Amy Mayer

Reporter, producer, writer, editor

A teary-eyed farmer recalls his family's struggle to hold onto the farm in the 1980s. A biologist, assiduously disguised to hide her humanity, provides nutrition to an abandoned sea otter pup. Candidates loudly proclaim their memorized commitments to Iowa communities. Alaska Native teens recall their parents' agony at discovering their struggles with substance abuse. These are among the stories I've collected. 

My work has aired nationally on NPR shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition and on Marketplace, Living on Earth, and The Pulse. I've written for the Boston Globe, The New York Times, Real Simple, BioScience, and Newsweek. My podcast credits include Bay Curious, Caucus Land, Drive-Time, Field Work, and The California Report Magazine. I've been an editor at St. Louis Public Radio, a reporter at Iowa Public Radio, and a contributor to KQED, WFCR and KUAC. My insatiable curiosity drives my constant search for the next great piece.

Filters & Sorting

This 30-Mile East Bay Trail Has Roots on the Railroad

That last question goes back further in Au’s own life. She grew up in Walnut Creek, where for a long time an old railroad depot housed a steak restaurant. “I grew up passing by looking at it thinking, ‘Oh, what a cool building,’” she said. “And then (feeling) kind of sad that it wasn’t used as a train station anymore.” Bay Curious set out to answer Au’s questions and explore the history of this popular East Bay Regional Park District trail through the San Ramon Valley in Contra Costa County.

‘An incredible, sophisticated time machine.’ Brown University scientists drill into the past to help learn about our climate future

Wearing a hard hat and safety glasses, Brown University graduate student Bryce Mitsunaga pulls nitrile gloves onto his hands, picks up a plastic bin of tools and positions himself at the end of a series of metal workstations. Moments later, a team of technicians carries a 30-foot-long plastic tube full of mud and sets it in a rack that runs the length of the catwalk where Mitsunaga bounces a bit with anticipation. He quickly takes a small plug of mud, which was just pulled up from deep beneath the seafloor.
Beth LaBerge/KQED

At Kiss My Boba, Tongan Specialty Helps San Bruno Shop Stand Out

The ubiquity of boba drink shops in the Bay Area did not discourage Willy and Chelsea Tatola from pursuing their dream of opening one. Instead, it challenged the husband-and-wife team to offer something new and different. “We tried to come up with a unique name that, once you came to our shop, you would never forget,” Willy Tatola says. The result is Kiss My Boba, which launched as a food truck more than four years ago and opened a storefront in October 2021.
Courtesy of Pedro Lange

Bay Area Chicana Blues Singer's New Album Is a Celebration of Spanish — a Language She Fought to Learn

But it was expensive to hire a teacher, and Crouse’s family couldn’t afford to help support her education. Crouse, who grew up in a lower-income, single-parent home, needed financial security, and wasn’t sure her love of music would translate into a true career. Still, after college, graduate school, and a divorce, Crouse's daughter encouraged her to return to music. She discovered that her bold, brassy voice was perfect for singing blues, and released her first album, “Never Too Soon,” in 2018

Bagman for Bay Mussels – Estuary News Magazine

Martin Trinh practically bounces along the dock at the Coyote Point Yacht Club on a breezy, sunny spring morning. He’s carrying a case full of instruments and scopes out an open slip at the end of the pier. Soon he’s lowering a probe into the water, alongside kelp clinging to the underside of the dock. Another trip back to his Prius, still sporting South Carolina license plates, and he’s got a white plastic dish pan and a scrub brush. He fills and rinses a brown plastic bottle several times before finally capping it while full and placing it into a zip-top plastic bag. Then he lies on his belly, reaches into the water, and with blue nitrile gloves feels amidst the kelp for the last thing he needs here today: five medium-size mussels.

Ford Pro, Wilbur-Ellis partner with Sonoma County Winegrowers on susainability, electric vehicles

A partnership aimed at helping farmers and ranchers transition to an electric vehicle future has taken another step as an agribusiness announced plans to purchase 10 electric pickup trucks for use serving agricultural customers in California. Wilbur Ellis - an international marketer, distributor and manufacturer of agricultural products, animal nutrients, and specialty chemicals and ingredients - has a global commercial fleet of 2,800 vehicles. CEO John Buckley says beginning the transition to electric in California makes sense because of the state’s incentives and its leadership on electrification. He joined a Ford Pro event showcasing the new electric F-150 pickup truck at Dutton Ranch in Sebastopol last week.
Olivia Watkins

Advocates say community groups are key to helping underserved farmers

Olivia Watkins’ family has owned land in North Carolina since the 1890s. Since her grandmother recently passed away, Watkins has become the responsible party for the forested acres. She has an MBA from North Carolina State University and her mother is an attorney. She recognizes these are privileges that not all Black farmland owners enjoy. “We were able to successfully retain our land without it getting caught up in heirs property loopholes and things like that,” she said, referring to property with unclear title, which can prevent the landowner from being eligible for loans and can inhibit succession planning. Even so, Watkins has not enrolled in any federal programs, even when she started an agroforestry business growing mushrooms.

Hemp indusry seeks expansion support in next farm bill

Hemp supporters are touting the crop's myriad uses and soil-nurturing properties while pushing some ideas for increasing its viability as Congress prepares to update the 2018 farm bill that legalized the crop. In 2021, the nation’s total hemp production reached $824 million in value across 54,200 open acres and 15.6 million covered square feet, according to USDA, just three years after the 2018 farm bill fully allowed for its cultivation. During that time, farmers have experimented with the crop across the country.

We Met at Wellesley | Wellesley Magazine

Falling in love on an idyllic New England college campus has storybook qualities. But for generations, the narrative at Wellesley was a certain spin on the fairy tale: Students would find their mates off campus. Even though LGBTQ relationships likely stretch back far in the College’s history, students remained largely quiet about coupling up for probably close to a century. Today, the alumnae community includes many couples who were both Wellesley students, are comfortable being public about it, and represent a broad spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities.
Jay Fram

Small meat processors try to grow while Congress questions competitiveness of beef marketplace

Recent attention to the country’s meatpacking plants has illustrated that when the four dominant companies face disruptions to processing, smaller, independent operations don’t have adequate capacity to pick up the slack. That’s part of the reason the federal government has decided to invest in upgrades to some of those local shops. Plus, when those smaller businesses are federally inspected, producers will be able to market their own branded meat products across state lines. Still, it will be a tall order to compete in the marketplace, which several senators allege is already not operating in a transparent and consistently fair way.
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