The San Bernardino Community College District has appointed Connie Leyva as executive director of KVCR, a dual licensee that also operates First Nations Experience, a digital multicast channel for Native American and Indigenous programming.
Leyva is a Democratic state senator representing California’s 20th district of Chino, which includes parts of San Bernardino County. She starts her role at KVCR once her current legislative term ends Dec. 5. Leyva will report to Executive Vice Chancellor Jose F. Torres.
“Connie Leyva understands KVCR’s potential and its vital role in our civic fabric,” said Torres in a news release. “Her vision and experience collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives will help open doors to advance KVCR’s mission.”
Leyva is KVCR’s sixth leader since 2013 and is tasked with turning around a station that has faced turmoil in the past decade. SBCCD earned $157 million from the FCC’s television spectrum auction in 2017 when KVCR-TV gave up its UHF signal and moved to a VHF channel. The station used some of the money for a short-lived TV programming expansion before it imposed layoffs in 2018.
In 2020, former interim chancellor Torres considered a plan to drop PBS and NPR programming, which prompted staff outrage over the station’s future. The college’s board of trustees tabled that plan last year and eventually paved the way for infusions of $4 million and $15 million from California’s state legislature.
With the new funding, KVCR plans to add staff, cover the costs of PBS and NPR programming and create a media training lab for district students. KVCR will also continue its partnerships with Native American and Indigenous communities to distribute FNX.
Leyva was elected to her state senate seat in 2014. She announced in January that she didn’t plan to seek reelection to a second term.
“Connie Leyva has spent her entire career centering Inland Empire families, and she’ll bring her passion for our region’s success to advance KVCR’s success,” said SBCCD Chancellor Diana Z. Rodriguez in the release.
“I am so excited to join KVCR, a gem of the Inland Empire,” Leyva said in the release. “My family grew up with public radio and television, so it is a great honor to lead the talented KVCR team as it continues to provide factual, informative, and entertaining programming to the residents of the Inland Empire and beyond. I look forward to engaging with communities across the entire KVCR broadcast area, so our work fully reflects our region’s diverse voices, people, and issues.”