YNMG

Blvck Astronaut

Sometimes history repeats itself. When host Khalil Ekulona talks to his African American friends who are parents, he says they express joy and sadness: Joy in watching their kids grow and discover the wonders of life. Sadness in having to repeat conversations with their children about growing up Black in America—the same conversations their parents had with them decades ago. Episode 4 is all about the journey to racial equality, and some of the factors to consider as we travel along the road.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

In the last weeks of July, we saw high temperatures across the country. The streets heated up, and we’re not talking about the weather. We’re talking about federal forces sent to Portland, Chicago, Albuquerque and other cities. The arrival of these agents was met with public outcry and increased skepticism by lawmakers and residents alike. Others support the move. In episode 3, we take a look at what exactly is going on and what it means for our civil liberties and our democracy.

Leslie Granda-Hill / 2020

This week, we get into what has disappeared from our lives—good or bad—during the pandemic. Episode 2 is all about what’s going, going, gone, maybe for good. We learn of attempts to erase people from the Census. We talk to Sen. Martin Heinrich about the erosion of our civil liberties. We reflect on what’s fading from our relationships and mental wellness. We hear from a COVID-19 survivor, so the realities of the virus don’t slip away. We examine the consciousness of community and the loss of a collective future with an international futurist. We reflect on a disappearing chicken and what life was like pre-pandemic. And we try to see and hear a vanishing Rio Grande.

Zack Freeman

 

No More Normal is a new show brought to you by the same crew behind YNMG. On episode 1, we’re talking endurance. In the last few months, how many times have you heard someone say, “We’re in this for the long haul”? It’s going to take all kinds of gritty willpower to keep each other alive and to make it through the changes in our world. This week we learn from younger folks. We get lessons, advice and stories from civil rights activists. We talk about the endurance of people who’ve been fighting racist mascots and imagery for decades. And we tag along for a long run in the brutal heat.

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In episode 82, we discuss how the question “How are you?” is part of documenting changing people and a changing globe. The answer reveals a lot about us. Are we good? We hear from a high school athlete who is worried about going back to a crowded campus, a woman who lost her mother to COVID-19, an anti-police brutality activist who sees focused protesters demanding positive local change, a community organizer whose family was torn apart after their activism, and an advocate who networks community groups to pay people to make masks. We know everyone out there is working hard in one way or another. So, how are you?  

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In episode 81, we check back for new developments on some of the impactful stories from YNMG from the past couple of months. What opportunities have been missed to make things better in this urgent time? Who's falling through the holes in the system? And what's still in front of us to do?

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We come back to life’s essentials like housing and education in episode 80, and the systemic problems that can easily slip past us if we’re not vigilant. As we continue to endure, it's easy to drop the ball on issues New Mexico has been battling for years. Today we hear from journalists from around the state on how the pandemic is affecting schools and teachers, the affordability of housing, and whether the corrections system is fulfilling its human rights obligations. 

The youngest stars are shown as red while more evolved stars are shown as blue.
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It’s a weird time. We’ve got a global pandemic, an uprising against racist police violence and a special legislative session dropped in the middle of it—the likes of which no one’s ever seen before. Maybe one that people still aren’t seeing because there have been so many access issues. In episode 79, we dig in to bring you what’s new and developing with the emergency legislative session. What bills have been passed, what is on the way and what is being held until January are just a few of the topics we cover. We talk with journalists from New Mexico PBS and the NM Political Report. We also hear from an advocate who is on the forefront of voting rights in tribal lands.

In episode 78 we discuss what’s happening in Santa Fe at the legislative special session. It’s a unique situation up there; COVID-19 precautions have led to a locked-in session with no opportunity for citizens to attend in person. But first, we hear from organizers of the Albuquerque Juneteenth celebration commemorating 155 years since the official end of slavery in Texas, with the entire United States following soon after. 

Arianna Sena / KUNM

In episode 77 we dive into the state’s special legislative session that started today. The primary reason for the emergency meeting is to address the unexpected budget shortfall brought on by COVID-19 and the decimation of oil and gas markets that provide much of New Mexico’s public funding.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

In episode 76, we discuss criminal justice reform, from policing to prisons. We get a preview of the Albuquerque mayor and a city councilor plans to remake the public safety system. A criminal justice reporter tells us about COVID-19 in state prisons and reminds us that there is little race or ethnicity data to show us who is affected. But first, YNMG Executive Producer Marisa Demarco tells us what it was like to be at a protest this week where someone she knows was shot by a man trying to protect a statue of a genocidal Spanish conquistador. 

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In episode 75, we're talking data privacy, surveillance, sophisticated bots, racially biased tech and misinformation on social media in the time of COVID, BLM and the upcoming election. We check in with researchers, privacy advocates and an artist/activist, who talk about how our data is valuable to corporations or governments that want to exploit their knowledge of us for policing, political or capitalistic reasons.

Nash Jones / KUNM


The country is grappling with practical steps for ending police brutality and racism in policing. We explore some local ideas in episode 74, from completely burning down the system to moderate reform to minor policy changes. Community and Black Lives Matter organizers, Albuquerque’s mayor and City Councilor Lan Sena, and activists who work with and against police weigh in on what the future of public safety could look like.

Sue Schuurman

In episode 73, we talk to and about militia groups in New Mexico that have floated around the edges of demonstrations against racist police violence and white supremacy. Robert Whitmon of the American Patriots of New Mexico, one such group, says they've been working with police for years. Regardless of their claims of support for protesters, demonstrators say they raise tension and anxiety, and they're already concerned about state-sanctioned violence and the possibility of retribution for speaking out. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Albuquerque residents have joined people around the world in protest following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In the media, peaceful demonstrations have been conflated with property damage done by smaller groups of people, playing into narratives that give rise to aggressive responses like what the Trump administration is pushing. In episode 70, we talk about how law enforcement responses to recent protests seem to differ for different groups. We speak with an organizer, a youth detained after a protest, Albuquerque Police Department leadership, and a longtime criminal justice reporter.

Arianna Sena / KUNM

Do you have faith in the systems? How has government response to the pandemic eroded or reinforced that for you? It seemed important back in what we collectively refer to as “normal times.” But what have public officials done to instill our faith? In Episode 69, we talk about the long list of pre-pandemic ills that plague us during this plague. We talk with the secretary of state about what it takes for politicians to keep voters invested and journalists about why there is a lack of faith—and whether it can be restored. 

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While many of us are focused on the demands of the pandemic, the primary election came up quick in New Mexico, and the general election is right around the corner. What is the consequence of doing nothing at all this election cycle? In episode 68, we take a look at the primary coming up on Tuesday, June 2, with a narrow focus on the state and local elections.

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Now that the state is slowly relaxing the shutdown orders, some are considering getting back to business. In episode 67 we talk with small business owners and those who support them about how they have to come up with innovative ways to sell to their customers, get their employees back, keep the lights on and keep everyone safe. We hear from restaurant owners, a statewide business incubator, a journalist and Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley.

Trevier Gonzalez

The past few weeks have seen a rise to anti-shutdown protests in many parts of the country. Some have observed the number of weapons at some of these protests, others have observed that most of the participants are white. That made us think, how does race factor into the conversations around re-opening? In episode 66, we talk with some of the louder voices in the state speaking out against New Mexico’s shutdown, and national anti-racism activist Tim Wise. And we hear from a guy who’s worked for years to grapple with his own privilege. These conversations might give us a window into what the future holds.

Nash Jones / KUNM

Now that we are at the beginning of a small reopening, some people are taking it into their own hands to provide a little something special to their communities. In episode 64, we learn about a new online radio station designed to give live performers a platform to connect to their audience in a fresh way. We hear about how popular the Sunday cruise on the mother road has been since it's naturally socially distant but still all about community. Mobile drive-in movies are back. Plus, we dive into the symbolism of the many moths newly emerging in our city, sometimes feeling like a manifestation of our collective anxiety.

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Hospital custodians and houskeeping staff say that even though they clean the COVID wards and are in the room with patients, they aren't given adequate personal protective equipment. Three people we spoke with said because it is commonly known among other hospital staff that the sanitation workers are more exposed to the virus, they are treated unfairly and subject to discrimination. 

Megan Kamerick / KUNM

New Mexico is among the ten states with the highest increase in unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning many people have lost health insurance coverage as well. The state says no one should have to pay for testing and treatment related to the coronavirus, but some people are still being charged for that care. KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona spoke with New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance Russell Toal about how the state is trying to help.

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Access to medical care could not be more important than it is at this moment.  And plenty of people either don’t have health insurance or lost it because they lost their jobs during the pandemic. On Episode 62, we look into what options exist for the underemployed and recently unemployed, what a hospital worker experienced when she got a $1,500 COVID-19 test bill she was not expecting, and we talk to the superintendent of insurance to discover what the state is doing to help.

U.S. Air Force photo by Pedro Tenorio via CC

 

As Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham eases restrictions in New Mexico starting Saturday, we talk about the factors that signal when and how to reopen the country: testing, contact tracing, modeling, antibody tests and treatment. In episode 61, we hear about test expansion and antibody test development, a new treatment involving plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients, and what it's like to be sick with the virus. 

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Episode 60 we maximize the connective power of radio in service of appreciation and love for the people we might not be able to talk to—whether they're in a hospital, somewhere that phone service or net isn't so good, a senior living facility, a jail or prison, or just far away. And if you have any worries we've strayed too far from our mission, you know, with "government" in the name of this show, it's all good. We do have shoutouts from some government officials, too. 

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Many New Mexicans are being told to stay at home and distance themselves from others to minimize the cases of COVID-19 in the state. But that’s not an option for those stuck in jails and prisons, who usually have close contact with each other in tight spaces. Expanding on an earlier episode, this conversation is all about the dangers that these inmates face – as well as the staff who oversee them and the community at large.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

The stay-at-home order is dragging on and things are getting kind of grim. People have been cooped up together for weeks now, money issues are coming to a head, and uncertainty and instability are persistent facts of our everyday lives. After yesterday's discussion of domestic violence, this episode is all about how to get through this difficult time—spiritually, psychologically and emotionally.

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In Episode 57, we talk about the dangers that domestic violence survivors face during shelter-in-place orders when home isn’t a safe place. We hear what advocates, agencies, and the government are doing to help survivors of abuse stay safe, and how they’re keeping services running during social distancing.  

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

In episode 56, we explore New Mexico’s upcoming limited reopening of restaurants and retail stores. What needs to be considered in terms of how to stay safe during a reopening and what are the best practices? 

Courtesy of Orlando Watts

In episode 55, we return to the conversation around recovery from substance use during the pandemic. It's a special episode devoted to a conversation between Executive Producer Marisa Demarco and her cousin, Orlando Watts, who went to a remote rehab before the pandemic, and then returned home after it was in full swing. A lot of the conversation around reckoning with a loss of control, being present, sitting with discomfort and reaching out to connect could be useful for anyone during this time—not only people in recovery or seeking treatment.

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