Author Kathi Diamant
Author Kathi Diamant

TV personality Kathi Diamant, recognizable to PBS audiences during pledge drive programming, is excited about the recent publishing of “Heart of the Zoo,” a 314-page book she wrote about the five-decade career of Chuck Bieler, former executive director of the San Diego Zoo.

“It’s a wonderful true story of a man who did extraordinary things,” Diamant told Times of San Diego. “It was a joy to write and I’m excited to share Chuck’s story with the world.”

Longtime San Diegans may remember Diamant as co-host of “Sun-Up San Diego,” a locally-produced, live in-studio morning talk show that aired on KFMB-TV/Channel 8 from 1983 to 1990. Her co-host was the late Jerry B. Bishop.

“My involvement with the Zoo began when I joined ‘Sun-Up’ and we hosted a weekly segment featuring a zoo animal,” Diamant said. “On live TV, the wild animals were often unpredictable. It was very exciting.”

In the 1990s, Diamant began hosting pledge programming on KPBS. Today, she encourages memberships and donations from viewers for PBS stations around the country. Her pledge appearances have aired during such programs as the “Nova” science series and “Masterpiece.”

Prior to the end of “Sun-Up,” she joined San Diego Writing Women, a networking support group for local authors. Diamant was invited to join the group by Georgeanne Irvine, longtime zoo publicist and author of two dozen children’s books.

“Writing Women encouraged me, opened opportunities to write for local publications and helped me land an agent for my first book,” said Diamant, who wrote “Kafka’s Last Love: The Mystery of Dora Diamant,” published in the U.S. and U.K. in 2003.

The book is an historical biography of the last love of Franz Kafka (1883-1923), a German-speaking Bohemian novelist and short-story writer who is regarded as a literary genius and one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. Dora (1898-1952) kept Kafka’s papers until they were stolen by the Nazis in 1933.

“My book has helped to transform the common perception of Franz Kafka from a dark and grim persona into the loving, kind and humorous man he truly was,” said Diamant.

“Kafka’s Last Love” has been translated into nine languages and won the Geisel Award, regarded as the “Best of the Best” award, at the San Diego Book Awards (2003). Diamant remains an adjunct instructor and director of the Kafka Project at San Diego State University.

“Kathi was the perfect person to write the biography of Chuck Bieler because of her long involvement with the San Diego Zoo and her success with the Kafka book,” said Irvine. “She has done an extraordinary job of telling Chuck’s story as well as providing a behind-the-scenes look at his work with the Zoo. 

“Chuck was at the forefront of a seismic shift in the evolution of zoos worldwide that catapulted the zoos from their role as living museums to becoming centers of conservation that are helping to save and protect endangered wildlife populations and habitats around the globe.”

Diamant began interviews for the Bieler book in January 2019 and completed the writing in the summer of 2020.

“Heart of the Zoo” includes stories of how Bieler rose from his first job in group sales in 1969 to become executive director and a leader in the national and international zoo world. During his career, this unlikely hero helped changed the landscape of the zoo to create new habitats, launched the Zoo’s international conservation efforts and opened up the Wild Animal Park in Escondido, now called Safari Park.

A Zoo statement said, “Chuck built connections with the local community and his Zoo family, cemented relationships with important donors, championed science and research and established international partnerships that ultimately brought wildlife like kolas and giant pandas to San Diego.”

Today, Bieler, 87, is director emeritus and serves as an adviser to Paul Baribault, president and CEO for San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

Diamant’s first public book signing event will be held at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, at Warwick’s Books, 7812 Girard Ave, La Jolla. For more information, visit www.warwicks.com/event/diamant-2022.

Investigative News Service inewsource Adds 3 Journalists

inewsource, a San Diego online investigative news service, has hired three journalists, including Jake Harper, Sofia Mejias-Pascoe and Anissa Durham.

Harper was previously an investigative reporter for WFYI, an Indiana public media station. He also co-hosted “Sick,” a podcast on what goes wrong in healthcare. As an investigative data reporter at inewsource, he will focus on accountability in healthcare.

Mejias-Pascoe, a former inewsource intern, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication from University of California Santa Barbara in June 2021. She has interned at San Diego CityBeat, Voice of San Diego and the San Diego Union-Tribune. At inewsource, she will cover the border and immigration beat. She is a member of the San Diego-Tijuana chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Anissa Durham

Durham, a former intern at inewsource, the San Diego Union-Tribune and L.A. Style Magazine, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in integrated marketing communications from National University in September 2021. She has freelanced for Voice of San Diego, PBS SoCal and The Objective and worked at J. Walcher Communications as a marketing and public relations assistant. She is a member of the San Diego chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. At inewsource, she will cover infrastructure that affects San Diego residents and neighborhoods.

Founded in 2009, inewsource is a nonprofit that produces content for the web, radio and television in partnership with KPBS and KFMB-TV CBS8. The news organization, whose legal name is Investigative Newsource, is funded by individual contributions and foundation grants. 

Havas Formula Hires Bailey Hahn

Bailey Hahn has joined Havas Formula, a San Diego-based public relations agency, as a junior publicist. She was previously with Alternative Strategies, a San Diego marketing agency specializes in the restaurant and hospitality industries.

Following her graduation in 2020 from San Diego State University with a bachelor’s degree in communications, the native San Clemente, Calif. also was an entertainment journalist.

At SDSU, he joined KCR, the college radio station, and hosted a podcast on mental health and meditation. She also worked as a teacher’s assistant for SDSU’s Rhetoric and Writing Department.

Weather Channel Is the Only News Outlet Trusted by a Majority

Which national news media outlet do Americans trust the most? The answer may surprise you.

According to a recent poll of 1,500 Americans by YouGovAmerica, the Weather Channel is trusted by 52% of respondents, followed by U.K. news outlet BBC (39%), taxpayer-funded, national public broadcaster PBS (41%) and The Wall Street Journal (37%).

In a comparison between Republicans and Democrats, the most politically polarizing media outlet is CNN, said YouGov. Nearly two thirds of Democrats (66%) rate CNN as newsworthy, compared to 11% of Republicans, a gap of 55 points.

The second-largest partisan difference of 49 points is The New York Times, trusted by 63% of Democrats and 14% of Republicans. MSNBC, CNN’s closest rival, is deemed reliable by 52% of Democrats and only 9% of Republicans.

The Weather Channel also scored for the most agreement for trustworthiness between Democrats (62%) and Republicans (50%).

The YouGov poll was conducted between March 26 and 29.

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.