Beth Thornton

Contributor

Beth Thornton is interested in how our daily lives are affected by the convergence of words, images, and technology. Before radio, she worked in print and video for newspapers, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. Most recently, she was the editor of Connections, a monthly e-newsletter published by the Center for Media Literacy that includes research and media activities for K-12 educators. Originally from northern California, Beth moved to Santa Barbara to attend UCSB. She also holds a certificate in creative writing from UCLA Extension Writers' Program. Beth listens to public radio at every opportunity, and enjoys cycling on the Central Coast.

Courtesy of SBUSD

The Santa Barbara Unified School District has adopted a new grading policy for secondary students—grades 7-12—as they continue with distance learning.

By a unanimous vote, the school board passed a grading policy that now includes an option for a grade of 'No Credit' in lieu of an F.

Issues & Ideas: Monarch butterflies, a surfing pioneer and SLO Village

Jan 13, 2021

On today's show we’ll learn about the union that more than 200 workers at Alphabet—the parent company of Google—have announced they're forming with the Communications Workers of America. This winter, the butterfly sanctuary in Pacific Grove is empty, and monarchs across the Central Coast and North America are disappearing while federal protection is still years away. You’ll hear from Santa Barbara filmmaker Heather Hudson, who recently released her third film—a tribute to surf pioneer Marge Calhoun. We'll speak with the head of SLO Village, a local organization helping to keep seniors living independently in their own homes. And finally, we explore the way San Luis Obispo is using lights and activites to attract people to the downtown core.

Courtesy of Civic Ballet SLO

For many, December includes an outing to "The Nutcracker" ballet, and for dance schools up and down the Central Coast, holiday show ticket sales make up a large part of the yearly operating budget. But with theaters closed, performances of the holiday classic will be posted online for home viewing.

In this episode of Issues & Ideas, we learn about a year-long San Luis Obispo Tribune investigation into substandard housing in San Luis Obispo County. We also hear from Dawn Ortiz-Legg, chosen by California's governor to represent SLO County District 3 after the death of Adam Hill. Julie Rodewald talks about the local chapter of the League of Women Voters and how the recent national election broke all records in SLO County. Finally, we meet the newest lion at the Santa Barbara Zoo—a cub named Pauline—and hear how the zoo is dealing with all the operational changes of 2020. 

In keeping with California’s goal towards carbon neutrality, the state is giving Isla Vista money to pay for new, clean transportation in low-income areas.

On this week's edition of Issues & Ideas: Chris Lambert created the podcast "Your Own Backyard," about Kristin Smart and the nearly quarter-century-long unsolved case of her disappearance from San Luis Obispo's Cal Poly campus.

CA King Tides Project

King tides are the year’s highest and lowest tides, occurring when there is alignment of the gravitational pull between the sun, moon and Earth. California’s coast is seeing king tides this week—with more on the way in December and January—and with them a chance to participate in a statewide science project.

Issues & Ideas: SLO city council candidates, the changing media and the Elfin Forest

Nov 7, 2020

Six San Luis Obispo city council candidates answer questions posed by the KCBX newsroom, Pismo Beach residents decide their next mayor and a bed tax. We hear from Kim Bisheff of the Cal Poly Journalism Department, speaking about the changes in today’s media. And finally, we learn about the Elfin Forest Natural Area in Los Osos.

Courtesy of the Waage/Shadwell campaigns

Like in several Central Coast cities this election, Pismo Beach residents are deciding on the next mayor, two or more city council seats and a tax measure.

We hear from candidates running to represent the Central Coast in state and federal government; including California Assembly incumbent Jordan Cunningham and California’s 20th congressional district Congressman Jimmy Panetta. We also speak to the three mayoral candidates in Santa Maria. This is Media Literacy Week, and we speak with the executive director of a nonprofit organization that hosts a week-long event to highlight media literacy education. The KCBX Arts Beat reports on the local performing arts industry, which is taking a huge hit during the COVID-19 crisis without much direction for an eventual reopening. Finally, pumpkin spice season is here and KCBX contributor Father Ian explores some local holiday treats.

The city of Santa Maria has grown considerably in the last two decades. With more than 100,000 residents, it is the largest city, both in population and geographic area, in Santa Barbara County. This election, Santa Maria voters are currently deciding who will be the city’s mayor for the next four years.

For the last eight years, Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson has represented California’s 19th state senate district, which extends from Guadalupe to Camarillo. With Jackson’s term expiring this year, the seat representing close to one million people on the Central Coast is open to someone new.

Beth Thornton

The Community Arts Workshop in downtown Santa Barbara is a place for local artists and organizations to make and display their art. The Workshop is now offering classes designed for working adults, especially those in the service industries who want to recharge their creative spirit.

California’s public television stations have joined with the state’s county school superintendents to launch a new online service for educators and parents. The collaboration comes at a time in which teachers and families are grappling with the ongoing challenges of virtual learning.

Issues & Ideas: A virtual Monterey Jazz Festival, the SLO Botanical Garden and YouthWell

Sep 23, 2020

The Monterey Jazz Festival usually takes place at the Monterey County Fairgrounds on the third weekend in September, but the 63rd annual festival will be virtual. You'll hear from Beau and Melissa Kramer of Kramer Events talking about the recent challenges of the event business. The University of California at Berkeley is starting a new center to study the science of psychedelics and you’ll hear from one of the center's cofounders—journalist and author Michael Pollan. YouthWell is a nonprofit based in Santa Barbara that provides free mental health workshops and resources for teens, parents, and educators. The San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden’s programs have adapted to the pandemic, and there are big plans for the future. And finally today, you’ll hear a story of stranded hikers trapped in the wilderness by a raging wildfire.

Courtesy of Partners in Education video

Schools have moved to online education and that means every student needs a computer and internet access to participate. A program called Computers for Families provides refurbished equipment and technical support to families throughout Santa Barbara County.

More than 173,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States. We learn more about one of those who died of COVID-19 in July—Su Thao, a Hmong businessman and filmmaker who had a profound impact on thousands of others. Also on the program, Smart Share Housing Solutions helps people in San Luis Obispo County by matching homeowners who have extra bedrooms with those looking for an affordable place to live. Chuck Davison of Visit SLO CAL discusses the state of tourism on the Central Coast.

We’ll hear from Dr. Gail Newel, Santa Cruz County's public health officer, who discusses a variety of topics—from new evidence on the effectiveness of masks to how the pandemic has affected her daily life. We'll learn about Downtown SLO's efforts to maintain a vital city center during the pandemic from the organization’s CEO Bettina Swigger. The Point San Luis Lighthouse just celebrated its 130th birthday, and while it's closed for actual tours during the pandemic, its history is rich and there are lots of plans for the future. Finally, insects are included in the everyday diet in many parts of the world, and we’ll learn about raising awareness and changing the perception of Americans around eating bugs.

Issues & Ideas: Coin shortage, abalone and a "quarantini" a day

Jul 28, 2020


Issues & Ideas: Wildfire season, Santa Barbara history, and a SLO airport project

Jul 23, 2020

In this episode of Issues & Ideas: Wildfire season has arrived in California, and managers of a preserve in Monterey County are hoping to change the way communities approach wildfires. We’ll hear from a Santa Barbara historian to learn more about what was making news one hundred years ago. Bakersfield’s South High School has had a Confederate rebel for its mascot since 1957, and we’ll hear from Marcus Hicks, who, as a Black student, talks about what it was like to be in that environment. The Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture brings new art exhibits to the community throughout the year, and we’ll learn about a current sculpture at what locals call Hendry's Beach. The San Luis Obispo Airport has an upcoming project to the airport's runway. The US Forest Service plans to prevent wildfires in the Los Padres National Forest by cutting down trees. And finally, we'll hear from a local tech business leader who believes “it’s high time we demand the right to open, tinker with, and repair everything we own.”

Courtesy of GRSB

Girls Rock Santa Barbara is a local nonprofit that brings together aspiring young artists with professional mentors in the music industry. High school-aged girls and gender-expansive youth learn about music, creative expression and performance in a positive, empowering environment.

Sarah York Rubin

If you head to the beach in Santa Barbara this summer, you might stumble upon an outdoor display by world-renowned artist Tom Fruin. His brightly-colored sculptures, made of reclaimed plexiglass, bring a new perspective to common shapes and designs.

On this episode of Issues & Ideas, Cal Poly grad student and photojournalist Diego Rivera discusses his  reporting on the SLO Police Department's explanations for using tear gas and pepper spray during the June 1 San Luis Obispo protest march. We’ll hear from Courtney Haile, co-founder of R.A.C.E. Matters SLO, describing the goals of the organization and the recent protests around San Luis Obispo County. Michelle Shoresman of the San Luis Obispo County Health Department talks about her job helping find medical coverage for poverty-level residents. And while government insurance covers the poorest of the poor, there are still millions of Americans who fall into a gap: they make too much to qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford to buy insurance on the marketplace. The Noor Foundation in San Luis Obispo County aims to close that gap. Finally, UC Santa Barbara professor of communication Robin Nabi talks about her research on the positive effects of entertainment media as it relates to stress, illness, and goal attainment.

Beth Thornton

Movie theaters and cineplexes across the Central Coast now have clearance to start reopening. But for the past several weeks, there’s been another way to go out for an evening to see a film. A staple of life in the 1950s and ‘60s, drive-in theaters fell out of popularity for the past few decades—but may be making a comeback. Drive-ins offer a safe option for people of all ages and social distancing is easily managed.

On this episode of Issues & Ideas, emergency relief for undocumented immigrants recently became available in California, but demand outweighs the supply of cash. We’ll learn how the California NanoSystems Institute at UCSB is repurposing 3D printers to make face shields for healthcare workers. And hear about the challenges facing small farmers in California due to COVID-19. We get an update on First 5 SLO County from director Wendy Wendt; the independent public agency, created by California’s Proposition 10, uses a tax on tobacco products to fund programs for children through age five and their families. The city manager of Morro Bay, Scott Collins, talks about having to discourage vacationers due to the pandemic. And finally, we’ll learn about an award-winning book by UCSB professor emeritus Tonia Shimin featuring the art of her late father, Symeon Shimin.

The California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is a place where engineers, scientists and students make prototypes for their projects —often using 3D printers. Dave Bothman, the lab manager, has lately been using the printers to make face shields for healthcare workers.

On this episode of Issues & Ideas, the SLO Chamber of Commerce's Jim Dantona speaks with SLO County health officer Dr. Penny Borenstein—not just about public health issues, but Borenstein's personal path to the job that, before the current pandemic, was not often in the public spotlight. We visit with a retired pilot, Captain Karen Kahn, one of the first female pilots hired to fly with a commercial airline, and learn more about a nonprofit—where Kahn is a mentor—that teaches Santa Barbara-area youth all aspects of aviation and, ultimately, how to fly a plane. Tom Wilmer speaks with Christine Johnson, executive director of the Central Coast Aquarium, about the Avila aquarium and the planned Morro Bay expansion. Finally, Monterey County organizations pick up the phone to check in with people during the shutdown. 

On this agriculture-themed episode of Issues & Ideas, we hear the second half of a conversation with Brent Burchett of the SLO County Farm Bureau, about issues facing farmers on the Central Coast. Father Ian takes us on a journey to explore growing and enjoying Central Coast artichokes. We learn more about a new research project in a San Miguel vineyard involving vermiculture, and tag along on a tour of a vermicompost production facility. And we get the lowdown on a state grant program designed to encourage healthy soils. Finally, meet the newest baby giraffe at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

On this week's Issues & Ideas, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, by speaking to its organizer, Denis Hayes, in a wide-ranging and in-depth conversation. Correspondent Tom Wilmer takes us to Camp San Luis Obispo to find out what the National Guard are doing there. To see how virtual learning is faring during pandemic school closures, we check in with school districts in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties. We also learn how Santa Barbara teenagers are helping seniors during the pandemic through a program called 'Zoomers to Boomers.' All that and more on this episode of Issues & Ideas.

On this episdoe of Issues & Ideas: We learn more about a STEAM—science, technology, engineering, the arts and math—program for middle school students offered by the Foundation at Hearst Castle. And a nationwide shortage prompts distilleries in San Luis Obispo County to turn production over to hand sanitizer. We hear more about a nonprofit organization called 'School on Wheels' that tutors homeless children in Santa Barbara County. And Father Ian takes us on an educational tour of Central Coast olive groves and olive oil producers. 

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