Ben Trefny

News Director

Ben handles daily operations in the news department, overseeing the editorial and sound engineering teams, delivering daily newscasts, producing the nightly news and culture show Crosscurrents, and supervising special projects including the statewide California Speaks initiative and KALW's Audio Academy training program. He earned a Master's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon in 2000 and got his start in public radio at NPR member station KLCC in Eugene. After freelancing for many magazines and producing for regional and national commercial and public radio programs, Ben joined KALW in 2004. He has helped the department win numerous regional and national awards for long- and short-form journalism. He has also helped teach hundreds of audio producers, many of whom work with him at KALW, today. Ben lives with his wife and twin children in San Francisco's Outer Sunset district, where Golden Gate Park meets Ocean Beach, and spends as much time as he can outside.

Ben Trefny


This past Tuesday, Betsy DeVos was narrowly confirmed as Secretary of Education.


Ben Trefny

Former Congressman Mike Honda sits down with KALW News Director Ben Trefny for an extended interview about his eight terms representing the South Bay, the Trump Administration, Syrian refugees, money in politics, and his plans after leaving office.

This interview first aired February 2, 2017.

Julia Harumi Mass is a Senior Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. She leads their immigrants’ rights project. 

Many of California’s elected officials have been speaking out against President Trump’s executive orders on immigration. 

Cropped and used under CC license from Flickr user Amy the Nurse

Donald Trump signed two executive orders that had to do with undocumented immigration today.

Image courtesy of Daphne Matziaraki


Daphne Matziaraki's film 4.1 Miles captures a day in the life of a Greek Coast Guard Captain whose job is to try to save refugees trying to cross the Aegean Sea. It was featured as a New York Times Op-Doc, won a Student Academy Award, and it’s been nominated for an Oscar.

Photo by George Baker


Daphne Matziaraki's film 4.1 Miles captures a day in the life of a Greek Coast Guard Captain whose job is to try to save refugees trying to cross the Aegean Sea. It was featured as a New York Times Op-Doc, won a Student Academy Award, and it’s been nominated for an Oscar in the short documentary category.

Cropped and used under CC license from Flickr user Evan HB

One of President Trump’s very first official acts was to sign an executive order stating it will be the policy of his Administration to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The way it was phrased was kind of like those Bay Area ballot measures that may or may not make a difference, like, “The San Francisco Board of Supervisors denounce the war in Iraq”; in other words, it doesn’t actually put anything definitive into effect. But Congress is already responding to that, and opponents of the ACA are looking for ways to cut costs.

Cropped and used under CC license from Flickr user Steve Rhodes


Civil rights advocates draw cautionary parallels from this moment in history to the 1940s, when the U.S. government forcibly incarcerated more than a hundred thousand Japanese Americans.

By Flickr user Gary Denham, under CC//resized and recropped

Last year, hackers obtained and released the emails of Democratic Party leaders, potentially affecting the presidential election. Earlier this fall, Yahoo! revealed that 500 million users had been hacked, only to disclose last month that another 1 billion accounts had been breached by a different attack in 2013.

"Surveillance Screen" by Flickr user marcokalmann, Cropped from original:


While he was running for President, Donald Trump made it clear he’d be willing to spy on Muslims. "I want surveillance of certain mosques, if that's okay. And you know what?" Trump said, "We've had it before and we'll have it again."


Will social media shift after the election?

Dec 1, 2016
CC Flickr user Sarah Marshall, resized and recropped

Nearly 1.8 billion people use Facebook each month. It’s become a go-to news source, and that’s had a big impact. In fact, some suggest that social media companies, including Facebook, impacted the presidential election by encouraging fake news and polarizing political views.

Colin Kaepernick has been using his platform in the NFL to call attention to racial inequities. But the NFL itself has not always been equitable for people of all races.

J.C. Howard

Many people in the heavily Democratic Bay Area awoke, as if from a bad dream, to a new political reality Wednesday morning. 

Prop V is known as "the soda tax" and "the grocery tax," but on the ballot it’s “the tax on distributing sugar-sweetened beverages.” Okay, so what’s a "sugar-sweetened beverage?"

Photo by Gage Skidmore, courtesy of Creative Commons


Garance Burke is a San Francisco-based reporter with the Associated Press who investigated Donald Trump, and his behind-the-scenes behavior on the long-running TV show The Apprentice. The program pitted contestants against one another in an effort to get hired — or not get fired — by Trump, who starred on the show between 2004 and 2015.


Ben Trefny


Students returned today to June Jordan School for Equity, a small public high school in San Francisco, a day after four students were shot in the parking lot.

Michael Fraley /

San Francisco voters have a few more education-related ballot measures to consider. Others will help determine the fate of City College. The embattled school once served more students than any other community college in the country, but questions about how City College has been managed led to a massive drop in enrollment. 


Proposition 59 is about overturning Citizens United. This measure would direct California’s elected officials to try to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that allowed corporations and other organizations to spend without restriction on political campaigns. It's the ruling that said “corporations are people.” If you see nothing wrong with that ruling, then you'll vote no on 59. But if you think the Citizens United ruling was a bad idea, then you'll want to know more about this proposition.

Photo courtesy of Diamond Davis


Football players from Mission High School in San Francisco made headlines across the country when the team, as a unit, refused to stand for the national anthem, in protest against the oppression of people of color in the U.S.


We’re here to help you vote the way you want to. But we need your help to do it.

You know your county, your state, and your representatives best. You know what issues matter the most to you, and you may know something that will help make our reporting stronger.


San Francisco schools have a problem. With just over a week left before kids return to the classroom, the district doesn't have enough teachers to teach them.

Photo courtesy of Liza Veale

If you follow pop culture at all you’ve probably figured out what Pokemon Go is. It’s a smartphone game that uses GPS to create a scavenger hunt for little creatures out in the world around you. Except, they’re not really there—they appear on your phone, planted on the screen amongst what is really there. It’s called augmented reality.

Our friends at Youth Radio in Oakland sent a contingent of reporters to Cleveland last week for the Republican National Convention. Reporter Soraya Shockley spoke to KALW's Ben Trefny about her experience covering the convention, and interviewing former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

Youth Radio


Our friends at Youth Radio in Oakland sent a contingent of reporters to Philadelphia last week for the Democratic National Convention. One of them was Miles Bess. KALW’s Ben Trefny spoke with him about his experience inside and outside the convention.


by Ben Trefny

Navigation Centers are a new approach in San Francisco to move homeless people into housing. They’re temporary residences designed to connect people with long term housing and social services - without separating them from their partners, pets, or belongings.


Californians waited a long time to see if their votes would make a difference in the presidential race, and they nearly made it to the finish line.

Ben Trefny

It’s the final game of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department's Junior Warriors 8th grade girls basketball league. The SOMA Stars and the Lady Hurricanes take their positions on the court. A tall, wiry man – the referee – steps to the center. He looks at all the girls, smiles, and tosses the ball straight up in the air. Two girls jump for it, and the game is on.

John Lucas, used under CC attribution / cropped

The KALW News team is looking for three experienced radio reporters to cover beats for our daily news magazine Crosscurrents and to produce spots for our new daily newscasts.

Ben Trefny

After decades of dreaming, planning, and delays, Treasure Island is set to be transformed.

So here’s a question for you: Would you want to rent or buy on Treasure Island? KALW will be reporting on this question over the coming months,  and we need your help to sharpen the focus and deepen the conversation.

KALW would like to hear your input to help us with our reporting. Please click here. The deadline is June 5, 2016.