Hear Here

Under CC license from Flickr user Mr.TinDC

Caroyln Brandy started playing the conga drum in the late 1960s.

“It was something that women didn’t really do back in those days,” Brandy says. “You didn’t grow up and think, ‘I’m gonna be a conga drummer.’ I started just being really mesmerized by the conga.”

Jeannette King-Harris grew up in Oakland and says she’s tired of all the difficulties young people face there today. So, she’s launching an organization called Planting Special Seeds to change that. It’s a youth empowerment program that offers job training, educational advising, and emotional support to young people from around Oakland.

Music has played a big role in Tara Hagins' life, beginning when she was 14 and started going to rock concerts with her cousin Holly. 

Pete Villaseñor moved to San Francisco from his home state of Texas almost 20 years ago. That’s well before the Bay’s current housing troubles began. But, moving to a new place can come with other difficulties, like homesickness. Villaseñor told our community storytelling project Hear Here how he found solace in a new city.

Audrey DIlling

Our community storytelling project Hear Here also had the chance to visit the ROCK program at Visitacion Valley Middle School to record the stories of young people there.

Eighth grader Pauline Dip told our Hear Here producers about her favorite hobby.

Alvin Kwok is a tutor with ROCK at Visitacion Valley Middle School. He told Hear Here about his family, who has lived in Visitacion Valley since his grandmother first immigrated there from China. She’s been working hard ever since to make a loving home for her family.

Hear Here: Life lessons from Rutka Messinger

Apr 24, 2014

Rutka Messinger is a retired high school literature teacher living in San Francisco’s Richmond District. But, she wasn’t born here. She was actually born in a concentration camp in Siberia at the tail end of World War II. Both her parents survived the Holocaust. Soon after Messinger was born they fled the camp and began what she calls a long and complicated story. Her family ended up in Israel, where she lived until moving to the United States.

Here, Messinger says she sees beauty all around her – especially in her neighborhood. And she says if you look for good things, you’ll see them, too.

Audrey DIlling

Third-grader Kiana Sezawar is learning to care for plants at the Visitacion Valley Greenway community garden.

Eric Hannan was only supposed to work as the 81st Avenue Library's Teen Service Director for a few weeks. He ended up staying two years.

For about a year and a half now, KALW has been popping into the 81st Avenue East Oakland library to record the stories of the people who live and work in the neighborhood. Michael Lefall spoke with us about the importance of role models.

Hear Here: Meet Anthony Propernick

Nov 19, 2013
Audrey DIlling

For about a year and a half now, KALW has been popping into the 81st Avenue East Oakland library to record the stories of the people who live and work in the neighborhood. Today we meet the man who helps make the library a safe and valuable place for the community, Anthony Propernick.

Click the audio player above to listen to the story.

Erica Mu

Pamela Alston was raised in Emeryville along with her eight brothers and sisters. She noticed something particular about the place where she was growing up.

“In my neighborhood, it seems to me the most prevalent health problem was bad teeth. Missing teeth, rotten teeth. And I felt like if there was anything I could do help my community, it would be to treat their teeth,” Alston says.

Hear Here producers are once again venturing out to both Oakland and San Francisco libraries-and we want you to come and share your stories! We're bringing our microphones to record your memories, tales, and favorite personal stories. Bring a loved one, bring a few friends, or come by yourself-your stories will be featured online, and may air on 91.7FM!

Today's Local Music: Versatile

Aug 5, 2013

The song you can listen to above is being played by Solomon Munghia. Patrons of the 81st Avenue East Oakland library might occasionally hear Munghia practicing in one of the study rooms there. That’s where our community storytelling project, Hear Here, found him one day, getting ready to make some music with his friend Giovanni Gaines. Hear Here producer Audrey Dilling asked Munghia how he first learned to play guitar. 

Mariel Waloff

San Francisco is well known for its bread, especially its sourdough, which gets its flavor from a special kind of bacteria in the air here. Combine that with some yeast, flour, and water, let it rise and bake it and you’ll get a uniquely San Franciscan loaf. But it’s not that easy, as the subject of our next story can attest to. He’s been trying to master the art of sourdough since he got his first baking job in the city just over a year ago.

Hear Here: Seeking a higher education

May 15, 2013

Esther Goolsby is from East Oakland, and she is one of the people Carl Rist’s program might have helped if it were around back in the 90s. She was living in East Oakland, and at age 16 was already a mom. She told our community storytelling project, Hear Here, about the path she took to a college degree. 

Juan Leguizamon

A surfer takes on a Maverick wave.  A writer acquires an unexpected tenant – and his house plant. These stories and more told live on stage at the Victoria Theater in San Francisco. Fri. April 12 at 8pm.

KALW 91.7FM presents “Heard Here,” an interactive evening of storytelling. Inspired by real people in the Bay Area, this show will feature stories of ordinary locals who have gone through extraordinary circumstances – all told by some of the Bay's best writers, radio producers, and performers.

Laura Flynn

The phone is ringing and a constant stream of people are coming through the gated door. Sam Adato, a long-haired rocker and owner of the drum shop, buzzes them in from behind the counter.

The intimate shop is a maze of colorful stacks upon stacks of vintage drums. The walls are covered with posters – custom made by Adato – of drummers, rock and roll records, drum equipment and other trinkets he’s collected over the last 20 years from customers and friends. Everyone who comes through the door seems to know each other, it was a familiar place, a place for drummers.

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San Francisco resident Ileana Pulu is of Hawaiian, Mexican, and Portuguese descent; her husband is Samoan. So when they were married, they didn't just join families -- they joined dinner tables. Listen to this story from Season 1 of Hear Here.

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Lisa Ratner

Our Hear Here community storytelling project has been asking Oakland and San Francisco residents to tell them a story about a meaningful place in their neighborhood. Meanwhile, the KALW news team has set out on a similar mission, and visited iconic places all over the Bay Area to talk to the people who visit them. KALW’s Lisa Ratner brought back this story from Treasure Island.

Hear Here: The "Latvian Hall" in Noe Valley

Jan 10, 2013
Courtesy of Northern California Latvian Choir

The places we choose to spend our time are important – they often define essential parts of our lives and ourselves. All week we’re bringing you profiles of places that matter to people around the Bay Area, as part of our community storytelling project Hear Here. This next piece from KALW’s Artjoms Konohovs takes us to a cultural center in Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco that brings together Bay Area Latvians.

Erica Mu

A pinata-maker in the Excelsior District remembers his past life as a revolutionary; a peasant’s daughter journeys from a rural town in China to pursue the American dream in the Bay Area – these are just two of the local stories that will come to life at KALW’s Hear Here: A Night of Storytelling event on Saturday, October 13th at Public Works in San Francisco.