Ben Trefny | KALW

Ben Trefny

News Director

Ben handles daily operations in the news department, overseeing the editorial and sound engineering teams, delivering daily newscasts, producing the nightly news and culture show Crosscurrents, and supervising special projects including KALW's Audio Academy training program.

He earned a Master's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon in 2000 and got his start in public radio at NPR member station KLCC in Eugene. After freelancing for many magazines and producing for regional and national commercial and public radio programs, Ben joined KALW in 2004. He has helped the department win numerous regional and national awards for long- and short-form journalism. He has also helped teach hundreds of audio producers, many of whom work with him at KALW, today. He currently serves as the president of the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Ben lives with his wife and twin children in San Francisco's Outer Sunset district, where Golden Gate Park meets Ocean Beach, and spends as much time as he can outside.

You can reach him at

Coronavirus caseload / Transit affected

COVID-19 numbers / Call for collaboration / Distance learning / Curry meets Fauci

California caseload / Stay at home duration / State budget impact

Numbers update / Private lab regulations / Transit agency adjustments

Ben Trefny / KALW

The Bay Area's shelter-in-place ordinance reached its second week, and residents seem to be getting used to a new rhythm. It's largely slower, with very little street traffic, empty buses and trains, and take-out businesses struggling to draw customers.

Free COVID-19 tests in Hayward / Park visitation problems / Proposed ballot measures stymied

Ben Trefny / KALW

On the surface, life didn't seem too different from any other weekend day at the end of the N-Judah MUNI line in San Francisco's Outer Sunset district. Hook Fish had a takeout line stretching up the street, people congregated in the parklet fronting Trouble Coffee. And on a warm, relatively windless day, surfers and sunbathers crowded Ocean Beach.

Ben Trefny / KALW

It’s day two of the shelter in place order for the San Francisco Bay Area. Here's the latest on BART ridership, school closures, grocery shopping, and more.

Wilson Lam / Flickr / Creative Commons

California has joined much of the rest of the world in a state of suspended animation as people try to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. This afternoon, officials from six Bay Area counties asked residents to shelter in place, except for getting groceries or taking care of other essential functions. 


SFUSD will provide free meals to all children 18 and younger during the school closure. 

On Tuesday, March 17, 8 sites will be open 9-10 a.m. On March 18, 14 will be open, and from March 19 and on 18 sites will be open Monday through Friday 9-10 a.m. to pick-up breakfast, lunch, supper, fresh fruit, vegetables and milk to take home. See locations and schedules below.

School closures / Statewide shutdowns / Winter storm approaching

Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

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California is taking stronger measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Disneyland shut down. Same with sports. And the San Francisco Unified School District will be closed to students for three weeks beginning Monday. But what's being done for the most vulnerable?

Three TSA workers at Mineta San Jose International Airport have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. Workers with whom they’ve come into contact are now subject to a two-week quarantine. Passengers who passed through the airport should be aware.

Noah Berger / AP Photos

Health workers and officials continue to process, treat, and quarantine passengers who were aboard the Grand Princess Cruise Ship that docked in Oakland on Monday.

Ingrid Taylar / Creative Commons, used under CC BY 2.0

King of Hearts/ CC-BY-SA

The San Francisco Department of Public Health sent out a text advisory on Friday. It said it recommends that all non-essential large gatherings of people be canceled for the next two weeks, in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Goodshoped35110s / Wikimedia Commons

In a letter to families dated March 8, 2020, the San Francisco Unified School District stated that all schools would remain open on Monday, March 9, with the exception of Lowell High School, but that any non-essential events scheduled through Sunday, March 22 would be canceled.

Jenny Shao / KALW

For the first time in over a decade, Californians cast their ballots on a “Super Tuesday” along with thirteen other states. People voted on who they want to be the next Democratic presidential candidate and on a handful of measures from school bonds and affordable housing to earthquake safety. Here's a recap.

Jenny G. Shao / KALW

Most eyes were on the Democratic presidential primary, last night. When polls closed, NPR made a quick call: Bernie Sanders won California. But it wasn’t that simple.

San Francisco Recreation and Park


Three kids have their noses pressed up against a chain link fence in Golden Gate Park. They’re watching a small herd of large animals — a handful of one-year-old bison that were just released into a field.

Lindsey Martin / Flickr / Creative Commons

More than 2 feet (60 centimeters) of new snow has fallen in the Sierra, where more than 6 feet (2 meters) has been recorded the past seven days at the top of some Lake Tahoe-area ski resorts, the National Weather Service said Monday.

National Weather Service

From the official CalFire release at 7:04am on Wednesday, 10/30

Lynn Friedman / Flickr Creative Commons

Next Tuesday, San Franciscans will vote for a mayor. Just like they did last year. Ever since Mayor Ed Lee unexpectedly passed away in December of 2017, the city’s top position has mostly been held by London Breed.

Ben Trefny / KALW

Paul Ybarra Robertson joined the Marine Corps as a teenager. Later in life, he spent his time helping guide teenagers, as Dean of Students at San Francisco’s Galileo High School.

Ellen Lee Zhou is one of five candidates running to unseat San Francisco’s current mayor. She’s got a Master’s Degree in social work from San Francisco State, and has worked as a behavioral health clinician. 

Ben Trefny / KALW

Joel Ventresca is a long-time San Francisco city resident who’s a retired airport analyst. He’s run for public office before and bills himself as the most progressive candidate in this race. 

Ben Trefny / KALW

Wilma Pang is an opera singer and musician. She’s also unsuccessfully run for public office in San Francisco several times. And now she’s running to be the city’s next mayor.

Noah Berger / AP Photo

The lights were back on Friday for more than half of the nearly 2 million Northern California residents who lost electricity after the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. utility switched it off earlier this week to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires during dry, windy weather.

KALW’s Audio Academy class of 2020 just got started. It’s my pleasure to present them, in their own words and photos:

Sona Avakian (she/her/hers) – I don’t have any radio experience, but I have some print journalism experience. For a while I did a Q&A with authors and artists having events in SF for and I’ve done a few interviews for The Rumpus. Issues that I’m interested in are: housing and the cost of living in SF; how to survive as an artist/musician in San Francisco; environmental issues; and local history. I’m looking forward to the Audio Academy. 

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

Governor Gavin Newsom, last week, signed AB5: that’s legislation that transforms the way workers are identified and get paid in California.