New voice on the landscape

Alan Chamberlain

Photo by Vic Cantu

Ever wanted to be done with work and retire into a life of ease and relaxation? Not Alan Chamberlain, 61, husband and former president of the Downtown Chico Business Association. Since April, every Monday through Thursday evening you can hear the retired salesman's “good news” and opinion show, “Chico Currents,” online at, or on Facebook. Chamberlain says he loves to spread the word about Chico's culture with others. “I'm trying to make a difference by publicizing our amazing town and its interesting people, who do wonderful things,” he said. He also offers critiques, both positive and negative, on our news media. Call Chamberlain at 898-0815.

What is your podcast about?

I broadcast news that's not being covered. We are fortunate to live here and have each other as neighbors. “Chico Currents” celebrates that good fortune. It's me being the change I want to see in the world.

Can you describe the show’s format?

At 7 p.m. for 15 to 30 minutes I interview various members of the community or give my thoughts on local media coverage. I have three main segments: 1) “What Are You Working On,” which focuses on the music community; 2) “TL;DR” (too long; didn't read), which is my take on the daily media that people don't have time for; 3) “For the Record,” where I interview elected or appointed officials.

What types of media critiques do you offer?

It can either be praise or criticism. I've always seen local news and thought, “Why doesn't someone call them on their shit?” Our media standards have been deteriorating since the advent of Rush Limbaugh and the 24-hour news cycle. But I shine the light on quality reporters too. [Recently] I gave the CN&R's Jason Cassidy kudos for his coverage on the death of Chico's man about town, Moondog.

What made you start “Chico Currents”?

A few years ago, Chico's KZFR radio had an opening for a news director, and I wondered how it would be if I filled it and broadcast interviews with people doing cool stuff. Plus, I've been annoyed with the daily media for a while, but the last few years it's gotten malignant. Chico used to be a magical, welcoming place, but lately the media's message is, “Chico sucks! It's filled with drugs and gangs!” For instance, in 2013, a few weeks before Christmas some tweaker got caught shoplifting at a downtown clothes store and Action News Now ran a story with a completely unjustified headline reading, “The demise of downtown?”

Where did you get the skills and know-how for this?

For years I ran my own recording studio downtown, recording radio ads and music. I also surreptitiously recorded Grateful Dead concerts from 1978 to 1995. Plus, I developed good Web skills since I joined the first social media network before the Internet in 1988, called “The Well.”

What are your future plans for “Chico Currents”?

If I get enough listeners, I hope local brands will want to associate with my project—not as advertisers, but as “market good will.” If others want to support me in any way, such as writing, field production or interviewing interesting people, that's OK. I hope young people will get involved, then get fed up with my style and throw me over the rails and take over.