Rick Bentley

ValleyPBS pairs panel talk with Ken Burns documentary on Jackie Robinson

The two-part ValleyPBS special, “Jackie Robinson: A Conversation,” will be broadcast in connection with the PBS documentary by Ken Burns on the major league baseball player.
The two-part ValleyPBS special, “Jackie Robinson: A Conversation,” will be broadcast in connection with the PBS documentary by Ken Burns on the major league baseball player. rbentley@fresnobee.com

ValleyPBS is one of the few public-broadcast stations nationwide that will have local programming to accompany the two-part documentary “Jackie Robinson” from Ken Burns that airs April 11 and 12.

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The Burns documentary examines how Robinson affected sports, politics and social change. It airs at 9 p.m. Monday, April 11 and Tuesday, April 12 on KVPT (Channel 18.1).

At 7 p.m. each of those nights, the local PBS affiliate will air “Jackie Robinson: A Conversation” that showcases a panel discussion.

“We were one of 10 stations able to get a grant to do this special,” says Elizabeth Laval, vice president of operations for ValleyPBS. “We got the grant over some much bigger stations.”

The specials, taped March 29, are hosted by Marc Q. Jones from 940 ESPN radio. The panelists were divided into two groups and included: Jim Aldredge, whose pro baseball career was cut short by an eye injury but went on to become Fresno city manager; Kerry Yo Nakagawa of Fresno, representing Nisei baseball players; Andrea Duran, softball Olympian from Selma; Terance Frazier, a former Fresno State and pro player who’s one of Fresno’s leading developers; and Thomari Story-Harden, another former pro player who runs the Team Avenue youth baseball academy.

Both Jones and the audience ask questions.

Aldredge tells the audience that Robinson had a big hand in his interest in baseball. He was a star athlete out of Edison High when he signed a pro contract in 1956.

“I saw a story in the Pittsburgh Courier that talked about all the money he (Robinson) was making.” Aldredge says that’s when he realized that if he concentrated on a sport he already liked, he could make money playing baseball.

Nakagawa talks about how much discrimination Robinson saw when he made a stop in Fresno and how Nakagawa’s uncle pitched against Robinson in college. Robinson hit two massive shots off him, but Nakagawa’s uncle was not upset.

“He told me that he was happy to help with Robinson’s career by giving him a lot of confidence,” Nakagawa says.

Several panelists will be at the Fresno Grizzlies game on April 16 wearing jerseys with the number 42, Robinson’s number. Aldredge and Chris Meyer, who plays for the Junior Grizzlies adaptive baseball team, are scheduled to throw out the first pitch.

The Robinson special is the first of what Laval looks to be a continuing series produced under the “A Conversation” banner. Next up will be a chat with the Masumoto family in connection with their new book, “Changing Season: A Father, A Daughter, A Family Farm.”

Changes made

Radio station 1680 The Answer changed its lineup beginning Monday, April 4. The shuffle was necessary because Salem Radio Networks, the major supplier of syndicated programs to the Fresno talk radio station, decided to move the “Hugh Hewitt Show” from afternoons to mornings.

The new lineup at The Answer is: “Overnight America,” midnight to 3 a.m.; “America’s Morning News,” 3-5 a.m.; “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” 5-8 a.m.; “Jim Franklin Live,” 8-9 a.m.; “Laura Ingraham,” 9 a.m.-noon; and “Dave Ramsey,” noon-3 p.m.

Replacing Hewitt is Joe Pags, a San Antonio-based talk show host, from 3-6 p.m. The rest of the schedule remains the same.

The Answer will launch the weekly two-hour live call-in sports talk program, “The Nick and Matt Show,” starting at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 7. It will originate from the Fashion Furniture Showroom. Nick Papagni and Matt Johnson host the local show.

Name change

The name of the locally produced FOX26 show, “Around the Valley,” will change to “Lifestyle Matters” starting Monday, April 11. The program is broadcast at 11 a.m. Tuesday-Thursday.

Jack Peck, KMPH/KFRE general manager, says the switch is being made because “Lifestyle Matters’ is a name being used by Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., owners of the two local TV stations.

Other news

Pack a bag: ValleyPBS is holding a travel raffle with the grand prize being an eight-day, seven-night trip to England and Scotland. The trip includes a “Downton Abbey” tour. Tickets are $100 each with the drawing slated for May 31. Go to https://valleypbs.org/station-events/valleypbs-travel-raffle/ for more information.

Talk, talk, talk: Those of you who have asked me about my job should try to grab one of the last few tickets for the San Joaquin River Parkway’s “You Be the Critic” event set for June 11. Not only will there be a special film screening but I will be sharing some of my misadventures as a TV and film critic. Go to https://reservations.riverparkway.org/eventperformances.asp?evt=414 for more information.