The Specialist | KALW

The Specialist

The Specialist: Sidewalk Canvasser

Nov 6, 2019
Raja Shah

On this episode of The Specialist, we spend a day in the shoes of a sidewalk canvasser.

The Specialist: Poll Locator

Nov 5, 2019
Photo courtesy of Julie Caine

It’s election day today in San Francisco. There are over 450 places where voters can cast their ballots this year. And that’s all thanks to a group of people who start working long before the election day. In this episode of The Specialist, two polling place scouts get intimate with democracy.

The Specialist: Notary Superman

Apr 16, 2018
Casey Miner

When we think of big moments in our lives, we often imagine photographs: wedding pictures, baby announcements, smiling in front of a new house. But for all of these events there's also lots of paper that needs to be signed and approved by the state.

The Specialist: Lice Ladies

May 11, 2017
Kiera Butler

Sofia Deleuse and Pamela Fakui on running a head-lice removal salon and the tips, tricks, and myths they've picked up along the way, including facts you probably never knew about Raid and mayonnaise.

The Specialist: Snap Judgment

Jan 3, 2017
Photo by Casey Miner

Every time we go out and interview people for our show, all kinds of specialists, they’re curious about what we do. They hear some back episodes, take a look at the recording gear, and say 'wow, your job is so interesting.'

The Specialist: Blood Girls

Oct 31, 2016
Photo Courtesy of Sandhya Dirks


Happy Halloween! Walking around today, you might hear a lot of recorded, ghoulish screaming. Today it's supposed to be all in fun. But there are some people who hear those screams a lot — and whose job is to create hellish situations all year around. Casey Miner and Sandhya Dirks tell us more in this installment from The Specialist.


The Specialist: Snake Lady & Wildlife One

Aug 8, 2016
photo courtesy of San Francisco International Airport

San Francisco International Airport is built on dozens of acres of wetlands, and it’s home to many species of birds. Unfortunately for those birds, it's also home to many, many airplanes. That means it’s someone’s job to  keep these flying creatures and flying objects out of each other’s way. 

The Specialist: Cane Trainer

Aug 3, 2016
Photo by Casey Miner, Resized and Cropped

Imagine that one day you lost your sight. Just like that. If you're a person who can see, close your eyes and try to walk to your kitchen, or the bathroom. No cheating! If you're a person who's already blind, or has low vision, you know what this is like. 

The Specialist: Singing Telegram

Jul 18, 2016

Listener Heather Fife got in touch to suggest a Specialist about her parents, who've performed singing telegrams in the Bay Area for 34 years — and who had Heather and her four siblings perform them too. 

Casey Miner

Meet a man who's paid to attack women... so they can learn how to fight back.

The Specialist: Zoo Chef

Jan 13, 2016
Image courtesy of Oakland Zoo

Meeting wild animals' needs and wants, and the dietary preferences of a very picky vulture.

We’d love your feedback, and your ideas. Do you know any specialists? Are you a specialist? Email 

Click the audio player above to hear the piece.

Sound design of this piece by Seth Samuel, who also wrote all the music. 

The Specialist: Home stager

Nov 3, 2015
Casey Miner

In Episode 4 of The Specialist, Bay Area home stager Cora Sue Anthony shares tips for how to turn the place you live into a product you're selling, the difference between house and home, and why you never want to run into the back of a sofa.

The Specialist: Match Maker

Sep 16, 2015

A few years ago, my now-husband and I spent a few days biking through western Ireland. Along the way, we stumbled across a weathered billboard near the tiny (800 year-round residents) town of Lisdoonvarna, advertising an annual matchmaking festival.