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
A new chapter for Total SF!
Peter Hartlaub and Tony Bravo talk about a new Total SF newsletter
5 min
6 things we learned about San Francisco (a Tota...
With Heather Knight leaving for the New York Times, co-hosts Knight and Peter Hartlaub talk about how they met, their friendship and bond with the Total SF community, then each list three things they learned about San Francisco over a five-year partnership.
47 min
Secrets of San Francisco City Hall
San Francisco City Hall has a legendary dome and rotunda, featured in movies including "Milk" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and literally covered in gold. Total SF hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub take a dome tour with City Hall building manager Rob Reiter, visiting behind the scenes and climbing to the very top of the structure. Then they sit down with City Hall historian Ellen Schumer, who is also chair of the City Hall Preservation Advisory Commission.
36 min
Pouring one out for Anchor Brewing
With the news that Anchor Brewing is closing, Total SF hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub pay tribute to the 1927-year-old brewery, share some fond beer memories and talk about what Anchor meant to San Francisco. They also talk about the La Cocina closing, and pledge to support surviving small businesses. The second half of the episode is a repeat of the Jan. 27, 2023, Total SF interview with Anchor brewmaster Dane Volek.
38 min
Secrets of the S.F. Public Library archive
When the San Francisco Public Library moved to its new location at 100 Larkin St. on April 18, 1996, it had a brand new archivist, Susan Goldstein, who brought the library into the 21st Century with new ideas, digitization and a proactive approach toward gathering more diverse and complete collections that represent the city. Goldstein, who retires this month after 28 years with the library, gave Total SF co-host Peter Hartlaub a tour of the archive and San Francisco History Center, then sat down to talk about her career, her favorite discoveries and what history has to say about San Francisco's current struggles.
30 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.
28 min
9 San Francisco things we miss when we're gone ...
In this July 15, 2022 flashback episode, a return from vacation sparks a Total SF discussion between hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub about the San Francisco things they miss when they're gone, including weather patterns, food and one very specific transit agency. Knight just returned from two weeks in England, and Hartlaub — who rarely travels — channels the things he missed while living in Los Angeles in the 1990s.
27 min
Secrets of the Cow Palace!
The Cow Palace is the Swiss army knife and working class hero of Bay Area arenas. Total SF co-host Peter Hartlaub gets a tour of the 82-year-old arena then sits down with Cow Palace president Chris Corgas and CEO Allison Keaney to talk about Evel Knievel, Cow Palace hockey, Dianne Feinstein's livestock queen win and the present and future of the arena. Future events include boxing, a lowrider show, mariachi festival and NOFX Punk in Drublic craft brew and music festival. More information at
31 min
Is San Francisco a great running city?
San Francisco's hills and busy streets can make it a challenge for runners. But professional runner and UCSF cancer biologist Paddy O'Leary says S.F. is an outstanding running city, and produced "Urban Oasis: A Love Letter to San Francisco" as proof. With Total SF host Peter Hartlaub days away from competing in the grueling Dipsea Race, O'Leary, last year's second-place finisher, offers tips for the Dipsea course and some of his favorite places to train in San Francisco.
31 min
Ask a drag queen, with D'Arcy Drollinger
D'Arcy Drollinger, drag star and owner of Oasis SF, achieved his biggest role yet when he was named San Francisco's first drag laureate by S.F. Mayor London Breed. Drollinger joins Total SF hosts Heather Knight, Peter Hartlaub and Tony Bravo to talk about the new role, the potential for a drag emporium in S.F. and the future of "Golden Girls Live" after the passing of drag icon Heklina, who played Dorothy.
31 min
The story behind S.F.'s official instrument
30 min
Secrets of the San Francisco Opera House
The San Francisco Opera is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023, with programming returning on June 3. Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight paid a visit to the War Memorial Opera House, getting an insider's tour — including a drop inside the iconic chandelier — from building steward John Boatwright and prop master Lori Harrison.
33 min
Archery lessons and S.F. love with Dave Eggers
Author Dave Eggers has made his home in San Francisco, founding McSweeney's Publishing and co-founding the 826 Valencia writing workshop. His latest book, "The Eyes & the Impossible" may be his most S.F. book yet, following the adventures and poetic thoughts of a dog in a loosely fictionalized version of Golden Gate Park.
40 min
Secrets of SFMOMA!
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is internationally known, but it remains dedicated to local artists and art-lovers. Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight take a tour with chief curator Judy Bishop, who has worked at the museum for 35 years. After a walk through the One-Way Color Tunnel, Bishop talks about SF MOMA's amazing founder Grace McCann Morley, last year's Soap Box Derby and the museum's post-pandemic rebound.
27 min
The best hidden stairways of San Francisco
27 min
8 things to do in S.F. this spring!
With the weather improving after a frigid winter, Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight pick eight fun things to do this spring. Outdoorsy adventures include a super bloom flower tour, walk from Oracle Park to North Beach, SF City FC soccer game at Kezar Stadium and fun on the Treasure Island ferry.
23 min
Secrets of S.F. International Airport!
28 min
The ultimate Bay Area hip-hop mixtape
KQED launched the ambitious That's My Word project earlier this year, assembling several music and culture writers to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop in the Bay Area. KQED's Gabe Meline and Pendarvis Harshaw join Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight in The Chronicle archive to talk about the project, the KQED/Chronicle rivalry and the legacy of rap music in the Bay Area.
36 min
Secrets of the Pier 39 sea lions
How did the sea lions get to Pier 39? With the pinnipeds dominating the voting for the Official Animal of San Francisco, Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight sat down with Pier 39 harbormaster Sheila Chandor and former CEO Taylor Safford to learn about the history of Pier 39's famous marine residents. Chandor and Safford also talk about Pier 39's beginnings as a much-derided tourism center, and why a larger number of locals have been enjoying the waterfront attraction.
31 min
Secrets of the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill
The parrots of Telegraph Hill have been getting strong support for Official Animal of San Francisco. "Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill" director Judy Irving and parrot rescue volunteer Sarah Lemarié join Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight to talk about the 20th anniversary of the movie, its restoration and what the flock is up to now.
32 min
Secrets of the Golden Gate Park bison
Bison may not be native to San Francisco, but they have a lasting legacy in the history of the city and Golden Gate Park. Western Neighborhoods Project executive director Nicole Meldahl joins Total SF hosts Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub to talk about the 1891 bison arrival in S.F., numerous escapes, Dianne Feinstein's weird bison gift and that time the Golden Gate Park superintendent wanted to feed excess bison to the bears.
31 min
S.F.'s 90-year-old fish is breaking records
Methuselah the Australian lungfish arrived at the Steinhart Aquarium in 1938, when Willie Mays was six years old and Al Capone was still seeing time in Alcatraz. Cal Academy of Sciences biologist Ryan Schaeffer gives Total SF co-hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight a tour of the famous fish's enclosure, before talking about the life, care, puppy-like quirks and history of the world's oldest fish in a zoological settling.
27 min
It's Animal Month! Meet Claude the albino allig...
March is Animal Month on Total SF, where hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight showcase some of the most iconic animals in San Francisco, and poll listeners and readers to determine the official animal of San Francisco. First up is an up-close feeding with Claude the albino alligator, and an interview with California Academy of Sciences biologist Emma Kocina.
29 min
Behind the scenes with our Warriors beat writer
C.J. Holmes joined the San Francisco Chronicle last year with some unique experience to cover the Warriors beat — he was a Division I basketball player who competed against current NBA stars. Total SF hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight meet Holmes, shoot around at a park near the newsroom, and ask Holmes about his journey from playing ball to covering the current world champions.
34 min
The 9 best live music venues in S.F.
San Francisco is filled with excellent music venues, from historic spots including the Great American Music Hall and SF Masonic to the brand new Chase Center. Dublin poet Laureate James Morehouse joins hosts Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight to draft their nine favorite music venues in San Francisco, and tell stories about some of their favorite concerts in the city.
36 min