Steve Mencher

News Director


Creator and lead producer of the CPB/AIR Localore: Finding America project at KCPT in Kansas City.  The “Beyond Belief” multimedia effort led with digital and broadcast video about faith communities coming together despite differences, while examining issues of community and equity. Radio producer at NPR, the University of Pennsylvania and the Library of Congress. Created arts education website ArtsZone for OVATION TV, and worked at Carnegie Hall and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Jim Downing
Adia White

What does storytelling have to do with wine? Wineries across the globe use stories to market their products. Chico State Professor Jim Downing recently published a study with his Family Business class that analyzed stories from 175 wineries in Napa.

His surprising finding: some wineries are on the wrong track.

Reporter Adia White sat down with Downing to find out what impact this research could have on the industry.

Chris Smith
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

A few weeks ago, some of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat travelled to New York City to accept the paper's award for its outstanding coverage of the North Bay wildfires. PD columnist Chris Smith visited our studio that day, and talked with Corey Hudson about the paper's pride in its achievement, and about the future of print journalism.

Two local nonprofits in Sonoma County are taking part in a pilot project funded by California's Medi-Cal program. They aim to demonstrate that special meals and education provided to patients with congestive heart failure can improve patient outcomes and reduce hospitalizations and health care costs.

Wine Spectator Learning Center
TLCD Architecture

The new Wine Spectator Learning Center is open on the Sonoma State campus in Rohnert Park. The facility aims to introduce a new generation to skills needed for the wine business, while sharpening the capabilities of those in mid-career.

Steve Mencher / KRCB - North Bay Public Media

In the second part of our conversation with Wendy Wheelwright, she explains how the California HOPE program helps survivors and other community members heal after October's wildfires. Find more information about the program here.

Among other things, the program encourages people to

  • Eat Well
  • Move Daily
  • Hydrate Often
  • Sleep More
  • Love, Laugh, and Connect.

Wendy Wheelwright
Steve Mencher / KRCB - North Bay Public Media

Today, we talk with Wendy Wheelwright, project manager for a county-wide counseling initiative called HOPE – for Helping, Outreach, Possibilities, and Empowerment. It aims to help people suffering physical and mental effects of October’s fires. The counseling is free, and can be accessed anywhere.

Advocates for non-English-speakers pose at Sonoma County offices
KRCB/Steve Mencher

Thursday, a group of activists met with Sonoma County’s disaster planning team.

They presented their findings that October’s fires had uncovered severe shortcomings in the county’s communication strategy. Those who couldn’t speak English, the group says, did not have the same access to life-saving information, especially in the chaotic first moments of the fire. Those problems have continued during the recovery.

News director Steve Mencher spoke with some members of the group who will be presenting recommendations June 11 to the county Board of Supervisors.

Black Women March in Sacramento in 2017

Thousands of Black women will march to the California Capitol in Sacramento June 9 for the second annual Black Women's March. Organizers say this march gives Black women a safe space to empower one another.

Ja'Nel Johnson reports.

Ceremonies at first Coffey Park house in Santa Rosa to be given a certificate of occupancy after fire rebuilding
KRCB/Steve Mencher

The last week of May, a milestone was reached in Coffey Park – elected officials and neighbors gathered to celebrate the completion of Dan Bradford’s home – the first to gain a certificate of occupancy in the fire-devastated area.

KRCB News Director Steve Mencher was there as the festivities got underway.

Andy's Unity Park
KRCB/Steve Mencher

On what would have been Andy Lopez's 18th birthday June 2, a park opened in the Moorland neighborhood  to commemorate the thirteen-year-old shot by a sheriff's deputy in 2013. KRCB news director Steve Mencher has this audio postcard.

Saturday June 2 would have been the 18th birthday of Andy Lopez, who died 4 1/2 years ago in Sonoma County when a sheriff's deputy mistook his toy gun for a real one. His life and death still hang over the county today, as filmmaker Ron Rogers tells KRCB news director Steve Mencher. A park created in his honor opens Saturday.

Signs on Joe Rodota trail
Steve Mencher / KRCB - North Bay Public Media

Fences went up Wednesday morning on the Joe Rodota Trail between Dutton and Roseland Avenues in Santa Rosa, closing the trail to the public and blocking off an encampment of homeless men and women who were cleared from the area. 

Earlier this week we talked with residents of the trail and homeless advocates. Wednesday we followed a few of the social service providers and public safety officers working to assist and move residents.

Felicity Gasser of the Sonoma County Community Development Commission explained who was working the trail Wednesday morning.

Sonoma County Sheriff's badge
Sonoma County Sheriff's Office

This is the final part of our interview with candidate for Sonoma County Sheriff, Capt. Mark Essick. He’s the only candidate who’s currently part of the Sheriff’s office. In two dozen years with the department, he’s held a variety of positions – and he has been endorsed by the current sheriff, Rob Giordano.

In this series, we’ve also heard from John Mutz, a former station commander in the Los Angeles Police Department, and Ernesto Olivares, who serves on the Santa Rosa City Council after a long career with the Santa Rosa Police Department.

Renee Patterson
Corinne Smith

An estimated 100 homeless residents camping on the Joe Rodota Trail in Santa Rosa are packing their things in advance of yet another mass eviction by Sonoma County authorities citing a recent assault of a bike commuter as well as health and safety concerns.

Mark Essick
Photo provided

Yesterday, we met candidate for Sonoma County Sheriff Capt. Mark Essick. He’s a veteran of two dozen years in the department. He tells news director Steve Mencher why voters should see him as an agent for change, not an upholder of the status quo.

Mark Essick
Photo provided

(editor's note: It appeared that Capt. Essick was coasting to a victory Tuesday night and avoiding a runoff for the position of sheriff.)

Capt. Mark Essick is the closest thing to an incumbent running in the Sonoma County Sheriff race. He told KRCB news director Steve Mencher what his current responsibilities are in the sheriff's department and how he will use lessons learned from the Andy Lopez shooting to improve the force.

Diane Askew

A few weeks back, we covered a meeting on the Sonoma State campus about our October wildfires and lessons to be learned. In coming days, we’re going to make some of the sessions from "Living with Fire in California's Coast Ranges" available via YouTube.

John Mutz
Photo provided

As election day approaches, we're talking with candidates for Sheriff of Sonoma County. On the campaign trail, John Mutz frequently cites his experience as a station commander in Los Angeles.

Today we learn more about how he plans to use that experience to transform the sheriff's office into a responsive and culturally aware organization. He told KRCB news director Steve Mencher what the department might look like under his leadership.

John Mutz and family
Photo provided

Today, part two of our conversation with candidate for Sonoma County sheriff John Mutz. After Mutz left the Los Angeles Police Department, he became a consultant and coach – working both with law enforcement and with private business clients to improve their leadership skills, focus and efficiency.

He spoke with KRCB news director Steve Mencher about how he plans to turn around the culture of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office  by providing leadership to the force.

John Mutz
Courtesy of Sonoma Gazette

Today, we meet John Mutz, a candidate for sheriff of Sonoma County. Mutz served for 25 years on the Los Angeles Police Department, where he says he worked to change the culture of station houses where he was assigned as Captain after the Rodney King beating.

As he told news director Steve Mencher, he plans to transform many aspects of the Sonoma County sheriff’s office, starting with training…

A new documentary about elders who maintain meaningful and rich lives is playing around town. Lives Well Lived is directed by Cal Poly professor Sky Bergman.  In the film, photographer and first-time-filmmaker Bergman interviews 40 men and women ages 75 to 100.

She told KRCB news director Steve Mencher what inspired her to make the film.

Ernesto Olivares
Photo provided

Today is the final day of our conversation with Ernesto Olivares, candidate for Sonoma County sheriff. Olivares is a Santa Rosa City Councilmember who had a long career with the Santa Rosa Police Department.

KRCB news director Steve Mencher asked Olivares about lack of diversity within the county sheriff’s office, and how he plans to address it.  

Sonoma State student
Steve Mencher / KRCB - North Bay Public Media

Update: The Sonoma County Coroner's Office has named the victim in the Sunday stabbing as 26-year-old Steven John Garcia, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

In a Monday morning press conference, Lt. Tim Lyons of the Petaluma Police Department named Tyler J. Bratton of Santa Rosa as the sole suspect in the stabbing death of a 26-year-old male Sonoma County resident Sunday evening. He said Bratton was in custody and on his way to the county jail in Santa Rosa. 

The stabbing took place in university housing on campus.

Ernesto Olivares
Photo provided

Yesterday, we talked with Santa Rosa City Council Member Ernesto Olivares. He’s one of three candidates for Sonoma County sheriff. Today, news director Steve Mencher continues that conversation.

Ernesto Olivares
Photo provided

With a primary scheduled for June 5, we’re going to be talking over the next few weeks with all three candidates for sheriff of Sonoma County. If no candidate emerges from the primary with a majority of votes, the top two vote getters will face each other in November.

Ernesto Olivares is a Santa Rosa city council member whose long service on the Santa Rosa police department  prepares him, he says, for the role of sheriff. There’s another part of his background that makes him unique, as he told KRCB news director Steve Mencher.

combustible materials
UC Dept of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Wednesday is the final day of a three day meeting on the Sonoma State campus called Living with Fire in California’s Coast Ranges. Participants are taking part in field trips today to areas connected to the October fire storms. The first two days were packed with talks by experts from throughout California, and from other western states.

Chris Coursey
Rotary Club of Santa Rosa

This fall, the Santa Rosa City Council begins a process that will eventually result in every councilmember representing a specific geographic area. Currently, they are all “at large.”

Mayor Chris Coursey is one of those standing for election this year – and he spoke to KRCB news director Steve Mencher about how the new district system will work.

The final map is posted here. Districts 2,4 and 6 will vote this November. The remaining four districts vote in 2020.

Suzanne Gordon
Suzanne Gordon

After the failed nomination of Admiral Ronny Jackson to lead the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, we invited an expert on veterans’ healthcare to talk with us. Suzanne Gordon told KRCB News Director Steve Mencher what experience she believes is needed to lead the VA – and what is at stake in the choice.

Learn more about Suzanne Gordon's next book, Wounds of War: How the VA Delivers Health, Healing and Hope to the Nation's Veterans.

The Battle for Veterans' Healthcare
Cornell University Press

With the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in the news recently, there’s been increased attention to the possibility of privatizing veterans’ health care. Suzanne Gordon is a journalist and author who often writes about health. Her latest book is The Battle for Veterans’ Healthcare.

Gordon  spoke with KRCB News Director Steve Mencher, and suggested who might benefit if long-standing conservative plans for privatization take hold.

Paul Gullixson
Sonoma State University

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat earned a Pulitzer Prize this year for its gutsy and wide-ranging coverage of October’s fires. As he celebrated that achievement, the paper’s Editorial Director, Paul Gullixson, was leaving after two decades to become Associate Vice President of Strategic Communications at Sonoma State.

He talked with KRCB News Director Steve Mencher about the P-D’s proud moment.

Here's Paul Gullixson talking about what's ahead in his new job at Sonoma State: