Crosscurrents | KALW


Monday-Thursday at 5pm

Crosscurrents is KALW Public Radio's award-winning news magazine, broadcasting Mondays through Thursdays on 91.7 FM. We make joyful, informative stories that engage people across the economic, social, and cultural divides in our community.

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Ken Lund / Flickr Creative Commons

Nearly 700 people died from drug overdoses in San Francisco in 2020. That’s more than the number of people who died from COVID-19 in San Francisco in the same year. Some people blame San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin for not being tough enough on the people selling drugs. In this installment of The Progressive Prosecutor, we look at the role of prosecutors in the opioid epidemic.

Mike Morgan / NPR

"Throughline" has so far been a hit as a history podcast. And now, it's debuted on public radio stations across the country.

Carla Esteves

As counties across the state speed up their vaccinations, the state is sticking to its guideline to give out doses primarily based on age. But, how are counties and the state making sure shots are distributed equitably within the framework? In this update, we hear what we can expect in the weeks ahead.

David Leyes

Oakland glassblower Jason McDonald is a contestant on season two of the Netflix series “Blown Away.” He talks about competing on the reality series and the lack of racial diversity in glassblowing.

Scott Strazzante / San Francisco Chronicle via AP

District Attorney Chesa Boudin is not a bland bureaucrat who flies under the radar. He’s gotten national attention as the top prosecutor in San Francisco because of his unique life story, as well as his unusual and divisive pledge to end mass incarceration. In this installment of The Progressive Prosecutor, we hear what can happen when things go wrong.

Behind The Scenes At The San Francisco Food Bank

Feb 11, 2021
San Francisco and Marin Food Bank

Paul Ash was the executive director of the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks for 32 years. In this short audio documentary, he takes us on a tour of the main distribution center in Potrero Hill.

Isabella Bloom

When the pandemic forced day programs for people with developmental disabilities to close, some made a rapid turn to virtual activities. In Richmond, a progressive art studio ensures its artists with developmental disabilities remain connected.

Wikimedia Commons

In his first few months in office, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin moved quickly and decisively. He eliminated money bail and ended gang enhancements, all as part of a bigger pledge to reduce the county’s incarcerated population and shut down an entire jail. In this installment of The Progressive Prosecutor, we find out what happened to those plans after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Drag artist BeBe Sweetbriar has been lighting up stages with her glam and talent for 15 years. She talks about using drag as an activist and her Amazon Prime series "Hiraeth."

Courtesy of Zach Moses

In this installment of our @WORK series, we meet touring musician Zach Moses Ostroff, a multi-instrumentalist and record producer in Marin, whose main source of income has been cut off, due to music venues closures.

Courtesy of Ramses Escobedo

When the San Francisco Public Library closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees were reassigned to new jobs supporting the city's disaster response. For this edition of our ongoing series, @WORK, we speak to a librarian who now leads teams of contact tracers for the Department of Public Health.

Aiden Thomas is the first openly-trans author, to reach the New York Times bestsellers fiction list with a main character who is trans. He talks about his groundbreaking yound adult novel “Cemetery Boys” and growing up in Oakland.

Brendan Hallinan

Previous San Francisco district attorneys have embraced cannabis before it was legal, rebuked the death penalty, and introduced algorithms to combat racial biases. Yet, each top prosecutor’s record is complicated. In this installment of The Progressive Prosecutor, we look at how three district attorneys influenced where we are today.

Angela Lilley Bennett

Guitarist and singer Tom Heyman has hosted the "Sad Bastard Club" at the Make Out Room in San Francisco for nine years, featuring local musicians. In this interview, he talks about keeping that show going online and his pub rock album, “Show Business, Baby.”

Paint the Void (Collage by David Boyer)

Thanks to COVID-19, there are nearly 50% fewer small businesses in San Francisco than a year ago. One visual reminder: boarded up storefronts, which have been transformed into a gallery of murals. In this interview, Meredith Winner of Paint the Void explains how it started.

Hills Spinal Health / Creative Commons

To combat medical resource shortages, public health officials asked people to postpone or cancel elective care. But what happens when that measure creates another health crisis of its own? As part of our @WORK series, we take a closer look at the consequences of delaying care with Oakland-based Chiropractor Dr. Carrie Ousley.

U.S. Secretary of Defense / Creative Commons

Every day, more and more Bay Area residents are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, but not without major challenges. For starters, the extremely limited supply is forcing officials to make tough decisions, like who to vaccinate first. Currently, the state guidelines are based soley on age. In this interview, we dig into the vaccine rollout.

Photo provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Roman Mars first produced “99% Invisible” out of his bedroom for KALW 10 years ago. Today it’s one of the top podcasts on iTunes. In this interview, Roman talks about his start in radio and his bestselling book.

Courtesy of Calvin Kai Ku / Medical Clown Project


What do you get when a clown, a clinical psychologist, and a patient walk into a hospital? You get something called the Medical Clown Project.  This Bay Area non-profit that sends clowns to hospitals, emergency rooms, and retirement homes. In this installment of our @WORK series, we meet a medical clown. 

Few can argue that the country isn't heavily divided politically right now. Racial divides have deepened and it can feel like even having conversations with each other is a burden. President Joe Biden dedicated his inaugural speech to unifying the country, finding common ground, but how?

Courtesy of Chesa Boudin

When Chesa Boudin took the helm as the city’s top prosecutor in San Francisco, he promised to be different. He pledged to use the power of the San Francisco District Attorney's office to reform the justice system. The city’s police union balked, warning he would be too lenient on criminals. In the first installment of The Progressive Prosecutor, we begin with Boudin’s unlikely path to the DA’s office.

Phoebe Wong

In their book "Chinatown Pretty," photographer Andria Lo and writer Valerie Luu celebrate the everyday style and stories of elder Chinatown residents around North America.

A Revolutionary Poet Fans The Bay's Literary Fires

Jan 20, 2021

Author and educator Tongo Eisen-Martin was just named San Francisco's eight poet laureate. His work as prison activist to revolutionary poet has taken him from San Francisco to South Africa, with stops at Columbia University and Riker's Island. In this interview, Eisen-Martin shares stories behind his art, his upbringing, and his human-rights advocacy work.

Rafiki Coalition

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollouts continue across the state and the country, there have been multiple polls, surveys, and articles that say among all racial and ethnic groups, Black Americans are the most hesitant to get it.

IGOR PUTINA / Flickr Creative Commons

During the pandemic, journalists have been the eyes and ears of the community. But, it poses a challenge: how do you tell stories about people without being able to get close to them? In this installment of our @WORK series, we meet Visual journalist Andrew Nixon who covers stories for Cap Radio. 

As part of our @WORK series, we hear from a farmer in Davis, about what it’s been like working through a pandemic. About how COVID-19 has, and hasn’t, changed her world of farming.

Andrew Stelzer

The three largest mental health treatment facilities in the U.S. are jails. The criminal justice system has become the primary way the United States deals with mental illness. In the second of a two-part documentary, we see how some communities are working to find solutions to this misalignment of care.

Listen to part one of this audio documentary here.

Andrew Stelzer / KALW

In part one of a two-part investigation into how the country’s jails have become our default mental health treatment centers, we go to Santa Rita jail in Alameda County, one of the largest — and deadliest — jails in California.

Listen to part two of this series here.

Joanna Gilkeson / USFWS, used under CC-BY-2.0

The California monarch butterfly population has reached an all-time low and scientists worry the species might go extinct. But, in December 2020, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided not to add them to the endangered species list. And it's not just the butterflies that have been denied environmental protections. If we only focus on monarchs, we're missing the big picture.

William C. Leikam

Almost 90% of the natural landscape along the Bay has been lost to human development. Climate change and sea level rise mean even more of it is going away. So what will happen to the hundreds of wildlife species that live there? Ask the Fox Guy.