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

A new report from the legislative analyst's office shows California will have to pay more than $700 million a year to cover costs on nearly $10 billion in high speed rail bonds...

Brandon McFarland is the editor of Youth Radio's radio station, He joined KALW’s Ben Trefny to talk about the latest in Bay Area music.

BEN TREFNY: So tell me about what’s new on All Day Play.

An extended conversation in which KALW's Ben Trefny interviews filmmaker Andres Cediel about what lies beneath Bay Street in Emeryville: a shopping mall, atop a toxic industrial center, atop a Native American burial ground.

Audio available after 5pm PST on February 16, 2012.


Photo courtesy of

Just off Shellmound Street in Emeryville, an outdoor mall sits on prime real estate. It’s north of a maze of highways leading to the Bay Bridge. A quarter of a million drivers pass within honking distance every single day. While the Bay Street "Urban Village" was only established in the 21st century, the land it sits on has a very rich past. Rich enough to warrant a documentary film that uncovers several layers of unusual history.

Photo courtesy of PRBO

Today we begin our series of conversations with the Bay Area’s 2012 “environmental heroes.”

The Berkeley-based Bay Nature Institute recently named Ellie Cohen as conservation advocate of the year. Cohen is president of PRBO, which was originally the Point Reyes Bird Observatory. KALW’s Ben Trefny sat down with Cohen to talk about her work.

Ameen Belbahri

Maybe you support the Occupy movement, or maybe you don't. Or maybe you take this point of view:

NATO GREEN: I want to be for the 99%, but I don't know if you realize this, that's a lot of people, including a lot of assholes. And most of us given the opportunity would be able to say, would want to be able to say, "I'm for the 99%, asterisk, except some people." And then we'd have our own lists! 

Yesterday, the lights went out for redevelopment agencies all over the state.

A look inside California’s toughest prison; the politics of parole; a civil rights lawyer is fighting UC Berkeley police over gay rights; and the memory of George Moscone is adapted on the stage.

European Commission

In last week’s State of the Union address, President Obama proposed something radical, that dropping out of high school no longer be allowed. But that might be complicated. Every school district has tried numerous solutions to the dropout dilemma without success.

Imagine, for a minute, that you’re Governor Jerry Brown.

California’s 425 redevelopment agencies owe nearly $30 billion, according to the state controller’s office...

The city of Oakland is planning to lay off more than 100 workers after losing $28 million in state redevelopment funds...

Photo by Katie Styer

Michael Stoll is the executive director of the San Francisco Public Press – a non-profit, non-commercial journalistic outlet that started in 2009. Stoll reported for years in the mainstream media, including the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times. But he questioned the values of ad-driven papers. He wants in-depth, public service journalism to be available without any commercial influence. The San Francisco Public Press carries no advertising – it’s actually modeled after public radio – and Stoll is about to publish his sixth print edition.

Musician Chris Turner is an Oakland native, but he’s spent much of the last decade touring the country with a soulful, sophisticated R&B sound. He just recently had his first show in a long time in his hometown.

I just received a press release with this subject heading:

News Advisory - Doomsday Clock - Major Announcement to be Made Tuesday by Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

That'll get your attention, won't it? So I read the email. Turns out after "year-long deliberations" a collection of scientists will determine whether or not the end of the world is more nigh than it was at the beginning of 2011.

In the past few months, many Americans dealing with the difficult economy have taken part in some of the largest domestic protest movements in recent history: what began as Occupy Wall Street spread from coast to coast. Demonstrators protested economic inequality and injustice, foreclosures, and bank bailouts. It could all be summed up in one rallying cry: “We are the 99%.”

But if Occupy had a slogan, it doesn’t necessarily have a moment – one image to define it in people’s minds. And that’s something that separates it from other big movements in our past.

It’s a new year, and time for a new legislative session – and that means a new debate over how to address California’s budget problems. When they reconvene this week, lawmakers will try out solutions involving everything from legalizing online poker to scuttling high-speed rail. Last week, the California Supreme Court ruled that the state can eliminate redevelopment agencies.

An estimated 30 million people or more live as slaves today – working against their will for someone else. And every year, some 17,500 are trafficked into the United States. Many of these people don’t have allies, but here in the Bay Area, there’s one non-profit that’s standing with them.

People losing their homes has been a national problem, ever since the housing bubble burst, leading the country into recession. A new federal report has revealed that real estate speculation was largely to blame.

Stephen T! Millhouse (no, that exclamation point is not a typo), is on a 1,460 mile march to call attention to homelessness and hunger. Millhouse, a veteran, has been homeless himself, in both California and Montana, and relied on social services and veterans assistance to survive. Now, he’s repaying the favor, raising money by walking from his current home of Missoula to his former home of Los Angeles, by way of the Bay Area.

“Genius” is a pretty loaded title. But the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation began bestowing that honor on American luminaries who shine in a variety of respective fields. They no longer call the recipients “geniuses,” but they do still award half-a-million dollars to 20 or so every year to support their work. No strings attached.