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

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

This auditory guessing game is part of our new project, Audiograph, a crowd-sourced collaborative radio project mapping the sonic signature of each of the Bay Area’s nine counties. By using the sounds of voices, nature, industry, and music, Audiograph tells the story of where you live, and the people who live there with you.

Poster designed by Rich Black

This is Audiograph--the Bay Area’s sonic signature. 

Each week, we’ll play you a sound recorded somewhere in the Bay Area. Your job? Listen to the sound (in the player above), figure out where it was recorded, and what exactly it is, then call us to let us know. 

If you think you can identify this Audiograph sound of the week, call 415-264-7106. Also, tell us where to record next. We’ll give away a KALW t-shirt every week to one lucky caller. 

Last week, young people in San Francisco got some good news: starting in March, they’ll be able to ride MUNI free of charge. After a two-year campaign, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency approved a 16-month pilot program that will allow low-income young people between five and seventeen to apply for free youth passes, which they can use to ride public transit in the city. KALW’s Julie Caine explains.

Click the audio player above to listen to the interview.

Brett Amory

Time spent riding BART or Muni can be one of the least inspiring parts of a parson's day. It’s a time spent mostly waiting to be somewhere else. Commuters with headphones snaked from ear to ear, eyes focused on smartphones and iPads, or on the pages of books and newspapers. On the train, it’s sometimes too loud to talk to anyone, even when you want to.

photo by Julie Caine

One way to get to know a new place is to ride public transportation – especially the bus. It’s like taking an unguided tour – a tour in which there’s often as much to see inside as there is out the windows.

The most popular buses in Oakland are the 1 and the 1R. The 1, which is the local route, makes 105 stops in three different East Bay cities. It’s a trip that takes four hours from start to finish.

There’s one race still up for grabs in the Bay Area: Measure B1, Alameda county’s proposed new transit tax. 

Julie Caine

Latino voters are credited with coming out in large numbers yesterday for President Barack Obama to help him secure a second term. Locally, Latino voters came to the polls with mostly one issue on their minds. 

Photo by Navin Rajagopalan

Today we’re going around the Bay Area to see what you the voters are talking about this election season. We heard from Napa City residents Johnny Cozad, Darcy Tunt and Matthew Fortezzo as brought to us by KALW’s Julie Caine.

What is the main thing on your mind just before the election?

JOHNNY COZAD: Well, of course, with everybody it's the economy. I see things gradually happening for the better. I also see the Republicans stopping president obama doing what he wants to do. I think it could be a lot better.

A big part of life in the Bay Area is how we get around. We drive and complain about parking; take MUNI and complain about delays; bike and risk car collisions (and complain), and of course, we walk. Even that’s not always safe – at least 10 pedestrians have died in the city so far this year. The vast majority of people are hit by motor vehicles: cars, trucks, buses. But sometimes those conflicts are between pedestrians and bicyclists.

Around 250,000 people use Market Street every day— and in every way. They take the bus, ride BART, walk to work, shop... even live.

In 2016, Market Street, between Octavia and the Embarcadero, will be torn up and repaved. So city planners figure it’s the perfect time to reshape and re-imagine San Francisco’s main drag.

San Francisco’s transportation director Ed Reiskin says it’s a good opportunity for the city to do more than pour concrete.

(Not seeing an audio player above? Trying reloading this page in your browser.)

If you want know the price of gas around the United States, there’s a map online that breaks it down for you. The states with the cheapest gas are green, and the states with the most expensive are red. It’s probably the only map where California is one of the reddest states in the country.

Julie Caine

If you saw the lead story of today's San Francisco Chronicle, you would have seen a photo of a long line of people outside a lawyer's office in Richmond, near a sign that says: "Chevron Claims Filed Here." 

D.H. Parks, under CC License / http://www.flickr.com/photos/parksdh/7730542302/

The smoke from the Chevron refinery fire that started late Monday has cleared, but the controversy was still hot at a community meeting last night in Richmond. Around 700 people attended the meeting, where Chevron General Manager Nigel Hearne and local government and health officials faced frustration and anger.

Joan Davis from the Richmond Community Foundation began the meeting with some powerful questions: “Those of you who are feeling afraid, very quietly, stand. Those of you who are feeling angry, please stand, quietly.”

The bullet train may be back on track. Earlier this month the state legislature narrowly approved $8 billion dollars in bond money to start construction of the high-speed rail system connecting Los Angeles to the Bay Area. Governor Jerry Brown signed off at ceremonies in LA and San Francisco.

The project is now expected to cost close to $69 billion dollars to complete. The bulk of the money the legislature just approved will go to start building a 130-mile stretch of track in the Central Valley; about a quarter will go to local transportation projects in LA and San Francisco.

Governor Jerry Brown gave high-speed rail the official green light today, signing legislation authorizing $8 billion in initial funding for the controversial $68 billion project.

Signing ceremonies in San Francisco and Los Angeles emphasized the political importance of the $1.9 billion allocated for improving existing commuter rail systems in these cities, the eventual “bookends” of the rail network that would connect northern and southern California.

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.

This year is BART’s 40th birthday. While some people swear that 40 is the new 30, when it comes to subway systems, 40 is just plain over-the-hill. About two-thirds of BART cars have been running the rails since the system opened, in 1972.

Paul Oversier is in charge of operations at BART. He says that because BART trains run long distances and at higher speeds than other subway systems, it gives the system a dubious distinction. “We have the oldest cars, and we run them the hardest,” he says.


On a stop in Fresno today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pushed for high-speed rail in the state.

“High-speed rail in California is about helping to get the California economy moving again, to get unemployment down, to put friends and neighbors to work,” said LaHood. “And implementing high-speed rail in California will do that.”

The section of the rail line between Fresno and Bakersfield, where construction is set to begin later this year, is the only segment of the estimated $100 billion project with secured funding.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Hamilton.

If you’ve ridden on BART lately, you might have seen a photograph of a blue and white beach umbrella standing at the edge of a green farmer’s field. The caption reads, “Those are potatoes.” Or one with a girl in a cowboy hat standing upright in her horse’s saddle, swinging a lasso over her head. The caption: “She’s Also Pretty Good At Volleyball.” Or one with a boy wearing a green 4H tie, proudly holding a goat to his side. “Jesús and Lightning,”

The photos are visions of rural California, pasted on the walls one of the state’s most iconic urban structures.

courtesy Caifornia High-Speed Rail Authority

California State Senator Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) introduced legislation today that would put high-speed rail back on the ballot come November.

In a statement, LaMalfa said that "voters have been misled about the true costs of High-Speed Rail from the start. The costs have tripled since 2008 and every objective observer has said this project is too expensive and is unlikely to be completed.”

California Governor Jerry Brown in 2010 (photo by Steve Rhodes via Flickr)

In his State of the State address today, Governor Jerry Brown didn’t give an inch on the state’s embattled high-speed rail plan.  Likening the project to the launching of BART, the Panama Canal, and the Suez Canal, Brown said: “Those who believe California is in decline will naturally shrink back from such a strenuous undertaking,” he said. “I understand that feeling, but I don’t share it.”