Rick Bentley

TV & radio news: Gia Vang new anchor at KMPH

Gia Vang is the new anchor at KMPH.
Gia Vang is the new anchor at KMPH.

Gia Vang has been hired as the replacement for anchor Ashley Ritchie at FOX26 and is expected to begin working at KMPH in mid-March. Vang comes here after a stint at KPNX in Phoenix.

The hire became necessary after Ritchie had been off the air for several months on maternity leave. She says she decided that having three boys under the age of 4 was making it too difficult for her to continue the late-night shift for the station’s 10 p.m. weekday newscast. Ritchie has left the anchor chair, but will keep working at KMPH doing special news reports.

Two years ago, Ritchie returned to work after being on extended maternity leave that included three months of bed rest during her pregnancy for son Noah.

Vang was the KPNX weekend anchor and also had duties as a news reporter. Prior to that she was an anchor and reporter in Kansas City and Eugene, Ore. Her work has earned her several awards for her reporting, including one for breaking news coverage.

In a news release to announce her hiring, Vang says, “I’m beyond excited to call Fresno and KMPH Fox 26 my new home. I can’t wait to share the important stories this community has to offer every day.”

Although she has worked in other cities, Vang is familiar with the Valley. She’s a graduate of California State University, Bakersfield. The Modesto native has strong ties to the Fresno community because of the many family members who live here and in surrounding communities.

KMPH Vice President and General Manager Jack Peck is excited about Vang’s local ties because he believes that will give her a good insight into what’s important for KMPH and its viewers.

The search to find the right replacement for Ritchie took weeks and had KMPH management looking at candidates from all over the country.

F0X26 KMPH News Director Jim Turpin says “to find somebody with Gia’s talent and personality who has such strong ties to the Central Valley is simply outstanding.”


ValleyPBS is hold a gala ball in connection with the final season of “Downton Abbey.” The event is scheduled for Saturday, March 5.

There is still time to be part of the event. Anyone wishing to attend needs to call 559-266-1800, ext. 300, before 5 p.m. Thursday, March 3. Tickets are $125 apiece.

Candice Pendergrass, director of development and marketing for ValleyPBS, explains the gala is the station’s way of celebrating one of the most successful costume dramas in the history of public television.

“We’ve enjoyed six wonderful seasons and wanted to go out with a bang. The gala is our way of doing that,” Pendergrass says. “We are saying black tie or period dress.”

Those celebrating the popular public television series will enjoy an evening of champagne plus dinner and dancing that begins at 6 p.m. at the Falls Event Center, 4105 W. Figarden Drive.

“Downton Abbey” has been one of the most successful shows to air on public television. The final episode is scheduled to be broadcast Sunday, March 6.

Sad news

Veteran radio personality Charlie Tuna died Friday, Feb. 19. Since December 2012, Tuna hosted a morning show on local radio station KYNO (AM 1430) that was produced in Tuna’s studios in Los Angeles.

Jennifer Wilde had been filling in for Tuna for several weeks before his death. There’s no word whether Wilde will remain in the time period or a new morning personality will be found.

Tuna, whose real name was Art Ferguson, got his fishy on-air name when he took the job in Oklahoma City. He was told there had been some sickness at the station and the newsman was forced to fill in on the weekend. Because he didn’t want to ruin his journalistic credibility, he decided to use the name of the mascot for Starkist Tuna so people wouldn’t know it was him.

Battle broadcast

Local news/talk radio stations PowerTalk 96.7 and AM 1400 will broadcast the first debate among Lee Brand, Henry R. Perea and H. Spees, candidates to be Fresno’s next mayor. The event, set for Thursday, March 10, will be moderated by PowerTalk’s Trevor Carey.

“This debate presents the unique opportunity for concerned citizens to see, hear and question the candidates,” Carey says.

The live broadcast will begin at 3 p.m. with pre-debate analysis and the debate starting at 4 p.m. It will be followed at 6 p.m. wrap-up and post-debate analysis.

The public is invited to attend and participate in this free event, with doors opening at 3:30 p.m. at Pardini’s Catering and Banquets, 2257 W. Shaw Ave. Questions for the candidates can be submitted in advance at www.powertalk967.com.

Camera work

“Live At 9:30,” the online music variety show launching nationwide on public television this spring, is looking for submissions for “180 at 9:30,” which will spotlight filmmakers from around the world.

The films, which must be music-related or prominently feature music, must be no longer than 3 minutes. Any type of film is acceptable: mini-documentaries, animation, biopic or fiction. The only limitation is the 180 seconds.

Filmmakers up for the challenge should send an email no later than April 30 to annika@thecontentfarm.tv. The email should include: short treatment of your idea; rough proposed budget; résumé or bio; and links to previous work.

The “Live At 9:30” viewing committee will review all submissions and will fund the projects it finds innovative, entertaining and compelling.

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1

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