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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Sara Nora Koust / KALW

In the past decade, over 1,800 trans and gender-diverse people have been reported murdered in Latin America. Probably hundreds more were never reported.

The Port Chicago 50: An Oral History

Jul 17, 2019
Damian Dovarganes / AP Images

Seventy-five years ago, today, on July 17th, 1944, two Liberty ships anchored at the Port Chicago Munitions Case near San Francisco, exploded. 390 men were injured. 320 men died. It was the worst homefront disaster of World War II.

Courtesy of Aya de Leon

UC Berkeley Professor Aya de Leon lit up the Bay Area’s slam poetry scene back in the '90s. Now, she’s a novelist. Her award-winning series, "Justice Hustlers" features action-packed, erotic, feminist heist stories, where the sheroes are sex workers. 

Courtesy of Enon Gaines

In this edition of Bay Area Beats, Enon talks about the rush and raw energy in combining hip-hop and punk.

After winning a music competition in 2015, Oakland hip-hop artist Enon Gaines wanted to create a band that could match his energy. He met with musicians with different musical backgrounds and founded the group Unlikely Heroes. They mix hip-hop bars with punk melodies and riffs. 

Before lawmakers left on vacation last week, Governor Gavin Newsom introduced and signed into law a new plan for California wildfires. The law creates a fund to pay for damages from wildfires — specifically, ones caused by utilities.

Teresa Cotsirilos / KALW

When we first interviewed Elizabeth Chan, she was standing in front of San Francisco’s immigration building, saying goodbye to her only son. She’s been fighting his deportation order ever since and told us how that fight has changed her.

Forgiving a violent mother

Jul 15, 2019

From the series Uncuffed:

As a child, Francisco Magaña was afraid of his mother. She would beat him, and he’s carried that pain with him for the rest of his life. In this interview, Francisco opens up about his relationship with the woman who raised him.

Photo by James Hosking, resized and cropped with permission

In this week's Audiograph, we go to Aunt Charlie's Lounge, a Tenderloin institution that's one of the oldest gay bars in San Francisco.

There is an ongoing series of exhibitions about Aunt Charlie’s at the Tenderloin museum through 2020.

Creative Commons user apalapala, used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The fate of a homeless encampment near a Home Depot in East Oakland was decided early Wednesday morning at an Oakland City Council meeting. 

The town that refuses to die

Jul 10, 2019
Sarah Craig / KALW

When drinking water gets contaminated, there’s usually a polluter to blame. Most likely it’s the fault of big industry spewing out toxic fertilizers or synthetic chemicals. 

But in nearly 100 communities in California, this isn’t the case. They have water that is contaminated with a naturally occurring chemical: Arsenic.

A chef and her daughter bond in the kitchen

Jul 9, 2019

Maritza Hurtado Torres has been cooking for as long as she can remember.

Asal Ehsanipour

From the series California Foodways, we go to Rosebud's Cafe, where Tyx Pulskamp and his family push the boundaries of what people are ready for.

Steve Drown / Uncuffed

From the series Uncuffed:

Throughout his troubled life, the guitar has been Joseph Kaufman’s constant companion. When he landed in prison, he discovered what he needed to change was with him the entire time.

What am I supposed to do after an earthquake?

Jul 8, 2019
Eli Wirtschafter


We all know we’re supposed to prepare for earthquakes, but how many of us really have a plan?

Holly J. McDede / KALW

After Stephon Clark was shot and killed by Sacramento police last year, state lawmakers proposed a bill to change the law around when officers can open fire. Activists rallied behind the bill. But when strictest stipulations of the bill were removed to win over law enforcement groups, some withdrew their support. Assembly Bill 392 has now passed the Senate Floor, and California's Governor is expected to sign it. 

Ted Muldoon / KALW


In this week's Audiograph we head to the mouth of the Bolinas Lagoon. 

Angela Johnston / KALW

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission or the BCDC was established in the mid-1960s to regulate development, prevent the destruction of wetlands, and ensure public access to San Francisco Bay. It's an organization that usually doesn’t get much attention, but now it’s being widely criticized for neglecting its responsibilities to protect the Bay.

Jenee Darden / KALW

The Warriors Community Foundation has donated over $10 million to nonprofits in Alameda and San Francisco counties since launching in 2012.

But will they take their charitable dollars with them when they leave Oakland for San Francisco?

Cleaning up after the San Francisco Pride March

Jul 2, 2019

 Nearly one million people were at this Sunday’s Pride March in San Francisco. It’s one of the biggest events in the city — but, after all is said and done, who cleans it all up?

Lee Romney

A group of teens with the Chinese Progressive Association in San Francisco realized their mental health needs were being overlooked at school. So they did some research  -- and wound up changing school district policy.

Tony Lindsay

This summer marks the 20th anniversary of Supernatural- Santana’s wildly successful, Grammy-winning 1999 album, which has become one of the best-selling albums of all-time.  One of the singers on that album was Tony Lindsay, Santana’s lead vocalist from the early ’90s to 2015. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, Tony shares what it means to be a part of the Santana legacy and why he doesn’t plan on retiring any time soon.

AP Photo

Last month, the Trump Administration argued before the Ninth Circuit that the government is not required to provide toothbrushes, soap or beds to the migrant children it detains. That argument was relentlessly criticized by the three-judge panel presiding over the case, and their comments quickly viral.

Spoon Jackson


From the series Uncuffed:

Mark Richards and I both served during the Vietnam War. There’s a stark difference between the way returning vets are treated then and now. But some things never change.

Hana Baba

Oakland resident Tigisti Weldeab was a child when she fled the Eritrean-Ethiopian war with her mom. They lived in refugee camps for years. During that time, her mom made a living by selling injera- their traditional flatbread. A decade later, they were resettled in the US.

Courtesy of Pearl Teese

With campy outfits, over-the-top makeup, and sky-high wigs, drag sells a fantasy of how to become a larger-than-life character and a big dose of escapism. But fantasy met a big dose of reality a year ago when world famous drag queen RuPaul defended his decision to not allow openly trans drag queens on his show, RuPaul’s Drag Race. AS San Francisco gets ready for its annual pride celebration, local performer Pearl Teese met with KALW’s Porfirio Rangel to talk about RuPaul and the difference between being trans and performing in drag.

Sarah Tan

With Pride around the corner, we're bringing you an Audiograph that sings the songs of LGBTQ resistance. Specifically, the story of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and how they use song as an act of protest.


ADVISORY: This story contains mature content.  

In the 1960s, the Tenderloin was a center for the LGBT community in San Francisco. But even there, they faced discrimination and harassment, often from the police. Felicia Elizondo first came to the Tenderloin from San Jose as a teenager in 1963. It was there that she took part in the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot in 1966, one of the first transgender riots in the country.

Marlena’s was a Hayes Valley gathering place that helped knit the city together through good cheer and glitzy drag numbers. It was a popular gay bar, featuring lip-synched drag shows, community fundraisers, and lots and lots of regulars. The spot was around for a couple of decades, right in the heart of the up-and-coming Hayes Valley, which, these days, has up-and-come with trendy restaurants and boutique shops. But, no longer, Marlena’s.

Rehabilitation through music for imprisoned pianist

Jun 24, 2019
Steve Drown

From the series Uncuffed:

Maimon Pony’s career as a pianist was cut short by drug addiction. In Solano State Prison, he keeps practicing and waits for his release.

From San Quentin Radio: 

Eric "Maserati E" Abercrombie is a 25-year-old guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He's been in prison for eight years. In August, he’s due to get out.