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May 22, 2009 13
Cox show embraces local cultures
Special to ASIA
When Jessica Chang took her first job in Odessa, Texas, it was an eye opener.
“I was always in tune with my Chinese culture,” said Chang, who spoke Mandarin at home with her parents and who
grew up in a predominantly Asian community. But Texas was different.
“There were so many Mexican Americans, even in my own newsroom, and I was such a minority,” she explained. “So I
really embraced Mexican culture and my Mexican friends embraced me.”
Thus began a relationship with diversity and culture, which remains with her today.
So when the opportunity came to host a show whose core is diversity and culture, it was – as they say – a marriage made
in heaven.
Shortly after Chang joined Cox’s Channel 4 in San Diego four years ago, general manager Craig Nichols devised the
Jessica Chang, right, with cookbook author Su-Mei Yu on a recent
idea for a show about the variety of cultures in San Diego and “Shades of San Diego” was born.
show. Photo by Rosalynn Carmen
“He picked my brain and knew pretty much that I lived in the community. He wanted to bring someone in from the com-
munity to use ‘on air’ as a forum to discuss issues,” related Chang.
The show was launched September 2007. The first topic: The San Diego Asian Film Festival.
Since then, the show, which airs every other week on 4SD (Channel 4) has explored a wide range of topics, issues and communities, including volunteerism, refugees, and minority
voting and ethnicities ranging from San Diego’s Irish to African-American communities.
The show aired for Asian Heritage Month focused on San Diego’s Asian Pacific Islander community and values, with guests restaurateur and cookbook author Su-Mei Yu, singer-gui-
tarist Terry Matsuoka, professional skateboarder Willy Santos and ASIA publishers Rosalynn Carmen and Len Novarro.
The half-hour “Shades of San Diego” is taped four days prior to broadcast in the Cox studios at 350 10th Ave. in downtown San Diego.
“When you think of a place like San Diego, you think of diversity,” said Chang, president of the local Asian American Journalists Association, adding that the show has been a learn-
ing experience even for her.
For example, before doing the show, Chang was not aware that the second largest Iraqi community outside of Iraq was right here in San Diego. The largest, who are predominantly
Chaldean Catholic, is in Detroit. “I didn’t know that,” said Chang. Then, again, how many people do?
Producing “Shades of San Diego” as she does, along with co-producer Sandra Torres, has instilled a greater sense of pride in her own Asian, and, in particular, Chinese community.
Also, by doing a show on Lunar New Year, Chang became even more familiar with the customs of San Diego’s Vietnamese community, which also celebrates the New Year in similar
“I learned how much is aligned with Chinese tradition. Even topics I have a grasp on, I learn something different each time,” she said.
“I can see this show working in any metropolitan city,” added Chang.
on tap
What Japanese meal consist-
ing of delicious sushi rolls,
edamame and miso soup is com-
plete without the sweet taste of
fine sake? The 7th Annual
Beer & Sake Festival, hosted
by The Japan Society of San
Diego and Tijuana (JSSDT) will
take place on Thursday, June 25,
at the San Diego Marriott Del
Mar (11966 El Camino Real,
San Diego, CA 92130), from 6
p.m. to 10 p.m. The Beer &
Sake Festival is a charity tasting
event that brings experts from
the Japanese culinary and sake
traditions together to showcase
their knowledge and talents to
the San Diego community. All
proceeds support the JSSDT's
educational programs that build
bridges between the people of
Japan and the San Diego/Tijuana
region, including language com-
petitions, internships, education-
al exchanges, and sports
exchanges. The 2009 Beer &
Sake Festival has also been des-
ignated the official host of the
SushiMasters California
Regional Competition presented
by the California Rice
Commission. This nationally
acclaimed event features
California's top sushi chefs in a
live competition that challenges
their mastery of sushi art.
Tickets are $60 per person or
$40 if you are a JSSDT member
and can be purchased online at
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