BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Inga Barks, the homegrown radio personality who spent her decades on the air bringing attention to Central Valley issues and espousing conservative viewpoints, died early Wednesday. She was 53.
After getting her start in the 1990s, Barks spent years at KERN AM 1180, KNZR 1560 AM and Fresno’s KMJ 580. She most recently had a show on Kern Cast called “Hometown Girl.”
Barks’ death was confirmed by Solomon Morrelle Barks, one of her three sons. He said he and other family were by her side as she died around 2:30 a.m. at a local hospital.
Solomon Barks, 27, said his mother wasn’t feeling well Monday and called a relative. She became unresponsive while on the phone, and family arrived at her house to find her unconscious.
She was taken to an intensive care unit, and didn’t regain consciousness before her death, Solomon Barks said. She had an advance medical directive stating her cause of death not be released, Solomon Barks said, but he said his mother did not die from cancer, which she had previously battled.
Solomon Barks said the family has been inundated with responses from friends and listeners expressing their condolences. He said his mother had a special ability when it came to building relationships with others.
“There are so many people that were so connected with her, not just in the valley but around the country, who listened to her on the air and followed her on Facebook,” Solomon Barks said.
Inga Barks was friends with Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, among other nationally known conservative political commentators, and used those friendships to help spread the word about issues facing the Central Valley, most notably during the drought of 2015 that led to a massive cutback of water usage within the city. Job protection was another of her main talking points, Solomon Barks said.
“She stood up for the valley, stood up for the people here in Bakersfield,” he said. “She was a voice that matched their way of thinking of things.”
Zachary Payne, 31, said he became friends with Inga Barks through First Baptist Church-Christian Life Center, where Barks was involved with the youth ministry. Payne said he got to know her through his parents, and they held similar views on local issues, as well as movies and sense of humor. Payne said he last spoke with her Friday.
“She was very caring, and all about other people and making them feel loved and happy,” Payne said.
Her death came as a shock.
“When I found out I was sitting in a parking lot outside a restaurant and had to take several minutes to soak it all in,” he said. “I’m not someone who gets hit by emotions right away, but a half hour later tears started coming.”
Inga Barks’ husband, Michael Barks, died in 2011. She is survived by Solomon Barks and two other sons, Joshua and Samuel.