Written by The Business Journal Staff
Valley Public Radio board of director’s chairperson David Parker called the event “a historical occasion for the Central Valley.”
With the rise of the internet age and moaning from experts citing declines in news reporting, journalism and interest in the arts, Parker said VPR has stood the test of time and its new building, made possible by the support of several Central Valley organizations and individuals, is a testament to the station’s vitality and importance.
“Valley Public Radio is expanding and continues to defy those perceived declines by expanding its station, expanding its news department and expanding its ability to provide a bridge in the Central Valley to greater things in news, music and entertainment beyond the Central Valley and California,” Parker said.
True to its commitment to inform and entertain listeners, Parker said the majority of the new building is devoted to studio and production space, while the administrative area remains virtually the same size as it was at VPR’s former location, with the addition of some space for student interns and volunteers.
VPR’s job, he said, is essential in the region because there are community members who lack access to new digital platforms.
“In the Central Valley we recognize something that is a stark reality — only 69 percent of the Fresno metropolitan population uses the internet and even less in smaller communities throughout the Central Valley,” Parker said. “This happens because our unemployment rate is often reported to be as high as 28 percent, which leaves many unable to afford a computer or a cell phone with access to information. So without Valley Public Radio, they are denied access to some of the most essential things like news, entertainment, art and culture.”
While the radio airwaves are certainly VPR’s traditional way of reaching its audience, online methods such as web streaming and podcasting, as well as social media platforms like Twitter, are also used to engage the VPR audience.
Traditional and modern techniques combined have grown VPR’s sphere of influence throughout the state and nation. In regards to news, Valley Public Radio President and General Manager Mariam Stepanian, said this expands the Central Valley voice.
“What happens when other entities pick up our stories and our reports and broadcast them on different platforms is the country begins to learn about the San Joaquin Valley,” Stepanian said. “We’re no longer the best kept secret. We’re no longer that void between Los Angeles and San Francisco. There is a lot happening here and we intend on sharing those stories and reports so it benefits all of California.”
One of the early donors to the Valley Public Radio new station was the James Irvine Foundation. The foundation’s CEO Don Howard said it’s been a privilege to work with VPR.
“The thing that brings me hope about California right now are all of you and the leadership of organization like KVPR that are at the core of California, doing the good work that is going to advance society and advance economic opportunity for those of us in places like Fresno and Clovis and beyond who are working and struggling with poverty,” Howard said. “We certainly focus our investments on advancing economic and political opportunities to California’s working poor families and we continue to find and make the Central Valley a priority.”
The new Valley Public Radio station is located in the Clovis Research and Technology Park on Alluvial Avenue. For more information about VPR, visit kvpr.org or tune in to 89.3 FM.