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.

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. 

Christmas tree, Coffey Park, Santa Rosa
Diane Askew

Ready or not Christmas is coming. After October’s fires in the North Bay, this will be a holiday like no other. April Dembosky of The California Report visited Coffey Park to find out how some fire survivors are marking Christmas this year.

Find April Dembosky's original report here.

More information on free grief counseling at the International Institute for Humanistic Studies.

Marc Levine
Office of Marc Levine

With the year coming to an end, we check in with one of our state officeholders about what was accomplished in 2017 – and what’s on the horizon in Sacramento for 2018.

sign for net neutrality
Stacie Isabella Turk/Ribbonhead via Flickr

Net neutrality is dead. The FCC has voted to remove rules that require internet giants like Comcast and AT&T to treat all traffic the same.

They’ll now be able create a fast lane for companies like Netflix and a slow lane for that new app being created in a Silicon Valley garage. News director Steve Mencher talked with Tara Sharp, head of marketing at local ISP Sonic about what it all means.

Read more at the New York Times.

Woman in red amid Fountaingrove fire damage
Diane Askew

Friday evening at 6:30 join KRCB for our second post-fire TV news special. We’re calling this one “The New Normal” – partly because we’ve heard the phrase so many times as it applies to wildfire danger here in California.

(We'll be simulcasting the program on Radio 91)

Burned patio furniture
KRCB/Steve Mencher

We have two stories today from our partners at The California Report. In a moment we’ll hear about whether there’s a direct link between climate change and the fires raging in Southern California and our own North Bay fires.

First, though we have a story about insurance.

Cynthia Shirley, MSW, from Portraits of Professional Caregivers
Production still

Monday at 9 p.m. KRCB TV 22 will present the documentary "Portraits of Professional Caregivers: Their Passion, Their Pain," about the stresses caregivers and first responders suffer as part of their jobs. News Director Steve Mencher spoke with producer Rodney Whittenberg who started off by describing the background of his filmmaking partner Vic Compher.

Watch the trailer below:

Undocufund slide
KRCB/Steve Mencher

We’re going to make one more visit to the meeting last week where nonprofits heard from groups raising money after the North Bay fires. Susan Shaw of the North Bay Organizing Project realized early on that help from insurance companies and government agencies would likely bypass undocumented community members. What resulted was the UnDocuFund. Shaw began her talk last week with evidence of why the UnDocuFund is needed.

Darius Anderson
KRCB/Steve Mencher

We reported last week on a meeting here in Rohnert Park that brought together funders, government representatives and nonprofits working to coordinate fire recovery dollars.

A Fires Story by Brian Fies
Brian Fies

"Drawing Strength: Building Community Through Creativity" is a fire relief fundraiser scheduled for Dec. 9 at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center. Dave Eggers, Brian Fies, Christopher Moore, Stephan Pastis, Raina Telgemeier and Judd Winnick will talk about how humor and creativity can help the North Bay recover from the recent firestorms. They'll make sketches, sign books and share wine.

Adrienne Lauby
KRCB/Steve Mencher

Today, we’re returning to a meeting held November 27 that focused on two issues: rental housing and homelessness. At Christ Church United Methodist on Monday, several dozen people, including elected officials and housing advocates, sought solutions to elements of the housing crisis that were made worse by the North Bay fires.

Fire Relief meeting slide
KRCB/Steve Mencher

At a "Resilience Convening" this week, more than 150 community nonprofits gathered in Rohnert Park. They heard from some of the organizations that have sprung up since the North Bay fires to collect and distribute funds for the recovery.

Elizabeth Brown, CEO of Community Foundation, Sonoma County welcomed the attendees– including KRCB news director Steve Mencher–with an insight into what everyone in the room has been grappling with for nearly two months.

The funders represented included:

Kendall Jarvis
KRCB/Steve Mencher

Before the North Bay fires, Sonoma County was in a housing crisis. After the fires – the crisis has become an ongoing catastrophe. Several dozen people met Monday evening at Christ Church United Methodist in Santa Rosa to talk about the fire’s effects on renters and the homeless.

Senior Airman Martin Baglien in Santa Rosa
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps

As trucks continue to haul away the remains of homes burned in the North Bay fires, homeowners are beginning to deal with the next big step in recovery – claiming their insurance. KQED’s Sukey Lewis talked with homeowners, insurers and state officials. She started in Lake County, where the Valley Fire destroyed homes in 2015 and some residents are still fighting to get their payouts.

See the original story at The California Report.

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.

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