Forum KQED's live call-in program presents wide-ranging discussions of local, state, national and international issues, as well as in-depth interviews.



KQED's live call-in program presents wide-ranging discussions of local, state, national and international issues, as well as in-depth interviews.

Most Recent Episodes

The History of Oakland, Told Through Its Geology

Every city sits where it does for geological reasons, be that suitable terrain, availability of water or other natural resources, good climate or beautiful scenery. In the case of Oakland, it was all of these things. Since the original inhabitants, the Ohlones, Oakland has attracted settlers for its landscape, beauty and resources, each of which has a connection with its distinctive geology. But as much as the physical terrain shaped Oakland's development into a bustling city, the people who resided in the East Bay have molded the land right back. As geologist Andrew Alden explores in his book "Deep Oakland: How Geology Shaped a City," geologic history is a dramatic entanglement of people and place. We'll talk with Alden about his new book and how the Bay Area's geology forms the blueprint for our society. Guests: Andrew Alden, geologist, writer, photographer, and geological tour guide. His latest book is "Deep Oakland: How Geology Shaped a City."

Why More People are Getting Allergies and Why They're Getting Worse

Allergies have intensified over the last few decades. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of the global population has some form of allergy, and experts say that number could rise to 50 percent by the year 2030. So what's behind this? Research shows it's a complicated picture, with climate change, our stress levels and genetics all playing roles. We talk to medical anthropologist Theresa McPhail, author of the new book "Allergic," about what the latest research shows on diagnostics, treatment and what we can do to cope with our allergies in a "changing world." Guests: Theresa MacPhail, medical anthropologist and associate professor of Science and Technology Studies, Stevens Institute of Technology; author, "Allergic: Our Irritated Bodies in a Changing World"

S.F. Mayor London Breed on How to Prevent an Economic "Doom Loop" ... and Her New Budget

San Francisco has long been a favorite target of conservative news outlets. But a recent CNN special on the city's drug and homelessness crises posed the question, "What Happened to San Francisco?" and a New York magazine piece asks: "What is it like to live in a city that no longer believes its problems can be fixed?" For Mayor London Breed, talk of a San Francisco "doom loop" is premature. Her newly released 14.6 billion budget proposal seeks to tackle many of the city's thorniest problems. We'll talk to her about her spending plan, her proposal to revive downtown and burnish the city's image and she'll take your questions. Guests: London Breed, mayor, City and County of San Francisco

S.F. Mayor London Breed on How to Prevent an Economic "Doom Loop" ... and Her New Budget

The History, Controversy, and Promise of MDMA

Few drugs in history have generated as much controversy, or held as much promise as MDMA, writes science journalist Rachel Nuwer. Health officials once said the psychedelic drug known as Ecstasy or Molly would eat holes in the brains of the people who took it. Decades later, researchers are on the verge of applying for federal authorization to use the drug to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a move which Nuwer says could revolutionize its place in society. Nuwer traces the little known history of the drug – from its first confirmed human use in the San Francisco Bay Area during the counterculture era, to the cutting edge of therapeutic research – in her new book "I Feel Love: MDMA and the Quest for Connection in a Fractured World." Guests: Rachel Nuwer, author and freelance science journalist. She's written for outlets like The New York Times and National Geographic. Her new book is "I Feel Love: M-D-M-A and the Quest for Connection in a Fractured World."

Efforts to Boost Native Plants in California Take Root

Some people may think palm trees are native to California, but they're not. In fact, non-native flora abound throughout our state. A bill moving through the California Legislature aims to boost the proliferation of native plants by requiring landscaping on some public and commercial areas to use at least 75 percent low-water, native plants by 2035. The idea is to promote cultivation of California's native plants, increase biodiversity, and respond better to climate change. Native plants play an important role in supporting wildlife and insects that have evolved together over thousands of years. We'll talk about efforts to grow more native plants in California, how they benefit the environment and how to incorporate them into your garden. Guests: Andrea Williams, director of Biodiversity Initiatives for the California Native Plant Society Michael Wilcox, senior lecturer of Native American Studies and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Stanford University Kathy Crane, owner of Yerba Buena Nursery at Pastorino Farms Nina House, museum scientist at the University and Jepson Herbaria, at University of California Berkeley

State Farm and Allstate Pull out of California Homeowners Insurance Market

Citing an increased risk of natural disasters, two of California's largest property insurers, State Farm and Allstate, are no longer selling new homeowners insurance in the state. Insurers have been shrinking their coverage areas in California for the last few years, especially in wildfire-prone regions, but the latest moves signal just how much insurers are accounting for the increasing costs of climate change. We'll talk about the impact on homeowners, homebuilders and would-be home buyers and how the state is responding. Guests: Ivan Penn , Los Angeles-based reporter covering alternative energy, The New York Times. Michael Wara, policy director for the Sustainability Accelerator at the Doerr School of Sustainability and director of the Climate and Energy Policy Program and senior research scholar at the Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University Kimiko Barrett, research and policy analyst, Headwater Economics Ricardo Lara, Insurance Commissioner of California

State Farm and Allstate Pull out of California Homeowners Insurance Market

What the Booming AI Industry Could Mean for the Bay Area

For most of its history, Santa Clara based company Nvidia has been known primarily as a designer of computer parts meant for video games. But in recent years, those parts have become a crucial part of artificial intelligence programs. Now, Nvidia dominates the market of graphics processing units, or GPUs, meant for AI at a time when interest in AI is exploding. Skyrocketing demand for these GPUs have raised stock prices for Nvidia, giving the company a rare market valuation of more than$1 trillion, a distinction shared by only four other U.S. companies: Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet. We'll talk about Nvidia's history in Silicon Valley, its recent climb to elite status, and what the rise of AI might mean for the Bay Area. Guests: Cade Metz, technology reporter, the New York Times; author, "Genius Makers: The Mavericks Who Brought A.I. to Google, Facebook, and The World" Margaret O'Mara, Scott and Dorothy Bullitt professor of American History, the University of Washington; author, "The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America" Max A. Cherney, senior tech reporter, the Silicon Valley Business Journal

Haggling Your Way Through A Tricky Economy

Haggling. For some people, a transaction is not complete if it doesn't include a request for a discount, an upgrade or something more. For others, the very idea of haggling makes them cringe. They don't want to look like a jerk or seem petty about money. But, in an economy where it feels like things are more expensive than ever, haggling can save you money and time. With a little or a lot of haggling you might be able to score reduced rent, get a better hotel room or shave thousands off a medical bill. We'll talk to experts about why people are reluctant to haggle, how to haggle, and where to haggle. And we'll hear from you: What's the best deal you've haggled for recently? Guests: Veronica Dagher, personal finance reporter, the Wall Street Journal; author, Wall Street Journal's ebook "Resilience: How 20 Ambitious Women Used Obstacles to Fuel Their Success" Richard Shell, professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics and Management Organization, the Wharton School; author, "Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People" and "The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas"

How Musicians are Navigating Streaming Algorithms, AI and Automation

When music streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music recommend a song or an album, it can be a make-or-break moment for lesser-known artists. But it still doesn't pay the bills: musicians earn on average less than half of a cent per stream unless they're among a platform's top artists. Streaming fraud and copycat tracks can also cut into their pay — types of theft that could be made even easier with generative artificial intelligence. We'll talk about how automation and technology are changing how we consume music, how that music sounds and what artists are paid. Guests: Nastia Voynovskaya, associate editor, KQED Arts & Culture Zack Nestel-Patt, bassist and composer; organizer, Union of Musicians and Allied Workers Marc Hogan, senior staff writer, Pitchfork LaRussell, artist; founder, Good Compenny - an organization that promotes rising Bay Area artists

Comedian Jamie Loftus on Why America Loves Hot Dogs

In her new book, "Raw Dog: The Naked Truth about Hot Dogs," author and comedian Jamie Loftus dials in on why America loves the hot dog: "They're high culture, they're low culture, they're sports food and they're hangover food and they're deeply American for reasons that few people can explain but everyone has been told their entire lives." Loftus chronicles her cross-country journey eating some of the country's most famous hot dogs like JJ Red Hots in North Carolina, Nathan's Famous in New York, and Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C. Along the way, she also delves into the history of the hot dog and devotes an entire chapter to how a hot dog is made. In her words, a hot dog is "garbage being repurposed as mass-appeal food." While light-hearted, Loftus offers a steely look at the meatpacking and food services industry. We'll talk to Loftus and hear from you: How do you feel about hot dogs? Guests: Jamie Loftus, author, "Raw Dog: The Naked Truth about Hot Dogs"; Emmy-nominated TV writer; podcast host, "My Year In Mensa" and "Bechdel Cast"