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 ben@kalw.org.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user S_falkow http://www.flickr.com/photos/safari_vacation/5929769873/

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi continues to be in hot water as the City of San Francisco determines whether or not he should lose his job. Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi on March 20, after he plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment. The charge is connection with a New Year’s Eve incident in which he grabbed his wife's arm during an argument, causing a bruise. 

Courtesy Flickr user hanspoldoja

In some ways, the Internet is an open, unlimited space. But it can also feel very private, especially when communicating one on one, or conducting personal business like paying a bill, or doing your taxes. As more and more of our daily lives go digital, some big questions arise. What are we giving up? What truly is the cost of our being so dependent on it, and who is truly benefiting from how much we’re glued to our screens? Author Jason Benlevi explores this question in his book, Too Much Magic: Pulling the Plug on the Cult of Tech.

A few weeks ago, we aired a story about San Francisco students' access to public transportation. The piece discussed possible legislation that would provide free Muni passes to local youth. Here are some responses that came through the Crosscurrents voicemail line.

Courtesy Flickr user Jeffery Turner

Researchers have been starting to study how the recession will affect our health in the coming years. Dr. Sanjay Basu is a researcher at UCSF. KALW's Ben Trefny visited him at San Francisco General Hospital and asked him how he has seen impoverished conditions conspire to bring down one’s physical and emotional health.

Audio Pending...

Sports aren’t for everyone. And baseball, in particular, can be a hard sell. The baseball season has 162 games, and these games feel like they last forever – the players always seem to do a lot of standing around and spitting, never much actual playing.

So why is it the national pastime? Any fan might tell you it’s about the skill of the game – strategy combined with athleticism.

But it’s more than that.

One of the most imminent effects of climate change is sea level rise – especially in low-lying coastal areas like the San Francisco Bay. To documentarian Claire Schoen, this story isn’t about the science of what’s going to happen. That part is settled. She says the question is how we’re going to adapt.

KALW’s Ben Trefny sat down with Schoen to discuss her latest documentary about climate change, RISE.

BEN TREFNY: What inspired you to make this documentary?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/4467559275/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Every year, the Bay Nature institute honors people who are making outstanding contributions to the understanding and stewardship of the natural world. One of this year’s awardees is Sean Fitzhoward. She’s a 16-year-old junior at San Francisco’s Lowell High School who founded the Protect the Bay Club. KALW’s Ben Trefny sat down with Sean Fitzhoward, and asked her about what her club does for the environment.

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has been sentenced to a day in jail and three years probation for falsely imprisoning his wife. He will receive credit for time already spent in jail. The sheriff will also attend a year of domestic-violence intervention classes and perform 100 hours of community service...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/steverhode/3183290111/sizes/z/in/photostream/

The Internet has changed the way many of us get our media. There are legal ways to get the shows and songs that we want, but those often cost money, making illegal options much more enticing. The entertainment industry and the government have tried to clamp down on piracy, but the practice continues. Professor Brian Carver teaches at the U.C. Berkeley School of Information. KALW’s Ben Trefny sat down with him to talk piracy.

California's outer coast once boasted 27 miles of Bay Area beaches. Up until the 20th Century, these beaches provided a natural buffer for the inner land areas; then came freeways, airports and downtowns. KALW's Ben Trefny spoke with Robin M. Grossinger, Senior Scientist and Historical Ecology Program Director at the San Francisco Estuary Institute about California beaches, landscape heritage and how some of these areas have rebuilt themselves.

A new report from the legislative analyst's office shows California will have to pay more than $700 million a year to cover costs on nearly $10 billion in high speed rail bonds...

Brandon McFarland is the editor of Youth Radio's radio station, AllDayPlay.fm. He joined KALW’s Ben Trefny to talk about the latest in Bay Area music.

BEN TREFNY: So tell me about what’s new on All Day Play.

An extended conversation in which KALW's Ben Trefny interviews filmmaker Andres Cediel about what lies beneath Bay Street in Emeryville: a shopping mall, atop a toxic industrial center, atop a Native American burial ground.

Audio available after 5pm PST on February 16, 2012.

 

Photo courtesy of http://www.shellmoundthemovie.com/

Just off Shellmound Street in Emeryville, an outdoor mall sits on prime real estate. It’s north of a maze of highways leading to the Bay Bridge. A quarter of a million drivers pass within honking distance every single day. While the Bay Street "Urban Village" was only established in the 21st century, the land it sits on has a very rich past. Rich enough to warrant a documentary film that uncovers several layers of unusual history.

Photo courtesy of PRBO

Today we begin our series of conversations with the Bay Area’s 2012 “environmental heroes.”

The Berkeley-based Bay Nature Institute recently named Ellie Cohen as conservation advocate of the year. Cohen is president of PRBO, which was originally the Point Reyes Bird Observatory. KALW’s Ben Trefny sat down with Cohen to talk about her work.

Ameen Belbahri

Maybe you support the Occupy movement, or maybe you don't. Or maybe you take this point of view:

NATO GREEN: I want to be for the 99%, but I don't know if you realize this, that's a lot of people, including a lot of assholes. And most of us given the opportunity would be able to say, would want to be able to say, "I'm for the 99%, asterisk, except some people." And then we'd have our own lists! 

Yesterday, the lights went out for redevelopment agencies all over the state.

A look inside California’s toughest prison; the politics of parole; a civil rights lawyer is fighting UC Berkeley police over gay rights; and the memory of George Moscone is adapted on the stage.

European Commission

In last week’s State of the Union address, President Obama proposed something radical, that dropping out of high school no longer be allowed. But that might be complicated. Every school district has tried numerous solutions to the dropout dilemma without success.

Imagine, for a minute, that you’re Governor Jerry Brown.

California’s 425 redevelopment agencies owe nearly $30 billion, according to the state controller’s office...

The city of Oakland is planning to lay off more than 100 workers after losing $28 million in state redevelopment funds...

Photo by Katie Styer

Michael Stoll is the executive director of the San Francisco Public Press – a non-profit, non-commercial journalistic outlet that started in 2009. Stoll reported for years in the mainstream media, including the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times. But he questioned the values of ad-driven papers. He wants in-depth, public service journalism to be available without any commercial influence. The San Francisco Public Press carries no advertising – it’s actually modeled after public radio – and Stoll is about to publish his sixth print edition.

Musician Chris Turner is an Oakland native, but he’s spent much of the last decade touring the country with a soulful, sophisticated R&B sound. He just recently had his first show in a long time in his hometown.

I just received a press release with this subject heading:

News Advisory - Doomsday Clock - Major Announcement to be Made Tuesday by Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

That'll get your attention, won't it? So I read the email. Turns out after "year-long deliberations" a collection of scientists will determine whether or not the end of the world is more nigh than it was at the beginning of 2011.

In the past few months, many Americans dealing with the difficult economy have taken part in some of the largest domestic protest movements in recent history: what began as Occupy Wall Street spread from coast to coast. Demonstrators protested economic inequality and injustice, foreclosures, and bank bailouts. It could all be summed up in one rallying cry: “We are the 99%.”

But if Occupy had a slogan, it doesn’t necessarily have a moment – one image to define it in people’s minds. And that’s something that separates it from other big movements in our past.

It’s a new year, and time for a new legislative session – and that means a new debate over how to address California’s budget problems. When they reconvene this week, lawmakers will try out solutions involving everything from legalizing online poker to scuttling high-speed rail. Last week, the California Supreme Court ruled that the state can eliminate redevelopment agencies.

An estimated 30 million people or more live as slaves today – working against their will for someone else. And every year, some 17,500 are trafficked into the United States. Many of these people don’t have allies, but here in the Bay Area, there’s one non-profit that’s standing with them.

People losing their homes has been a national problem, ever since the housing bubble burst, leading the country into recession. A new federal report has revealed that real estate speculation was largely to blame.

Stephen T! Millhouse (no, that exclamation point is not a typo), is on a 1,460 mile march to call attention to homelessness and hunger. Millhouse, a veteran, has been homeless himself, in both California and Montana, and relied on social services and veterans assistance to survive. Now, he’s repaying the favor, raising money by walking from his current home of Missoula to his former home of Los Angeles, by way of the Bay Area.

“Genius” is a pretty loaded title. But the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation began bestowing that honor on American luminaries who shine in a variety of respective fields. They no longer call the recipients “geniuses,” but they do still award half-a-million dollars to 20 or so every year to support their work. No strings attached.

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