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.

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.

Martin Lesinski
KRCB/Steve Mencher

Vietnam is once again pushing its way into the national conversation – courtesy of an 18-hour film about the war by documentarians Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. It starts on many PBS stations on Sunday night; KRCB will be airing the entire series at a later date. The film inspired us to connect with local Vietnam veterans – including Martin Lesinski, a Nicasio-based photographer and poet.

Andrew DeVeny
Luther Burbank Center for the Arts

With the school year beginning, special programs that focus on nontraditional approaches to education are also getting underway. One such innovation brings free weekly music lessons to a local elementary school. As Steve Mencher reports, the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts is building on a successful pilot.

As the school year progresses, we'll hope to visit the classes, and showcase some of the student compositions right here. Below, see a performance from the pilot phase of the project.

Squash at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds
KRCB/Steve Mencher

The National Heirloom Exposition returned to Santa Rosa last week. You may have seen photos of the enormous piles of squashes that have become the event’s calling card. But the fair is about more than simply showing off the shapes and colors of fruits and vegetables. It’s about growing food that’s tasty and also fits a sustainable worldview, as Steve Mencher reports.

Wenonah Hauter
Food and Water Watch

Many national organizations consider the politics of food or water, or necessary changes to our use of fossil fuels--but few take a holistic look at all three. Wenonah Hauter, the founder and executive director of Food and Water Watch, stopped by our studio yesterday to tell us what her organization is working on--and how she’s helping people make connections to heal the systems that nourish us.

Woman waving flags
KRCB/Steve Mencher

In Santa Rosa Tuesday evening, about 60 people gathered in solidarity with "dreamers," those young people brought to this country as children, who were granted rights to work and study here under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.  This followed the announcement earlier in the day that President Trump was ending DACA and asking Congress to make new rules for the 800,000 or so dreamers. Steve Mencher reports.

Denia Candela and son
YouTube

While others were celebrating Labor Day, Acapulco-born "dreamer" Denia Candela had an anxious weekend, worrying about the president's decision on young immigrants. Denia came to the United States from Mexico when she was in middle school, and once President Obama provided a way for her to work and complete her education via the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, myriad possibilities opened up for her.

Immigration Law Group

Over the past few days, leaders in business and tech, and even Speaker Paul Ryan urged President Trump to keep or modify the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which allows young people who were brough

Flickr user whiteafrican

The Santa Rosa City Council moved ahead this week with a dramatic change–members voted unanimously to begin a transition to election by district, rather than at large. Reporter Steve Mencher talked with Mayor Chris Coursey and Council Member Julie Combs about the vote and the big changes coming in Santa Rosa politics.

Air Education and Training Command

Temperatures in our area will be headed for the stratosphere this weekend, so here are some resources to know about.

City of Santa Rosa

At its meeting August 29, the Santa Rosa City Council voted to move forward with changing representation on the city council from "at large" to a district-based system. This will strengthen representation of all citizens in the city, especially those in the southwest, according to city council member Julie Combs. News director Steve Mencher spoke with Combs about the vote.

Point Arena lighthouse
NOAA

Last week, we visited a Congressional forum convened by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) to consider President Donald Trump’s executive order on Marine Sanctuaries. We promised to revisit the event this week, and hear from some of the experts who gathered in Sausalito at the Bay Model to bolster opponents of downsizing the Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones Sanctuaries. 

13 Reasons Why
Netflix

This summer, actors and crew members returned to Sebastopol’s Analy High School to film scenes for season two of  "13 Reasons Why," a Netflix drama about high schoolers. The story sprang from the young adult novel of the same name by Jay Asher.

Server standing at snack bar on SMART train
KRCB/Steve Mencher

Regularly scheduled SMART Train service kicks off Friday. After a morning ceremony and Grand Opening celebration in downtown Santa Rosa, trains will leave the Santa Rosa airport station at 12:49 pm  headed to San Rafael.  

It’s been a long and winding road for the service, which will be free tomorrow– and half price until Labor Day. Reporter Steve Mencher talked with the CEO of the group providing concession service on the trains about its innovative partnership with SMART. 

Nancy Pelosi, Jared Huffman, and Lynn Woolsey
KRCB/Steve Mencher

This morning in Sausalito, Representative  Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) convened  a packed meeting that had the look and feel of a Congressional hearing. Several hundred people listened to politicians and ocean activists discuss President Trump’s threat to make local marine sanctuaries, vastly expanded by President Obama, shrink by about half. This would remove protections against drilling and mining that a bipartisan group of leaders has long agreed were important. Reporter Steve Mencher was there.

Sonoma County Sheriff's Office

The county board of supervisors has appointed Rob Giordano to be the county's sheriff-coroner to fill the vacancy created when Sheriff Steve Freitas resigned effective August 1. In recent days, Giordano sent memos to the community, promising "less cooperation" with federal immigration agents, alleviating concerns that he wouldn't uphold county wishes in that regard.

His appointment will run until January 2019.

Judy Sakaki, president of Sonoma State University
Sonoma State University

Last week, we talked about Sonoma State’s new approach to remedial learning in English and Math. Today we return to the Rohnert Park campus, to listen in on remarks by SSU President Judy Sakaki. Her address yesterday to the opening convocation for the academic year emphasized plans to broaden access to the school for underrepresented groups. Steve Mencher has more.

MrBillT

No city official wants to wake up to a big headline in the paper about rates for trash and recycling soaring sixty percent. But although Santa Rosa's trash and recycling rates are going up, people may be more willing to pay the higher fees if it brings better, more earth-friendly service, which is also more respectful and fair to workers.

electric car
Wikimedia

A new report, entitled Beyond Combustion: Electric Vehicle Trends, Goals and Recommendations for Sonoma County (pdf download), from the Center for Climate Protection in Santa Rosa, makes a startling prediction: if the current rate of adoption of electric vehicles in Sonoma County continues, the sale of internal combustion vehicles here could essentially end by 2030 – just 13 years from now.

Earlier this month, the California State University system announced some significant changes in its approach to teaching, to take full effect in the fall semester of 2018.

The focus is on improving outcomes for students who arrive at school with deficits in English or Math. Steve Mencher sat down with one of the administrators at Sonoma State charged with implementing the new direction.

Voyager
NASA

"The Farthest: Voyager in Space," a new documentary on some PBS stations next Wednesday August 23, recounts the unique history of the Voyager mission, twin spacecraft deployed to explore the outer planets and then leave our solar system entirely. Launched 40 years ago, Voyager's story is lovingly told in this film through the stories of the men and women who devoted themselves to making the mission a success.

Pigpen Peanuts Strip
Photo by DJ Ashton courtesy of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center

The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa celebrated its 15th anniversary over the weekend. Reporter Steve Mencher dropped in before the party to visit one of his favorite Peanuts characters, subject of a new exhibition…

Anti-racism march in Santa Rosa
KRCB

Demonstrations throughout our listening area—in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Cotati and Cloverdale—protested white nationalist activities in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend that resulted in three deaths. The outrage was stoked by President Trump's vague statements about the blame being spread "on many sides," and his refusal to immediately condemn the Nazis, KKK, and other alt-right members who led the marches there.

The slideshow above features signs and crowds in Santa Rosa, where a rally and march began at 4 pm in Courthouse Square. 

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