Julie Caine

Managing Producer, KALW News. Lead Producer, Audiograph.

Julie Caine is the managing producer for Crosscurrents, KALW’s award-winning newsmagazine. She’s also the lead producer of Audiograph, an ongoing KALW series that uses sound to tell the stories of the San Francisco Bay Area. Her radio documentary, Squeezebox Stories won an SPJ award for best arts and culture reporting in 2012, and her radio work has aired on a wide variety of national programs. She has a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley, and believes deeply in Grace Paley’s assertion that you must be a story listener to be a storyteller.

Ways To Connect

The California State Senate today narrowly authorized funding for the nation’s biggest high-speed rail plan.

This vote authorizes initial funding for the bullet train, with construction set to begin in the Central Valley. It also provides close to $2 billion to upgrade Caltrain, and commuter rail lines in Los Angeles.

The senate vote was mostly along party lines, with Democrats supporting the plan and Republicans opposing, but several powerful Democrats crossed the aisle, including the chair of the transportation committee, Mark DeSaulnier.

In the past six weeks, five people have died on Caltrain tracks, hit by trains that could not stop in time to avoid them. Every year, an average of 12 people die on Caltrain tracks, and most are suicides. This is a small percentage of suicide deaths each year – only about one percent of suicides in the U.S. are by train.

Caltrain has built 10-foot fences along much of the route, commissioned studies about location and prevention, put up signs with suicide hotline numbers along its tracks, and partnered with mental health agencies. But it is a tragic problem that persists.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Dominik Morbitzer

Chris Bucchere, the bicyclist charged in the death of 71-year-old pedestrian Sutchi Hui, pled not guilty today to charges of felony vehicular manslaughter.

Photo by Flickr user Salim Virji

For some people, the daily commute will get a little easier this week. Monday morning, a new ferry service between the Oakland, Alameda, and South San Francisco opened. In San Francisco, regular service resumed on the MUNI’s N Judah and J Church lines, after ten days of repair work at some of the city’s busiest transit junctions. Statewide, however, things aren’t so bright. A new poll shows that voters are losing faith in plans for a high-speed rail system in California.

In the era of Mike Daisey making up facts for his stories about Apple factory workers in China, or the uproar over the motives behind the recent KONY video, we have to start asking ourselves how real these real world videos really are. What’s going on outside the frame of a YouTube video? What’s true? And, who decides?

Zydeco by the Bay

May 9, 2012

Northern California and Southwest Louisiana might seem like they’re worlds apart. But they’re actually intimately linked––by food, by language, and by music.

Cajun and Creole people left Louisiana for California in the 1940s, and later in the 1960s--looking for work and opportunity in shipyards and on military bases. Many of those jobs have disappeared, but the sounds of the squeezebox have helped keep the community together. In fact, California is now home to one of the biggest Zydeco music and dance scenes outside of Louisiana.

Tuesday’s May Day protests marked the re-emergence of the Occupy movement with coordinated protests around the Bay Area. But May Day—known around the world as International Workers Day—is traditionally a day when union members mobilize around labor issues. In San Francisco, those are ongoing.

If you added up all of the time that all of us spend stuck in Bay Area traffic, it would average out to about 40 million hours a year. It doesn’t take much to slow down traffic – accidents and construction and weather conditions all have an impact. And, there’s more than cars in the road.

Last year, a truck full of chickens overturned on 80 near Fairfield. And then there was the herd of cattle that wandered through the toll plaza on the Benicia Bridge. Not to mention all the falling ladders – that’s one of the most common pieces of debris.

California’s high-speed rail project has taken a beating over the past couple of months. The price tag for building the super fast train is now expected to be almost $100 billion, more than twice what voters approved in 2008. The High-Speed Rail Authority, which is designing and planning the project, has to convince voters – and an increasingly skeptical Legislature – that funding high-speed rail is feasible.

Lisa Ratner

It’s Hattam Moktor’s second day in San Francisco. He arrived from Egypt yesterday and spent today seeing the sights in the city. Now he’s standing in front of an empty station agent’s booth at the Embarcadero BART station trying to get back to his brother’s East Bay apartment.

“I want to ask someone how to get there, so I came here, but there is no one to ask. So I found you! So I will ask you how to get there. Walnut Creek?” Moktor laughs.

Moktor pulls a crumpled BART map out of his back pocket, and we look at it together. What he needs is a Pittsburg-Bay Point train.