Ben Trefny

News Director

Ben handles daily operations in the news department, overseeing the editorial and sound engineering teams, producing the nightly news and culture show Crosscurrents, and managing the KALW Audio Academy training program. He earned a Masters 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 numerous magazines and working for various 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 train dozens of radio 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.

Ways To Connect

Photo courtesy of Flickr user S_falkow

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi continues to be in hot water as the City of San Francisco determines whether or not he should lose his job. Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi on March 20th, after he plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment. The charge is connection with a New Year’s Eve incident in which he grabbed his wife's arm during an argument, causing a bruise. 

Courtesy Flickr user hanspoldoja

In some ways, the Internet is an open, unlimited space. But it can also feel very private, especially when communicating one on one, or conducting personal business like paying a bill, or doing your taxes. As more and more of our daily lives go digital, some big questions arise. What are we giving up? What truly is the cost of our being so dependent on it, and who is truly benefiting from how much we’re glued to our screens? Author Jason Benlevi explores this question in his book, Too Much Magic: Pulling the Plug on the Cult of Tech.

A few weeks ago, we aired a story about San Francisco students' access to public transportation. The piece discussed possible legislation that would provide free Muni passes to local youth. Here are some responses that came through the Crosscurrents voicemail line.

Courtesy Flickr user Jeffery Turner

Researchers have been starting to study how the recession will affect our health in the coming years. Dr. Sanjay Basu is a researcher at UCSF. KALW's Ben Trefny visited him at San Francisco General Hospital and asked him how he has seen impoverished conditions conspire to bring down one’s physical and emotional health.

HANA BABA: Sports aren’t for everyone. And baseball, in particular, can be a hard sell. The baseball season has 162 games, and these games feel like they last forever – the players always seem to do a lot of standing around and spitting, never much actual playing.

So why is it the national pastime? Any fan might tell you it’s about the skill of the game – strategy combined with athleticism.

But it’s more than that.

JON MILLER: My dad was a baseball fan, a sports fan, and in those days the games were on the radio. And he always had a ballgame on the radio.

One of the most imminent effects of climate change is sea level rise – especially in low-lying coastal areas like the San Francisco Bay. To documentarian Claire Schoen, this story isn’t about the science of what’s going to happen. That part is settled. She says the question is how we’re going to adapt.

KALW’s Ben Trefny sat down with Schoen to discuss her latest documentary about climate change, RISE.

BEN TREFNY: What inspired you to make this documentary?

Every year, the Bay Nature institute honors people who are making outstanding contributions to the understanding and stewardship of the natural world. One of this year’s awardees is Sean Fitzhoward. She’s a 16-year-old junior at San Francisco’s Lowell High School who founded the Protect the Bay Club. KALW’s Ben Trefny sat down with Sean Fitzhoward, and asked her about what her club does for the environment.

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has been sentenced to a day in jail and three years probation for falsely imprisoning his wife. He will receive credit for time already spent in jail. The sheriff will also attend a year of domestic-violence intervention classes and perform 100 hours of community service...

The Internet has changed the way many of us get our media. There are legal ways to get the shows and songs that we want, but those often cost money, making illegal options much more enticing. The entertainment industry and the government have tried to clamp down on piracy, but the practice continues. Professor Brian Carver teaches at the U.C. Berkeley School of Information. KALW’s Ben Trefny sat down with him to talk piracy.

California's outer coast once boasted 27 miles of Bay Area beaches. Up until the 20th Century, these beaches provided a natural buffer for the inner land areas; then came freeways, airports and downtowns. KALW's Ben Trefny spoke with Robin M. Grossinger, Senior Scientist and Historical Ecology Program Director at the San Francisco Estuary Institute about California beaches, landscape heritage and how some of these areas have rebuilt themselves.