Audrey Dilling


Audrey Dilling is an editor and reporter for KALW's evening news and culture magazine, Crosscurrents. Her primary beat is California's water crisis. She is also a mentor in KALW's "Audio Academy."

From 2011-2013, she produced KALW's community storytelling project, Hear Here, which began as part of the Association of Independents in Radio's national "Localore" initiative, designed to bring journalistic and technical ingenuity to extending public media service to more Americans. Part radio project, part community engagement effort, and part live event series, Hear Here stories  gave Bay Area residents a chance to make their voices heard – on public airwaves, online, and on stage. 

Dilling studied audio documentary at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Lewis & Clark College.

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The Searsville Dam is causing big trouble on the peninsula. The 122-year-old, 65-foot-tall dam is closed to the public, hidden away on 1,200 acres owned by Stanford University.

Under CC license from Flickr user Beatrice Murch

In San Francisco’s Richmond District, where Geary Boulevard meets Park Presidio, there stands a bright, white, defunct Christian Science church. There are big white columns out front, with pink steps leading up to iron double doors.

But, what goes on inside this church is not quite what you’d expect.

When you’re up in an airplane, shopping can be difficult. Unless, of course, you reach into the pocket of the seat in front of you and find a SkyMall catalogue. That’s the airline magazine that offers products like a special vacuum for your dog’s droppings or a human slingshot, right at the moment when you might be bored enough to buy them.

Under CC license from Flickr user Scott2342

When you go to vote next Tuesday, the first thing you’ll see in the list of state measures is Proposition 1. It’s also being called “the water bond”. And let’s get one thing straight right now – this bond won’t resolve the current drought. We can’t vote to make it rain.

But, Proposition 1 can make it rain in the form of $7.5 billion worth of funding for water projects around the state. These could include projects that recycle, conserve, and store more of the water we already have.

Audrey DIlling

Bay Area homes, businesses, and factories send about 550 million gallons of wastewater to treatment plants every day. That’s enough water to fill 750 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Just six percent of this water gets re-used for agricultural, industrial, and other non-potable purposes – meaning nobody drinks it. The rest gets discharged back into the Bay.

On November 4th, Oakland voters will pick their next mayor. All month on “Crosscurrents,” we are going to bring you the voices of each of the 15 people who are campaigning for the job.

Joe Tuman is a self-described outsider to Oakland city government. He’s been a member of politically-focused Oakland organizations – including one that kept tabs on local public safety funding from Measure Y – but he’s never held political office. Instead, he’s spent nearly three decades teaching government and law at San Francisco State. And he’s competed in thirteen Ironman triathalons.

Audrey Dilling

At the end of a narrow alley off of International Boulevard, through the open doorway of El ColectíVelo bike shop, I’m greeted by a young boy.

“R.B.! It’s the lady here for you!” he shouts.

“R.B.” are initials I’ll hear shouted out a lot of today. They stand for Reggie Burnett. He’s the leader here.

In San Francisco’s Outer Sunset neighborhood, there’s a small building that’s a big part of some young people’s lives. Sunset Youth Services provides teenagers, transitional age young adults, and their families with support like violence prevention programs, parenting classes, and food assistance. And tucked away in a corner upstairs is the youth-run music studio, Upstar Records. That’s where teens learn to record their own songs, produce beats, and shoot music videos.

Twenty-four-year-old Clarissa Bryant has been recording there since she was sixteen, just one year after she came out at school. KALW’s Audrey Dilling brings you the story in this installment of Bay Area Beats.

At about 1:30am, after a night out with friends, Kyle Nichols-Schmolze is waiting for the AC Transit 800 bus near Market and Van Ness in San Francisco’s Civic Center.

Eighteen-year-old Tatyana Martinez turned to writing poetry as a young girl to cope with big changes in her life. Over time, her poetry evolved into music. She now works for the youth run recording studio Upstar Records, inside San Francisco’s Sunset Youth Services. The youth center supports young people and their families with things like parenting classes, food assistance, and job training at Upstar. When she’s not helping young musicians make music, Martinez writes and records her own songs with the goal of putting out her own album. She shares the story behind her songs in this installment of Bay Area Beats.

At the corner of Sanchez and Market, Jason Dorn pulls out an iPhone. He’s at one end point of the access area for San Francisco Free WiFi, a free wireless network that the city launched this past December. It spans Market Street, from Castro Street to the Embarcadero.

When you’re trying to figure out a piece of information online, your search will typically bring you to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia about practically everything.

But, what if you wanted to know something about Oakland – like why 880 is also called the Nimitz freeway – there’s another place you might land: Oakland Wiki.

Annie Lin / San Francisco Mixtape Society


The San Francisco Mixtape Society hosts mix exchanges at the Make Out Room in the Mission District. Music lovers meet, mingle and exchange mixes they made based on a particular theme.

Sunset Youth Services is an organization that supports transitional age youth and their families with things like parenting classes, food assistance, and job training. And it's home to the youth-run recording studio, Upstar Records, where young people learn audio production skills. That's where you’ll usually find 16-year-old Adriel Diaz. 

TraVaughn Hicks has been making music since he was a young boy and his rapper uncle would record him singing on his songs.

Audrey DIlling

Third-grader Kiana Sezawar is learning to care for plants at the Visitacion Valley Greenway community garden.

Courtesy of Grocery Outlet

Almost 30 million Americans live a mile or more away from a supermarket. That may not sound very far, but for the five million plus who don’t have cars, that distance can mean the difference between eating a healthy meal and getting fast food.

Audrey Dilling

Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca and her team of designers and coders have the next 25 hours to build a website. Not just any website, but one that’s engaging enough to influence the national conversation around immigration policy.

Erica Mu

Pamela Alston was raised in Emeryville along with her eight brothers and sisters. She noticed something particular about the place where she was growing up.

“In my neighborhood, it seems to me the most prevalent health problem was bad teeth. Missing teeth, rotten teeth. And I felt like if there was anything I could do help my community, it would be to treat their teeth,” Alston says.

Audrey DIlling

Palo Alto is one of the country’s wealthiest cities. Yet, a recent study by the Council on Aging Silicon Valley found that more than 20 percent of residents over 60 years old live near or below the poverty line. This reality makes competition stiff for the limited affordable housing options available.

Before artist and performer Ise Lyfe became Ise Lyfe, he was Isaac Brown, growing up in East Oakland, probably playing Nintendo games like he is right now. We’re in a bedroom in an apartment with these old video games, hat boxes, and vintage clothes – all carefully placed to capture what public housing units like the one we’re standing in must have looked like back in the day.

At KALW, we believe that telling the story of a city means telling the stories of the people who live there. That’s what our community storytelling project Hear Here has been doing in San Francisco and Oakland – and now they want to get to know the places that make these cities what they are by asking a simple question:

What’s a place in your neighborhood that means something to you – and why?

The Hear Here mobile story tunnel is coming to Hear Here Live this Saturday at 5pm at Public Works in the Mission. The story tunnel features the photos of people who have contributed their story to the Hear Here project, along with a special link to their audio stories. Just a simple swipe of a smartphone will let you listen on the spot to the diverse and touching stories Hear Here has collected and produced so far. Think of it like an art gallery for sound!

Our Hear Here team has been interviewing people in libraries throughout San Francisco and Oakland about their lives and memories. Now they want to know about the places that make those memories what they are. They’re asking a simple question: what’s a place in your neighborhood that matters to you, and why?

Finding food can be hard for some families in the Bay Area. The producers of Hear Here, KALW’s community storytelling project, paid a visit to Oakland’s Laurel Elementary School during a monthly food distribution service for Laurel families. Hear Here producer Audrey Dilling spoke with Laurel Elementary Principal John Stangl about the challenges his students have getting enough to eat – a challenge he experienced firsthand as a child.

If you listen to KALW regularly, you might have noticed that every day, we announce the school lunches in the San Francisco Unified School District. What you might not know is that KALW studios are actually located inside a San Francisco High School. In this story from our archives, KALW’s Audrey Dilling followed the former head lunch lady here in the school cafeteria and brought back Gowana Keys’ reflections on nearly three decades of serving school lunch.

Market Street begins, or ends – depending on how you see it – down by the bay. There’s a plaza here, Justin Herman, where Market almost hits the Embarcadero.

The Hear Here project has been visiting libraries and community organizations around San Francisco and Oakland, bringing back the personal stories of people who live in those cities. At the San Francisco Main library, they discovered Chris Mason. Mason came to the library to share his story of coping with a life-altering nervous system disorder.

Listen to the full story above. 

If you're a San Francisco resident, there is a good chance you went to college. Over 40 percent of the residents are college graduates, making San Francisco one of the most educated cities in the country. So when we send our community storytelling team out to gather stories from locals, many have tales of college life. Our Hear Here team heard one of them from San Franciscan, Ben Nelson at the San Francisco Main Library. He shared his plan for a new kind of Ivy League university, which he first thought of as a college student.

Listen to the full story above.

In 1924, Frank and Josephine Duveneck, a wealthy Palo Alto couple, saw a valley they liked in Los Altos Hills. So they bought it. Then they built and ran what would become the oldest operating hostel in the country. They preserved the local watershed by buying up the hills around it.