Audio Academy

San Francisco's bail system on the stand

Mar 2, 2016
Lisa Bartfai


Dora Torres is spending the better part of a hot Monday afternoon at Bail Hotline Bail Bonds trying to get her boyfriend Mark Mabutas out of jail. He was arrested in October, charged with mayhem, criminal threats, and assault with a deadly weapon. It has taken Torres months of raising money to try and bail him out today.


Enrollment now open for the KALW Audio Academy!

KALW is calling for applicants for our 9-month radio journalism training program based at KALW public radio, an NPR and BBC affiliate station in San Francisco. This program is designed to give you a professional audio production education, tuition-free.

StoryCorps: Our Mission No Eviction

Feb 29, 2016

Roberto Hernandez is a leader of the "Our Mission No Eviction" campaign, and he's seen plenty of change come to his neighborhood. A lot of people in his community have been forced to leave the Mission over the last few years. 

Audiograph's Sound of the Week: Casting Club

Feb 25, 2016
Photo by Ian Lewis

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.

Gay and Syrian: One refugee’s journey to San Francisco

Feb 10, 2016
Eli Wirtschafter


Subhi Nahas remembers the exact day when he knew he’d have to leave Syria. It was the Spring of 2012. He was twenty four, on a bus, going to university take a final exam. It was the last exam he needed to graduate.

Courtesy Edward Miguel

Some scientists are saying that you can’t talk about the global refugee crisis without talking about another crisis: climate change.

StoryCorps: Dancing despite disability

Feb 10, 2016

Twenty eight years ago, Bonnie Lewkowicz got a phone call from someone wanting to know what she thought about the idea of disabled people dancing. That question set her on an improbable odyssey.

Pumping up bodies and spirits at God's Gym

Feb 3, 2016
Renata Gray

The training floor of God’s Gym is definitely old school – one room crammed with barbells, benches, and ancient weight machines.

The fast and the furious world of pigeon racing

Jan 27, 2016
Photo by Geraldine Ah-Sue

Bill Milestone says you can tell when a pigeon is happy. They get frisky with energy. They squabble with each other. They get, he says, a sparkle in their eye.

Milestone is training his flock of forty for an upcoming race. They live in a small white house on stilts in the backyard of his San Francisco home, cooing over each other. 


ADVISORY: This story contains mature content.  

In the 1960s, the Tenderloin was a center for the LGBT community in San Francisco. But even there, they faced discrimination and harassment, often from the police. Felicia Elizondo first came to the Tenderloin from San Jose as a teenager in 1963. It was there that she took part in the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot in 1966, one of the first transgender riots in the country.


Marcy Fraser and Michelle Francis worked together in hospice care in San Francisco during the height of the AIDS crisis in 1988. Just after the decade came to a close, around 5,000 San Franciscans had died from the disease. Together, the pair look back on their experiences during that time and the moment their friendship was cemented for life.


Dancing with Mama Diouf

Nov 25, 2015

Oakland-based Diamano Coura West African Dance Company celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

StoryCorps: A friendship lost and found, 40 years later

Nov 24, 2015
Joe Chan and Pak Yan



Nearly 40 years ago, two best friends said goodbye to each other by holding on to different ends of a paper streamer.


Navigating San Francisco’s pretzel bureaucracy

Sep 17, 2015

Starting a small business in the Bay Area can be quite a chore. To be successful, you have to twist yourself into unusual shapes.

Jack Detsch / KALW

Three dollars and 25 cents won’t buy you a lot in today’s marketplace, but try to imagine what it might mean if you were a business owner in Oakland’s Chinatown, and you had to bump wages by that much for every hour worked.

Prospects for a regional minimum wage

Jun 24, 2015
Cecille Isidro

KALW's Jack Detsch spoke with opponents and proponents of a regional minimum wage in the Bay Area. He and Hana Baba sat down to talk about at what's next.

The trouble with garbage in San Francisco

Jun 22, 2015
CC license Flickr Brad Greenlee


The most heavily used neighborhood park in San Francisco is Dolores Park. According to Sarah Ballard, with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, that comes with a high cost.  

Young adults with disabilities prepare for the workforce at Fairyland

May 6, 2015

Intellectually and developmentally disabled young adults have few options after they leave high school. In the Bay Area, nearly 60% of these young people are unemployed or don’t make enough to earn a living. In Alameda County, a new program is making an effort to change that.

Living wage fight explodes in East Oakland

Mar 16, 2015

If you want to hire a worker in Oakland, you’re going to have to pay a little bit more these days. At the beginning of the month, Measure FF, overwhelming approved by voters last November, finally became law. It raises Oakland’s minimum wage to $12.25 an hour.

But Oakland is a little bit different from Seattle, San Francisco, and dozens of other cities that passed minimum wage hikes last year. It already has a living wage ordinance on the books that requires employers benefitting from city subsidies to pay $14.10 an hour.

Marcy Fraser / KALW


Jacqueline Cooper is a lot like you.

“I'm not any different than anybody else,” she says. “I'm a mother, I'm a daughter, I'm a sister, a wife at one point.”

However, there’s more to her than that. For one, she’s a retired United States Marine Corps sergeant. For another, she’s dealt with mental illness throughout her life.

Taylor Skillin

It’s no wonder that the Tenderloin has become a melting pot of San Francisco’s vibrant Asian and Latino immigrant culture.

The neighborhood is often the first stop for many immigrants to the city. Nearly 30 languages are spoken within a 10-block radius. It’s only getting more diverse, and service workers, nonprofits, and soup kitchens are struggling to keep up.

Living with HIV as a senior

Feb 10, 2015
Jasmin Lopez

People 50 years or older now make up the majority of HIV and AIDS cases in San Francisco. Since HIV emerged in the 1980s, treatments have improved -- allowing people to live longer with this chronic illness. So as the number of older people living with HIV grows, so do the other things that come with age -- like access to affordable housing and health care, mental health issues and isolation.

Jeremy Dalmas


In a quiet spot, just west of the bustle of the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, sits a garden dedicated to English literature’s crowned prince: William Shakespeare. Once you make it past the entrance gate and down the worn brick path, you are transported into an English garden filled with manicured flower beds, trimmed lawns, and people escaping the noise of the city.

A Nepali soup kitchen for the soul

Sep 22, 2014
Rachel Wong

Around 5pm on a cold, windy Tuesday, an eclectic mix of people stand in a long line at Civic Center’s UN Plaza in San Francisco, waiting patiently. Some have big travel backpacks, a couple have tough-looking dogs, and a few are dressed like they just came from work. Suddenly a bright orange and yellow minivan arrives at the plaza. A team of volunteers wearing orange aprons emerge and quickly set up tents, tables, and giant, metal vats of steaming food. The food smells of ginger and garlic.

Making a home for bees by the freeway

Aug 28, 2014
Charlotte Silver

In a city that struggles to find enough space for housing, parking or children, a few dedicated people have found a luxurious, spacious and cheap home for bees.

David Boyer

On Sunday mornings in the Castro neighborhood, there’s a place where rhythm reigns. Dancers pull out their leg warmers, spandex and fluorescent headbands for Sunday Skool—and with the right accessories and a lot of attitude, dreams of being a backup dancer for a day come true. 

Enrollment now open for the 2014-2015 KALW News Audio Academy

Mar 25, 2014

Enrollment now open for the KALW News Audio Academy 

KALW is calling for applicants for our 10-month radio journalism training program based at KALW public radio, an NPR and BBC affiliate station in San Francisco. This program is designed to give you a graduate level audio production education, tuition-free.

We’re looking for creative thinkers who are great writers and storytellers with a passion for covering diverse communities, and ideally have some knowledge of the Bay Area.

Todd Whitney


City Hall isn’t the only place you will find Oakland’s namesake, the oak tree. Step foot in the East Bay and you will quickly come across t-shirts, hoodies, hats, and stickers that brandish an image of the iconic tree. This wave of Oakland-themed apparel reaches back to the year 2000 when Oaklandish, a civic pride apparel brand, popped up.

Bay Area cities expand employment protections for ex-convicts

Feb 5, 2014
Flickr user: Waponi

When you fill out a job application, you expect to answer some basic questions. Things like your employment and education history, and relevant skills to the job. And in many cases, you also have to check a box to declare whether you’ve ever been convicted of a crime.

In the city of Richmond, though, that last one is no longer fair game. It hasn’t been for a couple of years, since the city passed an ordinance called “ban the box,” forbidding government employees from asking job applicants about their criminal histories.

More than 50 cities and counties, as well as 10 states, have enacted some form of “ban the box” laws. That includes California.

Reporter’s Notebook: My uncle’s battle with HIV

Feb 4, 2014

When I was eight years old, I rode on one of Mexico’s passenger trains from Mexicali to Guadalajara with my uncle, David. All summer, we visited towns and family throughout the country, learning more and more about our heritage and each other. At the time, I had only heard of him through the occasional family story, so I was unaware of my uncle’s estrangement from our family. I’m not sure what the circumstances were that allowed us to travel together, but I’m grateful for them. I was able to spend a summer on an unforgettable adventure with an uncle that I wouldn’t see again.