Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Bakersfield-based jazz pianist Jay Smith is a fixture in the south valley music scene. In addition to playing with the acclaimed band Mento Buru he also leads his own band "The Jay Smith Group." Their new cd "Too Many Notes" debuts on Friday with a CD release party at Sandrini's in Bakersfield. Jay recently visited the station for an in-studio performance with violinist Patrick Contreras and to talk about his music and the new album. 

Lexey Swall

Last month, the editors of Time Magazine featured an online piece about the community which they say has the worst air in the nation - Bakersfield.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we take a look at the November 2014 elections. Valley Edition host Joe Moore speaks with Capitol Public Radio Bureau Chief Ben Adler and Fresno State Political Science Professor  Jeffrey Cummins about their election predictions. Also on the program Fresno Bee Reporter Tim Sheehan talks about the next chapter of California high speed rail with Moore.

Fits and Starts: Central Valley Economy Beginning To Bounce Back

Oct 13, 2014
Julia Mitric / Capital Public Radio

As brutal as the Central Valley economy has fared over the last several years, it’s starting to bounce back. Our series “Fits and Starts” on California’s uneven economic recovery continues with a look at the Central Valley.  

The collapse of the housing market devastated cities like Stockton and Modesto. But the Central Valley’s agriculture industry weathered The Great Recession just fine. It even saw record growth, with one painful exception: dairy.

“It was a bloodbath,” says Tom Barcellos, who owns T-Bar Dairy in Porterville.

California Makes Changes To Fracking Regulations

Oct 9, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The state of California is making some changes to its new fracking regulations based on nearly 100,000  comments from the public. This is the third version of the regulations for fracking, which injects sand, water and chemicals underground to release oil.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A coalition of environmental groups is suing Kern County over its approval of a project that would expand oil-by-rail shipments at a Bakersfield refinery. 

The Kern County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the railyard expansion at the Alon Refinery on Rosedale Highway in September. The project would allow the refinery to process crude oil from the Midwest, delivered to Bakersfield by train.

Kassie Siegel is with the Center For Biological Diversity, one of the groups in the lawsuit. 

Diana Aguilera / Vall

It was a classic political stump speech at CSU Bakersfield Tuesday as Vice President Joe Biden worked to lend some White House prestige to congressional hopeful Amanda Renteria and Secretary of State candidate Alex Padilla. 

Biden: "Ladies and gentleman, you're not going to get two better choices than the two people standing behind me, so don't let them down."

Speaking before a packed crowd at CSUB's Icardo Center the Vice President delivered a speech that hit on two major issues, immigration and the middle class. 

William J Sanders

A new documentary film seeks to tell the story of one of the most influential figures in the development the Bakersfield Sound. But when the film makes its Bakersfield debut this Thursday night at the Crystal Palace, the star on the screen won’t be Buck Owens or Merle Haggard, it will be musician, songwriter and influential TV personality Billy Mize.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve plans by for a new oil-by-rail facility at a Bakersfield area refinery. 

The Alon Refinery on Rosedale Highway would restart operations with shipments of crude oil from the Dakotas delivered to Bakersfield by train.

A number of environmental groups raised concerns about the potential for accidents, and the project's impact on CO2 emissions. They also questioned the thoroughness of the project's environmental study.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Kern County is on the verge of an oil boom. Not in local production, but in oil from North Dakota, transported to California by rail. The Golden State is already a major destination for trains filled with crude oil from the Midwest. But a new project that goes before the Kern County Board of Supervisors later today would expand that significantly for one local refinery.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A state watchdog has censured Kern County Superior Court judge Cory Woodward for having a sexual relationship with a clerk.  The decision also states that Woodward attempted to mislead the court about the relationship.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we take a look into our vault to three of what we consider the best segments on the program over the last year or so.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Last week, the Kern County Board of Supervisors went on record against AB 280.  It’s a California bill that would require counties with high minority populations to get approval from Sacramento before making major changes in election procedure. 

For instance, before moving a polling site location, Kern County would need to get the ok from the California Secretary of State to ensure that it’s not discriminating against minorities and low-income voters.

Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez says that would be far too costly.

While their professional organizations discourage physicians from accepting gifts from corporations that may unduly influence their professional practice, no such strictures apply to gifting our politicians.  In this  edition of FM89's commentary series The Moral Is, philosophy professor Christopher Meyers of CSU Bakersfield says the public should also be wary of the  continues his earlier theme on the impact of the possible ramifications of allowing unlimited gifting to politicians.


Environmentalists Call For Halt To Oil Shipments By Rail

Jul 9, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Environmental activists rallied Wednesday in Sacramento against plans by oil companies to increase crude oil shipments through populated areas in California and other states by rail. They say increasing the trips would raise the threat to public safety.

Assemblyman Roger Dickinson has authored a bill that he says will make transporting oil by rail safer. It would require oil and rail companies to better coordinate with first responders.

This month CNN journalist John D. Sutter is on a mission to kayak the San Joaquin River from Fresno to San Francisco Bay. We spoke with him last week on Valley Edition as he seeks to document the stories along what has been called America's most endangered river.

Author Gerald Haslam is something of a literary renaissance man. A historian, novelist, essayist and biographer, he is one of California’s most respected writers, and has devoted much of his career to telling stories about life in the Central Valley. His writing is much like the region he comes from: direct, unpretentious, and often filled with surprising depth and color.

Joe Moore

A Valley congressman is now one of the most powerful men in Washington. FM 89’s Diana Aguilera reports on what Kevin McCarthy’s new post might mean for the valley.

It's official. House Republicans elected Kevin McCarthy as House majority leader.

The Republican lawmaker from Bakersfield and grandson of a cattle rancher will become the youngest person to serve in the second-ranking role. He’s 49.

McCarthy, replacing Eric Cantor, will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the chamber and will decide what bills come to the floor.

Incident Information System

  Update: As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, the blaze is 90 percent contained and has charred 2,646 acres. All evacuations have been lifted.

A rapidly moving wildfire in the Sequoia National Forest has already engulfed 2,200 acres and is threatening 1,000 homes near the Kern County community of Lake Isabella. KVPR’s Diana Aguilera reports.

Pushed by strong winds, the Shirley Fire has already destroyed homes and is burning in steep, rugged terrain about 40 miles northeast of Bakersfield.



California's severe drought is inspiring some creative thinking. With farmland going dry in the Central Valley, water districts are proposing something that's never been tried during a drought. They want to move water uphill by reversing the state's main aqueduct. As Lauren Sommer reports from member station KQED, it'll take a serious engineering effort.