Fifth & Mission

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

Why They're Fighting About Water in the Califor...
Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to overhaul how water moves through the delta and supplies the rest of the state. Reporter Kurtis Alexander joins us to talk about why locals have united against his proposed tunnel. Also: Sutter Island resident Dan Whaley shares his point of view.
20 min
How Will Chinatown Survive?
San Francisco's historic neighborhood is under a double attack — from the coronavirus pandemic's crippling of service industries and from racism about COVID-19. Melissa Hung talks about Chinatown's future.
14 min
The Trained Firefighters Who Can't Fight Wildfires
Prison inmates can learn how to fight fires and thin forests at 43 fire camps around California. But once they're out, their criminal records prevent them from joining fire departments.
24 min
Warriors Off Court: Protests in Sports: What Im...
On the Warriors Off Court podcast, Chronicle columnist Otis Taylor Jr. joins Connor Letourneau to talk about the decision by NBA players to sit out playoff games in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake. For the players, it's a nearly unprecedented use of their collective power. | Unlimited Chronicle access:
32 min
More Tests, Not Less
When the CDC tightened its guidance this week on who should get tested for the coronavirus, Bay Area health experts, who want more testing, were shocked. Reporters Catherine Ho and Alexei Koseff on Gov. Newsom's response.
14 min
Terror at the RNC!
It's All Political host Joe Garofoli joins Heather Knight to talk about the GOP's strategy at the Republican National Convention: Scare the base with a bleak picture of America, and win President Trump a few voters of color.
18 min
Wildfires Update: Redwoods Saved
Chronicle photographer Carlos Gonzalez reports from the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, where CalFire was able to save threatened heritage trees, including the landmark Colonel Armstrong Redwood.
3 min
New Crisis for Schools: Fire Season
In the remote communities of the Santa Cruz Mountains, distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic was already hard enough. Now students and teachers are evacuated, fleeing wildfires, and some have lost their homes.
16 min
Growing Up During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Kids’ worlds have shrunk dramatically because of coronavirus. They can’t go to school, play sports or see their friends. Reporter Annie Vainshtein talks about how that’s affecting children now, and how it may shape them in the future. Kids’ worlds have shrunk dramatically because of coronavirus. They can’t go to school, play sports or see their friends. Reporter Annie Vainshtein talks about how that’s affecting children now, and how it may shape them in the future.
21 min
Fires and Pandemic: A Collision
Wildfires are filling the Bay Area with smoke and ash amid the coronavirus pandemic. Health reporter Erin Allday digs into whether the poor air quality could worsen COVID-19 or its spread, and how it complicates our use of masks. Wildfires are filling the Bay Area with smoke and ash amid the coronavirus pandemic. Health reporter Erin Allday digs into whether the poor air quality could worsen COVID-19 or its spread, and how it complicates our use of masks.
16 min
Donald Trump: Pre-existing Condition
Kristin Urquiza of San Francisco lost her father to the coronavirus in June. Her speech at the DNC blaming the president for the death went viral. "His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump."
20 min
Wildfires Update: Santa Cruz County
Mallory Moench reports from Scotts Valley, where the incident command center for the CZU Complex fires is located. She says local volunteer firefighters say they've had no help from CalFire, and no sleep since Tuesday night.
4 min
Wildfires Update: Mid-day Roundup
Jill Tucker runs down the latest on the three huge fire groups burning in the Bay Area and surrounding regions: The CZU, LNU and SCU complex fires. Four residents have been killed in the LNU Complex.
4 min
Wildfires Update: Healdsburg
Dustin Gardiner reports from the edges of the Walbridge Fire in Sonoma County, one of the fastest-burning blazes overnight. CalFire, occupied with other fires, hadn't directed many resources to the area, but that changed Thursday.
3 min
Wildfires Update: Vacaville Strong
At the end of a long day, Matthias Gafni is able to report back to evacuated residents of Solar Hills Drive who'd asked him to check on their homes: Though fires are raging elsewhere, their houses are still standing.
4 min
Wildfires Update: Vacaville After the Chaos
Reporting from hard-hit English Hills Road, Matthias Gafni describes Vacaville on Thursday afternoon as people return to the area, sort through their damaged homes and, in some cases, breathe a sigh of relief that they were spared.
5 min
Wildfires Update: "Our House Is Going to Burn D...
Chronicle reporter Matthias Gafni interviews Jimmy Santos, a Vacaville homeowner he'd met Wednesday night as Santos and his wife waited for word about whether their “dream house” — bought only two months ago — would be saved by firefighters. It was.
8 min
COVID-19's Toll on Nonprofit Workers
Joe Wilson, executive director of a homeless shelter in the Tenderloin, talks about the grueling nature of the job for those who do nonprofit work during the coronavirus crisis. Requests for mental health leaves are on the rise.
19 min
When Fires Erupt Amid a Pandemic
The wildfires burning through California are raising difficult new questions: How to evacuate while social distancing? Is the state prepared to fight the blazes? What about wineries and their workers? Chronicle reporters break it all down.
20 min
Lightning-Sparked Wildfire Explodes Into Vacaville
Matthias Gafni reports from the scene in Vacaville, where flames swallowed dozens of homes early Wednesday. A fast-moving fire raced into the town from the northwest, prompting frantic evacuations and rescues.
13 min
San Francisco's Plunging Rents
Prices have dropped 20% in some neighborhoods and are expected to keep falling in the coronavirus crisis. Landlords are begging tenants to stay and offering reductions and weeks of free rent. Reporter J.K. Dineen has details.
14 min
Why the Bay Area Is Facing Rolling Blackouts
Amid a historic heat wave, millions could lose power in the first rolling blackouts since the electrical crisis two decades ago. Reporter J.D. Morris talks about how California got here, who's to blame and what you can do to help.
15 min
"Mission Impossible" for Working Moms
School is starting remotely in the Bay Area, and as working parents try to juggle jobs and distance learning, mothers are bearing the brunt of the extra work. Women are leaving the workforce as moms find something has to give.
12 min
A New Vision for Police in Berkeley
If the City Council has its way, cops will no longer make traffic stops or respond to mental health crises. Reporter Ryan Kost discusses how policing across America might change as a result of Black Lives Matter protests.
16 min
Police Issues May Decide BART Election
The financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has BART on the ropes. But reporter Rachel Swan explains that the election for key board seats may be decided by another issue that has long haunted the agency: Police reform.
18 min
Eviction Crisis: David Chiu’s Proposal
Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco has a plan to stem the wave of evictions expected to hit California in September, but just over two weeks to get it through the Legislature. He's also concerned about the severely backed-up unemployment office.
22 min
Vaccine Trials Launch in the Bay Area
Developers of two of the most promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates are seeking volunteers in San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Clara County. Health reporter Erin Allday talks about how close we are to a real vaccine.
17 min
All Masks Are Not the Same
Covering your face is good, but new research suggests that how you do it is important. Many help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but some are not as effective as others. Reporter Aidin Vaziri has the details.
12 min
Why Kamala Harris is Joe Biden's Pick
The former San Francisco DA and California attorney general is in position to make history. Political reporters Tal Kopan and Joe Garofoli break down how her past will factor into the campaign ahead.
19 min
Why California's Coronavirus Chief Quit
Health reporter Erin Allday breaks talks about a changing of the guard in Sacramento, where Dr. Sonia Angell has suddenly resigned as the state's top public health officer.
14 min
Is More Screen-Time Affecting Our Brains?
We’re working, going to school, exercising, socializing and reading on screens. Chronicle reporter Sam Whiting interviewed a Stanford professor who runs a screen use lab about the phenomena and what it’s doing to our brains and social lives.
11 min
Get Ready For Socially Distant Fire Evacuations
California is entering its worst months for wildfires, and the danger is only exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. What do Bay Area residents need to know? Reporter J.D. Morris has the answers.
21 min
Tech Exodus From San Francisco
Now that their companies are allowing them to work remotely for the duration, tech workers are fleeing high-priced San Francisco. What does that mean for the city's future as an internationally important tech center?
28 min
What's Wrong With Herd Immunity
Why can't we defeat coronavirus by allowing to infect the majority of the population? Reporter Erin Allday breaks down the science, and how it would perpetuate racial disparities.
18 min
Do Face Shields Work?
Just as we got used to wearing masks, a new COVID-19 accessory has cropped up: face shields. Reporter Aidin Vaziri talks about whether they work, and about how a data glitch might be causing an undercounting of cases around California.
11 min
Eviction Catastrophe Is Looming
One in seven Californians can't make their rent, and a freeze on state courts processing evictions is about to end. Reporter Alexei Koseff describes two different proposals to keep people in their homes.
16 min
How Restaurants Are Dealing With Unsavory Times
The coronavirus pandemic is battering restaurants like few other industries. Some are moving outdoors and switching menus, others are laying off staff or closing altogether. Justin Phillips goes inside the industry and its uncertain future.
17 min
The Attorney Who Gives Police Fits
John Burris' clients have included Rodney King and the family of Oscar Grant. He talks about George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police movements, and police brutality cases in Oakland and Vallejo.
37 min
Calls to Defund the Police Are Shaping Oakland ...
Five Oakland City Council seats are up for grabs in November, and the election could reshape the city’s political leadership. Reporter Rachel Swan talks about the most closely watched races.
14 min
How Deadly Is COVID-19?
The coronavirus has killed more than 150,000 Americans. But scientists haven't come to a consensus on how likely it is that anyone infected will die. Chronicle health reporter Erin Allday talks about the complex numbers.
18 min
Theo at 7: A Year in a Homeless Kid's Life
Chronicle photographer Gabrielle Lurie and reporter Sarah Ravani talk about the year they spent following Theo, who's been homeless his whole life, and his mom, Naomi, as they navigate the streets, parks and temporary housing sites of Berkeley.
24 min
Inside San Quentin's Death Row Outbreak
Jarvis Masters, a condemned inmate and COVID-19 sufferer speaking from San Quentin death row, talks about what he calls the "incompetence" that led the prison to become California's worst coronavirus hot spot.
22 min
How Will the Arts Survive COVID-19?
The coronavirus pandemic accelerated an ongoing loss of arts infrastructure in the Bay Area — studios, galleries, performance spaces, working artists who can afford the cost of living. But the disruption could also be creating opportunity.
18 min
S.F. Wedding Leads to Outbreak
A wedding was quietly held at a Catholic church in San Francisco, even after church leaders were warned not to break coronavirus rules. Now the bride, the groom and some guests have tested positive.
17 min
California's Child Care Crisis
Amid the state's sputtering reopening efforts, child care providers across are confronting a crushing choice: Stay closed and risk financial ruin, or reopen at a reduced capacity and expose children and staff to the coronavirus.
18 min
Pandemic Pods: Solution or Problem?
Faced with the prospect of having to again stick their kids in front of screens for distance learning, some parents of means are cobbling together an alternative. Education reporter Jill Tucker talks about the implications for everyone.
17 min
Will Coronavirus Baseball Work?
The Giants and A’s are starting their seasons under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beat writers Henry Schulman and Susan Slusser talk about what to expect. Plus: Giants manager Gabe Kapler kneels for the national anthem.
25 min
Death of a Nurse in Oakland
Colleagues and co-workers of Janine Paiste-Ponder, who died of COVID-19, say that while the public hails them as heroes, they feel more like sacrificial lambs as they cry out for hospital execs to do more to protect them.
13 min
Federal Agents in Portland: Is Oakland Next?
As images of Homeland Security agents in camouflage attacking peaceful protesters in Portland go viral, President Trump has threatened to send federal forces to the Bay Area. Political reporter Joe Garofoli on the reaction.
16 min
Universal Basic Income: Can It Work?
The idea of putting, say, $1,000 a month in the hands of every American is gaining currency amid the economic shocks of the pandemic. Reporter Jason Fagone talks about how UBI can attack inequality on the personal and civic levels.
26 min
Should Wineries Be Open?
People are drinking more, which is a boon for California wineries, but the industry's also struggling with shutdown orders. Wine critic Esther Mobley talks about the confusion at tasting rooms and the efforts to protect vineyard workers.
15 min
Defund the Police: Berkeley Tries It
Pressed by the killing of George Floyd and demonstrations for racial justice, Berkeley is promising big changes designed to reduce bias. But as reporter Brett Simpson and columnist Otis Taylor Jr. explain, the real work begins now.
21 min
San Francisco Zoo Is Back in Business
Director Tanya Peterson had to feed 2,000 animals with no ticket revenue coming in since March because of the coronavirus shutdown. She's delighted the zoo is open again, and she says she can tell the animals are too.
21 min
Caltrain Could Be Derailed
The Peninsula rail system has lost 95% of its ridership, and under the strange governance system that rules it, two San Francisco supervisors were able to kill a sales tax measure to save it. Caltrain says it may have to shut down.
17 min
California's New Shutdown
Gov. Newsom has demanded that a host of activities come to a halt as coronavirus cases surge around the state. Health reporter Erin Allday explains why California has taken a U-turn in its reopening plans and what’s likely to come next.
19 min
Reopening Schools: Confusion and Frustration
Getting kids back to school is tops on President Trump's agenda, but California districts are increasingly opting for distance learning. Education reporter Jill Tucker talks about the latest in a rapidly changing situation.
24 min
San Francisco As a Biking and Walking Utopia
Bicyclists, pedestrians and public transit fans have long dreamed of major changes to the unsafe streets of San Francisco. In The Throughline, Peter Hartlaub writes about how the COVID-19 pandemic could finally those changes a reality.
23 min
Coronavirus Surges on College Campuses
It's a bad trend at UC Berkeley and elsewhere: An outbreak of coronavirus cases tied to fraternity parties. The surge is threatening colleges' plans to reopen for the fall. Reporter Ron Kroichick talks about what campuses will look like.
15 min
Baseball Season Is Looking Doubtful
Sports columnist Ann Killion says that given the rough start to training camp, she's skeptical MLB will be able to launch its season in two weeks, or keep it going for 60 games if so. Plus: New activism among athletes, and cuts at Stanford.
20 min
Muni's Breakdown
San Francisco's love-it-or-hate it transit system is in major trouble as revenue has plunged during the pandemic. The city will probably lose 40 of its 68 bus lines permanently — and don't expect to ride the cable cars until there's a vaccine.
24 min
San Francisco Without its Nightlife
Heklina, one of the city’s best-known drag queens, talks about how bars and nightclubs can eventually reopen safely and why she’s angry bar owners in other parts of the state and country are acting so irresponsibly.
18 min
SF Homeless Project Takes on COVID-19
Will coronavirus worsen homelessness or provide an opportunity to get people housed? Reporter Kevin Fagan and host Demian Bulwa kick off the SF Homeless Project, a weeklong Chronicle special report.
25 min
40 Years in the Wilderness With Tom Stienstra
The Chronicle's outdoors columnist talks about how he landed his plum job after having an epiphany while covering a Raiders-Packers game, and he tells campfire tales about the wildest adventures in his storied career.
24 min
Black Lives Matter Protests: What Comes Next?
Sheryl Davis, executive director of San Francisco's Human Rights Commission, has been surveying people of color to ask what they want to see happen next when it comes to police reform and racial justice.
25 min
Health Officers Facing Threats, Intimidation
Given great power during the coronavirus pandemic, local public health officers are dealing with great scrutiny — and sometimes intimidation and threats. Some have quit. Staff writer Carolyn Said on what's behind the anger.
13 min
Coronavirus Spike: How Worried Should You Be?
Rising COVID-19 cases in the Bay Area and around the country are forcing communities to pause, and in some cases backtrack, on reopening plans. Health reporter Erin Allday on what's behind the surge.
14 min
Coronavirus Means Bad Times for Goodwill
Goodwill San Francisco CEO William Rogers describes closing all shops and furloughing most employees as the nonprofit was too big to qualify for federal help. Plus: People cleaning up during shutdown have flooded donation drop-offs.
23 min
Should You Fly During the Pandemic?
Features editor Sarah Feldberg discusses how airlines are responding and what travelers need to know to be safe from coronavirus if they have to board a plane, or if they want to for pleasure travel.
15 min
California's Alarming COVID-19 Spike
More than 12,000 residents tested positive for the coronavirus in just two days this week, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to caution Californians to continue being careful or risk renewed shutdown orders. Reporter Peter Fimrite explains.
8 min
COVID-19 Terror at San Quentin
State prison officials dealt with a coronavirus outbreak at Chino State Prison by transferring untested inmates to San Quentin, which the virus is now ripping through. Reporters Megan Cassidy and Jason Fagone have details.
17 min
San Francisco's Toppled Statues
From the removal of Christopher Columbus outside Coit Tower to the toppling of Father Junipero Serra, Francis Scott Key and Ulysses S. Grant in Golden Gate Park, the city's not-so-progressive statues are sparking controversy.
18 min
New From The Chronicle: Extra Spicy
Chronicle food writers Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips are hosts of The Chronicle's new food and culture podcast, Extra Spicy. They talk with Heather Knight about why they're launching a food podcast in these troubled times, and they give a sneak peak into what listeners can expect. | Get full Chronicle access:
22 min
An Announcement: Goodbye Audrey, Hello Demian
Chronicle Editor in Chief and Fifth & Mission co-host Audrey Cooper says farewell as she heads off for her new job as editor in chief at WNYC in New York. She and co-host Heather Knight welcome Demian Bulwa back to the show. He preceded Heather behind the Fifth & Mission mic, and now he'll succeed Audrey. | Get full Chronicle access:
3 min
Coronavirus Survivors Tell Their Stories
Reporters Peter Hartlaub and Annie Vainshtein play excerpts from and talk about their project Surviving the Virus, which features interviews with recovered COVID-19 patients. Plus: Survivor Rafael Arias reads from his diary.
20 min
Supreme Court Victory for Dreamers
Reporter Tatiana Sanchez helps unpack Thursday's SCOTUS ruling that blocks the Trump administration's attempt to dismantle DACA, dealing a major blow to the president.
9 min
The Politics of Policing
As the furor grows over police brutality directed at black and brown people, the political power of police unions is being questioned. Joe Garofoli talks about how the unions might react to the upcoming election season. | Get full Chronicle access:
19 min
The Coronavirus Rent Drop
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused upheaval in the housing market, with home sales dropping, prices sinking and rents falling as tenants flee the Bay Area. JK Dineen joins to discuss the deals for renters and the lessons we should learn from past recessions when it comes to housing construction.
22 min
After the Ruling, What Now for Gay Civil Rights?
This Pride Month was made sweeter with a Supreme Court decision forbidding employment discrimination based on gender or sexual identity. Reporter Ryan Kost talks about what that surprising ruling means in the fight for LGBTQ rights.
21 min
Why the SFPD Chief Is OK With "Defund the Police"
Chief William Scott says he feels conflicted as a black man watching national protests against police brutality. He supports calls for San Francisco's department to be defunded and for officers' responsibilities to be narrowed.
25 min
Police Reform: Promises Made, Often Broken
After SFPD officers fatally shot Mario Woods in 2015, authorities promised reforms. But while use-of-force incidents are down overall, police still disproportionately use violence against black people and Latinos.
14 min
Are We Reopening Too Quickly?
Coronavirus cases are increasing across the state, but counties are pushing forward with reopening plans. Is that good for public safety? Health reporter Erin Allday delves into the latest case numbers and what they mean. | Get full Chronicle access:
19 min
Black Voices: Why I Protest
Chronicle photojournalist Yalonda M. "Yoshi" James, tired of the media's focus on looting and vandalism, turned her camera on black people marching, holding signs and demanding change and asked them, "Why are you protesting?"
20 min
Where Does Black Lives Matter Go From Here?
Have the George Floyd protests launched a real change in American life, or will the widespread white support fade over time? Joe Garofoli talks about how white allies can stay in the fight, and whether "Defund the Police" can work.
17 min
The Dos and Don’ts of Reopening
Counties around the state are slowly reopening for business and loosening the shelter-in-place restrictions in place since March. But what will best practices be? Can you have a dinner party? What about a child play date?
17 min
Brianna Noble: The Black Lives Matter Rider
Tony Bravo talks to the 25-year-old East Bay native who went viral by riding her horse, Dapper Dan, to a George Floyd protest last week in Oakland. She discusses bringing people of color like herself into the predominantly white "horse world."
20 min
School's Out: Now What?
With this very strange school term wrapping up, will students be woefully behind? Reporter Jill Tucker has a reassuring message for stressed-out parents: The kids will be all right.
24 min
A Reform Plan for the SFPD
Sparked by the national protests over the death of George Floyd, San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton wants to ban the police department from hiring any officer who engaged in misconduct in a previous job. | Get Full Chronicle coverage:
18 min
Fighting for Gun Safety During COVID-19
Shannon Watts, a new resident of the East Bay, founded Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America after the Sandy Hook school shooting. She's worried about the panic buying of guns during the coronavirus pandemic, but confident of big election wins in November.
20 min
The Protests Are Different This Time
Chronicle East Bay columnist Otis Taylor Jr. joins Audrey Cooper to talk about how the Bay Area is handling the unrest that's followed the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, and why the demonstrations feel different.
24 min
San Francisco's "$1.7 Billion Dollar Challenge"
Controller Ben Rosenfield describes what it's like to go from balancing the books of an economic powerhouse — the City and County of San Francisco — to facing down a $1.7 billion budget gap almost overnight.
20 min
San Francisco's Grand Reopening
Mayor London Breed laid out when residents can browse in stores, eat in restaurants and work out at gyms. Reporter Dominic Fracassa delves into the details and describes the new, stricter face-covering requirements.
16 min
BART on the Ropes
Riders have peeled away and sales tax projections are abysmal because of the coronavirus crisis. Some officials want to close stations. BART has a budget to survive for one year. What happens after that is a big question mark.
19 min
Why Are COVID-19 Cases on the Rise?
Diagnoses of coronavirus are increasing in some Bay Area counties. Notably, Alameda County is now the hardest hit in the region. What’s happening here? Health writer Erin Allday explains the latest theories.
18 min
Inside a Homeless Hotel in San Francisco
Supervisor Matt Haney has been working at a hotel for homeless people to shelter in place during the coronavirus pandemic. He tells Heather Knight it's convinced him more people on the streets need to be moved into vacant rooms.
33 min
COVID-19 Devastates the Tenderloin
Ten weeks into shelter-in-place, the San Francisco neighborhood remains crowded with tents, and people can't maintain social distance. Sam Dennison of the anti-poverty nonprofit Faithful Fools lays out what City Hall should be doing to help.
28 min
Where and How to Go Outdoors
Slowly but surely, governments are reopening parks, preserves, beaches and lakes. Outdoors writer Tom Stienstra is tracking it all, and he talks about the dos and don’ts of venturing outside this Memorial Day weekend and beyond.
22 min
The Mystery of the Missing PPE
A shortage of masks, gowns and other medical-grade equipment has been a major issue in the coronavirus pandemic. It's still happening, and reporter Dominic Fracassa says that hospitals and county officials don't want to talk about it.
21 min
How to Smile With a Mask On
You're never fully dressed without a smile, but with face masks mandatory, no one can tell you're smiling. Reporter Annie Vainshtein talks about the importance of smiles in American culture and what might replace them.
19 min
Songs of the Coronavirus Shutdown
Professional musicians around the Bay Area are entertaining and consoling their neighbors with public performances during shelter-in-place. Heather Knight talks to Page Street cellist Saul Richmond-Rakerd about why music is so comforting.
12 min
I'm Over 65 But Who Are you Calling Elderly?
Age is a factor in coronavirus risk, but many Americans over 65 are pushing back on sometimes condescending advice to isolate — often from their own adult children. Ryan Kost talks about it with his favorite older American: his mom.
20 min