Steve Mencher

News Director

707-584-2012

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.

Wine label
Frey Vineyards

Four generations of the Frey family live and work at their winery in Redwood Valley. It was the first organic and biodynamic winery to open in the U.S. The October wildfires destroyed many structures on the site, while sparing most of the vineyards and the main house on the property. From KQED’s The California Report, April Dembosky takes us to the vineyard where the family is trying to figure out how to rebuild its business.

Redwood Valley North Bay fires
Bob Dass, Flickr

Today the Espinoza family plans to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner in the one bedroom apartment they’ve been sharing since the North Bay fires. Between the parents and kids, the family lost two homes as flames rushed through Redwood Valley in Mendocino.

Like them, many families are living in tight quarters this holiday season – some in hotel rooms, others in the first FEMA trailers, still others staying with friends and relatives.

The Espinozas are grateful to have a place to stay at all. But six weeks after the wildfires, the uncertainty is working on some nerves.

Israel and Palestinians
PBS

A conference next week will bring together advocates seeking change in the Middle East. Friends of Sabeel North America defines itself as a Christian ecumenical group. Its Northern California chapter is assembling Christian, Muslim, Jewish and secular leaders to discuss the complicated political struggles in Israel and Palestine. News director Steve Mencher talked with conference organizer Therese Maughannam.

Jared Huffman
Wikimedia

Is the Trump administration playing politics with disaster relief? That’s the implication of a statement released on Friday by Representatives Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson. Representative Huffman spoke with KRCB news director Steve Mencher about the strongly-worded complaint.

Rapid Response Network Poster
KRCB/Steve Mencher

Yesterday, we heard about a new hotline that helps protect local immigrants who may be swept up in raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

At the rally announcing the new "Rapid Response" phone line, news director Steve Mencher spoke with immigrant rights activist Anna Salgado. He asked  whether her neighbors’ fears of deportation have been heightened by the North Bay fires and how the hotline will help.

Anna Salgado
KRCB/Steve Mencher

In the pouring rain last week, a coalition of groups announced a new initiative to protect immigrants in our community. The North Bay Rapid Response Network of Sonoma and Napa Counties aims to, in its words, “Witness, Accompany, Advocate and Defend” people who may be subject to immigration raids. Through a telephone hotline wedded to innovative communication software, trained legal observers and citizens agreeing to witness the activities of ICE in our community can be contacted at any time.

Monte Vista housing
Burbank Housing

Former Supervisor Efren Carrillo is now director of governmental and community relations at Burbank Housing in Santa Rosa. The organization is grappling with the reality that an already tight housing market has gotten worse since the North Bay fires. Carrillo talked about affordable housing with KRCB news director Steve Mencher.

Efren Carrillo
Center for Climate Protection

Earlier this month, a significant event occurred in the history of Santa Rosa completely unrelated to the recent fires. The Roseland neighborhood finally became an official part of the city. News director Steve Mencher talked with former supervisor Efren Carrillo, who played a large part in bringing together politicians and citizens to build consensus for annexation.

We wanted to end the week of fire-related news with a look back at last Saturday’s Day of Remembrance at Santa Rosa Junior College. Earlier in the week we heard from Sheriff Rob Giordano – but now let’s listen to the music and poetry that brought the audience of several hundred to tears… and to their feet repeatedly on a crystal clear and warm fall day. You’ll hear MC Pat Kerrigan of KSRO and young poet Vicente Reyes of Mark West Charter School.

Bill Gittins

Painter Bill Gittins, a KRCB board member, is featured online today at the KQED website, talking about his experience during the Tubbs fire that burned so many homes in his Fountaingrove neighborhood.

“I had completed about 35 new paintings for ArtTrails over the last several months, and that was while I was doing some commission pieces at the same time,” he told KQED reporter Joshua Bote.

Ashley Oldham
KZYX

They’ve been called the “wine country” fires – but cannabis farmers suffered losses in the recent firestorm as well.  Unlike vintners, whose grapes were nearly all picked, the cannabis harvest was just getting started when the fires struck. Reporter Sarah Reith visited growers in Mendocino County who are now reckoning with their losses.

See Sarah Reith's original report on KZYX

Fred Ptucha
KRCB/Steve Mencher

On November 9, KRCB hosts a free screening of highlights from the PBS documentary series “The Vietnam War.” As we approach that event we’ve been talking with local veterans about their lives during and after the war. Fred Ptucha served four tours in Vietnam.  In 2002, he returned there with a group of veterans to help build homes for their former enemies. He told KRCB news director Steve Mencher about that visit.

Maker Space sign
KRCB/Steve Mencher

Sonoma State University has just opened a newly enlarged and renovated “maker space.” If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s a place where people can use a variety of tools – from sewing machines to laser cutters to 3-D printers – to collaborate creatively. The National Science Foundation provided a large grant to set up the space in the SSU library, and physics professor Jeremy Qualls provided leadership to get the project off the ground. He spoke with KRCB news director Steve Mencher at the ribbon cutting in early October.

Bob Young Vietnam vet
KRCB/Steve Mencher

Bob Young talks to us about saving lives as a medical corpsman in Vietnam, and taking them too when threatened by enemy soldiers. Years after his combat duty, he found himself diving out of his bed -- as if he was once again under fire. With the help of his family, he's been able to move forward with his life, understanding his PTSD and getting it somewhat under control. Listen to his story below:

Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman present Company town
Allison Levenson

"Company Town," a new documentary, airs on KRCB Monday October 23 at 9 p.m. Filmmakers Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman chronicle a Board of Supervisors race in San Francisco -– a race that became something of a last stand for those fighting gentrification in the city.

Kaufman and Snitow spoke with KRCB news director Steve Mencher about their film. 

Watch the trailer below:

Sonoma County Firefighters
Sonoma County

The psychological toll from our local fires is very much on our minds today, as people return to their neighborhoods to find homes that are destroyed, damaged, or in some cases, unscathed. News director Steve Mencher visited the Santa Rosa Veteran’s Memorial Building and the Sonoma County Fairgrounds yesterday afternoon and has this report.

Pete Stringfellow
Facebook

Songwriter Pete Stringfellow has donated the hit "Santa Rosa," which he cowrote with Glenn Dawson to the fire relief effort, posting the song for streaming and downloads on his Santa Rosa Strong web page. Below, a performance of the song at the county fairgrounds in August, 2013. He also performed the song in our studio today and we'll be sharing that performance later this week .

Nadine Reyes
Localnoggins.com

Sonoma County real estate agent Nadine Reyes and her daughter were watching Jason Aldean Sunday night at the Route 91 Harvest Festival  in Las Vegas when she heard and saw what seemed like fireworks exploding around her. At first nobody moved  or seemed alarmed. But then the "pop-pop-pop-pop-pop" of gunfire convinced them to move to safety. 

"My daughter and I ran about 10 to 15 feet, when a man said 'You need to get down. You need to get down.'"

The stranger shielded her and her daughter with his body. And they remained unscathed by the torrent of gunfire.

Don Goofy, Flickr

You can’t yet major in Cannabis Studies at Sonoma State. But SSU's School of Extended and International Education is getting serious about sharing information with those hoping to be involved in the burgeoning  industry. SSU’s Cannabis in California series continues October 6 with a seminar focused on Finance, Investment and Investment Law.

Irwin Keller
Congregation Ner Shalom

Last week, we visited with Reb Irwin Keller of Cotati’s Congregation Ner Shalom. He told us about Rosh Hashanah, which starts the Jewish New Year. The period of reflection which began with that holiday ends this weekend, with the observance of Yom Kippur, the "Day of Atonement." Keller talked with news director Steve Mencher about one significant aspect of this High Holiday – beginning at sundown Friday.

Huckleberry Finn
Pinterest

Who should decide what books are allowed in libraries? Since 1982, a coalition of groups takes a week each year – this week – to call attention to books that are removed from shelves in school and public libraries in the United States because someone decides they are inappropriate. Suzanne Lang, host of KRCB’s A Novel Idea joined News Director Steve Mencher  to talk about Banned Books week.

Sonoma State Stevenson Hall
Sonoma State University

From the Santa Rosa Press Democrat: "Faculty members and staff who worked in a Sonoma State University office building that was the focus of a whistleblower trial over asbestos mishandling will each get a piece of more than $2.9 million in penalties handed down for violations of occupational health and safety laws.

Santa Rosa Junior College Town Hall on DACA
KRCB/Steve Mencher

Yesterday we heard from Congressman Mike Thompson, at a town hall he co-hosted on immigration at Santa Rosa Junior College last week. Today we hear from others at the forum, called to support students struggling to respond to President Trump’s dismantling of DACA, the program that allows young men and women brought to this country as children to work and study here without fear of deportation. First up, Alegría de la Cruz, chief deputy county counsel for Sonoma County.

Mike Thompson, Jared Huffman
KRCB/Steve Mencher

On September 20, Santa Rosa Junior College hosted a town hall on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), with elected officials and representatives from groups who aid young immigrant “dreamers.” Those registered to work or study under DACA are living with uncertainty since President Trump upended their lives in early September by saying the program would end. He has since said that there's an agreement with Democrats to continue the program, but neither side has released details. Our story begins with the Vice President of Student Services at SRJC, Pedro Avila.

Santa Rosa Junior College Town Hall
KRCB/Steve Mencher

Wednesday, September 20, a full house at the Santa Rosa Junior College Bertolini Student Center welcomed Congress members Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman, and Assembly member Jim Wood, representatives from SRJC, the county and the legal community and student activists to a forum on DACA. 

Ken Holybee
KRCB/Steve Mencher

The Vietnam War – the documentary series from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick – continues on many PBS stations Sunday night. We’re reaching out to Vietnam vets in our area to tell us about their service. Ken Holybee is President of the Santa Rosa chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America. When he talked with News Director Steve Mencher, he remembered feeling confused when he returned home from his service as a fuel truck driver.

Dan Blake
Twitter

Do you have a great idea that could improve education in Sonoma County? A new fund will provide grants up to $2,500 "to kick-start efforts to make a difference in the lives of students... by thinking outside the box." Reporter Steve Mencher talked with Dan Blake, Director of Innovation and Partnerships at the Sonoma County Office of Education about the grants.

Submit your application through this link.

Irwin Keller
Ner Shalom

Beginning at sunset September 20, the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah ushers in the High Holidays and the Jewish New Year. Many local congregations have a full slate of activities planned between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which begins at sunset September 29. Steve Mencher talked with Reb Irwin Keller of Ner Shalom in Cotati about the meaning of these holidays.

Vietnamese woman covers face
PBS

Last week, we met local Vietnam veteran Martin Lesinski. We heard his poetry and learned about his acute sense of responsibility for men under his command. Today he tells reporter Steve Mencher about his own injuries.

Vietnam Memorial
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ken Scar

Yesterday we met Vietnam veteran Martin Lesinski  and heard a poem he wrote about coming to terms with his wartime experiences. We continue with that interview today. As a sergeant, Lesinski  felt keenly responsible for the safety of his men. As he told News Director Steve Mencher, it was a burden that grew as the war wound down in the early 1970s. A warning: some of his descriptions of battle are very graphic.

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