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

Ho John Lee


With redevelopment happening in places like San Francisco’s Hunter’s Point waterfront, and Oakland’s new Brooklyn Basin project along the shoreline, it can look like a lot of our natural landscape will turn into shiny residential towers.

Blues legend Sugar Pie DeSanto still hits the high notes

Jul 10, 2014

She began winning talent shows up and down Fillmore Street at 18, when she weighed just 85 pounds, wore size 3 shoes and went by her given name, Umpeylia Marsema Balinton. 



Oakland activist and filmmaker Sheri Shuster has been advocating against the sex trafficking of youth for more than a decade. Her new film, 'Child Sex Trafficking: A Story About Love,' exposes and explores the world of girl trafficking in Oakland through the story and activism of trafficking survivor Leah Albright-Byrd. 


For 23 years, retired California Highway Patrol Sergeant Kevin Briggs patrolled the Golden Gate Bridge for suicide jumpers. He talked hundreds of people off the ledge and back onto the bridge and earned the nickname, “The Guardian of the Golden Gate.” His powers of persuasion were the doorway between life and death. Sometimes, unfortunately, they just weren’t enough.


City College of San Francisco is now able to stay open for another two years while it meets accreditation standards, according to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

This is a relief for the college which has feared closure since last July, when the commission decided to terminate the college’s accreditation this coming July.

A new play in in Berkeley is trying to capture and preserve the diverse character of the city through the stories of its people. Playwright Dan Wolf interviewed hundreds of people from all around Berkeley and asked them these three questions: when did you come to Berkeley, why do you stay in Berkeley and what’s magical about Berkeley?

Behavioral health courts can give offenders who are mentally ill the option to be tried for non-felony crimes. Within the program, offenders can have access to not only the district attorney and public defender, but to several social services programs in order to help them get them back on their feet. 

One catch — they have to want to be in the program. 

Bay Area Beats: DOE EYE

May 28, 2014
Olivia Lee

In this edition of Bay Area Beats, we meet Union City based musician Maryam Qudus, who says she was a shy child of an Afghan immigrant family. When she wanted to pursue music, it was a first for her family, her culture, and her larger community.

“There was NO music in my family. ----- my mom knows who Beyonce is, who MJ is- that’s all,” says Qudus.


Two years ago, we interviewed two local Muslim women about their intimate stories of love. These stories were told in an anthology called Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women. The book created such a stir, that the editors Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi were bombarded with letters from Muslim men saying who wanted to share their love stories too. 

Playwright Chinaka Hodge writes, sings, studies, directs plays and teaches about Oakland. She went to school in New York and Southern California, but her artistic work has always focused on her hometown- more recently on the gentrification she sees happening in Oakland, while native Oaklanders, she says, continue to live in poverty.

Courtesy of Half Our Deen, a Muslim matchmaking site.

Finding a life companion can sometimes be easy, like when you meet someone at work, at school, or at an event. But more often than not, it’s hard – especially when you come from a conservative culture where arranged marriages and parent involvement in choosing a spouse are common. Sixty-three percent of Muslims in America are first generation immigrants, and come with strong value sets that are not very compatible with the American dating scene. 


Last June, the U.S. Congress made a landmark decision to pass immigration reform. The new law eliminates the Diversity Immigrant Lottery Visa, also known as the Green Card Lottery. 


San Francisco is home to more than 5 thousand people of Arab descent. And despite living in what is perceived as one of the most culturally competent, tolerant areas in the country, since 9-11, Arab students have been complaining of abuse, taunting, and discrimination.

The Arab Cultural and Community Center of San Francisco has developed a toolkit and curriculum to help teachers better understand their Arab students’ backgrounds, and, give them the tools to address difficult issues they deal with.

One of Caifornia’s loveliest independent bookstores is The Great Overland Book Company, located in the Inner Sunset. Owner Beau Beausoleil not only runs the bookstore, but also runs the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition--a community of writers and artists that produce a collection of work to raise awareness about in support and commemoration of a major bombing on the street in Iraq in 2007.


It’s been three months since violent clashes erupted in Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev. At the heart of the conflict is the Ukrainian government’s decision to abandon their EU Association Agreement. A move seen by some Ukrainian nationalists as a move to strengthen the country’s ties with former ruling power, Russia. 

Hana Baba

The Bay Area’s cultural diversity is translated in so many different ways; you can hear it in how many languages are spoken here.  For parents wanting their children to be immersed in another language, there are  50 immersion programs , mostly  teaching Mandarin, Spanish, and French, but there is one school in Berkeley that’s one of the first Persian immersion preschools. It’s called Golestan Kids, named after a province in Iran that was a vital Persian stop on the silk road, thousands of years ago. Golestan kids is not just a Farsi language school, it’s a full cultural immersion experience.

When Jimmy Carter was in the Oval Office, the nation was still reeling from Watergate and Vietnam. As president, he created the Departments of Education and of Energy, brokered peace in the Middle East, and installed solar panels on the White House roof. But soaring inflation and a hostage crisis in Iran eroded Carter’s popularity, and many people consider him a failed president.

Academy of Art, SF

Sophia Sattar was born in Karachi, Pakistan to an Indian mother and Pakistani father who were both doctors, and she loved to paint. But, living in a world where you were groomed from childhood to become a doctor or an engineer, being an artist was out of the question.


Documentary Filmmaker Freida Mock’s latest film, Anita, Speaking Truth to Power, tells the story of Anita Hill, who testified during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991. 

Photo by Tearsa Joy Hammock / San Francisco Public Press


Elementary school parent-teacher associations (PTAs) might conjure up images of bake sales and silent auctions. But how much money do you think a PTA can really raise?

Bayview Opera House

This year marks the 125th birthday of a San Francisco historic Landmark. Not City Hall, not the Golden Gate. The Bayview Opera House — San Francisco’s oldest theatre. 

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq -- and even though the U.S. officially left the country in 2011, it's  still a country in turmoil. Just yesterday, a series of bombings claimed the lives of 16 people, just one slice of how difficult life can be there.  Millions of Iraqis have left -- many ending up in neighboring countries, or with the help of the U.N., getting refugee status in the U.S. or Europe. California is now home to the largest number of Iraqi refugees in the U.S.

Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the link between the two countries has been undeniable. Fremont, in the East Bay, has the largest Afghani community in the U.S. Local Children’s author Naheed Senzai is married to Afghan American political scientist Fareed Senzai, who has an incredible story of fleeing Afghanistan with this family as a boy, and ending up in Fremont, where he has lived ever since. 

Sarah Deragon/Miki Vargas

The film 20 Feet from Stardom, which just won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature this past weekend, shines a spotlight on the female singers who sang backup to the biggest soul and rock legends during the 1960s.

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.

Spartan Daily

Governor Jerry Brown sounded the alarm yesterday, not about the drought, but about the skyrocketing pension costs the state will continue to incur in the years to come.  In a letter to CalPers - the state’s pension fund - the governor warned that plans must be made for longer-lived retirees that will drive pension costs up by $1.2 billion a year.

  The late Abdelhalim Hafez is an icon of mid-20th century Arabic music. Like Elvis in the United States, Hafez has accrued a massive following of fans in Egypt and abroad, with fans affectionately referring to him under the one word moniker “Halim.” 

Joanna Strober is co-author of Getting to 50 50: How Working Parents Can Have it All by Sharing it All. She and her co-author Sharon Meers are both working parents in the Bay Area, and they set out to write a guide for couples on how to share the work of parenting while prioritizing both of their careers.  Strober spoke with KALW’s Hana Baba about what inspired her and Meers to write this book.

Stanford University, Department of Sociology

Last June marked a much anticipated achievement for the US Congress- the passing of the immigration reform bill.

Image from zawaya.org

The Arabic music ensemble Aswat is based in the Bay Area and plays classical Arab standards in concerts throughout the Bay Area. But you don't have to know the language to participate.