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.

Lucia Garay, Tara Sullivan, Dmitra Smith
KRCB/Steve Mencher

We recently brought you the story of how the Sonoma County Junior Commission on Human Rights had created a survey showing that bullying and racial harassment is on the rise in Sonoma County schools. We’ve continued to learn more about the junior commission’s work – and wanted to hear from its advisor, Dmitra Smith, who had come to the studio to accompany the students. She talked with KRCB news director Steve Mencher.

Sheriff candidate literature
KRCB/Steve Mencher

The Russian River Chamber of Commerce presented a debate among the three candidates for Sonoma County Sheriff Monday night at the Rio Theater in Monte Rio. John Mutz, Ernesto Olivares and Mark Essick all strove to convince the audience that their approach was right for the job. KRCB News Director Steve Mencher was there and has this report.

Rafael Vazquez
Santa Rosa Junior College

Monday, March 5 was the original deadline set by President Trump for winding down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – or DACA – program. But courts have stayed President Trump’s order and the program is now in limbo.

At noon Monday students and community members will gather at Santa Rosa Junior College to march downtown to the Federal Building in Santa Rosa. The march supports a continuation of DACA as well as encouraging examination of the entire immigration system.

Lucia Garay, Tara Sullivan, Dmitra Smith
KRCB/Steve Mencher

There’s turmoil in the nation’s high schools right now. This morning, Analy High School in Sebastopol was closed after threatening graffiti was found on its campus. The recent Florida shootings have inspired teen activists to make their voices heard about gun control and other issues.

Today – the third and final part of our conversation with Army nurse Kate O’Hare-Palmer. She went from denying the trauma of her Vietnam experience to becoming an activist, fighting for women veterans from her time and ours, as she told news director Steve Mencher.

Kate O'Hare-Palmer
Kate O'Hare-Palmer

Last week we heard from former Army nurse Kate O’Hare-Palmer as part of our series of interviews with local Vietnam-era veterans. We heard how she saw intense action 50 years ago in two army field hospitals.

Today, she continues her conversation with KRCB news director Steve Mencher. She says that a book by a nurse who’d served in Vietnam convinced her that women, as well as men, came home transformed by their wartime experiences.

Read about the book Home Before Morning, by Lynda Van Devanter.

Rosie Zuniga
KRCB/Steve Mencher

Sonoma State recently announced that 15 students have been awarded up to $10,000 each to continue their studies. The new Wine Industry Scholars Program joins the school’s Educational Opportunity Program and its Wine Business Institute to support students in the first generation of their families to attend college.

Last month, KRCB presented Lynn Novick and Ken Burns’ revealing history of the war in Vietnam. We also interviewed a number of veterans about their experiences. Today, we add one more veteran to that list.

Kate O’Hare-Palmer is a nurse who served in Vietnam 50 years ago. She’s chair of the Women Veterans Committee of the Vietnam Veterans of America and has become a leader in fighting for the rights of women who served in the military.

U.S. Army Corps cleanup Coffey Park, Santa Rosa
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

In the wake of the October fires in Santa Rosa, residents of the Coffey Park neighborhood, which suffered devastating losses, have organized. The group Coffey Strong now numbers nearly 1000 residents who act collectively to pool information and save money.

Jeff Okrepkie represented the group on a recent edition of the KQED program Forum – with Michael Krasny.

Prescribed burn
U.S. Army

Today, we’ve got two reports about the aftermath of October’s fires. They come to us through our partnership with KQED’s California Report.

First, an independent state watchdog called the Little Hoover Commission says California needs to re-examine how it manages the state’s forests to minimize the risk of catastrophic wildfires.

Jerry Nickelsburg
KRCB/Steve Mencher

Last week we visited the State of the County event and heard from some key voices representing our diverse community. Visit our website to hear from Ana Lugo, President of the North Bay Organizing Project, Reno Franklin, Chair of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians, and Beth Brown, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sonoma County.

James Gore
KRCB/Steve Mencher

From the Doubletree Sonoma Wine Country – we present highlights from the State of the County breakfast, presented by Sonoma County Economic Development Bureau.

The Black Sheep Brass Band kicked off the morning event.

Coffey Strong
Diane Askew

Coffey Park was the subject of a recent edition of KQED’s Forum program with Michael Krasny.  KRCB News Director Steve Mencher has some excerpts from the discussion…

Paradise Ridge Winery
Courtesy of Paradise Ridge website

A new study from the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State describes the effects of the North Bay fires on local vineyards and wineries and related parts of the North Coast wine industry. In addition to surveying stakeholders, the authors also crunched the first available statistics.

Honore Comfort is Executive in Residence at the institute, part of the SSU School of Business and Economics. She talked with KRCB News Director Steve Mencher about the study. 

Governor Jerry Brown
Wikimedia

Thursday morning, KRCB presented Governor Jerry Brown’s last State of the State address. Born into politics, educated by Jesuits, Brown will stand, by any measure, as one of the most important leaders in California history. In Sonoma County, we were listening to hear what he’d say about the traumatic wildfire season – and that came early in the speech. KRCB News Director Steve Mencher listened along…

Dan Wade
United Policyholders

Yesterday, we heard a presentation from “Conversations Around the Fire” – an initiative hoping to guide local residents to greener, safer and more just ideas about rebuilding our community. One speaker at the conversation Monday night represented a group that helps answer questions about insurance, advocating  for those seeking fair treatment.

United Policyholders is a nonprofit, formed after the Oakland Hills Fires of 1991. KRCB News Director Steve Mencher has more.

Ray Krauss
KRCB/Steve Mencher

The meetings have a clever name – Conversations Around the Fire. The idea? That the recent wildfires might bring together people in the progressive community to work for change during these  post-fire months and years.

A report this week in the San Francisco Chronicle said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement – ICE – is planning immigration raids in our area – in part to punish California for its recent decision to become a so-called sanctuary state.

North Bay Fire Town Hall
KRCB/Steve Mencher

Yesterday we heard from new Board of Supervisors Chair James Gore speaking at a Town Hall on fire recovery Saturday morning. Today, news director Steve Mencher brings us back to the meeting – where we’ll hear from Mark Ghilarducci, head of the California Office of Emergency Services.

Ghilarducci was the face of the state during the fire crisis, and earned high marks for his clear communication – and commitment. He took time off from marshaling forces in Southern California fighting to clear the mudslides there, to answer questions from fire survivors in our region. 

Graeme Jenkins
Santa Rosa Symphony

The Santa Rosa Symphony continues its series of very public job interviews. This past weekend, Graeme Jenkins conducted the orchestra in performances of music by Haydn and Bartok, with pianist Orli Shaham joining the group in Mozart's Concerto No. 21 in C major for Piano and Orchestra. Attendees received an email Tuesday asking them to rate the conductor's skills and rapport with the audience. He'll be compared to the previous three candidates, and the upcoming guest conductor Michael Christie, who arrives in February for a weekend.

Local residents by the hundreds showed up at a town hall Saturday for updates on fire recovery and rebuilding. Local politicians were there, as well as representatives from FEMA, California Office of Emergency Services and the Army Corps of Engineers. KRCB News Director Steve Mencher has more. 

Sonoma County and the City of Santa Rosa run a joint website on fire recovery. Visit SonomaCountyRecovers.org for regular updates.

Rep. Jared Huffman
Congress.gov

At a town hall meeting tomorrow about fire recovery and rebuilding in Sonoma County, officials will present updates and listen to citizens’ concerns. Among elected officials scheduled to attend are members of the Santa Rosa City Council and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, State Senators Mike McGuire and Bill Dodd, and Assembly Members Jim Wood, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and Marc Levine.

Representatives Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman will be there – and KRCB News Director Steve Mencher talked with Huffman about the meeting.

Decorations in Santa Rosa neighborhood of Coffey Park
Diane Askew

Yesterday, KRCB News Director Steve Mencher brought us some excerpts from a conversation about rebuilding the North Bay first broadcast on KQED’s Forum program. Today, part two.

One of the callers to the show asked whether unions would play a big part in the rebuilding effort. Keith Woods, CEO of the North Coast Builders Exchange, responded:

Participants in the discussion included:

Coffey Park
U.S. Army/Edward Coffee

Rains will slow construction activities that have started in areas destroyed by the fall fires. But the real slowdown will come from lack of materials and workers as building gears up. A recent episode of KQED’s Forum program hosted by Michael Krasny addressed those concerns, and our News Director Steve Mencher has some excerpts.

  Here's a link to the original program at KQED.

California flag
Zlixir dot com

Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave leeway to federal prosecutors to enforce federal laws against cannabis. That’s even in states where medical and adult use is legal. News Director Steve Mencher spoke with Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins and the county’s Cannabis Program Manager Tim Ricard about the Sessions announcement.

Listen to the unedited conversation below.  

Jeff Sessions
Gage Skidmore via Flickr

We talked with Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins and the county's cannabis program manager Tim Ricard about statements made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week, which threatened prosecution under federal law of cannabis activities in California and other states that have legalized marijuana for recreational

Robert Siegel
NPR

One of public radio’s most familiar voices is signing off this week. Robert Siegel is hanging up the mic, and retiring from his gig hosting All Things Considered after 30 years. Siegel chatted with our News Director Steve Mencher. They started by talking about Robert’s colleague Susan Stamberg, whose voice changed radio in the U.S.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, director of CAL OES Mark Ghilarducci, and FEMA Regional Administrator Bob Fenton
KRCB/Steve Mencher

A day after visiting fire-ravaged areas of Southern California, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen toured Santa Rosa's Coffey Park and other affected neighborhoods, and met with local government officials, workers and fire survivors.

In her prepared remarks, Nielsen promised help from the federal government for fire recovery and noted that her department "will be here, arms locked, with state and local officials, to help California recover from the fires."

Assemblyman Marc Levine and family
Marc Levine

Last week we talked with Assemblymember Marc Levine about the challenging year we’ve had. News Director Steve Mencher asked Levine about his number one concern for 2018 – that turns out to be the ever-widening gulf between rich and poor in our community.

Smokestack
NASA JPL

KRCB News Director Steve Mencher began a conversation earlier this week with Assemblyman Marc Levine, who represents Marin and Southern Sonoma Counties. Today they touch on lessons learned from the North Bay fires, and the Assemblyman’s view of what the California legislature accomplished this year, including extension of the Cap and Trade Program. 

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