Editor’s Desk: Radio waves

By Brent Cunningham

FERN didn’t begin as an outlet for radio journalism, but over the years we’ve worked with a number of excellent audio reporters—and some of their stories rank among our favorites. Last week we added two more to that growing archive.

The first, “White gold fever,” by Esther Honig, was done in partnership with the podcast Snap Judgment, and tells the poignant saga of Belen Delgado, a fisherman in the struggling village of Teacapán, Mexico. In 2007, with overfishing having depleted the once abundant stocks of snapper and grouper, Delgado discovered a huge bed of callo de hacha, a rare and valuable scallop, just off the coast. 

As Esther tells us, it was “a discovery that would change his life and the lives of everyone he knew.” But what happened next says a lot about human nature—and about the prospects for sustainability. 

The second story comes from reporter Lisa Morehouse, who has been mining the quirkier corners of California for years for her California Foodways project. Her latest, “Is the Ojai Pixie dust?,” done in collaboration with KQED’s California Report, explores how a changing climate and a surging real estate market in Ojai have farmers worried that this iconic citrus hub is running out of time.

As Morehouse explains, “The valley’s climate has been ideal for citrus, but that climate is … getting windier, drier, and hotter. A recent study showed that Ventura County’s temperature has warmed more in the last 125 years than any other county in the lower 48 states.” The situation has gotten bad enough that some longtime farmers are saying Ojai agriculture may not survive.

With the recent success of our Hot Farm podcast, we intend to continue making radio waves here at FERN. As a journalistic medium, it’s a great fit with the longform, narrative stories we’re known for. But these stories can be expensive to produce, so if you like what you’re hearing, please consider a donation. We can’t do it without you.