Valley 101

By The Arizona Republic and

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 Mar 10, 2020


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 @Valley101pod.

Episode Date
I live in Tempe, but I can get a library card in Phoenix. Why is that?
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. 
Jul 13, 2020
Introducing the latest season of Rediscovering, this time on SB 1070
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. 
Jul 06, 2020
Explaining Phoenix's street grid: What is and isn't logical about it
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. 
Jun 29, 2020
What are the origins of the Lost Ranch ruins in South Mountain Park?
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. 
Jun 22, 2020
Concrete, concrete everywhere ... but why do we use it for fences? The history behind the Valley's architectural block
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.
Jun 15, 2020
What does Arizona's COVID-19 data mean? Is the situation improving?
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.
Jun 08, 2020
Meet Arizona's First State Poet Laureate Alberto Ríos
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. 
Jun 01, 2020
Rerun - Population part 1: How did the Valley get so big?
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. 
May 25, 2020
Why are there so many attorney advertisements in the Valley?
Whether you're driving past a billboard, listening to the radio or watching TV, it seems like advertisements for attorneys are inescapable.  But why are there so many of them? And why are so many of them about personal injury lawsuits? Turns out, until 1977, attorneys were prohibited from advertising. Times certainly have changed. Arizona lawyers, law firms and legal-services providers spent $32 million on advertising last year. And that number doesn't include spending on social media campaigns. If you're curious about this phenomenon, podcast editor Katie O'Connell got to the bottom of it in this week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and where we answer the questions you ask about metro Phoenix.  In this episode, you'll hear from: Van O'Steen, a Phoenix attorney who sued for the right to advertise Mark Breyer, a Phoenix personal injury attorney who currently advertises on TV Patricia Sallen, a Phoenix attorney who works in legal ethics Nancy Gray, a professor at Arizona State University
May 18, 2020
BONUS Segment: Is what I'm feeling right now normal? Advice for living through a pandemic
It's normal to experience a wide swath of emotions during times of stress and uncertainty. Living through the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. In this bonus episode, producer Taylor Seely interviews associate professor of psychology Michelle Shiota on how to pinpoint unhealthy behavior and tips for living as best we can right now. 
May 11, 2020
Good news: Spotlighting acts of kindness during the pandemic
This episode talks about the positive stories that are taking place during this pandemic. The acts of kindness that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Because, believe it or not, it's not all doom and gloom. Good news stories are out there. And they're plentiful. 
May 11, 2020
What's the story behind the angel on top the Arizona state Capitol?
At the end of the 1800s, Arizona had aspirations to become a state. In order to prove they were ready, they built a humble state Capitol building. The architect chose to put an angel at the top. Overs the years, that winged statue has caught the attention of many onlookers.  One Valley 101 listener submitted this question, "What is the story behind the angel on top of the Arizona state Capitol?"  This week on Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, we dive into the history of the angel. We also dig deeper into the history of the Arizona State Capitol.  In this episode, you'll hear from: Stephanie Mahan, an administrator at the Arizona State Capitol Museum Michael Cady, a retired teacher and volunteer at the Arizona State Capitol Museum
May 04, 2020
Why are there so many car washes in Phoenix?
In some neighborhoods, it seems like there's a car wash every few blocks.  Eric Wulf, the CEO of the International Car Wash Association, said that Phoenix is one of the top markets for car washes. The reason for that traces back to a few things, including our weather, our growing population and changes in the industry overall.  To find out more about this subject, podcast editor Katie O'Connell talked to trade experts and car wash owners alike. Listen to this week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, to find out more. In this episode, you'll also hear from: Dave Cheatham, the president of Velocity Retail Group Brian Gleason, the owner of Mr. Shine Car Wash in Peoria
Apr 27, 2020
How do you garden in Phoenix? And why are so many doing it?
If you noticed all your friends and family on social media have taken up gardening recently, you're not alone. Universities are hosting online gardening tutorials, nurseries are filling their schedules with appointment-only shopping visits and at least one local garden's how-to email inbox is full daily. But the coronavirus pandemic isn't the first time people began gardening during difficult epochs. In World War I and II, self sufficiency took on new importance as Americans had to cope with food shortages and rationing. Out of it came "victory gardens," named after the war-time campaign slogan asking Americans to begin gardening and, "sow the seeds of victory."  Although we do not face the same food shortages today, the comfort of gardening remains the same.  In today's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, host Taylor Seely asks experts the step-by-step process of how to begin a garden and speaks to locals about their newfound love of horticulture. Plus, what to do if you want to garden in an apartment or would prefer to start with houseplants. 
Apr 20, 2020
How to find black culture and a sense of community in Phoenix
Elizabeth Montgomery, a Community Relations and Events Producer for The Arizona Republic, is teaming up with Valley 101 in this week's episode.  During Black History Month, she wrote a column about moving to Metro Phoenix. Montgomery had lived her whole life in Atlanta, Ga. After moving here, she realized quickly that Atlanta and Phoenix are very different.  One of the biggest differences is the population of African Americans in each city. Atlanta is 52% African American, while Phoenix is just under 7%. Soon after her arrival, Montgomery searched for her community, for the people, businesses and art that would help her feel at home. And she found it. In today's episode, she's sharing her tips to learning to love your new home. Montgomery teamed up with producer Maritza Dominguez to share her journey of finding a community in Phoenix. 
Apr 13, 2020
Why do 3,000 North Dakotans gather annually in a Mesa park?
Before social distancing became the norm, people used to gather. We'd get together for barbecues and cocktails, catch a movie or see a concert.  But in world shaped by the coronavirus pandemic, the thought of 3,000 people from North Dakota congregating in a Mesa park seems distant. Still, that's exactly what happened on March 1.  Perhaps the largest gathering of North Dakotans outside of the state, the North Dakota picnic gives transplants like reporter Rachel Leingang the chance to reconnect with those who sound and feel like home. A first-time attendee, Leingan decided to play a game: she attempted to find an unknown relative on a Saturday morning, 1,400 miles away from her hometown.  Did her experiment work? And how did she feel afterward? Find out in this week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and Producing the episode this week is podcast editor Katie O'Connell.
Apr 06, 2020
The history of The Swindall Inn, a boarding house for black tourists in Phoenix
Before anti-segregation milestones like Brown vs. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, black tourists were prohibited from staying at most hotels. One of the few options for minority travelers in Phoenix was The Swindall House, also known as the Swindall Tourist Inn. Located at 1021 E. Washington Street, the inn is named after its second owners, Golden and Elvira Swindall. But its story begins with a Belgian immigrant in 1913. And rumor has it that famous black performers like jazz pianist Count Basie and athlete like baseball player Jackie Robinson stayed there. But efforts to locate a guestbook to verify those claims have failed. In fact, much of the building's history has been lost to time. Producer Taylor Seely spent two months uncovering the Swindall House's rich history, significance and lasting legacy for this episode of Valley 101.
Mar 30, 2020
Was Sparky the Sun Devil created by a Disney animator?
In 1946, the Arizona State College mascot was the Bulldogs. But the Bulldog mascot was one of the most popular, then and now, so the football booster club decided it needed a new mascot that was more unique. That's when local attorney and member of the organization Water Craig suggested the Sun Devil.  Craig also knew the illustrator who would bring Sparky the Sun Devil to life. Berkeley Anthony was a former Disney animator in the 1930s and early 1940s. But the story of Berkeley's time at Disney, as well as his creation of Sparky afterward, has many twists and turns. Producer Maritza Dominguez will explore that story on this week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and In this episode, you'll hear: How a small time Disney animator created the iconic mascot for ASU How Sparky came to live on the football field  How the legacy of Sparky the Sun Devil Continues 
Mar 23, 2020
BONUS: Coronavirus FAQs answered
Stories about the new coronavirus are inescapable right now. The Valley 101 podcast team understands that can be overwhelming and difficult to parse through. So this week we're releasing a 15-minute bonus episode answering the essential frequently-asked questions about COVID-19. In this episode, health-care reporter Stephanie Innes tells you what you need to know to keep yourself and your family safe and informed during the outbreak.   Here's what we answer:  What's the difference between the coronavirus and COVID-19? How's it different from the flu? How does it spread?  How do you stay safe? What's social distancing? Why are people doing it? What does "flattening the curve" mean? Why flattening the curve is especially important in Arizona What's the worst-case scenario that could happen in our community? How long could this last?
Mar 19, 2020
What is valley fever? And what are its symptoms?
Each year when monsoon season hits, so do the headlines about valley fever. But what is valley fever? The answer lies in our soil. There's a type of fungus that lives in the first few inches of the soil in the southwest. When that fungus dries, it turns into microscopic spores. When those spores are swept up in haboobs, we run the risk of breathing them in, which could lead to an infection in our lungs. And it's not just humans who are at risk. Our pets can develop valley fever too. In this week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, podcast editor Katie O'Connell finds answers about valley fever before monsoon season hit. In this episode you'll hear: What valley fever is and what causes it What are the symptoms of valley fever Options for diagnosis and treatment of valley fever How to tell if your pet might have valley fever
Mar 16, 2020
What's a haboob and when did we start using that word?
During monsoon season, from June to September, large dust storms often overwhelm Arizona. The storms grow more severe when the preceding spring and winter seasons are dry, which allows dirt to loosen. When dust storms hit certain criteria, they're considered "haboobs."  Haboob is an Arabic word that essentially means big, blasting winds, according to Andrew Deemer, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Phoenix and former linguist.  In this week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast that answers your questions about metro Phoenix,  Producer Taylor Seely breaks down the components necessary for a dust storm to be considered a haboob, plus how and when the word entered Arizona's lexicon. 
Mar 09, 2020
What buildings are the most iconic in the Phoenix skyline?
For this week's episode, we're tackling a more subjective question, "What buildings would you say are the most iconic in the Phoenix skyline?"  There are a few ways to approach this question, from either an aesthetic standpoint or by evaluating a building's history.  But, thanks to the help of some expert sources, we've crowned one building the winner.  Listen to this week's episode, produced by podcast editor Katie O'Connell, to find out which one.  In this episode you'll hear: Alison King, founder of Modern Phoenix: The Neighborhood Network Michelle Dodds, city of Phoenix historic preservation officer
Mar 02, 2020
Does light pollution threaten the night sky and human health? Valley 101 digs in
The creation of the light bulb in 1879 would forever shape our homes, streets and offices.  But by the 1950s, light pollution became a concern, as it effects both natural ecosystems and human health. In fact, studies have shown that light pollution can be linked to breast cancer. Today, the future of Arizona's dark sky could be threatened by light pollution. It's an issue dark sky advocates are working to ease.  This week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, breaks down what the Valley is doing to mitigate light pollution.  In this episode, you'll hear: The components that make up light pollution.  The impacts of light pollution on the state's tourism and economy.  The steps communities in Metro Phoenix are making to combat light pollution. 
Feb 24, 2020
Why do so many Arizona mountains have letters on them?
There are at least seven mountains in Maricopa County with letters whitewashed on the side. Have you ever wondered why they were put in? Or when? We'll give you one hint: It comes down to more than just community pride.  This week, Valley 101 digs into the history behind the "
Feb 17, 2020
Why are there rumors about a U.F.O. crash landing at Dreamy Draw Dam?
Anne Ferraioli grew up in Phoenix, but she said she never paid much attention to Dreamy Draw Dam.  Then she noticed there wasn't any water in it. And when she started looking into it, the results were surprising.  Ferraioli found article after article about a possible U.F.O. landing site at the dam. What she didn't find was much information about its actual history.  Given the curious results, Ferraioli asked the Valley 101 podcast to dig into Dreamy Draw Dam's history. Podcast editor Katie O'Connell took her question and ran with it.  In this episode you'll hear: How the U.F.O. rumors at Dreamy Draw Dam began Whether or not the director of Open Minds TV thinks the rumors are true The history of the dam and its purpose today
Feb 10, 2020
What's it like to be homeless in Maricopa County?
The stories of how someone became or experiences homelessness are incredibly varied.  Lawrence Small, 41, has been homeless for two months after experiencing domestic violence. But this isn't his first time experiencing homelessness. He was also homeless in Seattle when he was 34 years old. "Seattle is different from Phoenix," Small said. "Seattle, they help homeless people out there. The housing, jobs. Phoenix don't do it." Homelessness continues to rise across the Valley. In 2019, there were at least 6,614 people experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County. To understand what it's like to be homeless in Maricopa County, the Valley 101 team partnered with reporter Jessica Boehm and the Maricopa Association of Governments, otherwise known as MAG. Each year, MAG does a Point in Time survey of the homeless population in an attempt to understand patterns and trends leading to homelessness.  This year, we went with them during the survey. In this episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, you'll hear three stories from people currently experiencing homelessness. 
Feb 03, 2020
Lovebirds in Arizona: How did they get here? Are they invasive?
The next time you're beneath a palm tree, see if you can spot a small green bird with a peach-colored face hanging out in its fronds. Those are feral rosy-faced lovebirds.  Metro Phoenix is home to roughly 2,000 of them, although they're originally from Africa. A wild lovebird population started growing here in the mid-1980s. Their appearance created confusion and curiosity among local residents, especially those in the birding community.  So just how did they get here? This week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, digs in to how they found a new home in the Valley. In this episode, you'll hear: How rosy-faced lovebirds got to the Valley Where you can find rosy-face lovebirds in the valley How they impact our environment
Jan 27, 2020
Why can't planes fly when it's too hot in Phoenix?
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport grounded flights due to extreme heat for the first time in 1990. It happened again more recently in 2013 and 2017. But why can't planes fly in certain temperatures? Turns out, it has to do with performance data provided by plane manufacturers and airline safety procedures. For more on what exactly that means, listen to this week's episode of Valley 101 podcast.  In this episode, you'll hear: What it was like in 1990 when Phoenix Sky Harbor grounded flights. What four components are necessary for planes to fly.  Kenneth Wood, an American Airline pilot, explain why "performance data" was integral to planes being grounded in high-heat situations.   Related reading:  Nope, turns out it was technically never too hot to fly out of Phoenix Extreme heat could delay Phoenix flights Flying for the holidays? These hacks will help speed you through Sky Harbor Airport
Jan 20, 2020
Who are some celebrities from Arizona?
Celebrities. You love 'em or you hate 'em. Or, you love to hate 'em. We on the Valley 101 podcast team have a few we just absolutely gush over.  We're sure we're not swayed by the fact that they're from Arizona. This week, Katie O'Connell, Maritza Dominguez and Taylor Seely each share their favorite celebrity with local ties, plus stories of how the Valley inspired or shaped them. In this episode, you'll hear: How growing up in Arizona David Hallberg into a resilient world-class ballet dancer.   How Jordin Sparks became an "American Idol" winner and took to the stage on Broadway.   The story of Steven Spielberg's first movie premiere, which happened in Phoenix when he was 17 years old
Jan 13, 2020
What’s it like to be an adult with autism in metro Phoenix?
Autism is often seen as a “kid’s disorder,” meaning the focus is on helping children – but where does that leave autistic adults? We talked with leaders in the Valley’s autism community about the “services cliff” people with autism often experience at the age of 21 and what Arizona is doing about it. 
Jan 06, 2020
Happy New Year from Valley 101 (but we're off this week)
We spent most of 2019 exploring the Valley thanks to your questions. We'll be back in 2020 with more. Submit your question today at
Dec 30, 2019
Copper, cattle and climate: Why are these included in Arizona's 5 Cs?
Citrus, cotton, copper, cattle and climate — these are the five Cs of Arizona. They're the five economic drivers that transformed Arizona from a small cowboy town to a growing metropolis.  In this episode, you'll hear: How copper helped grow the population in Arizona, and how it's still a major industry in the state.  How the cattle industry grew in Arizona and why it's still a major industry despite its downturn post-peak downturn How Arizona has leveraged its climate to attract tourists in the past, and how residents can think about its climate going forward. 
Dec 23, 2019
In 'Wallace and Ladmo,' Phoenix had one of the most successful local children's shows ever
Did you know that Phoenix had one of the most successful local children's shows of all time? "The Wallace and Ladmo Show" ran from 1954 to 1989, collecting fans like Steven Spielberg and Alice Cooper along the way. What made the show a success was its dark humor. Yes, it was a kids' show, but it featured characters like Aunt Maud, who liked reading tragic stories to children. Or Marshall Good, an unemployed "cowboy" from New Jersey who had never ridden a horse.  Kids may have tuned in for the cartoon, but high schoolers and their parents got the more offbeat jokes.  In this week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, podcast editor Katie O'Connell explores the history of this Valley original. In this episode you'll hear: Previously unaired interview audio with all three of the show's stars Clips from the show's skits, including one with Muhammad Ali Republic reporter Richard Ruelas, who has written two books on the show, sharing his childhood memories of it
Dec 16, 2019
How did Phoenix get controversial giant pots as a public art project?
In the 1990s, Phoenix was in a public controversy over the public art project called Wall Cyle to Ocotillo. The country was going through a recession and the local residents were mad. Mad about the taxpayer money spent on the art, mad about the look of the pots, and mad the city choose out-of-state artists.  Eventually the public argument died down, but the curiosity about the project didn't. Almost thirty years later, Phoenix residents still have questions.  This week on Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, we dig deep into the history of Wall Cycle to Ocotillo, while also looking at the significance of public art.  In this episode, you'll hear: Mags Harries and Lajos Heder, the artists who designed Wall Cycle to Ocotillo Edward Lebow, current director of Phoenix's Public Art Program  Audio from a student mockumentary parodying the art project 
Dec 09, 2019
Where do real Christmas trees in Arizona come from?
Metro Phoenix isn’t exactly the idyllic location for Christmas. There’s no snow for building snowmen, the sweaters are often more for aesthetic than necessity, and the hot cocoa? Well, let’s just say Starbucks still keeps their plastic cups fully stocked.  But at the very least, locals can create their own holiday wonderland by decorating their homes, hanging twinkle lights, and ornamenting a Christmas tree. Those opting for a real Christmas tree may find themselves wondering: If we live in a desert, where do the real Christmas trees come from?  LINKS: For information on how to purchase a permit to cut a Christmas tree from a national forest, click here. For more information on our show, visit: Follow our show on Twitter: @Valley101pod Follow our host on Twitter @kailawhite Follow producer Taylor Seely on Twitter: @taylorseely95
Dec 02, 2019
What's the cake-shaped castle by Loop 202 freeway?
It looks like a tiered wedding cake and is even painted a soft yellow like buttercream. Listen to learn its century-old history (and how to get tour tickets). Click here to see photos and video from inside Tovrea Castle. Note: Those are only for subscribers to You can subscribe at
Nov 25, 2019
Why is cotton one of Arizona's 5 Cs?
Last week, our Valley 101 podcast explored Arizona's five Cs, focusing on citrus and its decline.  This week, podcast editor Katie O'Connell digs in on another crop: cotton. The plant was included in the five Cs after its boom in World War I, but it's struggled in recent decades.  To uncover more on cotton and its role in our state's identity, Katie spoke to Ron and Russ Rayner, a father-son duo who operate farms in the West Valley. Their consensus was clear. Cotton is still a vital part of the state's identity, bringing in between $400 to $500 million to the state's economy each year.  In this episode, you'll hear: Philip VanderMeer, a retired Arizona State University professor of American and Arizonan history Ron and Russ Rayner, farmers from the West Valley Archival audio from an educational documentary from the 1950s
Nov 18, 2019
Why is citrus one of the 5 Cs of Arizona? What led to its decline?
If you grew up in Arizona as a young kid, chances are you learned about the five Cs of Arizona in school. But if you didn’t, maybe you’ve heard about them and wondered how they came to be. What are those five Cs? How did Arizona even get this alliteration? This week on Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, we dive into the history of the five C's and answer the listener-submitted question, "what happened to derail the citrus industry in Arizona?" We also dig deeper into the impact the citrus industry has on Arizona's economy.  In this episode, you'll hear: Philip VanderMeer, a retired Arizona State University professor of American and Arizona history  Selwyn Justice, a fifth generation citrus grower in Arizona  Archival audio from an educational documentary from the 1930s
Nov 11, 2019
Six common light rail questions answered
The Valley Metro light rail debuted in 2008 as a public transportation option that proponents hoped would propel Phoenix into the big leagues of cities. It currently stretches 28 miles long, 8 miles longer than when it first opened. By 2050, Valley Metro plans for it to be 60 miles long. But since its opening, locals have a lots of questions. Reporter Jessica Boehm and producer Taylor Seely answer them. The questions answered in this episode: Why'd the light rail come to Phoenix? Why's the light rail designed the way it is? Why'd Phoenix choose a light rail over a monorail? Does the light rail bring crime and hurt business? What's best for taxpayers' wallets: light rail, bus or car?  Has light rail been successful?
Nov 04, 2019
What are the most haunted places in Phoenix?
It's the Valley 101 podcast: Spooky edition!  You'll hear about graveyards, theater ghosts, and places where children's spirits are rumored to roam. Go on a haunted tour across Phoenix with us.
Oct 28, 2019
Why are there antique dolls in the basement of Hanny's?
Imagine yourself walking down a dark, twisting staircase. There's light at the bottom, but not much. You come upon a scene as puzzling as it is creepy: fourteen dolls that look like they've been there for years, sitting around a table and lit by a singular bulb. That's what you'll find in the basement of Hanny's, 40 N. 1st St, Phoenix. The downtown Phoenix bar and restaurant used to be a department store, which opened in 1947. The dolls weren't there then, so how and when did they get there? And more importantly, why? That's the topic podcast editor Katie O'Connell will explore in this week's special Halloween episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and
Oct 21, 2019
Who is Winnie Ruth Judd, Phoenix's infamous murderess?
Eighty-eight years ago, Winnie Ruth Judd traveled from Phoenix to Los Angeles with trunks oozing out blood. Initially, police thought the trunks contained illegal deer meat. After flies began circling the abandoned luggage, police opened the trunks, only to discover Agnes "Anne" LeRoi's full body in one and Hedvig "Sammy" Samuelson's dismembered body in another one. 

The Oct. 16, 1931 murders put the then-sleepy city of Phoenix on the map. The murderous tale and subsequent court proceedings made national headlines. And with so many unanswered questions, the mystery behind Judd's story continues to capture attention. 

Did Judd alone kill the two women? Why are there still so many questions surrounding the murder? How did she escape so many times from state hospital? In this week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, producer Maritza Dominguez explores the tale of the "Trunk Murderess."

In this episode, you'll hear:

  • Jana Bommersbach, author of the book "The Trunk Murderess: Winnie Ruth Judd", gives a look at Winnie's life before and after the murders. 
  • Marshall Shore, the "Hip Historian", describe what Phoenix was like in the 1930's. 
  • Winnie Ruth Judd, in a 1969 interview, tells her version of what happened that night. 
Oct 14, 2019
Does Phoenix have a startup scene like Silicon Valley?
Phoenix is known as the land of sunshine and real estate. But every so often you might hear someone compare Phoenix with Silicon Valley, the land of tech startups and innovation and billionaires and Tesla. Some have gone so far as to call Phoenix the "Silicon Desert." 

But when people talk startups, they usually talk about San Jose and San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Boston. What about us? How big is Phoenix’s startup scene? How is it shaping our metro and our future?

Oct 07, 2019
What's that dome-shaped church always under construction near downtown?
There's a tower and dome-shaped building south of Interstate 10 near 16th Avenue that seems to always be under construction. It's a church called La Luz del Mundo, or in English, The Light of the World Church. So what is the church and what do the members believe? And why is their church leader, Naasón Joaquín García facing 26 felony charges in Los Angeles County? Reporter Uriel Garcia and producer Taylor Seely find out. 

To learn more about the church, its history, and ex-churchgoers, read this in-depth article for subscribers. 
Sep 30, 2019
What was life like for Japanese Americans in Arizona after being incarcerated during WWII?
Executive Order 9066 lead to the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Two of the largest incarceration camps were located in Arizona. 

In last week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, we examined the history of the camps and what it was like to live in one. In this week's episode, we'll explore what life was like for Japanese Americans who lived outside of the militarized zone. 

We'll also delve into the closing of the camps and, decades later, a moment the president of the Japanese American Citizens League, Arizona Chapter described as a "bright spot" for our country. 
Sep 23, 2019
What was life like in the Japanese-American incarceration camps in Arizona during WWII?
Signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1942, Executive Order 9066 incarcerated almost 120,000 Japanese-Americans without due process. 

Internees were sent to one of 10 incarceration camps throughout the country, including two in Arizona. Named the Poston Relocation Center and Gila River War Relocation Center, the camps would become the third and fourth largest cities in Arizona at the time.

This week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, explores the atmosphere that lead to the signing of Executive Order 9066 and the construction of the camps in Arizona. You'll also hear what life was like in the Arizona camps from someone who grew up in one. 

This is the first part of a two-part series on this chapter of history. The second part will be released on Monday, Sept. 23. Subscribe to Valley 101 on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts to ensure that you'll hear the follow up.

Sep 16, 2019
How have Latinos shaped Phoenix? Exploring Arizona's Hispanic history
How have Latinos shaped Phoenix's development? Who are the Latinos that led the fight for civil rights in the Valley?

It's a broad question, and an essential one: About one third of the people living in Maricopa County are Hispanic or Latino, according to U.S. Census data.

We're looking at three stories that illustrate the impact Latinos had in the Valley and continue to have. We take a look into what Phoenix was like before it was developed and during the civil rights movement.

September 15th is the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. Celebrate by learning more about Latino history in Arizona with this episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and

NOTE: Valley 101 is intended to be heard. But we also offer a transcript of the episode script. There may be slight deviations from the podcast audio.

In this episode, you'll hear:
  • The History of the "Mother of Phoenix," Trinidad Escalante Swilling
  • Ray Martinez, a co-founder of the American Legion Post 41 and WWII U.S. Navy veteran
  • Mary Rose Wilcox, the first Latina to serve on the Phoenix City Council

Sep 09, 2019
Exploring Phoenix sports fandom: Which team do we love the most?
Which Arizona team are we in the Valley the most loyal to? And why? People often talk about how long a team has been around or how much they're winning, but there's so much more to it than that.

Which team do you love the most and why? Let us know on Twitter @valley101pod. And sign up for our email newsletter at
Sep 02, 2019
Is Phoenix's air quality bad? How does it affect our health?
The American Lung Association ranked Phoenix the seventh most ozone-polluted metropolitan area in the United States in April. If you've ever seen a brown haze hanging over the Valley, you too may have questioned the safety of our air quality.
While all residents can experience side effects of poor air quality, there are certain groups of people who are particularly sensitive and will endure more severe consequences. What can we all do to protect them?

This episode will help you understand more about these pollutants; how they affect human health and who is most at risk; and how Phoenix's air quality has changed over time.

Subscribe to our Valley 101 Newsletter:
For more info on the ADEQ vehicle emissions assistance program:

Follow Valley on Twitter @valley101pod.
Follow Producer Taylor Seely on Twitter: @taylorseely95
Follow Host Kaila White on Twitter @KailaWhite

Aug 26, 2019
Are palm trees native to Arizona? Why does Phoenix have so many?
What do you think of when you picture a palm tree?

For some, palm trees bring to mind images of beaches, sand and the ocean waves — not the desert. But you can spot the high-rising plant pretty much anywhere you head to in town.

That begs the question: Are palm trees native to Arizona? Why does Phoenix have so many?

In this week's episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, podcast editor Katie O'Connell digs in on this fixture of our landscape. 

In this episode you'll hear:
  • Liz Makings, collections manager for Arizona State University's Herbarium
  • Steve Blackwell, conservation collections manager at the Desert Botanical Garden
  • Brian Blake, owner of Whitfill Nursery: Main Tree Farm
Aug 19, 2019
Javelina in Arizona: Are they pigs? Are they dangerous?
Arizona is home to an array of wildlife unique to the southwestern U.S., including the often-misunderstood javelina. As Mesa resident Jim Albany asked, "Are javelina really dangerous?"

This question took us on a journey to the Phoenix Zoo, a taxidermy-filled office room, and the Ben Avery Outdoor Archery Range in Phoenix.

If you've ever run into a javelina in your neighborhood and not known how to react, you'll want to take a listen to this episode. Did you know that you can hunt javelina? We break down how it works and talk to local hunter Josh Kirchner about his adventures. To learn more, listen to this episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and

In this episode, you'll hear:
  • Devorah Young, a hoofstockkeeper at the Phoenix Zoo, talk about javelinas she takes care of. 
  • Darren Julian, of Arizona Game and Fish Department, speak about how to react when you run into a javelina.
  • Josh Kirchner, a local hunter, talk about why he hunts javelina and how to do it. 
Aug 12, 2019
Why does I-10 go through a tunnel in downtown Phoenix?
Odds are you’ve driven through the part of Interstate 10 in downtown Phoenix that dips into a tunnel. 

Phoenix natives call this the Deck Park Tunnel. But that is that is not its real name, and it’s technically not a tunnel. 

The real name is the Papago Freeway Tunnel and it's a series of 19 bridges. Big surprise, right?
To dig in to this controversial history, listen to this episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and 

Aug 05, 2019
What's the story behind Legend City, Arizona's shuttered theme park?
Legend City was an 87-acre Arizona theme park located between Phoenix and Tempe near Papago Park from 1963 to 1983. At its best, Legend City was a family oasis filled with fun western rides, talented performers and nostalgic penny arcades. At its worst, it had shoddy maintenance and only remnants of its original western theme.

Despite Legend City's tumultuous history, filled with financial mismanagement, rapid ownership turnover and multiple periods of closure, the park was also a source of many fond memories for residents today. Producer Taylor Seely explores the story behind the park in this episode.

Follow Valley 101 on Twitter: @valley101pod
Follow Taylor Seely on Twitter: @taylorseely95

Find John Bueker's book on Legend City by clicking here
Jul 29, 2019
Why didn't Arizona use Frank Lloyd Wright's plans for its new capitol?
Built before statehood, the Arizona capitol building grew in conjunction with the state's population. By 1954, the state legislature realized a third addition to the original structure was necessary.

The state contracted with a group called the Associated State Capital Architects, but not everyone was pleased with their designs.

Insert Frank Lloyd Wright. The famed architect offered an unsolicited design for the building in 1957, launching a public debate on which plan the government should pursue. 

And things got heated.

Listen to this episode of the Valley 101 podcast from The Arizona Republic and to learn more.
Jul 22, 2019
How are electric scooters changing metro Phoenix?
If you drive around the Valley you're likely to see electric scooters on sidewalks, in neighborhoods and in popular areas like Mill Avenue in Tempe or Scottsdale Fashion Square.

Bike-share programs that have docking stations have been in metro Phoenix since 2014. But once dockless bikes popped up in 2017 and dockless scooters in 2018, they immediately drew criticism.

You might be wondering: Why are they here? Are they safe to ride? How are they changing the Valley?

In this episode of The Arizona Republic and's Valley 101 podcast, we look at all the ways electric scooters and bikes are affecting our cities.

In this episode, you'll hear: 
  • What it's like to be a charger for electric scooter companies like Bird and Lime.
  • What safety issues scooters are bringing to the forefront in our communities?
  • Whether or not scooters will change transportation as we know it.
Jul 15, 2019
Why doesn't Phoenix have a Chinatown or Little Italy?
Many major cities across the U.S. have a Chinatown, Little Italy or some other ethnic enclave where immigrants have settled together. Did we ever have an ethnic enclave in metro Phoenix?
Yes! We had one. Or, well, two. Listen to this episode of the Valley 101 podcast from The Arizona Republic and to learn more.
Jul 08, 2019
Lightning round: 4 popular questions about Phoenix's history
From its time as "Apacheria" to rumors it was once brimming with camels, metro Phoenix is rich with history and myths. In this episode of Valley 101 podcast from The Arizona Republic and, we answer four of your questions about the history of Arizona and the Phoenix area. These include:
  • What state in Mexico was Arizona before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo?
  • Who named Camelback Mountain?
  • What is the most iconic building in the downtown Phoenix skyline?
  • How did Grand Avenue end up diagonal in a grid of roads? 

Jul 01, 2019
What is the affordable housing crisis in Phoenix?
As housing across metro Phoenix becomes more expensive, Valley residents are questioning whether it’s become a crisis, and how effectively cities are tackling the issue.

Reporters from The Arizona Republic and azcentral.comhave covered this crisis extensively, finding that eviction rates and homelessness rates are rising every year in Maricopa County. In part, that’s because of an affordable-housing crisis across the Valley.

To read the transcript of this episode, click here.

Articles mentioned in the episode:
 – Eviction rate spikes again across Phoenix as affordable-housing crisis worsens
Federal report: Homelessness spikes in Arizona, rising 10 percent in 2018
Renters in the housing crisis are often stuck between help and affordability

Follow us on Twitter: @valley101pod
Follow the producer of this episode, Taylor: @taylorseely95
Follow the show host: @kailawhite 
Jun 24, 2019
How are urban farms able to survive in the Valley?
Phoenix was built on agriculture. Without the efforts of early settlers to revive the Hohokam canal system to grow crops, we wouldn't be here today. 

But the abundance of land, good climate and accessible water drew new residents and businesses en mass. The more the population grew, the more land was converted to from agricultural land to residential land. 

The result? The west valley lost 31% of its agricultural land between 2000 and 2017. The east valley lost almost 54% of agricultural land during the same time. 

How are urban farmers in the Valley surviving? And what does the future of farming look like?

If you're looking for more on this subject, read this story from Arizona Republic reporter Joshua Bowling.
Jun 17, 2019
Did Phoenix ever segregate where minorities could live?
Other big cities across the U.S. have been shaped by housing segregation and redlining, but did that happen here? Host Kaila White looks into this issue that reaches back to before Arizona was a state and it still impacts Phoenix today, maybe even affecting your neighborhood.

- FDR recording “NNV 169-59 [dig].” from 1940 from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.
- Ray Martinez recording from Arizona History, A Chicano Perspective (1985). F 820 M5 A77x 1985. Chicano/a Research Collection. ASU Library, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.
- President Johnson Signing the 1968 Civil Rights Bill, April 11, 1968 from the LBJ Presidential Library.
- Read Elizabeth Montgomery’s article on Lincoln Ragsdale, “the Arizona Civil Rights pioneer who helped integrate Phoenix.” 

Jun 10, 2019
What's an Eruv and is there one at Scottsdale Fashion Square mall?
Have you ever noticed a clear wire, strung between poles in different parts of the Valley? You can see it at the intersection of Scottsdale and Camelback roads, crossing diagonally along the canal, near Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall.

That's an Eruv. A boundary for observant, usually Orthodox, members of Judaism. The wire, which surrounds parts of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, allows the community to carry certain items outside of their homes on Shabbat, otherwise known as Shabbos or the Sabbath.

But why does this Eruv allow them to carry things? And why do the rules exist in the first place? Learn all about the Valley Eruv in this week's episode of Valley 101.
Read the transcript of the episode by clicking here.

Follow Taylor Seely on Twitter: @taylorseely95
Follow Valley 101 on Twitter: @valley101pod 
Jun 03, 2019
How did 25 German POWs escape from Camp Papago Park during WWII?
It took months of planning, but on the night of December 23, 1944, 25 German prisoners of war POWs escaped from Camp Papago Park in Phoenix. They crawled through a handmade tunnel with hopes of heading home via Mexico.
Later known as "The Great Papago Escape," it was the largest POW escape on American soil during World War II. 

And it happened in our backyard — literally. There are houses now where the camp existed.
In this episode, editor Katie O'Connell explores what happened that fateful night. And what can we learn from it now?

Follow Katie O'Connell on Twitter: @katieoc

If you have additional questions about this story, you can reach out to historian Steve Hoza directly by clicking here.
May 27, 2019
Why have Arizona chefs been overlooked for the industry's top award?
If you love restaurants or cooking shows, or you care about Arizona’s farmers, ranchers, or tourism, or you just want people to know our state is cool, you should know about the James Beard Awards.

Considered the "Oscars of the food world," the James Beard Awards are the top award American chefs can win. So why did Arizonans stop winning?

In this episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, host Kaila White teamed up with The Republic's dining editor Lauren Saria to explore Arizona's history and future with the James Beard Awards. 

May 20, 2019
Does Arizona have a state food it calls its own?
If the saying goes, "You are what you eat," then Chicagoans are deep-dish pizza or Chicago dogs, Philadelphians are Philly cheesesteaks, and perhaps New Mexicans are green chiles.

But what about Arizonans? Does the Valley have a food to call its own? And if it does, what does it say about our culture?

Producer Taylor Seely finds out on this episode of Valley 101. And be sure to submit your questions at

May 13, 2019
Why are there so many HOAs in the Valley?
Almost two million people in Arizona live in some sort of community association. How did we get here? The answer goes back to how the city developed after World War II.

Valley 101 editor Katie O'Connell talked to real estate experts to find out the answer.

Want your question answered? Submit it at And follow us on Twitter @valley101pod.
May 06, 2019
What was Phoenix Indian School like for students?
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the federal government systematically took Native American children from their homes and shipped them to boarding schools across the U.S. to assimilate them into western society.

Arizona is home toone of those boarding schools.

How did it change from 1891 to 1990, to become more academic and even a point of pride for Native American students? And what was it like to be a student through the ages? Listen to this episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and, to find out.

Special thanks to The Heard Museum, for allowing Valley 101 to record in its exhibit and the audio of musician Russel Moore to be included in this episode. 

This story was reported by Shondiin Silversmith and produced by Taylor Seely. 
Apr 29, 2019
What are the mysterious ruins on Shaw Butte?
Legend has it, the concrete pad and stone wall are all that's left of an upscale restaurant called Cloud Nine that mysteriously burned down in the 1960s.
Who built a restaurant up there and how? What was it like in its heyday? And what led to its demise?

Valley 101 host and producer Kaila White dug into newspaper archives and public records to find the truth, encountering some interesting characters along the way.

Music in this episode includes “Arizona Moon,” “La Costilla,” and “El Tajo” by Blue Dot Sessions.

Want your question about metro Phoenix answered? Submit it at And follow us on Twitter @valley101pod.  
Apr 22, 2019
Population part 2: Just how big could we get?
As we talked about in last week's episode, the Valley is going to grow. For part two in our exploration of our population, we're looking ahead.

Just how many people are we talking about adding? And what will that additional population mean for our economy and housing? What about our transportation and water?

Want your question about metro Phoenix answered? Submit it at And follow us on Twitter @valley101pod.  
Apr 15, 2019
Population part 1: How did the Valley get so big?
We've been collecting your questions for more than two months now and one topic keeps coming up: the Valley's population. So we're taking two episodes to answer your population-related questions.
In this week's episode, we look at how Phoenix and the Valley got so big. When did we start growing? And what fueled that growth?
Be sure to listen next week when we explore the future population of the Valley.
Want your question about metro Phoenix answered? Submit it at And follow us on Twitter @valley101pod.  
Apr 08, 2019
Does Phoenix have a gayborhood?
Positioned just northwest of downtown Phoenix, the Melrose District's mile-long strip of gay bars, vintage stores and eateries line Seventh Avenue with pride flags, murals and a rainbow crosswalk. But how did the Melrose District gain its reputation as a queer-friendly space? What even makes it one?

Valley 101 producer Taylor Seely and Arizona Republic reporter Garrett Mitchell trekked the "fruit loop" talking to historians, shopkeepers, bartenders and residents to get a glimpse at why the Melrose District is Phoenix's go-to gayborhood.

Want your question about metro Phoenix answered? Submit it at And follow us on Twitter @valley101pod.  

Apr 01, 2019
How did Phoenix get its name?
Is it related to the mythological phoenix, a bird that lived for hundreds of years, died in an explosion of flames, and would be reborn from its ashes? It would make sense, given that Phoenix summers set us on fire and yet here we are still.

Who named our city? And was it ever called something else? To answer those questions, Valley 101 producer Téa Francesca Price dug into Phoenix's history.

Want to submit a question for Valley 101 to answer? Visit

Mar 25, 2019
What happened to Terminal 1 at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport?
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has Terminals 2, 3, and 4. But have you noticed there's no Terminal 1? At least not anymore. Valley 101 producer Taylor Seely investigates why.

Tell us your questions about metro Phoenix at or find us on Twitter at @valley101pod. You can reach Taylor on Twitter @taylorseely95

Mar 18, 2019
What happens to recycling after it leaves our homes?
Putting your recyclable items into a blue bin is only step one. After it’s picked up, where does it go? What happens to it? And what can you do to help the process? Kaila White, a reporter and editor for The Arizona Republic and, visited a materials recovery facility in north Phoenix to find out.

Tell us your questions about metro Phoenix at or find us on Twitter at @valley101pod. You can reach Kaila on Twitter at @kailawhite.

Mar 11, 2019
Does the pollution in Phoenix shape our sunsets?
What creates the brilliant red and pink sunsets in Phoenix? Local folklore says that the pollution in Phoenix shapes our sunsets. But is that true? Katie O'Connell, the head of podcasts for The Arizona Republic and, found out. 
Tell us your questions about metro Phoenix at or find us on Twitter at @valley101pod. You can reach Katie on Twitter at @katieoc.
Mar 04, 2019
Why does Phoenix have so many wrong-way drivers?
Every year, there are dozens of car crashes involving wrong-way drivers in Arizona. How does metro Phoenix compare with other metropolitan areas across the country? What is causing this problem, and can we do to stop it? Arizona Republic and producer Téa Francesca Price investigates.
Tell us your questions about metro Phoenix at or find us on Twitter at @valley101pod. You can reach Téa on Twitter @_tfprice.
Feb 25, 2019
What was the Roosevelt Row Arts District like before today?
Some claim gentrification has ruined Roosevelt Street in downtown Phoenix. Others boast that the area is safer and more walkable than before. And is it still artsy? Arizona Republic and producer Taylor Seely investigates.

Tell us your questions about metro Phoenix at or find us on Twitter at @valley101pod. You can reach Taylor on Twitter @taylorseely95
Feb 18, 2019
Welcome: Valley 101, a Phoenix podcast from The Arizona Republic and
Ever wonder what Roosevelt Row was like before it was developed? Or why there are so many wrong-way crashes in Phoenix?

The Arizona Republic and podcast team will answer all of your Valley-related questions in our new show launching on Monday, Feb. 18. We'll pick one question a week to investigate and take you with as we report. Each episode will give you the facts in 10 to 20 minutes.

We want to hear your questions! Submit your questions at Or follow along on Twitter @Valley101pod

Feb 05, 2019