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:

Thank You For Listening
In a final farewell, Fifth and Mission host and executive producer Cecilia Lei explains why the show is ending and what making the show has meant to the team. To share any thoughts or messages with the production crew before they leave, visit or leave a message at 415-777-6156.
7 min
"From Victim to Actor": What Ballroom Dance Mea...
After tragedy struck an Asian ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, host Cecilia Lei reports from ballroom studios and social dances in Oakland and San Francisco to see how Asian seniors are responding — and how dancing helps them find their personal power.
20 min
San Francisco Drug Arrests Are Surging. Here’s ...
Drug users and dealers are being arrested in unusually high numbers in San Francisco’s troubled Tenderloin neighborhood amid a spike in overdose deaths and complaints about street conditions. It’s just the latest in a series of enforcement pushes, and this time, state agencies are involved. But even within the city’s own government, this is a deeply controversial strategy. And, as City Hall reporter Aldo Toledo and data reporter Susie Neilson tell Laura Wenus, neighborhood denizens are not yet seeing the desired results.
20 min
Political activist, TV host and author Van Jones
The Fifth and Mission team is not producing any new episodes this week. Instead, we are sharing some of our favorite past episodes that exemplify what we've loved about making this show. Today's pick is from 2017, chosen by It's All Political on Fifth and Mission host, Joe Garofoli.
49 min
A Celebrated Food Hall Closes in the Tenderloin
La Cocina Municipal Marketplace was heralded as a springboard for immigrant- and women-owned food businesses when it opened in 2021. Now, its food kiosks are closing down. Opinion columnist Soleil Ho and food reporter Mario Cortez join host Cecilia Lei to discuss whether the closure is a symptom of the city’s larger struggles and what the loss means for the food hall’s resident vendors and Tenderloin neighbors.
21 min
The Price of Fighting California’s Wildfires
Wildland firefighting has long been recognized as dangerous, dirty work. Now, there is growing evidence that it can also cause serious long-term health problems. Chronicle reporter Julie Johnson spent six months investigating the impacts of wildfire smoke on firefighters, and spoke to a dozen men and women diagnosed with grave diseases who all suspect that smoke was a factor. She tells host Cecilia Lei that for decades fire agencies have struggled to provide meaningful protection for their workers, but that progress could be coming.
20 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
"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. As Kushel, the study's lead investigator, tells host Cecilia Lei, the majority of respondents became homeless in California — and relatively small amounts of money could have prevented it for almost everyone.
17 min
A Cautionary Tale on American Fascism from Rach...
Rachel Maddow’s new book, “Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism,” tells the largely overlooked story of America’s own Nazi movement during World War II — and the people who battled it at great personal risk. Ahead of a live appearance in San Francisco, she joins It’s All Political on Fifth & Mission host Joe Garofoli to share the alarming history and why it resonates so deeply today.
25 min
Food Banks Helped the Bay Area Get Through the ...
As demand for food support skyrocketed during the early days of the pandemic, Bay Area food banks redoubled their efforts, boosting food distribution and adding services. Years later, the need remains high, even as pandemic-era funding sources run dry. Reporter Carolyn Said tells host Laura Wenus why the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank will be paring back its services, and how that might affect clients.
15 min
In Phoenix, Robotaxis Roam Free From Protest
Driverless car companies have faced some bumps in the road as they roll out services in San Francisco. But in Phoenix, Arizona, Waymo has been operating robotaxis since 2020 with little pushback. Transportation reporter Ricardo Cano, fresh off a trip to Arizona to see them in action, takes Fifth & Mission producer Keith Menconi on an autonomous vehicle ride to see why the driverless future is looking so different between the two cities.
19 min
Tell Us How Local Politics Is Affecting Your Pe...
With the 2024 election a year away, we want to hear from you: Have you had difficult or contentious conversations with friends and family over divisive local issues? Are political frictions in the Bay Area weighing on you? We’d like to hear your story. Email us at or leave a message at 415-777-6156, and you might be part of a future episode.
1 min
Former Poster Child for Accused Men Now on Tria...
After Navy veteran Joseph Carl Roberts was expelled from Savannah State University amid accusations of sexual harassment, he became a poster child for men claiming they were falsely accused and successfully lobbied for rollbacks to Obama-era Title IX reforms. That activism earned him national media attention and a seat on a local Republican committee in San Francisco. Today, Roberts faces much more serious charges: He is on trial for killing and dismembering his girlfriend, Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner. Investigative reporter Matthias Gafni tells host Laura Wenus Roberts' story and the latest from his case.
25 min
S.F. Parking Officers Have Been Ticketing Stole...
Car thefts are on the rise in San Francisco, and when owners find their stolen vehicles, the windshields often have an unexpected addition: parking tickets. Why are parking control officers citing stolen vehicles instead of helping to recover them? Chronicle reporters St. John "Sinjin" Barned-Smith and Susie Neilson join host Cecilia Lei to explain what they found when they looked into the city's practice, and how Mayor London Breed responded to the Chronicle's report. Plus, a reader shares how the investigation helped him find a missing vehicle.
20 min
After a ‘Miracle’ Water Year, New Usage Limits ...
Water reservoirs across California have been overflowing thanks to last year’s record-breaking rainy season, but California state officials are still rolling out new usage restrictions. Chronicle reporter Kurtis Alexander joins host Cecilia Lei to discuss the state’s new plan to make water conservation permanent and how the water cuts may affect Bay Area residents.
15 min
Soon-to-be Champions? Expectations are High for...
The wait is almost over: In 2025, a new WNBA expansion team will begin playing in the Bay Area. The long-anticipated squad will be part of the Golden State Warriors franchise, benefiting from the Golden State brand and owner Joe Lacob’s deep pockets. Will women’s sports fans in the Bay Area ensure it thrives? Sports columnist Ann Killion analyzes what the move means for basketball and the Bay Area with host Laura Wenus.
15 min
Lessons for ‘California Forever’ from the Town ...
Wealthy tech investors recently unveiled their plans to build a utopian city in southeast Solano County, calling it California Forever. They’re promising idyllic streets and “good paying local jobs,” many of the same things touted for the development of Mountain House, a city built from scratch two decades ago in San Joaquin County. Chronicle urban design critic John King visited Mountain House, and joins host Cecilia Lei to discuss how the community has thrived — and faltered — and what lessons California Forever should take from the masterplanned town.
23 min
Richard Oakes Led the Alcatraz Occupation — And...
In 1969, Native activist Richard Oakes led a group representing several tribes to occupy Alcatraz Island, claiming it as the site of a new Native nation. Three years later, the charismatic face of the Red Power movement was dead, shot by a white neighbor in rural Sonoma. What happened? And how did Oakes’ killing change the course of Native activism? Reporters Jason Fagone and Julie Johnson dug into the past to uncover truths that have been buried for 50 years. They join host Cecilia Lei to share what they found.
33 min
The Country’s Leaders are Getting Older. Some S...
The Senate minority leader freezing on camera; California’s senior senator dying in office at age 90: This year has served up a number of reminders that America’s elected leaders are now – on average – far older than the constituents they serve. It’s a trend that has led progressive advocate Amanda Litman to say the U.S. has become a gerontocracy. She joins It’s All Political on Fifth & Mission Host Joe Garofoli to discuss the graying of the country’s political class and why she’s working to get more young people into office.
20 min
Fifth & Mission LIVE: How Frontline Workers Wou...
Last month, Fifth & Mission gathered people on the front lines of the drug overdose crisis in the Bay Area to pose an urgent question: How do we end fatal overdoses? In front of a live audience at Manny’s, our panel of peer counselors, public health employees and medical practitioners joined host Cecilia Lei to discuss access to treatment, harm reduction strategies, the role of the police and the importance of housing — and hope.
25 min
What a San Francisco Psychiatrist Learned Talki...
Years ago, Dr. Robert Okin took to San Francisco’s streets with a camera and a request: to take portraits and speak with mentally ill homeless people. The former head of psychiatry at San Francisco General Hospital published their stories and photos in a book, “Silent Voices,” whose second edition was released this year. Okin joins host Laura Wenus to share what he learned, what he makes of the state’s new CARE Court, and why he thinks the systems meant to stabilize this population often fail them instead.
25 min
Introducing Laphonza Butler, California's New S...
California’s newest senator is Laphonza Butler, who was picked by Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill the late Dianne Feinstein’s seat. Who is Butler? And will the former labor leader who has never held elected office run for the full six-year term? Reporters Shira Stein and Sophia Bollag join It’s All Political on Fifth & Mission host Joe Garofoli to get to know the state’s newest political leader.
21 min
In Oakland, Calls for Law and Order are Coming...
As concern over public safety mounts in Oakland, the local chapter of the NAACP has railed against progressive city leaders and called for more law and order. It’s an unusual position for a group whose national organization is known for its support of increased police accountability. Columnist Justin Phillips joins host Cecilia Lei to share why he thinks the Oakland chapter is betraying the city’s Black population by using right-wing rhetoric.
22 min
'It's what I'm meant to do': How tragedy shaped...
Trailblazing San Francisco mayor and California Senator Dianne Feinstein died late Thursday at 90. In this April 3, 2018 interview, Feinstein offered a rare look at how tragedy, death and illness shaped her life and career. The longtime senator spoke with It's All Political on Fifth & Mission host Joe Garofoli about growing up in San Francisco and her time in local politics — including when she lost a bet while serving as mayor and had to wear a bathing suit to a public event.
38 min
New Civil Court Program Promises Care for Menta...
On Monday, a new civil court program is launching in San Francisco to serve the seriously mentally ill. It’s called CARE court, and it’s intended to push more people into treatment for certain mental illnesses. While its scope is limited, some critics worry the program will infringe on civil liberties. Others say it doesn’t go far enough. Reporter Aldo Toledo joins host Laura Wenus to give a preview.
17 min