Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Mariam Stepanian

Mariam Stepanian, president and general manager of Valley Public Radio died Thursday Jan. 18, 2018 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:

“Mariam was an unparalleled leader who empowered Valley Public Radio staff, board and members to unequaled successes. Her friendship, commitment and strength will be missed, but her legacy will carry-on through those she has inspired to continue leading the station. Our sincere condolences go out to her family including her husband John M. Thoens, her stepson Jonathan Thoens, daughter-in law Miri Thoens and her entire Valley Public Radio family.”

Stepanian began her tenure at the station in 1980, first serving as development director. She soon became general manager and helped guide the organization into a period of financial stability, growth and community service. Under Stepanian’s leadership, Valley Public Radio became one the region’s leading providers of news and cultural arts media. With NPR and classical music programming, Valley Public Radio’s audience grew and eventually encompassed two stations, serving both the Fresno and Bakersfield markets.

In the early part of this decade, the station continued to enhance its service to the community with the addition of local news reporting, and a presence on new digital platforms. Most recently, Stepanian led the effort to raise funds for the construction of a new state-of-the-art broadcast center in Clovis. The 10,000 square foot facility opened in mid-2016, and is a lasting reminder of her vision for the station and the community.

Prior to her tenure at Valley Public Radio, Stepanian worked for the local YWCA and helped launch what is today the Marjaree Mason Center.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Sitting on my balcony, I watched the full moon rising and the backyard evergreens dancing in the moonlight. I was amazed watching the branches swing. Those who were raised here in the Valley, are accustomed to these awesome summer evenings. I chuckle when my friends who live on the coast, say they had to wear a jacket while outside on a summer evening. The summer days may be hot and long in the Valley, but often, the evenings are delightful. I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up here in the San Joaquin Valley. I am both proud and pleased with the transformation that is taking place. This is not to deny our shortcomings with respect to jobs, air quality, and other issues, but it takes courage, persistence and hope to focus on the positive changes that are taking place. Complaining is easy, but ask yourself what you have done lately to make our community a better place?