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Madeleine Brand Joins Staff of 'SoCal Connected,' KCET Show Now Airing Nightly

Brand and Zavala at KCET's new HQ

Nanette GonzalesBrand and Zavala at KCET's new HQ

Rabid fans of former KPCC radio host Madeleine Brand, who abruptly left the station last month shortly after a co-host was brought on to her show, can take a break from drafting angry letters to station management and watch Brand's debut on KCET's 'SoCal Connected' tonight.

Brand will be joining longtime host Val Zavala as a special contributor when the fifth season of the public affairs show premieres at 7pm. And that's not the only change.

Starting tonight, 'SoCal Connected' will be airing on a nightly basis, Monday through Thursday. In the past, the weekly show was forced to focus on stories with a longer shelf life, Zavala says, but the change will allow the staff to be "much more nimble" in responding to news events.

"We're going to be able to be on top of fast moving stories much more easily," Zavala says. "We're going to be able to do interviews that can literally be set up that day, or the day before."

Viewers can expect that newfound nimbleness to manifest in the form of a whole lot of election coverage during the first two weeks of the show's fifth season, with stories on Super PACs, redistricting, and, tonight, a discussion of Prop 30's effect on Community Colleges with Governor Jerry Brown.

Brand will be sitting down with Brown to talk about the governor's pet ballot measure. If passed, it would increase sales and income taxes to generate some $9 billion (by Brown's estimate) for the state's public school system.

Brand says she is looking forward to speaking with Brown about his political stake--and his personal stake--in the ballot measure's passage.

Brown's father, Pat Brown, served as governor of California in the '50s, and the California Master Plan for Higher Education--a promise that every student in the state could attend college--was his signature achievement. Recent budget cuts have significantly chipped away at that promise.

It will be Brand's first opportunity to show off on television the interview skills she hopes will carry over from her years in radio.

"What I want to bring to TV, that I think I was successful bringing to my radio show, was to have a more relaxed way of having a conversation," Brand says. "No less intelligent and no less substantive, but a more conversational approach."

In addition to the introduction of Brand and the roll-out of the expanded format, tonight will also mark the first time 'SoCal Connected' will be shot in KCET's brand new Burbank studio. The station sold its historic Sunset Boulevard lot--where production began back to 1912--to the Church of Scientology in April.

That move was spurred in part by KCET's break from PBS, finalized in January, after the affiliate and the network came to blows over some $7 million PBS was demanding in dues from KCET.

The station, which lost the rights to to broadcast 'Sesame Street' and 'Charlie Rose' in the schism, announced last month that it has merged with San Francisco-based Link TV. The new venture is called KCETLink.

SoCal Connected airs tonight at 7pm and 10:30pm on KCET.