Weekend Edition Saturday

Saturday mornings are made for Weekend Edition Saturday, the program wraps up the week's news and offers a mix of analysis and features on a wide range of topics, including arts, sports, entertainment, and human interest stories. The two-hour program is hosted by NPR's Peabody Award-winning Scott Simon.

Drawing on his experience in covering 10 wars and stories in all 50 states and seven continents, Simon brings a humorous, sophisticated and often moving perspective to each show. He is as comfortable having a conversation with a major world leader as he is talking with a Hollywood celebrity or the guy next door.

Weekend Edition Saturday has a unique and entertaining roster of other regular contributors. Marin Alsop, conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, talks about music. Daniel Pinkwater, one of the biggest names in children's literature, talks about and reads stories with Simon. Financial journalist Joe Nocera follows the economy. Howard Bryant of EPSN.com and NPR's Tom Goldman chime in on sports. Keith Devlin, of Stanford University, unravels the mystery of math, and Will Grozier, a London cabbie, talks about good books that have just been released, and what well-read people leave in the back of his taxi. Simon contributes his own award-winning essays, which are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant.

Weekend Edition Saturday is heard on NPR Member stations across the United States, and around the globe on NPR Worldwide. The conversation between the audience and the program staff continues throughout the social media world.

Thelma Williams' Fairmead home has been without running water for seven year...
The years-long drought in California has taken a severe toll on the rural, mainly African-American community of Fairmead, where water drawn for agriculture has left wells dry.

Around the tiny rural community of Fairmead, Calif., about an hour north of Fresno on Highway 99, hundreds of one-story houses on small ranches stretch out for miles.

The ground is mostly brown, parched by California's recent drought. But beneath the surface, this mostly African-American community in the San Joaquin Valley has been going dry for years.

Fairmead used to be known for corn and cotton, but today the aging community is surrounded by large almond and pistachio orchards. Family homes in Fairmead with shallow private wells feet can't compete with agricultural wells sucking water out of the aquifer at 1,000 feet or deeper.

Jean Wilson moved to Fairmead 20 years ago to escape big-city life. It wasn't until last year that her private well started shooting out sand.

"I was the first one that actually went out of water," Wilson says. "I think about a year this month."

Wilson got so fed up with the lack of government help that she wrote to Gov. Jerry Brown.

"It's almost inhumane," she says she told him. "The biggest issue was, where can we go get water? You're telling me I can't have water. What are you saying?"

When no aid came, Wilson created a flyer offering to deliver water to her neighbors.

Annie Cooper and her husband found one of those flyers at a laundromat. Last June, their private well dried up when an almond farmer began drilling a well across the street from their country home.

Cooper says she was fixing dinner one day that month when she called her husband to show him the trickle from the tap.

"I said, 'There's hardly any coming out,' " she says. "The next hour so, that water was gone. We've been without it ever since."

The Cooper family moved to Fairmead from Arkansas in the 1940s, like many other African Americans. They hoped to farm small plots instead of settling in cities like Los Angeles and Oakland.

Thelma Williams moved to Fairmead in the 1990s from Southern California to retire on 40 acres of land. But life in Fairmead hasn't been easy: Williams has been without running water for seven years.

She can't afford to dig a new well, so she showers at her parents' home nearby and fills up eight five-gallon jugs to bring home.

For a while, the Madera County Farm Bureau provided drinking water to residents with dry wells, but that program has stopped. Now Madera County is working on a state-funded project to supply water to homeowners with dry wells. In time, qualified residents will receive a large tank for potable water that a truck service will fill every few weeks.

The county plans to deliver bottled water as soon as state funding arrives, and plans to have the first tanks installed sometime in late May.

But Wilson says the process is taking much to long.

"Why do we have to go through so much of this?" she says. "Let all of them get their water cut off, everybody's water cut off for one month and have one station for everybody to go get water, and see what happens."

Copyright 2015 Valley Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.kvpr.org/.

In lean years she played piano in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Otherwise she's acted in roles for Justified and Mr. Holland's Opus. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Alicia Witt about her debut album.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR's Scott Simon and NPR's Tom Goldman chat about tonight's boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao; the Kentucky Derby; and the NBA match-up between the Clippers and Spurs.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.