Total SF

A San Francisco culture podcast featuring celebrity guests, non-celebrity guests, personalities from the San Francisco Chronicle and a celebration of Bay Area life. Hosted by culture critic Peter Hartlaub and columnist Heather Knight and recorded on the streets, hilltops, parks and landmarks of San Francisco. The pair's focus on the whimsy and wonder of San Francisco began in 2018 when they rode every bus, train, cable car and street car in the city in one day. They believe in highlighting the eccentric characters, independent bookstores, burger joints and bars that make the bay so great.

TV & Film
Society & Culture
The most romantic spots in San Francisco
For Valentine's Day, Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub, Heather Knight and Tony Bravo head to the Cupid's Span sculpture along the Embarcadero to pick 12 of the most romantic spots in San Francisco. The picks include some less obvious spots, including the most romantic view in San Francisco, a tour of Chinatown and North Beach and two romantic walks through the Presidio.
32 min
Ruth Asawa’s must-see S.F. Fountain turns 50
29 min
Secrets of Anchor Brewing in San Francisco!
Anchor Brewing has been a big part of San Francisco for more than a century, surviving Prohibition as the only steam beer left in San Francisco, then leading the craft beer movement after innovative brewer Fritz Maytag took over in 1965. Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight got an Anchor Brewing tour from brewmaster Dane Volek, then sat down to talk about Anchor history, the controversial label change and what is was like joining the Anchor team as a 20-year-old San Francisco State student 15 years ago.
32 min
Secrets of the Cal Academy penguins!
With two new penguin chicks arriving at California Academy of Sciences late last year, Academy biologist Holly Rosenblum gave the Total SF team a behind-the-scenes tour — and an exclusive interview with the baby birds. Also in this episode, hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub announce their new quest to find an official animal of San Francisco (the penguins are nominated!) and Rosenblum explains the international breeding program to save the African penguins — which includes travel on commercial flights.
28 min
11 FREE things to do in S.F. in 2023
With wet weather hitting San Francisco, Stuart "Broke-Ass Stuart" Schuffman joins Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight in the San Francisco Chronicle archive to talk about free things to do in 2023. Choices include a free museum in the city with no fee, hidden parks near the Financial District, the best outdoor movie series and the best free basketball action in the city.
34 min
14 things you must do in S.F. in 2023
29 min
8 reasons why we still love San Francisco (Best...
After seeing yet another high-profile attack about "the decline of San Francisco," hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight return to the San Francisco Chronicle's podcast studios to discuss the myth of the Golden Age of S.F., and then pick eight reasons why they still love the city. San Francisco's parks and views, a few very competent city agencies and the Phoenix mentality are all on the list. Is San Francisco over? Maybe some day, but it's definitely not going to be decided by some venture capitalist on Twitter.
27 min
Secrets of the San Francisco fog!
Gerry Diaz is the first meteorologist in San Francisco Chronicle history, after working for the National Weather Service. Total SF hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub invite Diaz on the podcast to talk about San Francisco fog and why it happens, the current cold front and help us give a name to San Francisco's wind.
33 min
Best places to get married in San Francisco
San Francisco is a beautiful place to have a wedding, as Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight learned, after attending the nuptials of podcast listeners Kevin Dublin and Kate Lewin. Hartlaub and Knight play audio from that wedding, then invite Chronicle arts and culture columnist Tony Bravo for a draft to pick the best places in the city to get married. The Muni historical streetcars, Hornblower cruises, San Francisco Botanical Garden and Vaillancourt Fountain (!?!) make the list.
35 min
Secrets of the Transamerica Pyramid!
The Transamerica Pyramid was mercilessly attacked by critics when it was finished 50 years ago. But now a new owner of the Pyramid may be a catalyst to help save San Francisco's struggling Financial District. Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight welcome new Pyramid owner Michael Shvo, who talks about his childhood visit to the building in the 1970s and his current plans to revitalize the area.
29 min
The joyous sounds of Glide Memorial Church
Glide Memorial Church musical director Vernon Bush is a dynamic presence leading the Glide Ensemble, using his experience as a preacher's kid and his love for community to lift the diverse group – and the congregation — higher. Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight watch and record a Glide Ensemble rehearsal, then join Bush on stage to talk about his upbringing near choirs, the church's history and how he feels about the Tenderloin District making the news. And Bush tries to explain what it's like leading a choir when Joan Baez, Bobby McFerrin or Bono might drop by at any time.
29 min
8 things we're thankful for in San Francisco
28 min
Talking steaks, history and caviar doughnuts, w...
Food Network chef Tyler Florence is an international star, but he chose to settle in the Bay Area. Total SF hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub meet Florence at Warriors owner Joe Lacob's table in the Chase Center restaurant Miller & Lux, to talk about the California cattle barons who inspired the steak house's name, the future of restaurants in San Francisco, how the South Carolina-born chef ended up settling in the Bay Area and the secret "Goodfellas" door between his restaurant and the Warriors arena.
37 min
The NBA's Warrior/poet writes a new chapter
Tom Meschery had his number retired by the Golden State Warriors. He's a poet, 20-year English teacher, poet, bookstore owner and at age 84 just published his first novel. Total SF hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub sit down with the extremely well-rounded basketball great to talk about Meschery's signing bonus and NBA fights in the 1960s, his immigrant childhood in San Francisco and his new book — "The Case of the '61 Chevy Impala: A Brovelli Brothers mystery."
44 min
The best (and worst) Bay Area hikes!
What are the best hikes in San Francisco and the Bay Area? Chronicle data editor Dan Kopf joins Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight to talk about their recent collaboration, using more than 600,000 AllTrails user reviews to determine the best and worst hikes in the region.
29 min
Branching out with S.F.'s tree maestro
Mike Sullivan is the author of The Trees of San Francisco, and has been sharing his tree expertise for years on his site But he found new purpose during the pandemic, working with tree-loving friends to create chalk tree tours throughout the city. Total SF hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub sit down with Sullivan in his tree-filled Cole Valley backyard, and talk about S.F.'s good and bad tree neighborhoods, tree history and Peter's suggestion that there are "bad" trees. (Looking at you eucalyptus!)
32 min
A perfect day in San Francisco 2022
Total SF hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub each pick a full perfect day in San Francisco, including food, drinks, historic streetcars, drag shows, an edible and a lot of love for small businesses. It's a sequel to the 2021 "perfect day in S.F." episode that was the most popular episode of the year. This year, we included 15 Total SF listeners, recorded on the All Our S.F. Outdoors Day hike across the Crosstown Trail.
35 min
Secrets of the Doggie Diner heads!
With three 10-foot Doggie Diner heads appearing on John F. Kennedy Promenade in Golden Gate Park, historian, maker and Doggie Diner collector John Law joins hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight to talk about the phenomenon.
43 min
Making S.F. glamorous again, with Juanita More!
Juanita More has spent 30 years in San Francisco as a drag queen, philanthropist, activist, chef and party central. Total SF hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub visited the new Juanita More exhibit at the San Francisco Arts Commission's main gallery and talked with More and her fashion designer Mr. David Glamamore about their history, why San Francisco has not lost its soul and how to bring glamour back to the city and our lives.
37 min
Bay Area transit report card — Total Transit 20...
Total SF hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub recap some of the highlights from their Total Transit 2022 adventure, where they attempted to ride as many of the Bay Area's 27 transit agencies as possible. (Ending at the San Francisco Giants game.) Audio from the journey is shared, including an interview with Pac-Man the BART falcon. And they break down some positives and negatives for regional transportation, and a grade for the current state of Bay Area transit.
33 min
Ask a Cable Car Gripman: Your questions answered!
Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight visit the cable car barn in San Francisco and talk with gripman Val Lupiz and former cable car barn superintendent David Banbury about the history of the transit network, and ask listener questions about the cable car line. Lupiz and Banbury cover the meaning of certain bells, why Muni no longer allows tourists to push cars on the turnaround and what gripmen think about that cable car explosion scene in "The Rock."
40 min
Ask a Muni Driver: Your questions answered!
Transit lover and poet Mc "Mack" Allen met Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight on Total Muni 2018, when he was the first civilian to find them during their successful attempt to ride every Muni line in one day. He's since become a Muni operator, and we invited him back on the podcast to answer questions from listeners — including his favorite views, the strangest things he's seen as a driver and what he thinks of the Lunchables ad-wrap on several Muni coaches right now.
36 min
The San Francisco Bay Ferry rises again!
The ferry system in San Francisco was written off as dead in 1958. But the San Francisco Bay Ferry rose again after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and is arguably the most liked transit system in the Bay Area. Total SF hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub recorded on the ferry with executive director Seamus Murphy, talking ferry history, learning how the system works and what's the possible future for the growing transit agency.
29 min
The best stories from 50 years of BART
For the first episode of Total SF Transit Month, hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight invited BART's Alicia Trost and Seung Lee, who hold the keys to the transit agency's social media. Trost and Lee talk about BART history, modern challenges and the agency's 50th anniversary celebration, which lands during Transit Month.
37 min
Secrets of Glen Canyon: Dynamite, bears and a f...
Glen Canyon is one of the most underrated parks in San Francisco, with a dramatic history that's mostly unknown beyond the Glen Park neighborhood. Glen Park Neighborhood History Project founder Evelyn Rose joins Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight to talk about the canyon's history, including the dynamite factory (and a huge explosion), the zoo and plans for a freeway that were successfully fought by three women called the "Gumtree Girls."
33 min