Benjamin Purper

News Director

Benjamin Purper came to KCBX in May of 2021 from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.

He attended the University of Redlands, where he studied International Relations with minors in Instrumental Performance and Latin American Studies, and studied abroad in Mexico and Argentina.

Benjamin's journalism career started in college, when his university’s newspaper was abruptly shut down and defunded. He and the newspaper staff raised money and started a new, independent online newspaper, of which he became Editor-in-Chief for two years. After college, he completed an internship with NPR in their Culver City office.

Besides public radio, Benjamin enjoys music (he plays bass), writing and travelling, and is looking forward to working on the Central Coast.

Ways to Connect

Benjamin Purper

After California's gubernatorial recall election yesterday, major media outlets have called the race in favor of Governor Gavin Newsom, who has defeated the attempt to recall him from office — and in San Luis Obispo County, early results show voters in general voted no on the recall.

Benjamin Purper

The San Luis Obispo Clerk-Recorder’s Office is inviting the public to observe ballot-counting ahead of next week’s gubernatorial recall election.

Damien Gadal/Flickr

San Luis Obispo County's regional waste management authority faces an uncertain future. The Board of Supervisors recently voted to withdraw from the Integrated Waste Management Authority, or IWMA. Then their interim director, Paavo Ogren, resigned. KCBX's Benjamin Purper spoke with San Luis Obispo Tribune reporter Lindsey Holden about her reporting on the IWMA.

Department of Water Resources

If you live in Paso Robles or Atascadero, you may have seen a strange sight this weekend: a helicopter with a large hoop on it, flying 200 feet above the ground.

The Department of Water Resources held something called an airborne electromagnetic survey of that area to collect data on the groundwater basin there.

During one of these surveys, the helicopter tows electronic equipment — which looks like a large hoop — that sends signals into the ground, which then bounce back.

In the 4th part of our 12 episode series on farmworkers called Beyond the Furrows, KCBXs Francisco Martinez explores Guadalupe. Local business SLOCAL Roots is proposing a cannabis cultivation project in Paso Robles, although neighbors of the site have concerns. The King City art center Sol Treasures is putting on a summer camp this year with a theme of “samurais of peace” for the children. A passion for dance pays off as a King City dancer is accepted to Kirov Academy in Washington DC.

Courtesy of Sol Treasures

South Monterey County art center Sol Treasures is putting on a summer camp this year themed around Japanese culture. Staff say their goal is to mold kids into “samurais of peace” to create a positive impact in their King City community.

Courtesy of Sol Treasures

South Monterey County art center Sol Treasures is putting on a summer camp this year themed around Japanese culture. Staff say their goal is to mold kids into “samurais of peace” to create a positive impact in their King City community.

morrobay.org

As part of the KCBX Arts Beat, we're taking a look at how three local music organizations survived the pandemic: Festival Mozaic, the SLO Symphony, and Infinite Music. In our 3rd episode of KCBX's 12 part series 'Beyond the Furrows" reporter Francisco Martinez explores how labor trafficking affects farmworkers and what’s being done locally. The Land Conservancy of SLO County is starting to assess usage potential for the Santa Rita Ranch along Highway 46. You’ll hear from Around Downtown's Bettina Swigger as she speaks with Erica Crawford of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce. Finally, we’ll join Fr. Ian Dellinger as he explores sheep milk ice cream on Playing With Food.

Infinite Music

The coronavirus pandemic was devastating to many arts organizations that had to cancel in-person events, workshops and classes. But Central Coast nonprofit Infinite Music found that pivoting to online instruction had a silver lining.

festivalmozaic.org

Festival Mozaic, the popular Central Coast music festival, is back. After having their 2020 season cancelled because of the pandemic, the festival is putting on a smaller set of concerts this year, with a focus on chamber music and women composers.

photo: Healthy People Healthy Trails

On Issues & Ideas we're exploring the history of farmworkers' rights in California, and how that history affects people on the Central Coast. We're also taking a look at redistricting on the Central Coast, and some of the challenges being faced. And, we explore the possibility of wind turbines in Morro Bay, and the reaction of some in the fishing industry. We’re checking in with Healthy People Healthy Trails is a community initiative in Santa Barbara County to promote health and well-being through the use and enjoyment of nature. Meteorologist John Lindsey reports that a serious decline in the sea star population has led to a massive die-off of the kelp forests along the Northern California coastline. And finally, the San Luis Obispo City manager Derek Johnson talks about job strategies and city projects.

drawsantabarbaracounty.org

As part of our three-part series on redistricting on the Central Coast, we’re looking at the different systems for redistricting in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.

County of Santa Barbara

For part two of our three-part series on redistricting on the Central Coast, we’re looking at how the process works in the City and County of Santa Barbara.

Redistricting is the process of redrawing district boundaries for things like House of Representatives seats, supervisorial districts, cities and more. It affects how and where we vote, and who we vote for.

San Luis Obispo County

As part of KCBX's three-part series on redistricting on the Central Coast, we’re looking at how the process works in San Luis Obispo County.

Pexels

KCBX News is issuing a correction. We broadcast and published a story about the cannabis tax rate in San Luis Obispo County rising by 2% on July 1 when, in fact, the Board of Supervisors voted in a special meeting on June 25 to keep the rate at 6%.

We deeply regret the error.

San Luis Obispo Tribune

In a recent article written by staff reporter Lindsey Holden, the San Luis Obispo Tribune examined vaccination rates across San Luis Obispo County. KCBX's Benjamin Purper spoke with Holden about the data and some interesting findings across the county.

Coastal DunesCWC.com

In this edition of Issues & Ideas, researchers at UCSB have made a breakthrough in using gene-editing technology to create sterile male mosquitoes. We’ll visit Edna Contemporary, a fine art gallery tucked behind Basalt Interiors in downtown SLO; as part of KCBX's Arts Beat, Lauren Walike talks to owner Sheryl Daane Chestnut. It’s time for summer camp, and experts say that in addition to COVID-19, racial justice movements of the past year could lead to a revamping of current camp culture. U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hunter Liggett in southern Monterey County is on target to reach their goal of Net-Zero energy resiliency to critical facilities by 2022 via a new micro-grid. The San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce's Jim Dantona speaks with Mark Lisa, CEO of Tenet Health Central Coast, about how healthcare on the Central Coast is changing as a result of Covid-19. Note: Tenet Health is a financial supporter of KCBX. And finally, we’ll learn about the Coastal Dunes California Writers’ Club, which brings together published and yet-to-be published authors so they can share knowledge and encouragement.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have made a breakthrough in using gene-editing CRISPR-Cas9 technology to create sterile male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Honor Flight Central Coast California

The Central Coast Queer Archive Project collects oral and video histories of the local LGBTQ community and you’ll hear about the current state of the project. The EPA has awarded the Santa Barbara City College Foundation a grant for a project that will connect students and residents to a network of edible gardens. You’ll hear from local experts about vaccine hesitancy and how to talk to friends and family who are still undecided about the vaccine. Dr. Consuelo Meux has a conversation with the founder of Honor Flight Central Coast California, which takes veterans to Washington D.C. And finally, you’ll learn about the work done by the El Camino Homeless Coalition.

Twitter / Cal Fire SLO

Cal Fire SLO is reporting a vegetation fire on the Cuesta Grade in San Luis Obispo County on Saturday, June 5.

In a tweet around 2p.m., Cal Fire SLO said the fire is holding at 20 acres and aircraft have put retardant around the fire.

No structures are threatened and the number three lane halfway up the Cuesta Grade will be closed for approximately six hours, according to the California Highway Patrol. 

The fire is 0% contained as of 2p.m. Saturday. 

Credit NIH / Flickr

The Census Bureau estimates that just over 17% of U.S. adults aged 18 and older are unsure about or have already decided against receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Experts say that level of vaccine hesitancy could make it difficult for the country to reach herd immunity.

With that in mind, KCBX News spoke to local experts about vaccine hesitancy and how to talk to friends and family who are still undecided about the vaccine.

Courtesy of Esri

San Luis Obispo County has uploaded imagery to the Community Maps Program hosted by geographical information systems company Esri. Local officials, students and mapping experts say that will allow better maps of the county.

ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based mapping platform created by Southern California-based Esri.

Tenet Health

Central Coast medical provider Tenet Health announced May 25 a new partnership with University of California San Francisco (UCSF) to provide neurosurgical services to patients at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo.

Courtesy of White Buffalo Land Trust

Environmental nonprofit White Buffalo Land Trust acquired a 1,000-acre ranch in Santa Barbara that it will use to create a research and education center focused on regenerative agriculture.

City of Santa Barbara, Police Department

Update 5/24 5p.m.

The Santa Barbara City Fire Department reports that the Loma Fire is now 100% contained.

However, Alta Loma Drive will likely remain closed to vehicle traffic until Monday, May 31, according to the department.

Officials also advise residents of the area to "please use extreme caution in the area as rolling debris and rocks continue to fall onto the roadway."

Integrated Waste Management Authority

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday, May 18 to spend $32,000 on a cost-benefit analysis of the county’s regional waste management agency.

The three conservative supervisors on the board are considering putting the county Public Works Department in charge of waste management instead of the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA).

The IWMA was formed in 1994 to handle SLO County’s waste management and ensure compliance with state policy.

Benjamin Purper

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson and District Attorney Dan Dow announced three arrests May 17 in connection with the death of 7-month-old Lilith Luhm who they said ingested fentanyl and methamphetamine.

At a Monday press conference in San Luis Obispo, Parkinson announced his department arrested Shawn Luhm and his wife Kayla Luhm for “willful cruelty to a child with possible injury or death.”

They also arrested Melissa Currie of Atascadero as an accessory for willful cruelty to a child.

Benjamin Purper

More than 1,600 people have donated to an online fundraiser for the San Luis Obispo Police Department officer killed while serving a search warrant the evening of May 10 – raising more than $226,000 in fewer than 24 hours.

 

Benjamin Purper

 

 

Update: 05/11/21 12:30p.m.

San Luis Obispo Police have released the names of the officers involved in an active shooting incident on Monday, May 10.