Hana Baba

News Reporter/Host

Hana Baba is a reporter and host of Crosscurrents, KALW's evening newsmagazine. She's also part of KALW's project The Spiritual Edge.

She interviews and reports on ethnic communities, poverty, health, culture, religion, arts, and the global nature of the San Francisco Bay Area.  Her work also appears on NPR programs, PRI's The World, BBC World Service, and New America Media. A Sudanese-American, Hana also reports from and about Sudan and Sudanese.

Ways To Connect

Josh Harkinson

Last July, 32- year old San Francisco resident Kate Steinle was walking along San Francisco’s Embarcadero, when she was shot and killed on Pier 14. The man who allegedly shot her, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico had been deported  from the U.S. multiple times, with seven felonies on his record. The case has raised the issue of San Francisco being what’s called a “Sanctuary City,” a status it’s had since 1989.

Bay Area Beats: Zena

Sep 14, 2015

Zena, from Oakland, is a singer songwriter, visual artist, storyteller –  and one of the few women masters of the kora – a West African harp – taught directly by Malian kora master, Toumani Diabate. She blends West African music with American Delta Blues and Appalachian tunes, to create what she calls "Afrofolk." Zena came to our studios - kora in hand- to tell KALW's Hana Baba about her story of migration and music.

Hana Baba

Through much of their history, Sunni and Shia Muslims have lived peacefully together in countries like Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. But since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, sectarian conflict has escalated in the region. Here in the Bay Area,  around 75% of Muslims identify as Sunni, just four percent identify as Shia.

The place is Argentina. The year is 1913.  A young woman named Leda has just arrived from her home in Italy to join her new groom, only to find that he has died.  But Leda decides to stay and navigate the unpredictable life of an immigrant girl in the land of the tango. That’s the plot of the new book "The Gods of Tango" by Oakland author Carolina De Robertis.


San Francisco musician Naima Shalhoub performs for incarcerated women, and recorded her latest album live inside the San Francisco County Jail. We meet the Lebanese American musician in this segment of Bay Area Beats.

This year, Tova Ricardo earned the title of Oakland Youth Poet Laureate. From a young age, she was taught never to censor herself. That attitude caught the judges' attention. Now that she’s Oakland Youth Poet Laureate, she wants to show the rest of Oakland’s young literary community that they shouldn’t be afraid to speak out, either.



Janice Nimura

Japan and the U.S. have a long history together. In the late 1800s, Japan had just emerged from a civil war, and the government had a mission to build the country back up again by learning the ways of the West. So they started sending young men to the U.S., to learn how Americans do business, build and work. Then, came the idea to send young women. Actually -- girls.

Karen Hester

One solution to the Bay Area housing crisis is cohousing, in which multiple people and families choose to live together. Whether in a single home, or a compound, they share the costs of living and housework.

One example is in Oakland's Temescal neighborhood. The Temescal Creek Cohousing Community is a cluster of two story houses:  There's a shared garden, play yard, chicken coop and even a solar hot tub. It was started in 1999 by Karen Hester, who gave Hana Baba the grand tour on a quiet weekday morning. 

Hana Baba

Americans are often stereotyped as not knowing much about the rest of the world.  But, according to the numbers, it’s more than a mere stereotype. In the latest national geographic poll of geographic knowledge, American 18- to 24-year-olds place almost last, second only to Mexico.

courtesy of SETI

In the 1997 film Contact, you’ll recall a scene where Jodie Foster, playing alien-hunting astronomer Ellie Arroway, lies on her car hood with huge headphones on her ears, in a field of towering white satellite dishes. She’s waiting for something. A signal. She lies still, her eyes closed. And suddenly, she hears something, the sounds of something – someone  – beyond the earth, communicating with her.

Well, that was just a movie, based on the novel Contact by Carl Sagan. But the character of Ellie Arroway was not all fictional. It was based on a real live female astronomer, Jill Tarter. Tarter’s a pioneer for American women astronomers, and the former director of the SETI Institute. Since she was a little girl, she’s been fascinated by what else, or who else is out there. And she still is.

Hana Baba

About 20 Muslim families are gathered on a hilltop outside the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, just after sunset. A water fountain bubbles, women and men chat, kids run around with snacks in their hands, and everyone at some point or another, looks up to the sky. They are moonsighting, scanning the sky for the new crescent moon that will signify the beginning of the month, Ramadan. 

I spoke to Marianne Cooper, a sociologist at Stanford University's Clayman Institute for Gender Research and author of  the 2014 study: Cut Adrift: Families in Insecure TimesCooper spent two years shadowing 50 affluent, middle class and low-income families in Silicon Valley to understand how they are faring as big high-tech firms move in the neighborhood and reshape their lives.

Attending a Grateful Dead concert during the 1970s was a powerful and positive experience for many fans, but what was it like for those who worked with the band backstage? 


Islam has a rich artistic heritage of architecture, design, music, painting, and poetry. Muslim poets like Rumi and Hafez are famous for a depth and beauty that defies time. Today, that poetic tradition is still strong. It's kept alive in what many may perhaps consider an unlikely place—urban America, through the genre of hip hop.


Pak Han

In 1963, Duke Ellington made a famous tour and on that stop was Iran. He played jazz clubs in Tehran and Isfahan, and later produced his album Isfahan Blues.

At that same time, Vida Ghahremani, was living in Tehran.  She was a film star there, and decided to open the country's first dance club. Jazz was big in Iran then. Vida Ghahremani is now in California. Her daughter Torange Yaghiazarian is a playwright and Founding Artistic Director of Golden Thread Theatre in San Francisco.

Carolina Lugo is a professional flamenco dancer. In fact, she’s the fourth generation of women flamenco dancers in her family. So when Lugo had a baby girl, she knew that she wanted her to follow in the tradition of her mothers before her. Today, Lugo and her grown-up daughter Carolé Acuña perform together as Ballet Flamenco, bringing the traditional Flamenco dance form, not only to the Bay Area, but to national and international audiences. KALW's Hana Baba sat down with Lugo and Acuña to learn more.

LUGO: The magic that happens on stage with both of us -- the energy we draw from one another -- can't be explained. But it's there.


We're all getting older, so what are some ways we can embrace it better? When women hit major markers with aging, like menopause, Dr. Louise Aronson, a geriatrician and professor at UCSF, says that there is no reason to get so down about it.

Center for Investigative Reporting

The Center for Investigative Reporting is experimenting with bringing investigative journalism in many formats, from everything from print to live performance to animation. One of their latest projects is Techsploitation, a graphic novel that looks at shady employment practices in the tech world.

To many Americans, Falafel is a fried ball of mashed up garbanzo beans that you can put in a sandwich. But to me, falafel reminds me of where I’m from – Sudan. Until recently, I thought there was really only one way to make it. But it turns out, there are many ways to fry a falafel, depending on where you’re from – and of course, everyone thinks their way is best. So I headed out around the Bay on a falafel shop hop.

Under CC license from Flickr user torbakhopper

The latest edition of the San Francisco Public Press features a report called "Choice is Resegregating Public Schools." In it, reporter Jeremy Adam Smith unveils the reality of diversity, or more accurately the lack thereof, in San Francisco's public schools. San Francisco Unified School District's 'choice' system allows parents to rank and choose any school in the city for their children. Then, a lottery determines where they go.


On Thursday, March 26th, at the Tech Museum in San Jose, the Bay Area News Group is screening a documentary as part of its latest investigation into the over-prescription of drugs in California’s foster care system. The state has almost 60,000 foster youth – and one out of every four is given psychotropic drugs. Those are drugs to fix their behavior, not to help a mental illness. And they’re known to have horrible side effects. 

Reporter Karen de Sa spoke with many foster children for the investigative series “Drugging our Kids.” She came by our studios earlier this week to talk about what she discovered.

Courtesy of blackgirlscode.com

Electrical engineer and computer programmer Kimberly Bryant says that when she was in college, she was one of only a few women, and the only black woman, in her graduating class. When she had her own daughter, Kai, she wondered what she could do to get more young girls of color into the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math-- known as STEM.

Under CC license from Flickr user Janet Ciucci

California is entering its fourth year of drought – and it’s really starting to show in some of the state’s most vital water resources. The Central Valley Project, which supplies water for about a third of California’s farmland, recently announced it had no water to give. That means those farmers will have to seek water elsewhere or let fields go fallow. About six percent of available farmland went unplanted last year due to the drought, resulting in more than $1 billion in lost revenue. The dire situation has left farmers and regular folks alike wondering when’s it going to end.

KALW’s Audrey Dilling has been looking into how much water it would take to get us out of this drought. She joined KALW’s Hana Baba in studio to talk about what she learned.


The San Francisco Bay has long been a gateway for immigrants. Between 1910 and 1940, more than a million people from 80 different countries entered the United States through the immigration station on Angel Island. 

Meklit Hadero is a co-founder of the musical collaboration, the Nile Project. But Hadero says the music is only the beginning. She joined KALW's Hana Baba in studio to talk about how the project has grown since it first began.

MEKLIT HADERO: The music became a platform for being able to look at how we might actually relate to each other. The music can be a model for the kinds of relationships we want to see in the Nile Basin. If we can build this relationship…what could our Nile Basin look like beyond water resource management?

Hana Baba

In Sudan, where my family is from, there is an ancient beauty ritual that married women perform called dukhan. It’s like a sauna, but with smoke. 

There’s a science to happiness. And one of the centers for its study is right here in the Bay Area.

The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley studies human happiness, compassion and altruism. KALW's Hana Baba wanted to find out the formula, so she went to the center and sat down with its co-director Dacher Keltner, author of the book, Born To Be Good.

Hana Baba

All week long we've been playing this sound, and asking you to guess what exactly it is and where exactly in the Bay Area we recorded it.

Here in America, close to 70 percent of people are overweight. In her new book XL Love: How the Obesity Crisis is Complicating America’s Love Life, local journalist Sarah Varney looks beyond the numbers to explore how issues of weight can do everything from end marriages to over-sexualize girls as young as nine years old. Varney sat down with KALW's Hana Baba to talk about the the threat obesity poses to not just our health, but to our happiness.