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Dearly Departed: Allen Toussaint -The Big Easy’s Prolific Songwriter (1938-2015)


ToussaintBy Eric Berg | KUSP’s BergAlert -

The great Allen Tousaint, the New Orleans pianist, prolific songwriter and record producer, unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack last week after a performance in Spain. He was 77.

What?  You’ve never heard of him? Believe me, you’ve heard his songs.

Prolific songwriter

How ‘bout Robert Plant and Alison Kraus’s version of “Fortune Teller” from their Raising Sand  album? The song was penned by Toussaint  in 1962 and became a hit for Benny Spellman and later the Rolling Stones.

Toussaint wrote “Southern Nights” that was Glen Campbell’s very first no.1 hit single. And how ‘bout Al Hirt’s “Java”, Boz Scaggs’ and Bonnie Raitt’s  “What do You want the Girl to Do”, “Mother In Law” for Ernie K Doe, Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade”, “Ride Your Pony” for Lee Dorsey. Devo’s “Working in a Coal Mine” – originally another early hit for Dorsey. And don’t forget Dr. John’s  Toussaint produced album, “Right Place, Wrong Time”.  All this is a mere drop in Toussaint’s royalties bucket with all the other songs he’s written.

Kelly O’Brien: KUSP Listened, Now Needs You to Do Same

By Kelly O’Brien, President of the KUSP Board of Directors.

(This piece was also published in the opinion section of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 4, 2015.)

Support by community leaders, listeners, volunteers and the general public make this fact irrefutable: KUSP 88.9 FM is a highly valued public service for the greater Monterey Bay Area. It is also clear that programing changes are necessary in order for it to remain an independent community resource. Through in-depth discussions, we’ve learned that KUSP must change in order to create a new and dynamic community media outlet.

The board of directors has adopted the recommendation of its well-respected consultant, Public Media Co., which is that KUSP must end the redundancy of news/information programming with KAZU in order to best serve the region. We believe this decision sets the stage for the existence of two compelling and complementary public radio services that deliver greater choice and greater variety to current and prospective listeners.

Conversations with the Late Alan Cheuse

Author and literary scholar, Alan Cheuse. Photo: Peter Hedlund / flickr http://bit.ly/1Keg0Cx
Author and literary scholar, Alan Cheuse. Photo: Photo: Peter Hedlund-flickr-http://bit.ly/1Keg0Cx

Author and critic Alan Cheuse died last week at age 75. He regularly participated in interviews with KUSP Rick Kleffel. On this week’s Agony Column Literary Magazine show, listen back to a selection Cheuse’s insightful interviews.

Kelly O’Brien and Terry Green: Time is Now to Plan KUSP’s Future

This piece also appeared  in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on Sunday, May 31, 2015.

Meeting in Monterey, May 21, 2015.

Meeting in Monterey, May 21, 2015.

By Kelly O’Brien and Terry Green

Public radio depends on public support — and public participation. In the next few weeks, you will have an exceptional opportunity to shape the future of public radio in the Monterey Bay area.

Only one of the public radio stations in this region is owned by a local nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to serving the community through public media: 88.9 KUSP. And KUSP faces some critical decisions about what that public service will look like in the months and years ahead.

KUSP’s audience size is at its highest level ever, and with a month to go in our current fiscal year we have already broken our all-time record for donations from listeners (which make up about 55% of our overall budget). But these successes can’t mask some uncomfortable truths about what’s happening to the economics of local media in smaller communities like ours.

Competition for listeners’ ears has never been greater — from other AM/FM radio, from podcasts, from satellite radio and from online services like Pandora. Our business supporters have an ever-growing range of options for their marketing dollars. Government support for public broadcasting is stretched thinner every year.

Despite this financial stress, KUSP has continuously searched for ways to bring you better public radio. For many years we have advocated for collaboration among public stations that would improve the service you get by reducing duplication of programming by stations and gaining efficiency through economies of scale. Unfortunately, our efforts at bringing stations together have not been successful, and the time has come to look at a wider range of possible strategies for KUSP.

When we began looking beyond Central California for prospective collaborators, we heard from some unexpected places, including the parent organization of classical stations KDFC in San Francisco and KUSC in Los Angeles. They were interested in seeing if, by working with us, there would be ways to include Monterey Bay area listeners in what they do.

Their interest prompted us to think about whether there might be ways KUSP could meet its mission through approaches we had not seriously considered before. Our Board of Directors, made up of 13 community members from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, believed we should begin by asking our employees and volunteers whether the kind of idea floated by KDFC and KUSC was too “out of the box” for us to consider, or whether we should begin a serious exploration of what might be possible. While 81% of the group supported opening the discussion, there are voices in the community strongly opposed, and we recognize that broaching the idea at all has hit a nerve.

The start of the wider discussion has brought forth a number of interesting ideas for KUSP — some that involve bigger partners in one way or another, and some that the station would do on its own. As we bring these ideas into focus, we want to know what you think. Public meetings to discuss the ideas brought to us so far are going on now; a Santa Cruz County meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, June 2, at the Jack & Peggy Baskin Center for Philanthropy – Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, in Aptos. To learn more about current ideas and to review answers to frequently asked questions, please engage with KUSP at kusp.org/participate.

The time to plan the future is now, and we want your voice to be heard. Please join us.

Kelly O’Brien, KUSP President and Board Chair
Terry Green, KUSP General Manager

How to Get Ahead On Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me

‘Beer and Ice Cream? I Don’t Know…’

Butch Adams, owner of Kai Lee Creamery, says he's ready to "Frankenstein up" wholly new flavors of ice cream. Photo: J.D. Hillard

Butch Adams, owner of Kai Lee Creamery, says he’s ready to “Frankenstein up” wholly new flavors of ice cream. Photo: J.D. Hillard

By J.D. Hilard | KUSP News - 

At restaurants, it’s become common to see the names of local food producers whose ingredients add to the character of a particular dish.  The  key ingredient of a new flavor at Kai Lee Creamery in the American Tin Cannery in Pacific Grove comes from Peter B’s Brewpub at the Portola Hotel in Monterey.

So how did stout ice cream come about, and what did customers think?

Clark amdi the giant kettles and beer ingredients at Peter B's. Photo: J.D. Hillard

Clark amdi the giant kettles and beer ingredients at Peter B’s. Photo: J.D. Hillard

Kevin Clark, the brewer at Peter B’s, aid he noticed the passion Butch Adams puts into developing flavors at his Kai Lee Creamery. He suggested a stout ice cream.

“I said ‘Beer and ice cream? I don’t know,’ ” Butch says.

But they made some and put it in front of customers.

“Once their eyes roll back to the front of their head, they’re ready for a whole scoop,” he says.

Kevin says he’s got other beer ice creams in mind for the future: “We have a really nice raspberry wheat that would be fun in ice cream. IPA, really bitter, might be fun to try.”

“I’m ready to Frankenstein up anything,” Butch says. “We’ll have a whole army of flavors coming at you I’m sure… ready to decimate your palette. “

What is Different About Paula Poundstone?

Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

By J.D. Hillard | KUSP News - Public Radio Audiences know Paula Poundstone for appearances on the weekend quiz show Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. In her live performances, she’s earned reputation for combining timing and wit to illustrate the hilarity we encounter day to day. She discussed what goes into a performance ahead of her stand up show October 3 at Monterey’s Golden State Theater.

What Ira Glass Won’t Say


The Days and Nights Festival comes to Carmel and Big Sur, September 26-28, 2014.

Photo: Christopher Duggan

Photo: Christopher Duggan


Photo: David Bazemore

Ahead of his appearance in the 2014 Days and Nights Festival Ira Glass was on Robert Pollie’s 7th Avenue Project interview show. Ira’s piece in the festival “Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host” is a spoken word and dance performance. So one of the things that happens in the interview is Robert encountering Ira’s policy about discussing whether he dances.

In the audio excerpt above you get just a taste of what happens when two masters of the radio interview enter into conversation.

Blue Whales Recovered?

After a century of whaling followed by 40 years of protection, blue whales on the Pacific coast may have returned to their natural population.


The blue whale, the biggest animal on the planet, was hunted with abandon in the Pacific Ocean until the early 1970s. The species has been rebounding ever since, but a slowdown in the growth of the population frequenting waters off the California coast was a concern.

Read more at: Nytimes


In the Wake of Die-Off Lots of Baby Sea Stars

starfishJ.D. Hillard | KUSP News

After most species of sea stars suffered massive die-offs in 2013, researchers say there’s some hope for recovery.

Scientists still don’t understand why sea stars from Mexico to Canada started dying off. But the disease, which is called “sea star wasting syndrome” has affected most species and in many locations killed off a majority of sea stars, says Peter Raimondi, who studies marine ecology at Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz.

“It’s unlikely you’ll go to a location and not find any sea stars but the numbers are fractions of what they used to be.”

The ailment begins with tissue death – parts of the sea star may fall off. Then bacterial infections kill the animal.

Now Raimondi says there’s a chance sea stars may recover. He and other scientists have seen the largest number of baby sea stars they’ve ever seen. That goes especially for a site near Raimondi’s lab.

“We’ve seen more babies in the last 6 months than we’ve seen in the last 15 years combined. ”

Raimondi cautions that the large birth year doesn’t necessarily promise a return to normal populations. These new sea stars could still get the disease.

“The comeback would be when these individuals actually make it through to the adult stage.”

He says that would take a few years, once this year’s babies reach maturity.