Mayor Darrell Steinberg.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The California Sun Podcast

Hosted by Jeff SchechtmanDecember 2nd, 2021

Darrell Steinberg thinks he can solve Sacramento's problems

Mayor Darrell Steinberg knows the levers to pull to operate state government. He was a member of the Sacramento City Council, a member of the State Assembly, and a longtime leader in the State Senate, where he rose to president pro tempore. However, no job was as tough as his current one as Sacramento mayor. Today, amid climate change, Covid, homelessness, drug use, traffic, crime, racial politics, mental illness, and even potholed streets, being a big city mayor is a uniquely challenging job.

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November 18th, 2021Bob Calhoun’s obsession with the gruesome and lurid
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The author of the new book “The Murders That Made Us” shares 170 years of Bay Area history through its most heinous crimes.

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November 4th, 2021Dan Walters’ post-pandemic biopsy of California
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The longtime Sacramento journalist joins us to share a bearish post-pandemic forecast for California.

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October 28th, 2021Jassen Todorov tells us stories through music, photography, and flight
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A violinist turned music teacher, turned pilot, turned photographer captures the essence of the artistic renaissance man in the 21st century.

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October 21st, 2021George Geary on California’s real culinary legacy
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A look at some of the 20th-century food startups that became California's culinary offspring, including Bob’s Big Boy, McDonald’s, Winchell’s Donuts, In-N-Out, Peet's Coffee, Taco Bell and many others.

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October 14th, 2021Doug Thompson and Robin Kobaly on the thirsty golf courses of the Coachella Valley
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The ecologists discuss the heavy water usage by more than 120 golf in the Palm Springs region and the lack of any long or short-term plans to mitigate it.

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October 7th, 2021Richard L. Brown and California's public employee unions
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The new leader of California's largest pubic employee union looks to take the union out of politics and increase its power to protect jobs and increase wages.

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September 30th, 2021Michael Hiltzik on the Gilded Age, then and now
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A look at the Gilded Age of the nineteenth century, and how the tycoons of railroad and shipping were similar to today's tech billionaires.

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September 23rd, 2021Gene Slater on the unsavory history of California's real estate industry
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A look at how the California real estate industry drove housing shortages and residential segregation and pushed individual liberty at the expense of community good.

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September 16th, 2021Miriam Pawel wraps up the recall and looks at what’s next
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The California recall is behind us. Did any of it matter? And what’s next for Gavin Newsom and the state's problems?

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September 9th, 2021Woody Hastings and Jenny Blaker think we have enough gas stations
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The environmental activists in Sonoma County helped spark a statewide campaign to halt the construction of any new or expanded gas stations.

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September 2nd, 2021Lizzie Johnson on how Paradise portends a future written in flames
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The author of "Paradise: One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire" discusses her minute-by-minute account of America's deadliest wildfire.

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August 26th, 2021Daniel O’Connell and Scott Peters on local farmers vs. industrial agribusiness in California.
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The story of the century-long and battle between local Central Valley farmers and the feudalism of industrial agribusiness.

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August 19th, 2021Mizgon Zahir Darby on California's Afghan diaspora
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A longtime leader in the Bay Area Afghan community shares her sorrow over events in Afghanistan and looks at how it impacts people close to home.

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August 5th, 2021Jaime Lowe on fighting fires and doing time
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A look at California’s long practice of relying on female inmate firefighters, who are now battling an intense and endless fire season for low pay and bleak future prospects.

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July 29th, 2021Rick Doblin on the value of psychedelics
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The founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies is joined by his colleague Ismail Ali to discuss the use of psychedelics in the treatment of PTSD, depression, other mental illnesses.

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July 22nd, 2021Katie Hill's second act
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The one-time congresswoman shares her personal and political story and looks toward what’s next.

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July 15th, 2021Supervisor Matt Haney's candid look at San Francisco
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The supervisor opines on crime, housing, lack of planning, and why San Francisco’s problems seem to resist solutions.

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July 8th, 2021George J. Sanchez and the wonder of Boyle Heights
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An appreciation of the rich, multiracial, multicultural history of the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights.

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July 1st, 2021Rosecrans Baldwin’s L.A. embrace
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A writer with a unique voice tries to define America’s most undefinable city.

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June 17th, 2021Steve Wasserman returns to his roots
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The long-time editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review has returned home to Berkeley as the publisher of Heyday Books after a long East Coast publishing career.

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June 10th, 2021Colleen McCain Nelson now leads our capital city's newspaper
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A conversation with the new executive editor of the Sacramento Bee and the regional editor for all of McClatchy's California news outlets.

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June 3rd, 2021Mick LaSalle takes California to the movies
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The long-time San Francisco Chronicle film critic talks about the feedback loop between California and the movies.

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May 27th, 2021Justin Zhu talks startups, LSD, and anti-Asian discrimination
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The co-founder of the startup Iterable offers a very personal look inside the stress, the money, and the eccentric nature of Silicon Valley’s startup culture.

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May 20th, 2021Denise Hamilton on L.A.’s post-apocalyptic vibe
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The author discusses her new anthology, "Speculative Los Angeles", in which a new generation of writers takes on the city's dark fantasy life.

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May 13th, 2021Joel Selvin on the soundtrack that defines California
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The music writer tells the story of the surf music, hot-rod records, and the sunny sound of the Beach Boys that helped define the myth of the California Paradise.

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May 6th, 2021Michael Storper on the L.A. vs. Bay Area conundrum
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A look at the shifting and unequal economic history and development of Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

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April 29th, 2021Ron Brownstein on the magic of 1974 Los Angeles
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The writer discusses the confluence of movies, music, television, and politics in Los Angeles in 1974, an apex of creativity that the city has not seen before or since.

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April 22nd, 2021Joe Mathews on how L.A. is failing California
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A look at how Los Angeles may be holding back the success of the entire state of California

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April 15th, 2021Matthew Shilvock on the re-emergence of the San Francisco Opera
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The story of the Covid shutdown and the creative re-emergence of the 100-year-old San Francisco Opera.

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March 25th, 2021Molly Knight on baseball in Los Angeles
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The sports writer talked about her reporting on the L.A. Dodgers from deep inside the clubhouse.

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March 18th, 2021Emilio Garcia-Ruiz and the remaking of the S.F. Chronicle
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The new editor-in-chief sees his job as bringing a new and locally focused digital experience to readers.

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March 11th, 2021Michael Tubbs still has Stockton on his mind
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The 30-year-old former mayor set out to change the most diverse city in America. He launched a universal basic income pilot program, brought new energy to the city — and made a long list of enemies.

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March 4th, 2021Tess Taylor and her poetry of California
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The award-winning poet and former poetry reviewer for NPR shares her feelings of living on the "Rift Zone" that is California.

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February 25th, 2021Bradley Tusk on California's corporate exodus
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The venture capitalist talks about why companies are leaving California and the long-term political consequences.

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February 18th, 2021Jill Tucker on San Francisco school debates
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The San Francisco Chronicle reporter discusses recent controversial decisions by the city's board of education.

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February 11th, 2021Shane Bauer on the Vallejo PD
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The Bay Area journalist discusses the excesses of California's most violent Police department.

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February 4th, 2021Roman Mars is anything but invisible
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A guided look at the "99% Invisible City" and the hidden worlds of everyday design.

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January 28th, 2021Joan Didion talks about California
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A conversation with one of California's great cultural observers.

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January 21st, 2021Casey Newton on tech platforms as the new town square
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Tech platforms are now the foundation of our political speech. What could possibly go wrong?

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January 14th, 2021Hank Sims on the success of local journalism in Humboldt County
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The editor of Lost Coast Outpost discusses the joys of Humboldt County and how his local online newspaper became so successful.

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January 7th, 2021Kathryn Olmsted talks California unions, from farm to Google
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The UC Davis historian examines today's Silicon Valley union-organizing efforts in the context of California's complex farm labor union history.

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December 17th, 2020Heather Knight on the ups and downs of San Francisco
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The S.F. Chronicle columnist has made a career of exposing the struggles of everyday people and holding power to account.

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December 10th, 2020Tracy L. Chandler on photography, memory, and connection
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The photographic artist talks about her camera as a way of being in the world.

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December 4th, 2020Daniel Lurie and Sam Cobbs on the fight against poverty in the Bay Area
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Lurie and Cobbs discuss the work of Tipping Point Communities, a nonprofit that puts private dollars to work for the public good.

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November 19th, 2020At 25, Alex Lee is California’s youngest state legislator
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Alex Lee talks about his plans to get corporate money out of politics.

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November 12th, 2020Gary Kamiya, Paul Madonna, and an unknown city by the bay
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An evocative homage to the little know places that define the soul of San Francisco.

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November 5th, 2020Chronicle journalists on Propositions 22 and 19
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Carolyn Said and Kathleen Pender discuss the real world impacts of changes to gig worker and property tax laws in California.

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October 29th, 2020Peter Lunenfeld reimagines Los Angeles
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A very personal look at the history, energy, and cultural ecology of today’s Los Angeles, all through a very 21st-century lens.

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October 22nd, 2020Esther Mobley on days of wine and smoke
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The San Francisco Chronicle wine critic talks about the ravages of wildfires on the Napa Valley and California wine industry.

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October 15th, 2020Kendra Atleework's "Miracle Country"
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The Eastern Sierras, the Owens Valley, the town of Bishop, and the starkness of the high desert had a magnetic pull on the author Kendra Atleework. Its history helped her to understand her home, her family, and California.

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October 8th, 2020James Thebaut’s lens on California's watershed
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The documentary filmmaker examines the state of Californian’s forest system and how both water scarcity and clearing practices are impacting the ability of forests to absorb water or resist fires.

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October 1st, 2020Davie Pina and Johnny White: Inside their personal firefight
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With resources scarce, Davie Pina and Johnny White fought save their own and their neighbor's properties. In their efforts, we may be seeing the future of private firefighting.

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September 24th, 2020Nick Neely takes a walk through time
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Following the 1769 route of the Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola, environmental writer Nick Neely walked 650 miles to discover anew the Golden State.

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September 17th, 2020Leon Panetta: A life of public service born in California
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A conversation with the former California congressman, CIA director, and defense secretary.

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September 10th, 2020Jeffrey Tumlin attempts the impossible
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The head of San Francisco's transit and traffic agency is being forced to reinvent public transportation.

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September 3rd, 2020Buffy Wicks in her own words
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The assemblywoman tells the story of the night that transformed her into a symbol for working moms.

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August 27th, 2020Geoffrey King: Vallejo Police Department on the brink
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The founder of the recently launched news site Open Vallejo talks about the need to shine a light on one of the country's most violent police forces.

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August 20th, 2020Dr. Jennifer Brokaw on keeping our first responders healthy
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The new physician for San Francisco’s first responders explains how her job has taken on new dimensions in the face of a pandemic.

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August 6th, 2020Anthony Rendon on California's shifting priorities
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The speaker of the California Assembly shares his personal journey amid the shifting priorities of the state legislature.

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July 23rd, 2020Alia Volz's homebaked journey
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The author takes a nostalgic trip through the stoning of San Francisco in the 1970s and '80s.

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July 16th, 2020David Randall on the last California pandemic
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The story of how bubonic plaque came to San Francisco in 1900 and was met with denial of science, obfuscation from local governments and business, and how one federal health officer helped contain the spread.

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July 9th, 2020Dr. Robert Wachter on Covid, California, and the future of medicine
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The chair of UC San Francisco Department of Medicine discusses how California's luck may be running out and the transformation of medicine.

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June 25th, 2020Connie Rice on policing and economic despair
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The long time civil rights lawyer and police reformer examines our current moment in the context of L.A.'s long history of "warrior policing" directed at communities of color.

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June 18th, 2020Lt. Ben Kelso on the blurred lines between Black and Blue
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A 30-year veteran of the San Diego police force and the president of the Black Officers Association of San Diego gives a personal and inside look at policing.

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June 11th, 2020Peiley Lau on how staying at home made a difference
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A UC Berkley research project shows how lockdown policies may have averted nearly 1.7 million coronavirus cases in California.

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June 4th, 2020Eloy Ortiz Oakley on the future of California Community Colleges
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The chancellor of California's sprawling community college system looks at the massive challenges ahead.

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May 28th, 2020Alex Padilla on the challenges of the November election
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California's secretary of state discusses mail-in ballots, election security, and personal safety in the November election.

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May 21st, 2020A fire in Paradise
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The journalists Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano discuss their investigation of the Camp Fire, the most destructive American wildfire in over a century.

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May 14th, 2020Steve Inskeep on the 19th-century explorer who helped shape California
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The NPR host discusses his new book, "How Jessie and John Frémont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War."

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April 30th, 2020Richard Rushfield talks the future of movies
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The long-time Hollywood journalist wonders if we will ever go to a movie theater again.

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April 23rd, 2020Mayor Jesse Arreguin and Berkeley’s spirit of caring
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A look at the unique challenges faced by the iconic and progressive city of Berkeley.

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April 16th, 2020Carl Nolte = San Francisco
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The veteran journalist reminisces about a city he’s covered for 60 years.

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April 5th, 2020Dr. Jessica Mega and Verily’s intersection of health, data, and research
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A look at Silicon Valley’s efforts to combine biotech and big data in the service of 21st-century medicine.

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April 2nd, 2020Randy Shaw discusses housing in the age of Covid-19
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The longtime San Francisco housing advocate looks at how the coronavirus pandemic might present an opportunity to expand affordable housing.

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March 26th, 2020Dan Walters sees California government headed to the ICU
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The veteran Sacramento journalist gives his unvarnished view of what the virus means for California governance and economics.

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March 19th, 2020Matt Richtel on the anti-virus program we already own
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The San Francisco-based author of "An Elegant Defense" explains how our immune system is our best and worst defense against the Covid-19 virus.

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March 12th, 2020Chip Walter looks into Silicon Valley’s immortality machine
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Journalist Chip Walter takes a look inside the work of Silicon Valley billionaires trying to find a way to live forever.

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March 4th, 2020Steve Lopez and a 20-year conversation with his readers
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The legendary L.A. Times columnist talks about his career, the issues facing California, and the future of Los Angeles.

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February 27th, 2020Conor Dougherty on why every problem is a housing problem
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The New York Times economics reporter talks about his powerful and deeply reported examination of California’s housing crisis, "Golden Gates."

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February 20th, 2020Naomi McDougall Jones and the exclusion of women in Hollywood
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The author explains why the battle of women in Hollywood is about far more than just jobs. It’s about the soul of the culture.

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February 13th, 2020David Talbot’s stroke provides a parable for our time
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The Bay Area journalist and author reimagined his view of the world after a life-threatening stroke.

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February 6th, 2020Ken Turan talks Oscars, Hollywood and Netflix
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Kenneth Turan, the long time L.A. Times and NPR film critic, looks at the state of Hollywood through the lens of this year’s Oscar-nominated films.

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January 28th, 2020Sen. Scott Wiener argues for SB 50
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State Sen. Scott Wiener makes his case for why we need to rethink extreme local control of zoning.

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January 23rd, 2020Dr. Jared Farmer on how trees define our California history
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Jared Farmer views the Golden State through its palms, eucalyptuses, citruses, and redwoods.

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January 16th, 2020Thomas Wolf’s Tenderloin resurrection
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Thomas Wolf’s story shows us how easy it is to slip into drugs and homelessness, but how tough and rare it is to get out.

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January 9th, 2020Paul Kitagaki Jr. photographed the survivors of WWII internment camps
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The Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer spent a decade documenting the impact of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

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December 19th, 2019Sam Dodge on California’s greatest crisis
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The homeless coordinator for the San Francisco Department of Public Works analyzes the shameful and growing homeless crisis impacting all of California.

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December 12th, 2019Sam Liccardo on San Jose and PG&E
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The San Jose mayor discusses the twin challenges of leading a city on the precipice of major change and trying to spearhead a statewide effort to remake PGE into a customer-owned utility.

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December 5th, 2019David Ulin explains Joan Didion
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David Ulin, the editor of a new multi-volume edition of Joan Didion’s collected works, shares insights about Didion as a writer and cultural figure.

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November 21st, 2019Can California's 478 cities really work together?
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John Dunbar, president of the League of California Cities, explains how the organization is able to function with so many competing constituents.

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November 14th, 2019Paul Theroux introduces us to our southern neighbor
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The travel author takes the trip through Mexico that all of us in California should take or at least appreciate.

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November 7th, 2019Andrew Yang: If you think tech is under siege now, just wait
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A conversation with the tech entrepreneur and presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

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October 31st, 2019Dr. Manuel Pastor sees California as America on fast forward
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The USC professor looks at the arc of contemporary California history and shows how it mirrors the future of the U.S.

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October 24th, 2019Lincoln Mitchell connects the dots of the last 41 years of San Francisco
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The politics professor and author makes the case that 1978 was San Francisco's “year zero,” driven by politics, punk rock, and baseball.

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October 17th, 2019Willow Bay on educating our next generation of journalists
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Willow Bay, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, talks about how the school is using its unique resources to train young journalists.

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October 9th, 2019Soleil Ho: Every restaurant tells a story
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The S.F. Chronicle restaurant critic shares her progressive approach to food criticism and the politics of food.

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October 3rd, 2019Hollywood’s Golden Age told through the passion of personal letters
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Producer Rocky Lang and film archivist Barbara Hall share the intimacy of personal letters reflecting the passion and work of a long-gone Hollywood era.

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September 26th, 2019Dr. Joely Proudfit on California Indian culture, sovereignty, and education
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The Cal State San Marcos professor shares what she's learned on her journey from impoverished childhood to presidential appointee and leading voice on behalf of Native Americans in California.

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September 19th, 2019Is traffic heading the wrong Waze?
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A look at how the traffic app Waze is adversely impacting our neighborhoods and not getting us anywhere faster.

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September 12th, 2019Autumn McDonald on the power of social entrepreneurship
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The director of New America CA talks about the group’s efforts to solve social problems via technology, innovation, and storytelling.

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September 5th, 2019Anne Lamott and reasons for hope
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The bestselling California author shares some of her insights on hope and dealing with a world seemingly gone mad.

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August 29th, 2019D.J. Waldie and the end of California exceptionalism
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The author of the celebrated book "Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir" explains why we need to retire the notion of the California Dream.

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August 22nd, 20192 powerful L.A. City Council members on the city's present and future
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Paul Koretz and Marqueece Harris-Dawson discuss the seemingly insurmountable problems facing Los Angeles.

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August 15th, 2019Ariel Rubissow Okamoto and a deep dive into the San Francisco estuary
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The science writer discussed the growing threat of climate change and rising seas in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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August 8th, 2019Tom O’Neill’s 20-year journey into Charles Manson’s world of darkness
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Suppose everything we knew about Charles Manson was wrong? An author has reassessed one of the most infamous murder cases in American history.

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August 1st, 2019Noam Cohen on how Silicon Valley undermines an authentic life
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The author and journalist shared a contrarian view of the “creative disruption” we take for granted.

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July 25th, 2019David Ulin on the joys and challenges of Los Angeles
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The longtime Los Angeles social and cultural critic shares his insights on today's Los Angeles.

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July 17th, 2019Joe Talbot on "The Last Black Man in San Francisco"
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The debut filmmaker talked about the changes sweeping through his hometown.

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July 11th, 2019Leah Garchik on 47 years at the S.F. Chronicle
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After helping start readers' days for more than three decades, the columnist reflected on her unique and storied career.

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June 27th, 2019Tony Serra offers a defense of his Ghost Ship client Derick Almena
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The famed criminal defense attorney argues for Derick Almena, who is a defendant in the 2016 Oakland warehouse fire that killed 36 people.

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June 20th, 2019Allison Haley on California's death penalty debate
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A conversation with Napa County's district attorney about the impacts of Gov. Gavin Newsom's suspension of capital punishment.

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June 13th, 2019Paul Schrade on the California primary tragedy of 1968
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Paul Schrade, a longtime friend of Robert F. Kennedy, shared his memories of the night when he and the presidential candidate were both shot and the political world changed forever.

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June 6th, 2019Julian Guthrie and the "alpha girls" of Silicon Valley
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A conversation about a rare group of women who succeeded in the Silicon Valley world of venture capital and have built some of the foremost companies of our time.

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May 29th, 2019Mark Arax on chasing water and dust across California
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A conversation with the veteran journalist about the age-old cycle of floods and drought in California, and the unquenchable thirst of cities and farms for water.

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May 23rd, 2019The California dream inspired and destroyed Robin Williams
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A conversation with Robin Williams biographer Dave Itzkoff about the California comic's drive for success and the price he paid to get there.

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May 16th, 2019Roy Choi on bridging the food divide
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A conversation with the Southern California chef about food's role in bringing cultures together.

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May 9th, 2019David Talbot and a tale of San Francisco gone wrong
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The Salon founder and longtime San Franciscan looks at a city fighting for its soul.

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May 2nd, 2019Leslie Berlin on Silicon Valley’s origin story
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A conversation with the Stanford historian and author of "Troublemakers: Silicon Valley's Coming of Age."

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April 25th, 2019Randy Shaw on the sabotaging of California housing
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A conversation with the executive director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic on whether California can ever build its way out of the housing crisis.

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April 18th, 2019Richard Walker on the crises and contradictions of Silicon Valley
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A conversation with the acclaimed urban geographer about tech's reshaping of the urban fabric of the Bay Area, and the crossroads now facing Silicon Valley.

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April 11th, 2019Nancie Clare on Beverly Hills and the birth of celebrity politics
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A conversation with the longtime Southern California journalist and author on what Beverly Hills has come to represent and why it matters.

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April 4th, 2019Dr. Tom Hoffman on the Mars-California connection
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A conversation with the project director of the Mars InSight mission on the quest for interplanetary travel.

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March 28th, 2019Audrey Cooper on the future of local news
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A conversation with the editor in chief of the San Francisco Chronicle on how local newspapers shape the way we live.

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March 21st, 2019Mike Fitzgerald on Stockton and the "other California"
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A conversation with the longtime journalist who has been the heart and soul of Stockton.

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March 14th, 2019Mike Davis and his alternative view of California
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A conversation with the renowned historian on how nature is taking revenge on Southern California.

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March 7th, 2019David Kipen shares 500 years of opinions about Los Angeles
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A conversation with the Los Angeles author and historian about the role the city has played in the hearts, minds, and imaginations of the public.

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February 28th, 2019Miriam Pawel on the future of public education in California
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A conversation with the longtime California writer on how charter schools and teacher strikes are shaping public education in the state.

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February 12th, 2019Dr. Kevin Starr on the California dream
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A conversation with the historian Dr. Kevin Starr on the dreamers who created California.

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