After reporting all day and into the wee hours of the morning on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Silicon Valley, then contributing to a Forum broadcast on the subject, Beth Willon, senior editor/reporter for KQED’s Silicon Valley Desk, needed some sleep. Instead, she was kind enough to take time to talk about her career and the stories she’s working on for KQED.
When did you start at KQED, and where were you working before
I just celebrated my one-year anniversary. Before KQED, I was at KGO Radio. I was a general assignment reporter with a lot of emphasis on politics and the courts. I also reported from Pakistan with the East-West Journalism Center for almost a month.
What drew you to the job at KQED?
I worked for Oregon Public Broadcasting years ago and am a big fan of public radio, and I have strong personal ties to Silicon Valley. I lived in San Jose for almost 19 years — working and raising my three children. Then I lived in Sacramento and commuted to San Francisco every day for about two years. I listened to KQED quite a bit then and always appreciated the depth and the scope of the stories. Working for KQED in Silicon Valley brings me full circle.
Is KQED’s Silicon Valley Desk focusing on particular kinds of stories?
We place a lot of emphasis on covering Silicon Valley’s diverse community. Santa Clara County is arguably the most diverse part of the Bay Area. San Jose has the largest Vietnamese population of any city outside Vietnam. There’s a huge and thriving Latino population and an enormous Indian population. We’ve made a big push to shine a light on communities that have not previously received much attention, with stories on immigration, jobs and services.
Most recently we covered the monumental visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The last time an Indian prime minister came to California was 33 years ago. There are 300,000 Indian Americans in Northern California, and about 150,000 of them live in the Bay Area. So, as you might imagine, there was a lot of pride associated with his visit — as well as protests.