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:

CongressGPT: Could A.I. Make Governments Work B...
While generative AI, like ChatGPT, can write term papers and computer programs, local and federal governments are still trying to figure out how to use — and regulate — the technology. Chronicle reporters Shira Stein and Chase DiFeliciantonio join host Cecilia Lei to discuss the potential ways that A.I. can improve government efficiency, and the challenges of regulating the technology. Plus: reporter Sophia Bollag shares why California might be better positioned to do it.
24 min
What San Francisco's Algebra Wars Tell Us About...
California's Board of Education recently made recommendations to change the state's math framework in an effort to reduce racial disparities in math proficiencies. But critics worry that de-emphasizing courses like calculus will make students less competitive for top universities. Columnist Emily Hoeven and reporter Jill Tucker join host Cecilia Lei to discuss the math wars playing out across the state, and how similar curriculum changes played out in San Francisco.
22 min
Unused Land Presents Dilemma for School Districts
Unused buildings and lots in San Francisco and around the state could be worth a lot of money for struggling school districts. But selling them is complicated.
15 min
Beer Death Experience: Goodbye, Anchor Steam
The announcement that the legendary San Francisco brand is shutting down shocked many beer lovers, but not employees of the brewery, who blame parent company Sapporo for mismanagement. Food and wine reporter Jess Lander and Total SF podcast host Peter Hartlaub join host Demian Bulwa to talk about what losing a member of its Mount Rushmore of edible icons means to San Francisco, and whether there’s a chance for a last-minute reprieve.
18 min
“All I See Is Things to Celebrate”: Brooke Jenk...
When San Francisco voters elected Brooke Jenkins as San Francisco district attorney, she promised to shut down open-air drug markets and crack down on property crime. Has she made a difference? Chronicle reporter St. John Barned-Smith joins host Cecilia Lei to talk about how Jenkins assesses her first year, and what she says is the only thing she would've done differently.
17 min
Why We Should "Extend Grace" to Bad Restaurant ...
Bay Area diners have been complaining about long wait times, high costs and missing food items. Has the pandemic forever changed restaurant service in the Bay Area? Restaurant critic Cesar Hernandez says no, and explains to host Cecilia Lei why managing our expectations is important when dining out.
18 min
What Flying Down Dolores Hill Means for Skatebo...
The mass arrests of skateboarders at Dolores Park has raised questions about SFPD's use of force. Chronicle reporter Nora Mishanec joins host Demian Bulwa to discuss the significance of the annual "Hill Bomb" event, and skateboarder Ryen Motzek, president of the Mission Merchants Association, explains the significance of skateboarding culture in San Francisco.
19 min
Bay Bridge Murals and 49ers Logos Adorn This Ho...
Three thousand miles from San Francisco, a cluster of rural villages in Honduras is buzzing with the sounds of construction as new mansions spring up — many adorned with Bay Area iconography. The region shares a surprising connection to San Francisco: It is the birthplace of many of the city’s drug dealers. For the past 18 months, reporter Megan Cassidy and photographer Gabrielle Lurie have been investigating that link and how the open-air drug trade in San Francisco operates. They join Cecilia Lei to share what they learned.
22 min
Where California's Wildfire Risks Stand Now
Fifth & Mission podcast: California's years-long drought ended after last winter's heavy rains, but fire experts say wildfire risks still exist, and if new growth dries out, it could be ripe to burn.
22 min
It’s Unhappy Hour for Bay Area Bar Culture
COVID-19 hit local nightlife hard, and it hasn’t come all the way back. Bar owners are struggling to find ways to attract customers who have changed their socializing habits during the pandemic. Chronicle senior wine critic Esther Mobley joins host Cecilia Lei to talk about the how bar owners are adapting and what's at stake if bar culture doesn't bounce back.
16 min
ChatGPT in the Classroom: Tool for Cheating or ...
The viral artificial intelligence tool has surprised millions of users with its capabilities, but it's also raised concerns about how it might be used. Hearst Newspapers director of newsroom engineering Evan Wagstaff joins host Cecilia Lei to explain how ChatGPT works, and reporter Jill Tucker shares why some educators are embracing the technology in the classroom.
24 min
The Many Near Deaths of Tom Stienstra
Best of 5M: Longtime outdoors writer Tom Stienstra has stared down grizzly bears, steered clear of mountain lions and braved the elements. But his closest call was a recent cancer diagnosis.
21 min
Happy 50th Birthday, Sutro Tower!
As Sutro Tower reaches its 50th anniversary on July 4, 2023, Total SF co-hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight pay tribute to the controversial TV tower — which began as a fiercely protested structure, and has developed into one of the most beloved San Francisco landmarks.
29 min
"Meritocracy Has Always Been a Myth": The Impac...
Vincent Pan from Chinese for Affirmative Action says the Supreme Court ban on affirmative action masks how Asian Americans communities have faced exclusion from educational opportunities and played pivotal roles in calling for greater access.
18 min
This Rising Democrat Star Could Pave the Way to...
Congressman Pete Aguilar hails from a small purple city in California, but now he’s rubbing elbows with power brokers and being mentored by Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi.
17 min
Losing Your Taste and Smell As a Food Professional
Fifth & Mission podcast: Millions of Americans have lost their sense of taste and smell after getting COVID-19. For chefs and restaurant owners, the impact has been devastating. 
13 min
A Taxi Ride Through San Francisco — Driver Not ...
On July 13, the California Public Utilities Commission will vote on a resolution to give driverless robotaxis full access to pick up paying passengers in San Francisco. To find out what that might be like, opinion columnist Emily Hoeven recently took a ride in a Waymo robotaxi.
17 min
What California Can Teach Us If SCOTUS Bans Aff...
With the Supreme Court weighing affirmative action, the University of California's struggle to build a diverse student body may hold lessons for private universities that could soon face the same restriction. Chronicle reporter Nanette Asimov joins host Cecilia Lei to discuss the stakes.
15 min
The S.F. Doctor Who Became an Arab LGBTQ Icon
Dr. Nasser Mohamed became the first Qatari to come out as gay during an interview with BBC World last year ahead of the World Cup. Now, he's preparing to serve as a Grand Marshall in this year's SF Pride Parade and joins host Cecilia Lei to talk about his activism and finding a queer Middle Eastern community in San Francisco.
17 min
SF is Cracking Down on Drugs. Is it Working?
A new team of San Francisco police officers has arrested or cited people for drug offenses 53 times in recent weeks as part Mayor London Breed's crackdown on drug dealing and use. She's talked about "tough love" and getting people into treatment, but so far none of the arrests have resulted in someone accepting drug treatment services.
16 min
"What Help?" Lessons From California's Largest ...
“This is a story of deep poverty in a state with incredibly high housing costs.” That’s how Dr. Margot Kushel, director of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, describes the takeaway from California’s largest study of homeless adults in three decades.
17 min
How California Could Weed Out 3,000 Bad Cops a ...
California became one of the last states in the country to decertify or suspend cops for serious misconduct when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB2 in 2021. The law went into effect this year, and the commission in charge of enforcing it estimates that up to 3,500 police officers could be stripped of their badges each year.
15 min
Live With W. Kamau Bell: "It’s Not About Hashtags"
In honor of Juneteenth, we're republishing this episode from February 24. In a wide-raging onstage conversation with host Cecilia Lei, the comic, host of CNN's "United Shades of America," producer and director of "We Have to Talk About Cosby" and co-author of "Do the Work: An Antiracist Activity Book" says being progressive is about just that — doing the work.
27 min
Relocating the Oakland A's: "This is a Real Bet...
The Oakland A’s move to Las Vegas took a leap forward this week, as the Nevada Legislature passed a bill granting $380 million in public funding for a new ballpark on the Strip. But fans aren’t letting the team go quietly.
18 min
The million-square-foot question on Market Stre...
Downtown San Francisco suffered another major blow this week when Westfield, the owner of the San Francisco Centre Mall, announced it would be returning the massive property to its lender. Host Cecilia Lei talks with reporters Roland Li and Carolyn Said about what comes next.
19 min