The FDA is launching a new campaign to urge smokers to give up their habit--and the project is focusing some of its efforts on Kings County.

The campaign is called “Every Try Counts” and it targets adult smokers who’ve tried to quit in the past but failed.

Sierra On-Line

It might be hard to believe today, but the Madera County community of Oakhurst was once one of the biggest players in the world of computer gaming. For much of the 1980's and 90's, the mountain community was home to Sierra On-Line, an early pioneer in computer gaming, known for adventure game titles like Kings Quest. Sierra's games featured both innovative technology and groundbreaking storytelling, an approach that came directly from company founders Ken and Roberta Williams.

Salas Introduces 'Most Robust' Valley Fever Legislation In State's History

Jan 9, 2018
Office of Asm. Rudy Salas

Apparently undaunted by California Gov. Jerry Brown's October veto of legislation that would've brought new disease reporting guidelines and funding to the little-known respiratory disease known as valley fever, Assemblyman Rudy Salas has introduced an even more robust legislative package aimed at tackling the disease as cases rise to record highs in California.

This week on Valley Edition, we learn why the valley endured some of the worst air quality in decades, and why more wasn't done to prevent it. We also talk about the weather with meteorologist Sean Boyd. Later in the show we hear about the pros and cons of the proposed new route for high-speed rail through Bakersfield, and we talk with Merced Sun Star reporter Monica Velez about the closure of a network of health clinics last year in the north valley. Finally, we talk with folk singer John McCutcheon ahead of a concert in Fresno Thursday night. 

San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District

If you spent time in the San Joaquin Valley over the holidays, the recent rain probably has you breathing a sigh of relief—not just because it’s bringing much needed rain and snow, but also because it’s the first time in weeks you can safely breathe. This story looks back at one of the most severe periods of smoggy air in decades.

When James Collins isn’t studying social work at Fresno State, he drives for the rideshare company Lyft. He sees a lot of open sky and bright sun.

National Weather Service

The recent rains mark the first big storm to hit Central California this rainy season. But are they enough to hold off the dreaded "d-word" of drought? We ask Fresno-based meteorologist Sean Boyd about the short and long-term outlook, and about the recent two week stretch that left valley residents breathing some of the worst air in twenty years. 

John McCutcheon

Veteran singer, songwriter and instrumentalist John McCutcheon has earned the right to be considered a titan in the field of folk music. But as he prepares to release his 39th album Ghost Light, and embarks on a west coast tour that includes a stop Thursday at Fresno's Unitarian Universalist Church, he still speaks reverently of those who came before him, like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. And much like those artists, his new songs speak of both American traditions and contemporary politics.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

On Monday, the Trump Administration announced that natives of El Salvador will soon lose their temporary protected status in the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security says that in September of 2019, 200,000 Salvadorans in the U.S. will lose protection from deportation. That status was originally designated in 2001, under President George W. Bush. At the time, many Salvadorans had already fled to the U.S to escape earthquakes in their home country.

California High-Speed Rail Authority

If the leaders of California’s High-Speed Rail Authority are to be believed, by 2029 Bakersfield residents will be able to hop on a bullet train bound for LA’s Union Station or San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal. That’s if all goes according to plan, for a project that still doesn’t have enough funding to finish the job.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Earlier this year, Kern High School District settled a lawsuit that alleged its schools were using discriminatory disciplinary practices to suspend and expel students of color at a higher rate than white students. As a provision of their settlement, they agreed to reduce suspensions and expulsions and incorporate more restorative justice into their discipline.