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.

Adia White
Steve Mencher / KRCB - Northern California Public Media

We've added a new, full-time reporter to the news department here at KRCB. Adia White comes to us from Chico, where she's covered local news, including California's deadly and unpredictable fires.

She tells us about what she'll be keeping an eye on in the coming months, in conversation with KRCB news director Steve Mencher.

Wendy Wheelwright
Steve Mencher / KRCB - North Bay Public Media

(Editor's note: This week, Kaiser Permanente announced a million dollar grant to keep the HOPE project going well into 2019. Our original story ran in June)  

SOFA district
Sonoma County

Santa Rosa is among 14 finalists for a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies that challenges cities to bring art and artists into a public conversation about civic life.

The city will apply for $350,000 for its project to embed artists in four city agencies. KRCB news director Steve Mencher spoke with Tara Thompson, the city's arts coordinator about the opportunity.

The application is due in August. Decisions will be revealed in November for projects due to start in July, 2019.

Sonoma Valley Cannabis Enthusiasts
Steve Mencher / KRCB - North Bay Public Media

The Sonoma City Council will be talking about cannabis at its Monday July 23 meeting. On the agenda – a citizen petition to hold a referendum making sale for recreational and medical use legal in the town.

A month ago about 50 folks gathered at the Sonoma Grille to talk about cannabis. They were united by their interest in the plant – with a focus on the business of pot.

Our news director Steve Mencher was there as organizer Michael Coats kicked off the meeting of the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Enthusiasts.

Searching for the Gold Spot
Photo provided

Fires bring death and destruction, as anyone who has lived in Sonoma County can attest. But filmmaker Maya Khosla, whose documentary "Searching for the Gold Spot" plays on KRCB TV 22 August 7 at 9 p.m., discovered that fire also brings new life.

She spoke with KRCB news director Steve Mencher about the film and her related work as Sonoma County's poet laureate.

Watch the trailer for "Searching for the Gold Spot: The Wild After Wildfire"

Birds flying
Jim Morris, California Rice Commission

Lisa Morehouse has been traveling throughout the state of California, looking for stories to tell about food and the environment. Those tales have been featured on public radio station KQED and now are coming together in the "California Foodways" podcast.

It's the surprises that are the most fun for any storyteller. For example, Morehouse learned that rice farmers and bird lovers have common goals in the rice bowl of California's Central Valley.

Scales of justice
Flickr user DonkeyHotey

Restorative Resources has worked in Sonoma County for 18 years to suggest a better way to bring peace to a community in the face of wrongdoing. Maria Freebairn-Smith is the elementary schools training manager of the organization, and she dropped by the KRCB studios to talk with Steve Mencher about the difference between restorative justice and punitive justice.

Join Restorative Resources at its summer bash Friday, August 17 at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa.

Pregnant woman
Alick Sung via Flickr

Were you pregnant at the time of the fires, or are you currently pregnant with a due date no later than October 31, 2018? If the answer to either question is yes, then a study at UC Davis may be looking for you.

KRCB news director Steve Mencher talked with Rebecca Schmidt, assistant professor of public health sciences and the MIND Institute at UC Davis about the study.

Study participants must have been living or working in Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Solano, Sonoma or Yuba County in October 2017. They also must be:

Kevin Jorgeson

Kevin Jorgeson, who with his climbing partner Tommy Caldwell, free climbed the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in 2015, stopped by the KRCB studios the other day to talk about a film we're presenting next week called "El Cap Report." 

It chronicles not only their climb but the ascents and stories of others.

Steve Mencher / KRCB - Northern California Public Media

Erin Brockovich was in town this week – she spoke at a breakfast organized by a couple of local law firms. They’re seeking to sign people up to sue PG&E for their suspected role in causing the October wildfires.

KRCB news director Steve Mencher went up to the home of lawyer Michael Fiumara where more than 100 people had come to see the woman who had become a superstar consumer advocate for suing PG&E for contaminating the water in the Southern California town of Hinckley.

Among those in the audience: Myke Judd.

Shirlee Zane and Peter Kingston
Photo provided

Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane is introducing a documentary called "The S Word" on Wednesday July 11 at 6 p.m. in the Supervisors Chambers in Santa Rosa. The film follows a young woman who survived a suicide attempt and travels around the U.S. meeting other survivors and documenting their stories. It includes statistics meant to shock audiences out of their complacency about this growing problem.

Laurie Johnson
Photo provided

Yesterday we met Laurie Johnson, a specialist in disaster recovery. She was speaking at a meeting of SoCo Rises, a group committed to equitable recovery from October’s fires. She says she learned a lot from researching the aftermath of earthquakes that shook New Zealand in 2011, killing 185 people.

SOCO Rises
SOCO Rises

SoCo Rises is one of several groups active in the county’s recovery from last October’s fires. The group pulls together many constituents of the progressive community to consider rebuilding and resilience. The goal is to make sure nobody is left out of plans to build a new Sonoma County on the ashes of the old – both literally and figuratively.

Magail Telles
Los Cien Facebook

The Latino leadership group Los Cien has hired its first executive director, Magali Telles. She comes to the organization from Sonoma State and promises to expand the activities of the organization to include an increased commitment to youth. She was joined by founder Herman Hernandez in KRCB's studios, where they talked with KRCB news director Steve Mencher.

Fred Rogers
Focus Features

KRCB presents "Won't You Be My Neighbor," about the life and career of kids TV icon Fred Rogers on Sunday, July 1 at noon in Sebastopol at the Rialto Cinemas. Director Morgan Neville spoke with KRCB news director Steve Mencher about the new film.

Andy Lopez Park
Steve Mencher / KRCB - North Bay Public Media

The Supreme Court decided Monday not to hear an appeal from Sonoma County that would have ended a civil suit brought against the county by the parents of Andy Lopez, the 13-year-old boy shot by sheriff's deputy Erick Gelhaus in 2013. The decision opens the way for a trial to begin this fall or winter. KRCB news director Steve Mencher talked with filmmaker Ron Rogers about the decision. 

Rogers is at work on a documentary about the aftermath of the Lopez shooting.

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.

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.