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

Today Is The Last Day To Fill Out The U.S. Census

Oct 15, 2020
PaulSh / Flickr / Creative Commons

Census advocates across the nation made last-ditch efforts Thursday to get as many households to answer the 2020 census, which has been challenged by a pandemic, natural disasters, court fights and the Trump administration's push to have it end a month earlier than planned.

Red Flag Warning About Dangerous Fire Conditions In Parts Of The Bay Area / Robot Firefighter Debuts In Los Angeles / Trump Administration Creates "Subcabinet" For Federal Water Issues, Favoring Agriculture Interests / Shasta County COVID-19 Cases Rising In Large Part Because Of College Outbreak / State GOP Changes Labeling On Ballot Drop-Boxes / Judges Side With Rio Nido Roadhouse Over ADA Violation Lawsuit

Bay Area Headlines: Tuesday, 10/13/20, PM

Oct 13, 2020

California Hoping For Federal Relief To Avoid Budget Cuts / State Files Cease And Desist Order Against GOP For Unofficial Ballot Boxes / Hot And Dry Weather Makes Bay Area Uneasy As Fire Season Continues

Bay Area Headlines: Thursday, 10/8/20, PM

Oct 8, 2020

California Secretary Of State Warns Against Voter Intimidation / Shasta County Experiences COVID-19 Outbreak / Skilled Nursing Facilities Suffer Heavy Coronavirus Casualties

Two Cases Of COVID-19 Emerge In Governor's Office / UC Berkeley Chemist Wins Nobel Prize Despite Being Deterred As A Woman / Napa County Sheriff's Department Kills Unarmed Man During Traffic Stop 

August Complex Fire Tops 1 Million Acres / Californians Start Early Voting Today / Governor Newsom Nominates First Openly Gay Black Man To State Supreme Court / State Sued Over Requirement To Include Racial Or Sexual Minorities On Corporate Boards

Pacific Southwest Forest Service, USDA / Flickr / Creative Commons

The staggering scale of California's wildfires reached another milestone Monday: A single fire surpassed 1 million acres.

Evacuation Orders Still In Place As Glass Fire Continues Burning / California Wildfires Have Now Scorched 4 Million Acres / Napa And Sonoma Grapes Are Getting Contaminated By Smoke / Auditor Finds Some California Schools Not Taking Steps To Prevent Youth Suicide

California Asks Residents To Conserve Power From 3 p.m. To 10 p.m. / Strong Winds, High Heat, And Low Humidity Expected To Fuel Glass Fire / Governor Newsom Vetoes Bill To Help Displaced Workers / Newsom Vetoes Bill Requiring High School Ethnic Studies / Newsom Signs Corporate Boardroom Diversity Law / Baby Yoda A Boost On Western Wildfire Lines

wintersoul1 / Flickr/Creative Commons

Beleaguered firefighters in the western United States have a new force on their side: Baby Yoda.

Sharon Hahn Darlin / Flickr Creative Commons


This is a 2-minute summary of what’s on the ballot. Click here to listen to them all.  

Alameda County Measure W is 0.5% increase on sales tax for the next 10 years, to fund services for homeless people across Alameda County.

Unseasonably Warm Temperatures Make Battling Glass And Zogg Fires Difficult / Governor Newsom Outlaws Certain Sorts Of Rodenticides / San Francisco Allows Indoor Restaurant Dining

Updates On The Glass And Zogg Fires / Oakland African American Chamber Of Commerce Raises $1 Million For A “Resiliency Fund” / California Has Now Eased Restrictions On 40 Counties / Governor Newsom Vetoes Bill To Provide Grocery Aid To Low Income Immigrants

Kevin Key / Flickr

The Glass and Zagg fires in Sonoma, Napa, and Shasta county have burned tens of thousands of acres, taking with them homes and infrastructure. 70,000 people have been ordered to evacuate. 

Favorable Weather Helps Firefighters Battle Glass Fire In Wine Country / Santa Rosa Neighborhoods Impacted Again By Wildfire / Zogg Fire In Mendocino Kills Three People / Governor Declares State Of Emergency In Napa, Sonoma, And Shasta Counties / Newsom Appeals To Federal Government Again For Aid

Bay Area Headlines: Tuesday, 9/22/20, AM

Sep 22, 2020

California To Halt Unemployment Claims For Two Weeks / Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris Expected To Take Key Role In Effort To Delay Replacement Of Supreme Court Justice / Governor Newsom Talks Wildfire, Coronavirus, Homelessness / Census Takers Mobilize To Count Homeless People

California's Updated COVID-19 Death Count Is 4th Highest In Nation And Caseload Is 1st / State Employment Development Department Will Not Consider New Claims For Two Weeks

California To Halt Unemployment Claims For Two Weeks

Sep 21, 2020
"Sigh" by TMAB2003 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

For the next two weeks California will not be taking any new unemployment claims. The timing’s tough: more than two million Californians are currently out of work.

Bay Area Headlines: Thursday, 9/17/20, PM

Sep 17, 2020

Families And Administrators In Bay Area School Districts Have Different Reactions To Distance Learning Regulations / Santa Clara Pastor Holds Services In Parking Lot To Comply With Health Orders

Flickr User Albert / Creative Commons

This is a 2-minute summary of what’s on the ballot. Click here to listen to them all.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story contained errors that have been corrected. It incorrectly stated that "Measure RR would add a 0.125% sales tax on Caltrain fares for the next 30 years." This has been corrected to say the 0.125% increase is a general sales tax increase in three Bay Area counties, not just an increase in tax on Caltrain fares.

Bay Area Headlines: Wednesday, 9/16/20, PM

Sep 16, 2020

US Mayors Increasingly Supporting Basic Income Provision / California Attorney General Xavier Becerra Investigating Firms That Misclassify Contract Employees

San Francisco Pioneers Program To Reduce Racial Health Disparities Among Expecting Parents / Bad Air Could Stick Around Until October / Fresno County School Legally Ordered To End In-Person Classes

Trump And Biden Square Off On Climate Change And Wildfires / Ninth Circuit Court Lifts Injunction On Temporary Protected Status For People From Six Countries / Billionaire Philanthropist Ann Getty Passes Away

President Donald Trump And Challenger Joe Biden Square Off On Climate Change And The Wildfires

Sep 14, 2020
RS2Photography / Flickr / Creative Commons

With the smell of California wildfires in the air, President Donald Trump on Monday ignored the scientific consensus that climate change is playing a central role in historic West Coast infernos and renewed his unfounded claim that poor forest management is mostly to blame.

Bay Area Headlines: Monday, 9/14/20, AM

Sep 14, 2020

USPS Postcard Creates Confusion About Voting By Mail In California / Gig Companies Spend $180 Million Supporting State Proposition 22 / President Trump Visiting Sacramento Today / Forest Animals Suffering During Wildfires

With ongoing support from the Association for Continuing Education, we are proud to introduce our 8th Audio Academy class: the class of 2021. They began a nine-month journey on September 9 with two days of video conferencing orientation (including, of course, a spirited dance party). This week, they begin regular shifts with the news department, learning from our summer trainees, last year's Academy grads, and our staff about daily and long-form writing, researching, fact-checking, reporting, voicing and more.

North Complex Fire California's Deadliest This Year / Bay Area Air Quality Is Officially Very Unhealthy / San Francisco Set To Open Many Indoor Services On Monday

Bay Area Headlines: Friday, 9/11/20, AM

Sep 11, 2020

August Complex Fire Largest In Recorded California History / Dissipating Marine Layer Is Leading To Unhealthy Air In The Bay Area / Cal State Classes Will Remain Online In Second Semester / Governor Signs Legislation Requiring Paid Sick Leave For People Exposed To COVID-19

North Complex Fire Wreaking Havoc Near Oroville And Paradise / Climate Change Conspiring On Environmental Conditions To Fuel Fires / California Census Workers Facing Possible Layoffs / Twitter Will Label Or Remove Misleading Claims In Advance Of Election Day

Bay Area Headlines: Thursday, 9/10/20, AM

Sep 10, 2020

San Francisco's Prop C, From 2018, Passes Final Legal Hurdle, Freeing Up Money For Homeless Services / Los Altos Allows Controversial Mixed Use Building / Wildfires Around State Damage Oroville And Threaten Paradise / Religious Gatherers At State Capitol Asked To Quarantine