We all remember quirky family recipes, but we don’t always appreciate that home-cooking until we’ve actually left home. Joyce Lin-Conrad sat down with friend and co-worker Geoff Palla to talk about how her heritage influenced her interest in food, which eventually led them both to teach at the Edible Schoolyard.

StoryCorps: Keeping family traditions alive

Jun 17, 2015

It’s not always easy to pass down family traditions, especially when they don’t match mainstream American culture. But that’s what Maria Sanchez and Roberto Vargas are trying to do. For both, Danza Azteca traditions have been important for honoring their Mexican and Nicaraguan cultural heritage. The couple sat down with their children, ages 12 and 14, for a talk about ethnic identity and why Danza is so important to them.


Music is a powerful way to connect people who come from different experiences, but there's a special kind of magic when music amplifies the diversity, heart, and history within one culture. Journalist Belva Davis and KKSF jazz show host Miranda Wilson tease out how the roots of Jazz and hymns are significant to African-American culture, starting with revisiting how Wilson started as an MC on a Bay Area jazz show.

StoryCorps: Two moms, double the love

May 7, 2015

Lamar Van Dyke, Paula Lewis and Traci Lewis have a special bond.  Lamar is a lesbian who gave birth to Traci when she was 18 years old. Unprepared to have a baby, she gave Traci up for adoption. Paula Lewis adopted her. Traci sat down with her biological mom, Lamar, and her adopted mom, Paula, at the StoryCorps booth at the San Francisco Public Library to talk about their family.

Click the audio player above to hear the story.

This interview was facilitated by Geraldine Ah-Sue, and produced for KALW by Chris Hambrick. 

Today we’re sharing a StoryCorps about a young man with Down syndrome. His name is Tim Harris, and there’s a restaurant in Albuquerque named after him: it’s called "Tim’s Place." Harris calls it “the world’s friendliest restaurant.” He works there six days a week and greets each customer at the door. Tim sat down with his father, Keith, who helped him start the business in 2010.

Click the audio player above to listen to the story.


Elizabeth Beltran-Larios struggled with her identity for much of her childhood. Beltran-Larios was born in Oakland, but she was raised in a small town south of Jalisco, Mexico. Growing up, she felt alienated from the Catholic church because of her sexual orientation. Her exposure to Buddhism in college helped her come to terms with who she is and what she believes. She sat down in the StoryCorps booth to share her story of this transformation.


Storycorps: Keeping a broader perspective

Mar 9, 2015
Teresa Kennett

Growing up, BJ Miller understood what it meant to live with a disability. His mother had polio. But until a college accident, Miller never imagined he would live out a similar fate. In college, he had an accident that left him a triple amputee.  After, he knew he wanted to use his experience to help others. Miller went onto become a doctor and is now the executive director of the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco.  In this next piece, he speaks with his colleague Diane Malley about the accident.

StoryCorps: Healing the mind by way of hospice

Feb 9, 2015

When someone is dying, sometimes the best medicine is not medicine at all. And sometimes what needs to be healed, is not the body, but the mind. That is the kind of caretaking that Paul Kelley takes pride in doing. When Kelley began his career as a hospice worker in 1983, he knew instantly that he had found his calling.


"I can't fix my toilet at home, I can't fix the car, I can't do bookkeeping, I can't do computers. But I can be with someone who is dying, for some reason."

Click the audio player above to listen to the story.

For as long as she could remember, Suzanne Thompson wanted to be a mom, but she was running out of time. She thought of her friend Christopher Noessel and his partner Benjamin Remington, who always wanted to be dads, and then she had an idea that could maybe give them all the chance to be parents...together. To make sure their future child wasn’t confused, they sat down with StoryCorps and made this tape for their son, Miles, while he was still in utero. 


From time to time, the StoryCorps team goes mobile, and collects interviews at different sites around the Bay Area. One of the places they visited was Highland Hospital in East Oakland. The public hospital has been around since 1927, and has since served thousands of patients from all walks of life.

StoryCorps: A bit of color in the darkest of times

Nov 12, 2014


Shortly after World War II in Eastern Europe, Slobodan Dan Paich was just a boy – and he says life felt void of color. He remembers the moment light came back in – it was all thanks to a certain musical tale about a dark-haired beauty named Tosca.

Tracy Grubbs grew up fascinated, curious and also afraid of death. Her curiosity, plus her interest in Buddhism led her to volunteer at the Zen Hospice Project, a San Francisco center for the dying supported by the Buddhist community. Grubbs spoke with her colleague Lisa Messano.

Provided by StoryCorps

Before Laurie Brookner adopted Kate, she knew her as only as a blown-up, photocopied photograph. On the photograph was a Chinese name: Yu Mingren. Anxiously, Laurie traveled all the way to Jiangsu in China to adopt her. Soon Mingren became Kate. As Laurie held Kate in her arms, she was filled with utmost joy—mixed with a dash of sadness that her daughter would never know her Chinese birth mother. Fifteen years later, Kate and Laurie came to the StoryCorps booth at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. Kate wanted to ask her mom what it was like when she saw her for the first time.

StoryCorps: Honoring yourself by honoring others

Jul 9, 2014

It takes all kinds of people to help support those with HIV. Friends and co-workers Adrienne Elias and Eric Sutter come from very different backgrounds, but they both feel passionate about their work at Shanti, a San Francisco non-profit dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with HIV and other life threatening illnesses.

Photo courtesy StoryCorps


Patricia Chin was born in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  She had never left the neighborhood when she auditioned to be a chorus girl. It was quite a leap for a young Asian-American girl, born in 1935, but Chin loved the adventure, and saw it as a way to bring home extra money. Her group, the Chinese Vanities, performed in nightclubs up and down the West Coast.

StoryCorps: Searching for truth and finding family

May 13, 2014


After serving time in the Air Force, Nathan Baxter, an African American man from Pennsylvania, ended up in the South in the 1960s. Baxter learned a lot of lessons during and after his service – one of which was how difficult it could be to be a black man in the South at that time. He stopped by mobile Storycorps booth in Oakland to share some never-told experiences with his descendants.

StoryCorps: Overcoming mental illness together

Feb 19, 2014
San Francisco StoryCorps

StoryCorps: A bit of color in the darkest of times

Dec 10, 2013
Under CC license from Flickr user mariano medda

Shortly after World War II in Eastern Europe, Slobodan Dan Paich was just a boy, and he says life felt void of color. But he remembers the moment light came back in – it was all thanks to a certain musical tale about a dark-haired beauty named Tosca. 

San Francisco StoryCorps

Olin Thomas is a retired army veteran. He says it wasn’t until after he joined the military that he realized he was gay. Despite his fears about coming out, he found support in unexpected places. Thomas sat down in the StoryCorps booth at the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco with his friend, Hugo Salinas, to tell his story.

Click on the player above to hear the story.

This story originally aired on April 7, 2011.





From time to time, the StoryCorps team goes mobile, and collects interviews at specific sites around the Bay Area. This piece is part of a series of interviews that took place at Highland Hospital in East Oakland.

StoryCorps: Coit Tower's Murals at 80

Oct 14, 2013
BriYYZ / 2010

Last week marked the 80th birthday of one of San Francisco’s grandest landmarks: Coit Tower. Inside the iconic structure are several colorful murals depicting themes of labor and life in California during the Great Depression. A group of master artists went to work on these murals in 1934 as part of the Public Works of Art Project. The program was part of the federal government’s effort to put people back to work, a precursor to the creation of the Works Progress Administration. 

The year 1934 also marked the controversial West Coast Waterfront Strike, which helped usher in the national organized labor movement. Violence broke out during the strike, and controversy over the radical content in some of the murals ensued. Some of the most contentious scenes were painted over. Bernard Zakheim was one of the Coit Tower muralists, and his daughter Ruth Gottstein remembers the strike in this interview with San Francisco StoryCorps. 

advencap / Creative Commons

Sitawa Natambu Jamaa has been incarcerated for 33 years at the Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City; 23 of them in the Security Housing Unit, also known as the SHU. He spends most of his time—up to 22 hours a day—in a small, windowless cell. His charge is murder, though his sister Marie Levin says he did not commit the crime.

StoryCorps founder Dave Isay joined KALW’s Hana Baba live by phone to revisit some memories recorded in San Francisco.


StoryCorps is a national project that records of conversations between loved ones. Parents and their children, siblings, spouses and friends sit in a sound studio booth and record and interview with each other. StoryCorps is the brainchild of Dave Isay, an award winning documentary producer, and author of the book, Mom. Since he has inspired others to interview each other, we thought it would be nice to interview him. Isay sat down with KALW's Holly Kernan.

StoryCorps: Living with Multiple Sclerosis

Apr 23, 2013

Melanie Rowen was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in her late twenties. She remembers the first symptoms, such as bad vision and physical numbness, and her unsuccessful attempts to diagnose herself. As an attorney, normal tasks like writing briefs and remembering what was said at meetings suddenly became much more difficult.

The cost to treat the disease is over $700 a month. Rowen describes in detail how she deals with these financial burdens while trying to forge a new identity for herself.

StoryCorps: Street violence comes home

Feb 26, 2013

Darwin Farrar lived his childhood in a violent area of 1960s Pasadena, CA. Where he lived, the neighborhood paperboy Wilbert had an abusive mother named Bonnie. Bonnie was known to be violent. One day she brought that violence into Darwin’s home, but his mom would not have it.

StoryCorps: Finding one's musical niche

Jan 22, 2013

As a musician, you have to know how to deal with different types of crowds. Sometimes people aren't paying much attention to you, and they even talk while you're on stage. But other times, they give you standing ovations and beg for more.