Laura Sydell fell in love with the intimate storytelling qualities of radio, which combined her passion for theatre and writing with her addiction to news. Over her career she has covered politics, arts, media, religion, and entrepreneurship. Currently Sydell is the Digital Culture Correspondent for the NPR's All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition and NPR.org.
Incredibly excited to be reporting on one of the great stories of our time, Sydell focuses on the ways in which technology is transforming our culture. She profiled artists who found a new way to create music with an orchestra made up of half robots; and independent musicians who find the Internet is a better friend than a record label. Sydell focuses on the ways social media transforms everything from personal relationships to shopping.
Sydell traveled India and China to look at the impact of technology on developing nations. In China, she reported how American television programs like Lost broke past China's censors and found a devoted following among the emerging Chinese middle class. She found in India that cell phones are the computer of the masses.
Among her all-time favorite pieces is a profile of a private eye who found a way to incorporate Buddhist faith into her job by working exclusively on death penalty cases. Sydell also featured a mother's devotion to a son charged with a brutal murder and the bus that carries her and others with incarcerated family members from New York City to a prison upstate.
Before joining NPR in 2003, Sydell served as a senior technology reporter for American Public Media's Marketplace, Sydell looked at the human impact of new technologies and the personalities behind the Silicon Valley boom and bust.
Before coming to San Francisco, Sydell worked as a reporter for NPR Member Station WNYC in New York. Her reporting on race relations, city politics, and arts was honored with numerous awards from organizations such as The Newswomen's Club of New York, The New York Press Club, and The Society of Professional Journalists.
The American Women in Radio and Television, The National Federation of Community Broadcasters, and Women in Communications have all honored Sydell for her long-form radio documentary work focused on individuals whose life experiences turned them into activists.
After finishing a one-year fellowship with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, Sydell came to San Francisco as a teaching fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at University of California, Berkeley.
Sydell graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree from William Smith College in Geneva, New York, and earned a J.D. from Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law.
The Veggie Chef offers recipes for vegetarians. Andrea Mattioni-Willis is a vegetarian herself and she loves to cook. She frequently experiments with new recipes and will share her findings with all of you.
Kevin Whitehead is the jazz critic for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
Whitehead's articles on jazz and improvised music have appeared in such publications as Point of Departure, the Chicago Sun-Times, Village Voice, Down Beat, and the Dutch daily de Volkskrant.
He is the author of Why Jazz: A Concise Guide (2010), New Dutch Swing (1998), and (with photographer Ton Mijs) Instant Composers Pool Orchestra: You Have to See It (2011).
His essays have appeared in numerous anthologies including Da Capo Best Music Writing 2006, Discover Jazz and Traveling the Spaceways: Sun Ra, the Astro-Black and Other Solar Myths.
Whitehead has taught at Towson University, the University of Kansas and Goucher College. He lives near Baltimore.
Marisa Peñaloza is a senior producer on the National Desk. From breaking news to documentary-style features, Peñaloza's productions are among the signature pieces heard on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition.
Her work has covered a wide array of topics, from hurricanes, education, immigration, politics and the economy to homeland security and litigation. She has also produced investigative reports and traveled across the U.S. and the world for NPR.
Although Peñaloza's permanent assignment is on the National Desk, she occasionally travels overseas on assignment. She traveled to Haiti soon after the 2010 earthquake hit and she's gone back several times to follow the humanitarian organizations working on the island nation. She's covered education in Peru and a dengue outbreak in El Salvador, the Madrid train bombings in Spain as well as the Tsunami in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.
In 2011, she traveled to Honduras to cover the sock industry as part of a two-part series on globalization and to El Salvador to produce a series of stories on immigration. Her past productions include coverage of the Elian Gonzalez custody battle from Miami, protests outside the Navy site on the Island of Viequez, in Puerto Rico, the aftermath of the crash of the American Airlines flight 587 in New York. She contributed to NPR's 9/11 coverage. Peñaloza was one of the first NPR staff members to arrive on the Virginia Tech campus to cover the shootings in 2007. She was on assignment in Houston waiting for hurricane Ike to make landfall in September 2008, and she continues to produce coverage of New Orleans recovery after Katrina.
An award-winning journalist, Peñaloza was honored with the 2011 National Headliner Award in investigative reporting and the Grand Award for a series of stories looking at the role of confidential informants - people who pose as criminals so they can provide information to federal law enforcement; except sometimes, these informants are criminals themselves.
In 2009, Peñaloza was honored with several awards for contribution to "Dirty Money," an enterprising four-part series of stories that examined law enforcement's pursuit of suspected drug money, which they can confiscate without filing charges against the person carrying it. Local police and sheriffs get to keep a portion of the cash. The awards for "Dirty Money" include the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award in the investigative reporting category; the Scripps Howard Foundation's National Journalism Foundation Award; and the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award in the "best website" category.
In 2008, Peñaloza was honored by the Education Writers Association with its "National Award for Education Reporting" for a year-long NPR on-air and online series following a Baltimore-area high school's efforts to improve student achievement. She won the Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Award for Excellence in Reporting on Drug and Alcohol Problems in 2007, for a five-part series of stories that examined this country's gains and losses since the war on drugs was launched more than thirty years ago, "The Forgotten Drug Wars." She is the recipient of the 2005 unity award for producing Debbie Elliott's Brown vs Board of Education piece, "Before Desegregation: The Education Migration."
In 2003, Peñaloza produced a two-part story entitled "Corruption at the Gates." NPR correspondent John Burnett and Peñaloza discovered that some U.S. border officials are on the take, illegally passing drugs and immigrants into the country in return for bribes. The reports won them a National Headliner Award in the investigative reporting category.
In 2001, "Globalization and the Return of Dengue" won Peñaloza the Pan American Health Organization's Award for Excellence in International Health Reporting. The story was part of a series of stories for NPR and American Radio Works on globalization and disease.
Peñaloza made the leap from television to radio in 1997, when she joined NPR's National Desk. Before coming to NPR she was a staff at the local NBC station and a freelance writer for the Fox affiliate in Washington, DC.
Peñaloza graduated from the George Washington University in Washington, DC, with bachelor's degrees in Broadcast Media and Political Science.
Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.
Gonzales joined NPR in May 1986. He covered the U.S. State Department during the Iran-Contra Affair and the fall of apartheid in South Africa. Four years later, he assumed the post of White House Correspondent and reported on the prelude to the Gulf War and President George W. Bush's unsuccessful re-election bid. Gonzales covered the U.S. Congress for NPR from 1993-94, focusing on NAFTA and immigration and welfare reform.
In September 1995, Gonzales moved to his current position after spending a year as a John S. Knight Fellow Journalism at Stanford University.
In 2009, Gonzales won the Broadcast Journalism Award from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. He also received the PASS Award in 2004 and 2005 from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for reports on California's juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.
Prior to NPR, Gonzales was a freelance producer at public television station KQED in San Francisco. From 1979 to 1985, he held positions as a reporter, producer, and later, public affairs director at KPFA, a radio station in Berkeley, CA.
Gonzales graduated from Harvard College with a bachelor's degree in psychology and social relations. He is a co-founder of Familias Unidas, a bi-lingual social services program in his hometown of Richmond, California.