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

This past Monday, Riverside County experienced a magnitude 4.7 earthquake. That’s not really news for Southern California, but this is: an earthquake detection system accurately predicted it.

The immigrant experience is meant to be a smooth one, full of promise. Ideally, people from developing countries come to America for better work, education, human rights and, overall, and a better future for their children.

However, many of these stories turn out to be not as polished as that narrative. Immigrants often need to learn a new language, navigate a new system, face realities they never have before, and find their way in a new adopted country. Their hopes are high, and sometimes they end up unmet.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A great one is worth much more than that. Think of famous photos like the napalm girl in Vietnam, the post-depression Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange, athletes Tommy Smith and John Carlos making Black Power salutes at the 1968 Olympics, or Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl. A picture can connect us with people and help us understand their lives. It can even help create tangible social change and a better world. 

The year is 1985. Ronald Reagan has been sworn in for his second term in office, “We Are the World” tops the charts, and here in the Bay Area, Stanford history professor Clayborne Carson receives a call from Coretta Scott King that will change his life forever. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s widow asks Carson to tell her late husband’s story through his papers. Carson is momentarily conflicted about accepting King’s request, even recommending more qualified individuals, but agrees to take on the hundreds of thousands of documents in her possession.

It’s not often we hear a story of love and heartbreak – and the music that was specifically composed for it. One such story befell the 19th century composer Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann. Meghan Laslocky is author of The Little Book of Heartbreak and she shares their story of love and the music that told it with KALW’s Hana Baba.

San Francisco State University

San Francisco has pioneered many concepts for the country. One of them is recognizing the importance of a college education that’s diverse, and multicultural, reflecting the populace. And so, the country’s first Department of Ethnic Studies was launched at San Francisco State University in 1968.

Last week, we aired a story produced by KALW’s Ben Trefny and Rai Sue Sussman that discussed Golden Gate Park’s new biking lanes, and it prompted an unprecedented response. Here are some thoughts from our listeners:

Governor Jerry Brown rolled out his proposed budget for the next fiscal year this morning. After voters supported Prop 30 last November, he was emboldened to make K-12 and higher education a big part of his plan for spending the state’s money. To break down all of the Governor’s proposals, KALW’s Hana Baba called longtime Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Walters.

Under CC license from Flickr user dakini

Many air strikes were launched by Israel in Gaza City over the past few weeks in response to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli cities. Since that moment, the violence in the region has subsided after a cease-fire. The Palestinians made a successful bid to upgrade their UN status, and Israel announced it would build 3,000 new settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. So the situation remains as tense and volatile as ever.

Hana Baba

California’s 15th District race featured young newcomer and Democrat Eric Swalwell challenging the 39-year incumbent Democrat Pete Stark. It didn’t look too good for Swalwell ​– and even the Democratic party endorsed his rival – but last night Stark was unseated by his challenger.

Under CC license from Flickr user valuef

We conclude our series in partnership with New America Media, delving into the issues California’s ethnic voters care most about this year, with a look at the politics of Korean Americans. California is home to 451,000 Korean Americans. The biggest community is in LA, but a sizable number are here in the Bay Area, with the highest concentrations in Santa Clara and Alameda Counties. So what’s this community talking about one week ahead of the elections? KALW’s Hana Baba spoke with Won Yi, a talk show host on Korean television KEMS TV in San Jose.

For the past 39 years, the California’s 15th Congressional District has been represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by 81-year-old Pete Stark. He has gone mostly unchallenged until this year.

Eric Swalwell – a member of the Dublin City council – is running against Stark. Swalwell is quite a contrast: he's 31 years old, a soccer coach and a prosecutor. He’s also a democrat, which makes this race Dem v. Dem. This is the first time that two candidates from the same party can run for the same seat, a reform made possible by voters in 2010.


Over the past few weeks, we’ve been bringing you exclusive stories from inside some of the state’s most secure prisons, including San Quentin. And we've been focusing on the people with the least amount of political power: the inmates. Now we turn our attention to another group within the prison system, and one with considerably more political influence: the prison guards. 

The Bay Area Muslim community includes at least 100, 000 people. There's a large Afghan community in the East Bay, a sizable South Asian population in the South Bay, and the Peninsula is home to large Arab American and Iranian American groups.

Historically, the Muslim community has voted Republican – until 2008 when they voted for President Obama. However, many say they are now disappointed by his presidency, especially in terms of issues like closing Guantanamo Bay, renewing the Patriot Act, and the continuing drone attacks in Pakistan.

As part of our ongoing series with New America Media exploring the ethnic vote, today we discuss how American Muslims may vote this year. We spoke with Javed Ali, editor-in-chief of Newark-based award-winning Muslim affairs publication, Illume Magazine.

Courtesy of newamericamedia.org

The Pew Research Center says Asian Pacific Islander Americans are now the fastest-growing ethnic and immigrant group in the United States. Asian Americans as a whole also tend to be the most educated and prosperous. Almost half have college degrees. The US Census Bureau estimates that 450,000 of the country’s more than three million Filipinos live in the greater Bay Area.

Falafel — those crispy, filling fried balls of mashed beans, herbs and spices — is found in cafes and homes all over the Middle East and parts of Africa. It's like a common language shared among sometimes fractious nations.

But until recently, I always thought falafel was made one way — garbanzo beans, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro and cumin. (That's how my Sudanese mother taught me.) But it turns out there are many recipes out there, each with a flavor distinct to its region.

Courtesy of www.loveinshallah.com

Note to listeners: This interview contains mature content. 

San Francisco’s premier literary festival, Litquake, is in its final days, with dozens of readings, performances, and author events all over San Francisco.

Note to listeners: This interview contains mature content. 

San Francisco’s premier literary festival, Litquake, is in its final days, with dozens of readings, performances, and author events all over San Francisco.

This weekend marks the Arab Film Festival in the San Francisco Bay Area, with 40 films showing this year from all over the Arab world.

The Palestinian short film Private Sun deals with the ironic reality of being Vitamin D deficient in a sun-drenched country like Palestine. It’s increasingly a problem among the country’s women, many of whom cover their bodies in public.

The latest census numbers say that Latinos make of 38 percent of California’s population, a voting bloc to be reckoned with on issues like domestic workers, farm labor, and immigration. Latino San Francisco Supervisors Avalos, Campos, and Olague are up for reelection in Latino-majority districts.

KALW’s Hana Baba spoke with Marcos Gutierrez, host of the show "Hecho en California" on KIQI 1010 AM based in Daly City, about the Latino vote in California.

Flickr user greendoula

On September 18th, an incident cut short an Oakland City Council meeting (see what happened in the video below).

We continue the joint series with our friends at New America Media discussing the issues that various Bay Area ethnic communities care about this election year, and where they stand on local issues. Every Tuesday until election day, we’ll be speaking with representatives from local ethnic media to hear about what’s important to their audiences.

As part of our joint series with New America Media, every Tuesday until election day, Crosscurrents will be speaking with representatives from local ethnic media to hear about what’s important to their audiences this election season.

This Bay Area Life

Sep 6, 2012

This edition of Crosscurrents is a special one-hour show dedicated to an interview with This American Life host Ira Glass by Hana Baba in KALW studios, and stories from his show that were based in the Bay Area. In that spirit, we’re calling this show This Bay Area Life (in which Hana tries to pull off a subtle imitation of Glass).

Flickr user antderosa

The Democratic National Convention is underway in Charlotte, North Carolina, and current and former Bay Area political stars are taking the stage. Speaking at the convention are House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Congresswomen Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and California Attorney General- Kamala Harris. 

The economic recession hit many Bay Area cities hard, including the city of Newark in southern Alameda County. In January 2010, dozens of employees were laid off or lost hours, and all but the most essential city services were cut. One of the casualties of Newark’s budget crunch was its decades-old senior center.

Genealogy is becoming an easier field to navigate these days, with websites and organizations encouraging people to discover their family heritage.

That’s what Oakland’s Regina Mason did, but on her own. In the upcoming film Gina’s Journey, Mason chronicles her adventure in searching for her family history. Being an African American, that meant she would surely encounter slavery, which she did.

The Republican National Convention is underway in Tampa, Florida, after being postponed because of Hurricane Isaac. Although it’s been on the quiet side overall today, we were curious as to what the mood is like, what delegates are talking about, and what to expect over the next few days. San Francisco Examiner contributor Melissa Griffin is on the ground in Tampa. She spoke with KALW’s Hana Baba about her impressions on how the event is shaping up so far.

Listen to the full interview above.

Earlier today Governor Jerry Brown announced that he had reached a deal with state lawmakers that would mean sweeping changes for California’s public pensions system, and affect hundreds of thousands of state workers. The new rules would cap pensions while increasing the amount employees pay in; they would also increase the retirement age by up to seven years.