Fifth & Mission

The flagship news podcast of the San Francisco Chronicle. Producer/host Cecilia Lei and co-host Laura Wenus discuss the biggest stories of the day with Chronicle journalists and newsmakers from around the Bay Area. | Get full digital access to the Chronicle:

S.F. Diocese’s Bankruptcy Filing Puts Child Abu...
Hundreds of lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse by Catholic priests are now paused after the San Francisco Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy Monday. Many abuse survivors — some of whom have waited decades for their day in court — are frustrated by the filing, the third of its kind by Bay Area dioceses this year. Chronicle reporter Sophia Bollag joins host Laura Wenus to discuss the flood of lawsuits and what these bankruptcies could mean.
12 min
Maui Fire Renews Urgency to Upgrade San Francis...
San Francisco’s jarring weekly test of its outdoor emergency warning siren fell silent in 2019 so the system could be upgraded. The project has faced delays and budget overruns, but Maui’s fire disaster is inspiring a renewed sense of urgency. Reporter Aldo Toledo joins host Cecilia Lei to discuss the long-stalled project and what it says about the city’s priorities.
13 min
From Grief to Burnout: Voices of the Bay Area O...
San Francisco’s overdose death rate has almost tripled in recent years due in large part to the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl, but numbers don’t tell the whole story. Chronicle reporters sat down with seven Bay Area residents whose lives have been changed by the epidemic, from grieving parents to emergency responders. Host Cecilia Lei presents their perspectives on the crisis and how they think it can be solved.
23 min
San Francisco Is Aiming High With Its Housing T...
To meet its state-mandated goal of approving 82,000 new units of housing by 2031, San Francisco will need to dramatically ramp up the rate at which it greenlights construction. So far, it is not on course. Chronicle reporters J.D. Morris and J.K. Dineen have been crunching the city’s housing numbers and join host Laura Wenus to share how local leaders are trying to push the city to move faster.
22 min
New Lawsuit From Sen. Feinstein Makes Messy Las...
Chronicle reporter Shira Stein broke the news of a messy family dispute involving Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The senior senator has filed a lawsuit to remove the trustees of her late husband's estate, alleging that they committed financial elder abuse. Stein joins host Joe Garofoli to discuss this legal tangle, which adds on to a long list of challenges complicating Feinstein’s remaining time in office.
16 min
A Fungus is Infecting Californians — Climate Ch...
Once largely confined to the Central Valley, the fungal respiratory illness known as valley fever is beginning to appear in Northern California, including the Bay Area. Scientists believe that climate change is driving the spread. Chronicle intern Gabe Castro-Root joins host Laura Wenus to discuss the growing alarm about this fungal disease. Then researcher Jennifer Head explains why valley fever’s spread could be a sign of things to come.
19 min
Fortitude and Frustration in the Wake of Maui W...
Amid the crises and chaos caused by last week's deadly wildfire in Maui, Chronicle reporter Matthias Gafni also found signs of community resilience and solidarity. He shares dispatches from a relief center on the island with host Cecilia Lei — and an incredible tale of survival.
22 min
Policing Is Costing SF Taxpayers Millions — in ...
San Francisco is paying hefty sums of money to deal with lawsuits related to its police department. A series of reports from Mission Local found that over the past 13 years, settlements in civil suits related to alleged misconduct, employment disputes, false imprisonment and property damage have totaled more than $70 million. Data reporter Will Jarrett joins host Laura Wenus to break down that figure and the limitations of the civil court system.
16 min
‘We Need to Sound the Alarm’: Is the Curtain Cl...
Upheavals in the theater world, from pandemic lockdowns to labor movements, have put companies in a financial bind. Theater critic Lily Janiak joins host Cecilia Lei to discuss how this moment is a reckoning for the industry, and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley Artistic Director Giovanna Sardelli shares why it's time to reexamine the value of performing arts.
26 min
Should Hayes Valley’s ‘Community Living Room’ T...
Hayes Valley’s Proxy is a cluster of boutique shops and restaurants that functions as a community gathering space, but it sits on land that has been flagged for affordable housing for decades. Now that the city wants to start development, residents are divided on whether the project should move forward. Reporter J.K. Dineen joins host Cecilia Lei to break down the controversy and the broader stakes for San Francisco’s housing debate.
20 min
Kids Are Back At School, But Where Are the Teac...
California school districts have been grappling with a teacher shortage since before the pandemic, but in cities like Oakland and San Francisco it's become normal to start the school year with vacant classroom positions. Chronicle education reporter Jill Tucker tells host Laura Wenus how Bay Area school districts are filling the gaps and how the state is trying to entice people into teaching.
21 min
The Controversial Plan to Save California's Gia...
Wildfires have devastated giant sequoias, the world’s largest trees. Now national park officials want to restore the iconic California species by replanting them, but the plan is facing pushback. Reporter Kurtis Alexander joins host Cecilia Lei to discuss scientists' concerns and why debates like this will only become more common as we confront the devastation wreaked by climate change.
14 min
Women's Sports Are Going Mainstream. When Will ...
Women's sports are increasingly popular, and even late-night matches have drawn big crowds in the Bay Area, but it's a constant struggle to find public places to catch games. Sports reporter Marisa Ingemi tells host Laura Wenus why and how a local entrepreneur has started a group called Women's Sports Takeover to make watching easier for fans longing for community.
17 min
Pamela Price: Another Bay Area Progressive DA R...
Elected last year on promises to reform the criminal justice system from the inside, Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price is now the latest progressive Bay Area prosecutor to face a recall campaign. Reporter Rachel Swan joins host Cecilia Lei to explain the effort to oust Price from office. Then data reporter Susie Neilson takes a closer look at Oakland crime figures as residents try to make sense of an ongoing surge in violence.
23 min
What Witnessing an Assisted Death Taught One Ch...
Since 2016, California has allowed certain terminally ill people to choose assisted death through a physician-prescribed cocktail of lethal medications. Columnist Nuala Bishari recently helped her partner’s mother take that path, and joins host Cecilia Lei to share what she learned about bodily autonomy from that experience, and why it’s so hard to talk about death.
20 min
Will Mayor Breed's Tough-on-Crime Approach Get ...
With public safety top of mind for San Francisco voters, Mayor London Breed has been hammering the topic hard, calling for a stricter approach to drug crimes and touting her administration's efforts to hire more police officers. Will it convince residents dissatisfied with her leadership to give her another term? Reporter JD Morris joins host Cecilia Lei to give an early look at Breed’s political prospects as the 2024 election approaches.
18 min
Downtown U? Here's How College Students Could R...
City leaders are calling on private and public universities to consider opening up a campus in San Francisco's downtown. They imagine that classrooms or dorms could fill office buildings left empty by remote work, and that students might spend their money at local businesses and breathe life into the city's economic core. SFNext reporter Noah Arroyo joins host Laura Wenus to explain how this could work and what it would take to bring a downtown campus closer to reality.
19 min
What It's Like to Ride Valencia's New Center Bi...
Since April, city workers have been constructing new bike lanes along the Mission District's busy and dangerous Valencia Street. The twist: They run down the middle of the road. The hope is that giving cyclists their own space will reduce collisions, but a confusing rollout has stirred up controversy. Theater critic and seasoned cyclist Lily Janiak joins host Laura Wenus to discuss the new lanes and what else it might take to make city streets an inviting place for drivers and cyclists alike.
21 min
Taylor Swift Weekend in the Bay Area: "... Read...
It’s here! Swifties are converging on Santa Clara for two shows of Swift's Era's Tour. Whether you’re collecting friendship bracelets to trade or you're utterly clueless, Chronicle music critic Aidin Vaziri and the newsroom’s resident Swifties tell host Cecilia Lei about tour highlights and why the generation-spanning pop star “just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
20 min
Andrew Yang Ditched the Democrats and Started H...
Since he left the Democratic Party, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang has been recruiting candidates and raising money for his new Forward Party. Instead of running a presidential campaign, Yang tells It’s All Political on Fifth & Mission host, the Forward Party is focused on local offices where entrenched party representatives have no incentive to serve their constituents.
20 min
Would You Stop Flying to Fight Climate Change?
As residents and tourists in Europe, Asia and the United States face extreme heat waves tied to climate change, some people are giving up air travel to reduce their environmental impact. Berkeley transportation justice activist Barnali Ghosh joins co-host Laura Wenus to discuss why she decided to stop flying, and reporter Kate Selig shares tips on how to travel while being friendly to the planet.
20 min
Meet Laura Wenus, Fifth & Mission's New Co-host
Fifth & Mission's team is growing! New co-host Laura Wenus joins Cecilia Lei to share some of her personal story as a local reporter and what she hopes to bring to the show.
5 min
The Private Business Dominating Health Care in ...
Wellpath is the main provider of health care inside California jails despite facing lawsuits and investigations accusing the corporation of offering substandard medical care that results in neglect — and even deaths. Reporter Susie Neilson joins host Cecilia Lei to discuss those allegations, and why California does little to regulate the company.
17 min
Why Downtown San Francisco Shouldn't Define the...
San Francisco's troubled downtown has made headlines around the world, but Chronicle urban design critic John King says people are missing the full picture of the city. He joins host Cecilia Lei to share how downtown went from being reviled by San Franciscans for decades to defining the city in the public’s imagination.
15 min
Stanford Scandal: How Student Journalism Uncove...
The university’s president is stepping down after flaws were found in his neuroscience research. It’s just one of the latest of many recent resignations and scandals that Stanford has faced. Student journalist Theo Baker, a rising sophomore who broke the story, joins host Demian Bulwa to discuss his investigation, and Chronicle reporter Nanette Asimov considers what could come next for the university.
16 min