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
Street performers: The underrated heartbeat of ...
While the cable cars made headlines, another heartbeat of the city has also returned — the San Francisco street performer. Total SF co-hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight hop an F-line from the Powell Street cable car turnaround to Pier 39, to visit some of the city's most successful street artists. We hear from: Marc Coleman, the bard of the Ferry Building; Oakland Originalz dancer and stunt performer Javon Mabon; and and Larry "Bucketman" Hunt, who has been playing drums and eating fire in San Francisco since 1979. (And had a cameo in "The Pursuit of Happyness.") We get some history, and in the end learn the secret superpower of the San Francisco street performer.
26 min
A perfect day in San Francisco
Total SF hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub break down their perfect day in San Francisco, creating an hour-by-hour list of things to do and places to go in the city, without telling each other until the podcast started rolling. It gets competitive, as Knight picks a more historical and cultural route, while Hartlaub chooses to get inebriated in the morning and eat sandwiches. But it's collectively a celebration of the city, with tips for your next off day in good weather. Some common ground includes the historic F-line street cars, a walk through Golden Gate Park, visits to independent bookstores and big finish on the roof of a drag club in SOMA.
30 min
True stories from the Chronicle's funniest writer
Steve Rubenstein, the longest tenured reporter at The Chronicle, joins Total SF co-hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight to talk about what the San Francisco Chronicle newsroom was like in 1976, give a review of the newly remodeled newsroom and talk about the reason why he loved every day of his 45-year journalism career (with a short leave to become a substitute public school teacher). Rubenstein also has good Herb Caen and Joe Rosenthal stories, and explains why he'd rather interview the president of the United States' chef than the actual president.
34 min
Secrets of Sutro Tower!
Sutro Tower may be the most beloved landmark among San Francisco residents, and now we all have a PhD in the Sutro's history and present. Sutro spokesman Dave Hyams joins co-hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight to talk about what exactly Sutro does in 2021, the constant maintenance and some wild trivia. Did you know that there's so much concrete underneath Sutro Tower that the center of gravity is below ground? And no mayor has ever been to the top. (Be the first London Breed!) Also in this episode, we give a Total SF Book Club update, and replay Daniel Handler's very funny S.F.-centric accordion version of "Should I Stay or Should I Go"
33 min
A final trip back to the Circle Star Theatre
33 min
Ready for more 'People Behaving Badly'?
33 min
San Francisco's beloved libraries are back
City librarian Michael Lambert discusses how librarians stepped up as disaster service workers during the COVID-pandemic, but are reopening all branches but one this month.
23 min
Into the lion's den with "curmudgeon" Quentin Kopp
36 min
Page Street tribute and the return of S.F.
Co-hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight record on the Page Street Slow Street, and draft their favorite things that are back since San Francisco reopened. After expressing opinions about the removal of Page Street's artwork, Hartlaub and Knight pay tribute to cable cars, Musee Mecanique and a new Oasis SF drag show.
29 min
"Online piano bar for hippies," with David Gans
37 min
Never leaving San Francisco, with Daniel Handler
43 min
Adam Savage is ready for crowds again
TV host and maker Adam Savage has been holed up in his Mission District "cave" workshop for much of the pandemic. But he's ready for crowds again, planning the Aug. 28-29 SiliCon convention, which will be one of the first Bay Area events with large crowds since the shelter in place started last March. Savage returns to Total SF to speak with co-host Peter Hartlaub about the Mission District and the future of San Francisco, his own convention beginnings, and what he plans to bring to the SiliCon convention.
37 min
Secrets of Angel Island!
Angel Island State Park is our pick for the official post-pandemic paradise of Total SF, with its biking trails, includible views, old buildings and ... did we mention the views? Hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub are joined by retired ranger and historian John Martini, who offers some Angel Island history and makes a case for the park being very underused and underrated. Hartlaub and Knight also announce their next movie night, an IN PERSON screening of "San Andreas" at the Balboa Theatre in San Francisco.
43 min
SF's spiritual spaces, with Bishop Megan Rohrer
Bishop-elect Megan Rohrer returns to Total SF to share some of their favorite spiritual spaces in San Francisco — places where people can feel centered and reflect and revive. Hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight meet Rohrer in Grace Lutheran Church, and talk about their new job, which will make Rohrer the first transgender bishop of any major denomination religion in U.S. history.
45 min
Crosstown Trail: The epic hike SF needs right now
The Crosstown Trail is the hike San Francisco needs right now, traversing the city on a 17-mile diagonal and daring the walker or biker to fall in love with the city again. Hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight interview one of the Crosstown Trail's chief advocates and creators, Bob Siegel. But first Hartlaub and Knight recap the 30-Day Small Business Challenge that just ended, and announce their new Total SF Book Club title.
36 min
Renel Brooks-Moon has more to say
Giants PA announcer Renel Brooks-Moon has been a pandemic MVP on social media, continuing to cheer on the Giants and the city of San Francisco, while also speaking her truth about Black Lives Matter and the death of George Floyd, and baseball's response. She joins hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight in McLaren Park to talk about announcing to an stadium with no fans, the return of baseball crowds and her thoughts about the future of S.F. after the pandemic.
36 min
The little Boat Tram that could ... save San Fr...
The beloved Boat Tram streetcar line is back after a pandemic hiatus and hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight are reporting on the first voyage of the beloved transit icon. Interviews include S.F. Mayor London Breed, Muni director Jeffrey Tumlin and Boat Tram operator Melvin Clark, who was inspired by Rice-O-Roni commercials to cross the country and join Muni.
18 min
Hunter and Alexis Pence go to bat for San Franc...
After Hunter Pence retired from the Giants last year, Hunter and Alexis Pence decided to stay in San Francisco, exploring the city with fresh eyes and tripling down on their support of indie coffee houses and charity for the community. On May 22-23, 2021, they'll host their first coffee pop-up at Basebalism near Oracle Park. Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight talk with the Pences about coffee, baseball and how much they've felt at home in S.F.
47 min
No Safeway? No Amazon? No problem!
Hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight record in Chinatown's Portsmouth Square to give an update on the halfway point of the 30-Day Small Business Challenge. The Total SF co-hosts discuss the rules of the challenge, some areas where they *might* have broken the rules and how taking the challenge might change behavior (and help local businesses) beyond the 30-day mark.
25 min
The murders that made San Francisco
"The Murders that Made Us" author Bob Calhoun joins Total SF host Peter Hartlaub on the patio of Red's Java House to talk about Gold Rush-era hoodlums, serial killers, cult leaders and other historic Bay Area criminals — and how they shaped the region. The book is true crime, but it's also a thoughtful (and often darkly funny) exploration of San Francisco Bay Area history.
36 min
Moscone Center is the new Disneyland
As the so called "master of disaster" for S.F. Department of Emergency Management, Mary Ellen Carroll had been preparing for an earthquake. But she got a pandemic, and found a home base in Moscone Center, which has become a place of joy for San Francisco residents getting their vaccines. Carroll gives hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight a tour of the facility, and then sits down for an interview about preparedness, Anthony Fauci cardboard cutouts and why San Franciscans can be proud of what they've done for each other.
25 min
Chronicle sports editor Christina Kahrl blazes ...
New San Francisco Chronicle sports editor Christina Kahrl was the first out transgender sports reporter, and takes over leadership of The Chronicle's Sporting Green at an important time for athletics, as sports becomes more intertwined with politics and social justice. Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight meet Kahrl near her new home in Oakland, and also talk about her Oakland A's fandom, sports analytics and her past as a drag queen in the years before she came out.
42 min
Mayor London Breed: Shop locally — now!
San Francisco Mayor London Breed joins Total SF to introduce the Small Business 30-Day Challenge, where San Francisco residents are urged to avoid chain stores and shop local for an entire month. Total SF co-hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight make the pledge as well, and talk to Breed about her favorite small businesses as a child in San Francisco, her comeback after a roller skating fall and some thoughts about a post-pandemic future for San Francisco.
35 min
Car-free JFK Drive is not segregationist, with ...
37 min
Tom Ammiano: "Kiss My Gay Ass"
Tom Ammiano was ahead of his time as a San Francisco supervisor, Assemblyman and the first openly gay member of the SF Board of Education. But he still has stories to tell — about working as a teacher in Vietnam during the war, struggling as a gay comic and his not-always-friendly rivalry with Dianne Feinstein. Total SF co-host Peter Hartlaub flies solo this week, listening to good stories and San Francisco history on location in Ammiano's backyard.
50 min