Beth Thornton

Reporter/Contributor

Beth Thornton is a freelance reporter for KCBX, and a contributor to Issues & Ideas. She is especially 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.

Issues & Ideas: Fact checking SLOPD, RACE Matters SLO and accessing healthcare

Jun 19, 2020

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. 

California Coastal Commission

Hollister Ranch is a 14,000-acre property located on the Santa Barbara County coast, between Goleta and Point Conception. A gated community surrounded by a working cattle ranch, real estate ads for Hollister Ranch tout its eight-and-a-half miles of private beach frontage.

But a new law authored by Santa Barbara state assembly member Monique Limon requires increased public access to Hollister Ranch’s seashore.

SB Trapeze Co.

You no longer have to join a circus to become skilled on the flying trapeze. Schools focused on the art now operate across the country, and there’s one on the Central Coast—the Santa Barbara Trapeze Company opened last fall.

Courtesy Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission

Trying to improve mental health services for California students, a group of young people from around the state recently met up in Santa Barbara to come up with new ideas. And it included students and mental health advocates from across the Central Coast.

(Clockwise) Michael Kienitz; Douglas Lochner; Greta Mart

On this week’s Issues & Ideas: Truth in Recruitment is a student advocacy group working to reduce the presence of military recruiters on high school campuses. We hear the group's concerns and what they are doing to expand access to information about post-high school options for teens. We also hear the perspectives of a Santa Maria Joint Unified School District administrator, and the U.S. Army captain in charge of military recruitment on the Central Coast.

On this week’s Issues & Ideas, the city of Morro Bay continues its effort to build a $126 million dollar wastewater treatment facility near the north end of South Bay Blvd. But a group of residents are putting on the brakes with a referendum campaign; the county is currently verifying signatures that could trigger a public vote.

Thirty years ago, the only Rhône grape most Americans knew about was Syrah. Then a French family and an American family together purchased some land west of Paso Robles, in the Adelaida wine district. They set out to import Rhône grape varieties to the Central Coast, with the aim to grow them using organic, dry farming and other sustainable methods. 

On this week’s Issues & Ideas, we learn more about the large, immersive new light and art installation called Sensorio Field of Light coming to Paso Robles. 

On this episode of Issues & Ideas, we revisit how the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II affected the Central Coast, in a conversation with local historian Jim Gregory. We also speak to the director of a documentary looking at the long history of negligence and institutional failings around what's called the deadliest aircraft in the U.S. military.

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