Angela Johnston

Jon Stern

Marine biologist Jon Stern studies cetaceans: porpoises, dolphins and whales. Stern is a professor at San Francisco State and also leads field studies on the Northern California coast for the non-profit Golden Gate Cetacean Research. So he’s gotten up close and personal with his fair share of dead whales.

Angela Johnston

This story originally aired on December 9, 2014.

Henry Evans and his wife Jane live high up in the Los Altos foothills. To get there you have to drive up twisting roads with steep switchback turns. On a Thursday morning 12 years ago Henry drove up these same roads after dropping his children off at school.

Angela Johnston

This story originally aired on December 9, 2014.

At the Livermore Veteran’s Hospital, there are a few animals residents can see: wild turkeys that run around the grounds, rattlesnakes that hide out in the dry grass, and therapy dogs that make weekly visits. But there’s one animal in particular that Bryce Lee is always happy to see: a baby harp seal.

According to a 2013 study, one in six people who work in Silicon Valley spend at least two hours on their commute. Nuemi Guzman is one of those people. She’s a legal assistant with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley.


Angela Johnston

When you walk inside the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, you can tell right away that this is home for over 400 people. They’ve painted their units bright colors. There are traditional mobile homes that look like small rectangular bungalows – but there are also little cottages, Airstream trailers, and RVs. Kids zigzag between the park’s six streets on their bikes.

“I was 11 when we moved here with my parents. I practically grew up here,” says Erika Escalante.


Callie Jones is showing me how to 3-D print a tiny yellow chess piece, after designing it herself on a computer. It’s her second day in the 3-D printing club and she’s already a pro.

“So the printer’s like putting little dots on top of little dots on top of little dots, and so when the dots hit each other, they start to dry, and so it just starts to build up and up and up until you make the figure that it’s printing,” she explains.

Tom Levy

Architecture has the power to transform. A building can make us feel joy, or sadness, powerful or weak. Nowhere is this more true than in a church, a chapel, synagogue, Buddhist temple, or a mosque. For centuries, religion has sparked the design of some of the world’s most beautiful buildings. But what is that process? What built elements make a space sacred?

Architect Susie Coliver says experiencing the design of a sacred space begins way before you step foot in a building.

Angela Johnston

When Deborah Bevilacqua lost her leg in a motorcycle accident ten years ago, she had to get a prosthetic leg. It’s been functional she says, but it’s not pretty.

“It’s a big black bulky thing with a big black bulky other thing attached to it, and a big grey metal bulbous ball...that's for rotation and shock, but looks kind of like the Epcot Center.”

Angela Johnston

It’s the last week of school at Bessie Carmichael Elementary on 7th and Harrison in the South of Market neighborhood. Photographer Janet Delaney and I are here to see someone we’ve been trying to get in touch with for months -- Bobbie Washington.

“Bobbie Washington was a long term, long time resident on Langton Street,” Delaney tells me. “She had a lot of stories to tell me about what it was like to grow up in the neighborhood.”

Raja Shah

This is Part 3 of a three-part series looking at what’s happened in the five years since the NUMMI auto plant closed. Read Part 1 and Part 2, or (we recommend) listen to the whole radio show!

Angela Johnston

This is Part 2 of a three-part series looking at what’s happened in the five years since the NUMMI auto plant closed. Read Part 1 and Part 3, or (we recommend) listen to the whole radio show!

Angela Johnston

On April 1st, the lunch line at the Golden Corral Buffet in Tracy snaked out the door. It was full of people who hadn’t seen each other in over five years.

Artwork by Angela Johnston

Marco Salsiccia is a huge movie buff. He owns hundreds of DVDs. They fill his small apartment in the Sunset District. Some are piled on his dining room table, others are organized in spinning shelves in his living room.

“I have 400 movies in my collection, more than the library!” he says.

He has action films, horror films, comedy flicks, and lots of animation. Those are his favorite because animation is a big part of Salsiccia’s life.

Enrollment now open for the KALW Audio Academy

KALW is calling for applicants for our 9-month radio journalism training program based at KALW public radio, an NPR and BBC affiliate station in San Francisco. This program is designed to give you a professional audio production education, tuition-free.

We’re looking for creative thinkers who are great writers and storytellers with a passion for covering diverse communities and some knowledge of the Bay Area.

Every morning in the Tenderloin, when people all around San Francisco are starting to wake up, around 30 people gather at St. Boniface Church, waiting to go sleep. This is the story of one morning.

5:45 a.m.

When I arrive, I see Josephine Piroelle bundled up in two hooded sweatshirts, a hat, and mittens.

“Like a car runs on fuel, a person won’t run without any sleep,” she tells me.

Piroelle has been homeless on and off for a while. A month ago, she says, her boyfriend kicked her out of his place.

Angela Johnston


Rosa Santos is leaning over a pile of forms and documents in the corner of the San Jose’s new DMV. I meet her along with her friend. They’re both applying for their licenses for the first time through AB 60.

Santos came prepared today. She studied for hours, pouring over YouTube tutorials and sample driver's tests. As she waits in line, she riffles through the documents she needs -  a Mexican ID, a piece of mail to confirm her address, and $33 for the processing fee.

Flickr user andreagp

Note: Prices have changed since this story was first reported in 2012.

99 Ranch’s seafood counter is enormous – and it needs to be: the store serves seafood eaters of many nationalities and income levels all over the Bay Area. The selection is huge: grouper from Peru, fish from Vietnam, China, Taiwan, and India.

Carlos Montelibano heads the fish department at the 99 Ranch in Mountain View where the prices are low.

Angela Johnston

At the breakwater bordering a yacht club in San Francisco’s Marina, Kirk Lombard is carefully balancing on two algae-covered rocks. He’s holding a homemade bamboo fishing pole, poking and wiggling it into rocky crevices. A crowd of people watch nearby, anxious to see if he will get a bite.

Lombard is fishing, or technically poke-polling, for monkeyface eel. He calls himself a sea forager, and every other week offers this walking and fishing tour: a two-hour lesson on how to catch your own seafood from the Bay’s urban waters.

Angela Johnston

Ellen Frankel slips the last of her quarters into the Medieval Madness pinball machine and wipes the sweat off her forehead. It’s her second game of the night, and she’s trying to get a new high score. Although she is shy to admit it, Frankel is a real pinball wizard.

Angela Johnston

Del Seymour makes sure to take everybody on his walking tours of the Tenderloin to the corner of Turk and Taylor.

“I lived on this street,” he says. “I didn’t have an address but I lived on this street if you know what I mean.”

I’m with a group of a dozen tech workers following Seymour around the neighborhood, listening to him talk about his experiences here.

Prakash Lab

I am in a lab tucked away in the basement of a Stanford University engineering building. Bioengineering professor Manu Prakash is showing me a tiny music box which plays the song “Happy Birthday.” 

Angela Johnston

The sun is just beginning to rise over the glassy water at San Francisco’s Aquatic Park. Karen Wapato is beaming as she emerges from the Bay and peels off her goggles.

“It was better than yesterday,” she says. “I keep on just telling myself, stay calm don’t panic, keep breathing, try to keep my stroke real smooth, as smooth as I can,” she says as she catches her breath.

Wapato has never swum in the ocean before, and it’s her second day swimming in the San Francisco Bay. 

“I can’t believe I am doing it! I can’t believe I am one of these people that swim in the Bay, I’ve joined this elite group.”

Angela Johnston

Skylar Crownover is walking me through the lush tree lined streets of Mills College, and through buildings with red clay roofs.

Students constantly wave hello as we make our way to the center of campus. Crownover is a junior this year, and the current student body president.

photo courtesy of

Miguel Garcia has tears in his eyes while he’s singing a an old Righteous Brothers tune. This song brings back memories. He’s wearing a red Manchester United jersey, navy blue track pants and bright green flip flops.  Sixty one year old Garcia is  used to having a microphone in front of him, so he begins belting out a medley of his favorite songs. He says that his past was at times, well, unhealthy.


Callie Jones is showing me how to 3D print a tiny yellow chess piece, after designing it herself on a computer. It’s her second day in the 3D printing club and she’s already a pro.

Flickr user --Mark--

State Democratic Senator Leland Yee has been charged with public corruption, after a series of raids this morning by the FBI and gang task force officials. Yee’s Senate office in Sacramento was searched, and he was arrested at his Sunset district home in San Francisco.

Under CC license from Flickr user Kevin Krejci

Steve Sacks is the PTA President at Alvarado Elementary School in Noe Valley. He takes a lot of pride in this small school and the education it provides to just over 500 students.

Jasmín Lopéz

Stepping inside the Taurus Bookbindery is kind of like stepping back in time. The wide open space is packed full of retro machines from the 1920s that could double as torture devices. There are electric paper cutters with long blades, sizzling hot, rusty knives, and eight-foot-tall cast iron weights. Rolls of cloth and leather line the walls, and their earthy smells mix with odors of oil, paper and hot glue.

Len Blumin


The California Clapper Rail is a bird that likes to be heard, but not seen. But today, on this windy morning at Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland, they aren’t too vocal. In order to find them, Vivian Bui scans the air with a big metal antenna, attached to a receiver, while she listens through big headphones.

Angela Johnston


In his backyard in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond neighborhood, Arne Jin An Wong coats a pink and white striped, eight-foot-long surfboard. This board is one of dozens in Wong’s quiver. They are all over his backyard: resting on fences next to tomato vines and suspended from the rafters of his garage. A few faded and yellowed boards are heaped in a pile that he is donating to children in the Philippines.