Valley 101 show

Valley 101

Summary: Whether you're a longtime Arizona resident or a newcomer, chances are there's something you've always wondered about the Valley. From The Arizona Republic and comes Valley 101, a weekly podcast where our journalists find answers to your questions about metro Phoenix. From silly to serious, you tell us what to investigate. You can submit questions at or reach us on Twitter @azcpodcasts.

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  • Artist: The Arizona Republic and
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 What are those clam shells along the banks of the canals? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 818

Walk along almost any canal in the metro Phoenix area and you're sure to find thousands of shells each smaller than a quarter. What are they and how did they get there?  Those are the questions reporter John D'Anna wonders about every time he walks his dog George along the neighborhood canal path. This week, Valley 101 is answering them.  The shells' official name is Corbicula fluminea, but they're more commonly referred to as Asiatic clams. They were first spotted in the U.S. in 1938, then in Phoenix in 1956. 

 What makes the rain in Arizona smell different? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 804

It's August, which means your TV news broadcasts are usually filled with stories about monsoon season, including stories about flooding, how to drive safely and how much rain we've received.  This year has been a little different thanks to a hotter and drier summer. But when the rain hits, there's a noticeable scent to it.  That's thanks to a certain desert plant, the creosote bush. In today's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, podcast editor Katie O'Connell explores what element of the creosote bush is responsible for producing this scent. She'll also discover whether or not we're the only place in the world with storms that smell like ours. 

 Why is Grand Avenue a diagonal street in a grid system? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 842

In a previous episode of Valley 101, producer Taylor Seely broke down the grid system of Phoenix streets. The streets in Phoenix run north and south, and east and west. This created streets that run perpendicular to each other. However, there are always exceptions to the rule. Grand Avenue is one of those. Today we’re answering two questions submitted by listeners. First, how does a diagonal street like Grand Avenue exists in a grid system? And second, what’s so grand about Grand Avenue? In today's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, we dive into the street's history.

 What's it like to be an Arizona health care worker during the COVID-19 pandemic? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1358

Health care workers in Arizona are struggling through the burdens of a public health crisis that has hospitalized thousands of Arizonans and pushed emergency rooms and ICUs near full capacity. With higher than usual patient-to-nurse ratios, stringent PPE protocols and looming fears over exposing their loved ones to the novel coronavirus, health care workers in Arizona are feeling tired, dejected and desperate for lawmakers and the public to take COVID-19 seriously.   "They've been trying to do two to one ICU patients to a nurse, but that's starting to be hard," Miranda Dunkelbarger, an ICU nurse in Apache Junction, said. Some days she said she's had three patients at a time.  When New York emerged as a national hotspot in March and April and became the subject of eye catching stories about overwhelmed hospitals and mass graves for the dead, health care workers in Arizona watched in both fear and trepidation — How long before it came to Arizona? By early August, the novel coronavirus infected more than 180,000 Arizonans and killed more than 4,000. In June and July, Arizona was thrust in the national spotlight as a global hotspot, at one point recording a 25% positivity rate of tests conducted, a key COVID-19 metric.  This week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, follows Dr. Brad Dreifuss and nurse Miranda Dunkelbarger. Dreifuss is an emergency physician based in Tucson and co-founder of HCWHosted, a coalition dedicated to building pandemic preparedness plans for communities.  Producer Taylor Seely dives into what they're experiencing and what they want people to know about their work.

 What's the history of Phoenix Union Station? Will Amtrak return there? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1298

Phoenix is the largest metropolitan city in the U.S. without passenger-rail service, but that wasn't always the case.  In 1923, Phoenix Union Station opened. And in 1926, a transcontinental line was completed, meaning someone could take the train anywhere in the country.  In this episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, we're exploring the history of passenger-rail service in the Valley. We'll look at what caused the decline in ridership, as well as future plans that could revive rail service to the historic building.

 What's it like when you or someone you know gets COVID-19? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1544

For several people in the Valley who've contracted COVID-19 or watched someone they love contract it, a switch flipped afterward. They felt compelled to convince others to take the disease seriously.  Jimmy Flores, a 30-year-old man from Tempe, told Arizona Republic reporter Audrey Jensen he thought COVID-19 was a joke. He figured he was too young and healthy to be susceptible to any significant danger. After a night out at the bars, Flores contracted COVID-19 and was subsequently hospitalized. He tried to persuade friends and family to be more cautious. He posted on Facebook about his experience and tried to steer clear of politics, hoping it might help detractors or skeptics grasp reality. Others trying to spread awareness, though, are diving head first into politics. Mark Urquiza was a 65-year-old resident living in Phoenix's Maryvale neighborhood. He died on June 30 from COVID-19. His daughter, Kristin Urquiza, blames Gov. Doug Ducey.  She published an evocative obituary for her father in The Republic calling out, "the carelessness of the politicians" for jeopardizing public health and "brown bodies." In an interview, she said Ducey has "blood on his hands."  This week's episode of Valley 101 shares the stories of Flores and the Urquiza family. It examines the confusion some felt about Arizona's reopening and the potential effects of returning to life as usual. 

 How spring training created the Cactus League in Arizona | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1073

As a lifelong Valley resident, I would often drive by the spring training stadiums for the Chicago Cubs or the Los Angeles Angels. I always wondered why we had outside teams playing in the Arizona. The reason dates back to the 1940s before the state even had its own Major League Baseball team. Arizona's relationship to Americans' favorite pastime started with a coalition of baseball teams that would eventually become known as the Cactus League.    This week on Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, I look into the history of that league, while answering my own question, "Why is Arizona home to the Cactus League?"  In this episode, you'll hear: How the Cactus League got its beginning in Arizona.  How the league planted the seed of integrating the city in the 1940s. The economic impact spring training has in the Valley. 

 I live in Tempe, but I can get a library card in Phoenix. Why is that? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 808

This episode goes out to all of the book lovers.  Did you know that if you live in Tempe, you can get a Phoenix Public Library card? One of our podcast listeners knew that, but he wasn't sure why, so podcast editor Katie O'Connell found out.  In this week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, we're exploring peeking behind-the-scenes at our local libraries. This includes looking at how services have been updated during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the popular summer reading program for kids. 

 Introducing the latest season of Rediscovering, this time on SB 1070 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1188

Arizona is a battleground state in national elections and could sway the outcome of the 2020 presidential race.   But how did we get here? How did the state go from reliably red to purple, with the possibility to shift blue in 2020, in just a decade? To understand, go back to 2010 when Arizona surprised the nation by passing Senate Bill 1070, a sweeping and highly controversial immigration law, otherwise known as the "show me your papers" law.  That's what Valley 101's sister podcast will explore in season two of Rediscovering. The five-part series will examine what led to the bill, what its proponents sought to do, how the community and nation reacted, and how its effects linger still today.  This week on Valley 101, host Kaila White will speak to the hosts of Rediscovering: SB 1070, The Arizona Republic's national political reporters Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Ronald J. Hansen. They also host our political podcast, The Gaggle. They'll take you behind the scenes for a sneak peak of what to expect in the new series. 

 Explaining Phoenix's street grid: What is and isn't logical about it | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1095

Live in the Valley long enough and you’re bound to have a conversation about the Phoenix grid system.  You might hear how convenient and logical it is. Avenues on the west, streets on the east. Central in the middle. You might think the only flaw is that there's no pattern to the east-west extending named streets. That's true.  But that's not the only problem. Midtown Phoenix resident Scott Wilken spotted major inconsistencies between the number of blocks between each major named street when a driver is traveling north and south. He also discovered the blocks when traveling north and south are not equivalent to the blocks plotted going east and west.  So, why is that? Plus, who created Phoenix's grid system? What's its history? This week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, answers Wilken's question. 

 What are the origins of the Lost Ranch ruins in South Mountain Park? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 882

South Mountain is a hot spot for hiking enthusiasts, but its history is richer than you might think. There’s even a mystery deep within the mountain that has prompted our listeners to ask us for answers.   The Lost Ranch ruins are located within the park away from official trails. As time has passed, the ruins have captivated hikers.  One Valley 101 listener submitted this question: "What are the origins of the Lost Ranch?" In today's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, we dive into the history South Mountain Park and the lonely ruins in the mountains. In this episode, you'll hear from South Mountain Park manager Dan Gronseth. 

 Concrete, concrete everywhere ... but why do we use it for fences? The history behind the Valley's architectural block | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 959

There's a chance that the concrete fence in your backyard could be partially made out of materials from volcanoes.  In 1944, three Arizonans invented a new type of concrete block, the Superlite block. The key material in Superlite is volcanic scoria, which is essentially cooled volcanic magma. In this case, it's mined in Winona, AZ. The Superlite block allowed Phoenix to grow at an exponential rate after World War II. It was light, soundproof, fire proof and it could hold up to our summers. By 1955, Superlite was used in the construction of 75% of new buildings in the Valley. And it's still used a building material today, including in our fences.  To read Taz Khatri's Modern Phoenix blog post on this subject, click here.

 What does Arizona's COVID-19 data mean? Is the situation improving? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1424

Valley 101 podcast parses through Arizona's COVID-19 data to better understand the nuances and clarify how the virus is taking shape in Arizona. Includes: Taylor Seely, Stephanie Innes and Alison Steinbach.

 Meet Arizona's First State Poet Laureate Alberto Ríos | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 914

Arizona created a state poet laureate position to celebrate the state's centennial.  A unanimous panel chose Alberto Ríos to fill the post in 2013. His role as poet laureate was to undertake a major literary project to expose quality poetry to residents who might not otherwise be.  In this week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, host Kaila White interviews Alberto Ríos.  In this episode you'll hear how Arizona shaped Ríos and what lead him to poetry. You'll also hear him recite some of his poetry. 

 Rerun - Population part 1: How did the Valley get so big? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1362

Our team is taking a week off for Memorial Day. However, we wanted to bring back an earlier episode breaking down how the Valley go so big. The answer, interestingly enough, goes back to World War II. Be sure to listen to part two where we explore the future population of the Valley. Enjoy and we'll be back next week with a brand new episode. Want your question about metro Phoenix answered? Submit it at And follow us on Twitter @valley101pod. 


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