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Harper Collins

A new biography of billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian tells the story of how a young boy from Fresno went on to become one of the richest businessmen in America. From airlines to film studios to the auto industry and casinos, Kerkorian was the consummate dealmaker, but he was also a quiet philanthropist, supporting Armenian causes through his Lincy Foundation. We recently spoke with journalist William C.

Google Street View

In 2010, architect Julia Morgan became the first woman to win the prestigious Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. It was a landmark achievement for the native Californian, who is most famous for designing Hearst Castle for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. It’s the institute’s highest honor, and one shared by icons of the industry like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and Frank Ghery. Even more remarkable – Morgan was awarded the honor 57 years after her death. The award was an attempt in part to correct a longstanding omission by the male-dominated AIA.

Kelly Mizue Aoki / Yonsei Memory Project

A new project organized by fourth-generation Japanese Americans is seeking to preserve memories and create art. Called the Yonsei Memory Project, the effort is a project of Nikiko Masumoto and Brynn Saito. The two will hold events in Fresno on Saturday Febaury 17th and Monday February 19th, including memory tours and an event of poetry and art at the Fresno Assembly Center, the site where local Japanese Americans were processed before they were sent to concentration campus during the Second World War.

Go For Broke

The Kingsburg Historical Society is hosting a new traveling exhibit on the Japanese American experience during the Second World War. The small farming community is known today for its Swedish heritage, but before the interment of citizens in domestic concentration camps during the war, it had a vibrant Japanese American community. The new exhibit, "Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American WWII Experience" is on a nationwide tour from the Go For Broke National Education Center, with support from the National Park Service.

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.

Heather David / Cal Mod Books

Sixty years ago, taking a road trip in California was a lot different than it is today. In the days before superhighways, Airbnb and navigation software, a family vacation likely included a stop at a roadside motel. Hundreds of these "mom and pop" establishments popped up along the highway in places like Fresno and Bakersfield, offering a clean room, a swimming pool, and maybe even something exotic, like a faux-Polynesian tiki-themed cocktail lounge. Flashing neon signs and space-age architecture were designed to catch the eye from a moving car and bring in new customers 

The highway plays an important part in the mystique of the American West. From the so-called "Mother Road" of Route 66 that wound from Chicago to LA, to the picturesque beauty of the California coast along Highway 1, our highways are more than just transportation infrastructure, they are a part of our culture. That’s certainly the case here in the middle of the state, where a ribbon of concrete and asphalt has stitched together towns big and small for decades – Highway 99.


For decades Trout's Nightclub has been a fixture in the Oildale neighborhood of Bakersfield. It was the musical home of people like the late Red Simpson and others who helped make the "Bakersfield Sound" incredibly popular among country music fans in the decades following World War II.  The venue was also considered one of the city's last original honky-tonk clubs. But earlier this spring the bar closed, and doesn't show any signs of reopening soon.

Courtesy Evo Bluestein

Central California has a rich folk music tradition, which is being documented in a new book by Evo Bluestein. "The Road to Sweet’s Mill  -- Folk Music in the West during the 1960s and ’70s" comes out later this year and tells the story of the people and places behind the region's folk music sound, which flourished at Sierra music camp that gives the book its name, as well as other venues. Bluestein is also presenting a special concert to celebrate the new book taking place this Saturday at Fresno State's Whalberg Recital Hall.

Oxford University Press

It was one of the biggest scandals the country had ever seen - the theft of U.S. government secrets about the atomic bomb that wound up in the hands of the Soviet Union. The federal government eventually tried and executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for conspiracy, sparking an international outcry. Now the story of the Rosenbergs is back in the news, as there is an effort underway to seek a presidential pardon in their case.

The San Joaquin Valley is home to two of the nation's 100 largest cities with Fresno and Bakersfield. But it's the small towns like Kerman that make this part of the state such a unique place. Now Kerman farmer and community leader Paul Betancourt has written a new book about the history of this small farm town. He joined us to talk about the town's origins and unique history in the days of riverboats and steam engines. 

Michael J Semas

Michael J. Semas has an interesting perspective into valley history thanks to his collection of thousands of rare postcards, many more than 100 years old. Real photo postcards captured everyday life in Central California, and in many cases, they may be the only images remaining of certain communities, people or buildings. 

Joe Moore - Valley Public Radio

Downtown Hanford is known for several things, like its historic town square, and ice cream sundaes at Superior Dairy. But one big part of the town's civic identity has been dark for two years - the historic Hanford Fox Theatre. Now the Fox is back, with a new ceiling and other features after structural problems closed the venerable landmark. Dan Humason joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the renovations, the theatre's history and some of the shows that are coming up at the venue. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Most valley residents didn’t know the name Bill Patnaude. But it’s likely that many if not most, have experienced his work. From the shimmering stainless steel of Fresno’s City Hall to the massive concrete forms of the Fresno State Madden Library and the university's student union, his works stand out as iconic buildings on the valley landscape. His legacy is in the minds of many who knew him, as he passed away last Friday at the age of 78.
Flickr user Boyce Duprey / Creative Commons

Today, Mussel Slough doesn't show up on many maps of the San Joaquin Valley. But in 1880, this small settlement northwest of Hanford was the site of one of the bloodiest gunfights in the Old West. It pitted a group of Kings County farmers against the powerful Southern Pacific Railroad in a fight for their land. 

nickchapman / Flickr - Creative Commons

Can you imagine Southern California without Hollywood? Or the Bay Area without Silicon Valley?

No? History suggests that the identities of cities and regions are more fragile, and their central industries more perilous, than we care to admit. (Just ask former Detroit autoworkers.)

Freedmen's Bureau Project

Black History Month can be a hands on experience this year, thanks to an effort called the Freedmen's Bureau Project. It's a campaign to digitize and archive millions of records generated 150 years ago by the government agency tasked with helping former slaves begin their lives as free citizens. The group is seeking the help of volunteers to help clear through a backlog of documents so they can reach a goal to complete the project by June 19th, historically known as Juneteenth Day.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

A few weeks ago we brought you a report about how rare maps are shedding new light on the history of racial discrimination in Fresno. In the 1930’s many neighborhoods with high minority populations were frozen out of government backed home loans by the federal government, in a practice called redlining. But that wasn’t the only government backed segregation that happened in the San Joaquin Valley. In fact, decades ago, in some prestigious Fresno neighborhoods being white was a requirement. FM89’s Diana Aguilera visits one of them with this special report. 

For Fresno natives of a certain age, Al Radka, the Fulton Mall, Lesterburger and parties in "the figs" all are cultural touchstones that bring back memories of a simpler time. They're also the subject of a new book by journalist Steven H. Provost titled "Fresno Growing Up: A City Comes of Age: 1945-1985." From historic photos of long lost Fresno landmarks to stories about life in the 50's and 60's, the new book seeks to capture the essence of an era when so many baby boomers grew up.

Ronald Reagan's Nuanced Legacy as California Governor

Jun 19, 2015

A statue of Ronald Reagan will be unveiled in the California state Capitol rotunda on Monday. It’s funded by private donations under a law signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2012. Much has been said of Reagan’s legacy as president – but as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, his time as California governor often goes overlooked.

Reagan in 1966 campaign video: “As of now, I am a candidate seeking the Republican nomination for governor.”