R.I.P. Gina Hotta -- Updated

September 29, 2009


Photo courtesy of Derek Chung

I'm sad to report that journalist, writer, and community leader Gina Hotta died last night of a heart attack.

Gina was perhaps best known as the executive producer of Apex Express, the API show that's been hosted on Berkeley-based radio station KPFA since 2001. Since KQED's Pacific Time shut down a few years back, she had been the voice of Asian America. She produced a number of documentaries and more recently branched out from print journalism into creative nonfiction and fiction writing, appearing in KSW's APAture festival reading in  2006.

In recent years we've lost many community leaders of the Baby Boomer generation: Sachiko Nakamura, Chiori Santiago, Bill Sorro, Al Robles, Ronald Takaki, and many more. The Movement leaders are passing, Asian America. Let's remember to honor our elders before they leave us.

And let's also remember that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US. If you feel so moved, you might make a donation to WomenHeart. And be sure to read and pass on this information about how symptoms of heart disease may be different for women, and what the risk factors are.

Here's a much more expressive tribute from Digitron (Adriel Luis) of ILL-Literacy.

ETA: from Momo's comment below:

APEX EXPRESS will honor Gina tonight (Thursday)
KPFA 94.1 FM
A public memorial will be held in late October. Details TBA.

For more information and to post memories and condolences go to: www.firstvoicemap.org

ETA: from Michael Yoshida's comment below:

A public celebration of the life of Gina Hotta will be held on
Sunday, October 25 from 5-7pm, with a reception following. We will
gather at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 9th street 2nd floor,
in the Pacific Renaissance Plaza.

If you are interested in sharing your memories or music, please contact us by Friday, October 16.

You can contribute photos or other small items to the Community Altar, or an appetizer for the reception.

We also encourage you to bring a cranes to add to our 1,000 cranes installation in honor of Gina’s legacy.

Contact: Apex [at] kpfa.org
510-848-6767 x 464




PUBLIC MEMORIALA public celebration of the life of Gina Hotta will be held on Sunday, October 25 from 5-7pm, with a reception following. We will gather at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 9th street 2nd floor, in the Pacific Renaissance Plaza.If you are interested in sharing your memories or music, please contact us by Friday, October 16.You can contribute photos or other small items to the Community Altar, or an appetizer for the reception.We also encourage you to bring a cranes to add to our 1,000 cranes installation in honor of Gina’s legacy.Contact: Apex [at] kpfa.orgwww.apexexpress.org510-848-6767 x 464
My memories of Gina have been scrambled by time and distance, but I did find a picture of her that I took when she was doing Inside/Eastside.Posted it on my Oct. 11 blog entry:http://baltiblogs.com/aamplitude
Gina and my path did intersect at an evening meeting at the offices of the Korean Community of the East Bay. The meeting was aroung 1992 when tensions were high between the African American and Korean American Communities in L.A. Also Gina briefly mentioned my work within the Korean Community Center during her radio broadcast of then Inside/Eastside. I will miss her spirit, voice, and concern for bringing people of color together in many ways. The struggle will indeed continue as long as we have committed people such as Gina.God Bless her & Power to the People
Gina was the true meaning of siesta hood embrace the wonderful memories.
Gina in the 9 or so years I knew her in her capacity as "THE radio go-to person" never sought any credit or anything in return and simply was consistently determined to ensure that marginalized API voices got airtime. Zainichi are one of the many such voices that she elevated in our communities. For groups that represented voices of the marginalized & the colonized of Japan, like US-Japan NoWar Network, Okinawa PeaceFighters, Nikkeis for Peace & Justice, and Eclipse Rising (zainichi Korean group in the US), she was always there, and we are so grateful to know such a companera. You will be truly missed - from Okinawa, to Japan, to the Bay Area and beyond, Gina.
Thank you for posting this about Gina.I first met her in the early 1980's when she was active in Asian American peace and justice work, organizing Hiroshima/Nagasaki memorials and nuclear disarmament alliances. I also had the pleasure of working with her in a radio collective as well over 20 years ago.I will miss her more recent voice on APEX Express but I know Wayie Ly and others will carry on in her spirit Thursday nights on KPFA 94.1 FM.
I am so shocked and deeply saddened to hear this news. I knew Gina from back in the day when she was a CANE (Committee Against Nihonmachi Eviction) activist and we were roommates for a time. She was a bit eccentric but I loved her and I always admired her solid working class perspective. I had lost touch with her the last few years but reconnected recently and was so happy to hear that she had gotten married. This is a great loss to the APA community and my heart goes out to her family. We should all take a moment to pause and remember one of the many unsung heroes of the Asian movement.
i've only met Gina a few times, and did not know her well. we listen to APEX Express pretty regularly in our household. i'm still in shock hearing about her passing. we saw her a few months ago at the farmer's market, and she recently contacted my partner to do an interview about the film he's making. and now she's gone. many condolences to her family. another huge loss to the API community.
I never got to meet Gina in person, but I knew her work with APEX Express. I'm shocked to hear the news. As everyone here has said, it's a huge loss to the community. Her work touched many.
My last recording with Gina was just yesterday, so I am truly stunned by the sad news. We worked together for many years - every Friday, she recorded a radio program I produce for CBS at her studio/cave on the UC Berkeley campus. She was a pretty private person, but over the years we got to know one another as we chattered away behind a pane of glass. Gina was an audiophile, had an easy, wonderful laugh and loved to visit and soak in natural hot springs. As you all know, she was also an activist and so I find it apropos that she was at an UPTE meeting when she suffered her fatal attack. I will miss her so much. My only comfort is that we spent part of her last day together (and that I thanked her for bringing me water, as always).
i don't do well with death. and losing gina is just too damn painful amid all the hardships of this world.some things one will never really understand.love, light and love to you & yours, sister. you are missed. deeply.
Gina was my close colleague at the Berkeley Language Center, UC Berkeley for the past six years. During the past week we had deep discussions about our unions struggle with the UC administration. I can only offer superlatives about her spirit, will and intellect. We miss her so much. Our hearts cry out for her husband and all who loved her as did we. Rest in peace, dear sister.
Gina was my mentor and friend. I will truly miss her.
I was shocked to hear about Gina's passing. I have known of Gina for many years through her community work in Japantown and in the Bay Area Asians for Nuclear Disarmament (BAAND) in the 1980s. She reached out to me this year to speak on her radio program about the economic crisis. My thoughts are with her family and the larger community that will miss her so much.
Such sad sad news. Gina and I were roommates in SF way back in the late 70's and worked together in CANE and at Benihana. Gina drove a green Pinto with the license plate "HUW" which reminded me of how she sighed when she was tired. Gina was kind, good-hearted and willing to help someone in need. She especially reached out to newcomers from Japan in Nobirukai. When I spoke with Gina, sometimes I wondered whether she was listening. Her mind seemed elsewhere, maybe on music - I think she was learning the sax, or how to organize the waitresses and cooks at work. I'm very sorry for her family, co-workers and friends up north to have lost Gina way too soon.
Gina is playing her sax with the great ones. Talking trash with Coltrane, Miles, Bird, Mingus and Max. Chairman Mao, Che, Malcolm and Uncle Ho is going to hear it now. Gina, take your rest, be in Nihonmachi, laugh with the I-Hotel folks, you made this world a better place.
This is very sad news. I hardly knew her, except for exchanging emails with her earlier this year. I regret learning about her and her work so late. Again, a major loss to the community.
Very sad news. We were set to publish a story by Gina in the next issue of Hyphen, and will still do so with a heavy heart.
I too, am truly saddened over the passing of Gina. We worked together on a number of progressive causes, back in the late 70’s, and 80’s. She produced an award-winning program about the Vietnam War. I was honored to be a small part of that project.Gina never ever forgot where she came from, and whom she served. She exemplified the adage: “There is nothing too good for the working class.” She was a kind and generous soul. The voiceless could not have had a more committed advocate. She will be truly missed. My heartfelt condolences go out to her family.
Gina understood the scope of Asian America like few others, and she had a profound influence on my own place in the south Asian diaspora. She was a lover of all things musical, and I was struck from my first meeting with her about how much she knew about traditional north and south Indian classical music. She deftly crafted her radio interviews with me and others with real skill and knowledge, and the result was always something more engaging than the traditional fair. She was a true critical thinker, and she challenged me to think more deeply about what my contribution and place in my community could and should be. I was interviewed on Apex Express just a few weeks ago, and she was razor sharp, vibrant, and ultra professional...she kept us all on our toes, pushing us to do more with our talents and our voices. I will miss you very, very much Gina. Thank you for all you have done for us.
APEX Express is a great program! This is very sad!
I too add my deepest and heartfelt sympathies and condolences to Gina’s family, friends and coworkers. Sudden losses are so brutal and life-jarring, there’s no time to say goodbye, no time to say thank you, I love you, I miss you. I knew Gina from way back in the day, I was part of that raucous house in the Richmond District in SF in the 1970s. I remember her for her kindnesses, her take on life, politics, and community activism, her eccentricities, and her friendship.
Gina was one of my Comrades here at Apex. We will be doing a commemoration for her tomorrow night on Apex, call in your thoughts.Renee Geesler
This is a huge loss for us all. Each time I was a guest on APEX Express, I was impressed by Gina's razor intelligence, large heart, and willingness to make space for issues outside the US - Kenyan and African politics in my case.Hearing of Gina's death today, I feel tremendous sadness that I never thought to tell her how much I respected and appreciated her work. As Claire says, let's remember to honor our elders before they leave us.Go safely and joyfully, Gina. Know that your work here will endure.
Gina was my mentor. She gave me my first job in Oakland over ten years ago, and opened doors and opportunities that led to my current life path. She encouraged my community activities, supported the groups I worked with, and helped re-cultivate my passion for radio and journalism.I want to thank for for being a rock in our community. She was a "behind-the-scenes" woman, but she had the power to move mountains. I have a tremendous amount of respect for her and her absence will be felt.
I just saw Gina the Sunday before last at a church bazaar in El Cerrito. I chatted with her for a while and said goodbye, never suspecting that it was the last time I would ever see her.We weren't close friends, but I knew her for 20 years or more through her radio show (which I once appeared on) and the various causes she was involved in. As others have said, the suddenness of her passing, and at a relatively young age, is hard to process. I wish I'd talked to her longer that day.
Thank you Renee, I can't believe no longer with us. She's of us now! I trust she's in a good place and at peace. I hope and pray so. I send my love prayers and thoughts to Michael Yoshida.
Gina, I can't believe you're gone! So sad that we never got to make that Dubai trip together. Somehow I felt you'd always be there, especially since we've known each other for such a long time -- since Mrs. Smith's fifth grade summer school class, and then later at Berkeley. I'm glad that we got to share some time together on this earth in Japan as well.I will always remember your telling me like it is, especially when we were roommates at Casa.My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Mike, your mother, sisters and brother. You will truly be missed.
reading "Gina Hotta's passing" in the subject line of an email this morning was a shock; what a tremendous loss to so many communities and individuals. Gina's presence and work and voice have been so integrated into the fabric of bay area life (and beyond bay area life) that even just processing her absence feels unimaginable. Gina left an indelible impression on everyone who had the opportunity to know and work with her, in whatever capacity -my condolences and thoughts and support go out to her family and all who are experiencing her loss. she will be terribly, terribly missed.
Gina was an indispensable media ally for progressive and radical South Asian American activists. She gave folks from ASATA (Alliance of South Asians Taking Action) critical space to share what was happening in our community in the tumultuous years after 9/11, and continued to seek out stories from our community. I'll miss her hunger to seek out relevant stories, sharp questions, and dedication to must-hear radio.
re-posting from Wayie Ly:APEX EXPRESS....Thurs.7-8pm,KPFA 94.1 FMon-line:www.kpfa.org,www.kpfa.org/apex-expressThurs.Oct 1: This week on Apex, we honor our beloved Apex Host andProducer, Gina Hotta. We will celebrate “Mama G's” life andcontributions over the years as a radio producer, community organizer and movement leader.Longtime KPFA Producer Gina Haruko Hotta died Monday night, Sept 28,of a heart attack at the age of 56. Gina was an award winningdocumentary producer and executive producer of KPFA weekly APIprogram, Apex Express which airs Thursdays at 7pm. She won awards from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and the Asian American Journalists Association. She was a graduate of the KPFA First Voice Apprenticeship Program and mentored manycommunity journalists over the years.Gina was a recording studio supervisor at the UC Berkeley LanguageLab. She collapsed at a union meeting at UC Berkeley Mondaynight, which had been called to discuss the next steps following lastThursday's walkout by thousands of UC students, faculty and staff.Gina leaves behind her husband Michael Yoshida, KPFA'sOperations Director.A public memorial will be held in late October. Details TBA.For more information and to post memories and condolences go to: www.firstvoicemap.orgTo get more information via e-mail contact: apex [at] kpfa.orgPhone: 510-848-6767x464past program list:www.apexexpress.wordpress.comarticles:www.apexexpress.org
Thanks for this posting about Gina. I met Gina at 1531 Sutter St. in Japantown must have 1977 during CANE's effort to save the building. It's now Kimochi Board and Care Home. She is one of the most committed people I met in my life. And by all means one of the hippest! She was a remarkable person who did everything... organize workers in restaurants, fight evictions in the community, make radio documentaries, produce and promote concerts, recorded and mastered CD projects, wrote compositions and played the saxophone with passion and purpose. We played together for a time back in the 80's in a group led by Mark Izu called C-JAM I think it was and I was so fortunate to participate in some of Gina's documentaries. Those of us in the music community have a great debt to Gina because of all she contributed both as a musician, commentator, producer, and a sister in the struggle.
I am so deeply saddened by the death of Gina. I am utmost shocked to hear of this news as Gina was an incredible voice for all of Asian American communities. I had the honor several times to be in the booth with her during her radio show educating, engaging, enlightening listeners about the Laotian community. As a creative individual and performer I know the importance of our stories. She is an amazing story in her own right and deserves accolades for all her efforts and hard work in service of the people. Gina we will miss you dearly.
Gina was easily the most consummate AA journalist I knew, constantly producing radio segments and writing for print. She was seemingly everywhere; I can't remember a community event I didn't see her at. I just got off the phone with Jeff Chang who was - shocked like I was - remarked about talking to Gina at the UC Berkeley walkout last week.I'm not exaggerating when I say that GIna either formally or informally mentored an entire generation of AA journalists, myself included, who came of age in the Bay Area in the 1990s. The difference was that she probably outstripped us all in her passion and dedication; I can't really think of another figure that comes close. I was also always impressed how Gina came from an older generation of post-70s activists but had the open mind to stay current with new trends in culture and politics.My heart hangs so heavy; this year alone has seen the untimely passings of Al Robles, Ron Takaki, and now Gina. I don't live up north any more but I imagine that the Bay is far emptier for their absences.
Although it has been years since we worked together, I feel such a great loss. I met Gina when she was with CANE and I was with the I-Hotel Support Committee and over the years learned so much from her. Her laugh and straightforward observations have stayed with me. It is good to read what she meant to others.
I was a guest on Apex Express this April 2009, when Gina interviewed me about my documentary work and poetry addressing my Cham heritage and the legacies of the war in Viet Nam. She was extremely engaged and had very compelling questions and on-air discussion with me. After the show, we joined one of the other guests, Kush Arora, for dinner at the Chaat Cafe and had a marvelous talk and time together.Thanks for everything, Gina. You will surely be missed.
I met Gina at the Third I film festival mixer back in 2003. I found her activism to be inspirational and enjoyed her deep knowledge on world music, politics and Asian-American experience. She was as supportive of Film & Arts as she was of crafting stories from visceral experiences. I appeared on her show, Asian Pacific Exchange (APEX) frequently as a commentator on Pakistan's political situation and promoting South Asian events. In each interview she led with poignant questions while provided deeper context for her audience.In 2005, we spend some time developing a story on the continued incarceration of U.S.-born 23-year old Hamid Hayat who had allegedly attended a terror-training camp in northeast Pakistan. During that time, Gina told me about her own research on the Japanese internment during WW II. Her conviction for human rights and social justice were not just personified by her weekly show on APEX but also in her indefatigable passion in giving voice to the Hyphened Asian-American community.She will be dearly missed.
As one of a few Japanese (ex-)newcomers who happened to visit this site, I feel obliged to drop a line to say that Gina Hotta contributed a lot to the Japanese newcomers in the Bay Area. She was our good friend, adviser, and colleague. She was very patient in trying to understand us who sometimes have communication barriers. I worked with her in CANE and Nobiru-kai in the 70s and again in Japan Pacific Resource Network in the early 90s when I was a newcomer again. Now back in Japan, I try to understand foreign students and workers with the same patience as Gina showed us. Her influence persists in many newcomers, me included. I also remember, in the 80s, Gina helped me a lot to write a small book on the reperation and redress issue, in Japanese (Nikkei Amerika-jin: Kyosei Shuyou kara Sengo Hosho he, Iwanami Publishing, 1991). It included an interview of Gina, which helped reflect Sansei's perspective in the book. Thank you, Gina, for all your help, and rest in peace now. Aki Okabe, Nagoya, Japan
Thanx for posting this. Since the mid 1980s, I have known Gina as a political activist and a cultural worker. She gave Asian Americans a human voice and a home to express ourselves. As a political activist, there is a classic photo of her locking arms with Jeannie Hibino to create a human chain to confront the Western Addition Redevelopment Agency in San Francisco when they were in CANE (The Committee Against Nihonmachi Eviction) during the mid 70s. Gina played the soprano saxophone and loved the music of John Coltrane. She was the lone female musician in a jazz group called C-JAM (Chinese-Japanese American Musicians, an acronym in reference to the Duke Ellington composition. which was led by Mark Izu that Gina called Wazu. In her Oakland Laney College Asian American accent influenced by African Americans,she called me Jangster. Her improvisation can be heard on comdedian Bob Matsueda's vinyl recording,"Breaking it Down in J-Town (circa 1986?)." Gina also loved to dance, especially to the song "Suavecito" by Malo. Her broad perspective shaped by her hipness for the arts can be summed up by the song lyrics of Suevecito: "I Never Met a Girl Like You (Gina) in My Life.
Gina, we'll miss you, for all you've done, and we promise to help nurture the seeds you've planted for the future. You were a true empowerer, a brilliant inspiration, and a damn hard worker. Your inspiration and those you influenced and mentored will continue the work!best love to all,adi gevins