Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.
Protesters from a coalition of groups demonstrate the conviction of Wikileaker Bradley Manning late August 21, 2013 in front of the White House in Washington, DC.

On Tuesday, President Obama shortened Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence, allowing her to be released in May after spending almost seven years in jail. The former Army intelligence analyst was convicted of releasing classified documents to WikiLeaks. Some Manning supporters also called for the pardon of Edward Snowden, who is facing espionage charges for intelligence leaks. But the White House said there was a “stark difference” between Manning, who stood trial in the U.S., and Snowden, who is living in Russia under temporary asylum. We examine the politics and precedent of pardons.

Kevin Starr poses for a portrait.

On Saturday, California lost its longtime historian and former state librarian Kevin Starr. The USC professor, who penned an eightvolume series on California that the Los Angeles Times called “indispensable,” died of a heart attack at the age of 76. Starr, who was known for his trademark bow tie and straw boater hat, won a Guggenheim fellowship and was awarded a National Humanities Medal. He was appointed as California’s state librarian by Arnold Schwarzenegger and served from 1994 2004. In this segment we remember Starr and his influence on the Golden State.

The sun sets on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol building ahead of inauguration ceremonies for President-elect Donald Trump on January 18, 2017 in Washington, DC.

After months of controversy over cabinet appointees, ties to Russia and conflicts of interest, president-elect Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday. We’ll preview the inauguration with KQED’s Scott Shafer and Bloomberg’s Shannon Pettypiece. We’ll also check in with Bay Area voters headed to D.C. and find out what’s motivating them to travel to the nation’s capital this weekend. And we want hear from you: What would you like a Trump administration to do for California?

Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump's pick to be the next Secretary of Education, testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill January 17, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Billionaire philanthropist and school-choice advocate Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, is among the incoming administration’s most controversial cabinet picks. DeVos favors a free-market approach to education and has long advocated for charter schools and school voucher programs. While her supporters hope that her appointment will lead to more options for students, others fear it will hurt public schools and weaken charter-school accountability. We discuss what DeVos’ confirmation could mean for schools nationally and here in California.

Joe Cotchett poses for a portrait.

Joe Cotchett has made a name for himself winning jury verdicts in the millions – sometimes billions – of dollars against Wall Street, big banks and other corporations that have harmed the public. He took on PG&E after the deadly San Bruno explosion, Wells Fargo for its fake accounts and Lincoln Savings & Loan for swindling investors. Cotchett was also reported to have been on Gov. Jerry Brown’s short list to replace Kamala Harris as California Attorney General. The Burlingame attorney, whose star power brings Nancy Pelosi and Willie Brown to his birthday parties, joins us to talk about his career and his new book “The People vs. Greed.”


For more than 20 years, neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan has treated
patients who have debilitating physical symptoms — such as pain
and seizures — with no identifiable cause. These patients,
O’Sullivan notes, “find themselves trapped in a zone between the
worlds of medicine and psychology, with neither community taking
responsibility.” O’Sullivan joins Forum to talk about her new book
“Is It All in Your Head?,” an exploration of psychosomatic disorders
and their causes.


Complaining about being busy has become a badge of honor in this age of compulsive multitasking. But doing too many things at the same time has been shown to hurt productivity and mental health. In her new book “The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work,” UC Berkeley sociologist Christine Carter outlines how adopting micro-habits and strategically saying “no” can decrease stress and increase efficiency.

First-time novelist Yaa Gyasi says she was a voracious reader growing up, and "never turned down a trip to the library."

While traveling to Ghana on a Stanford research fellowship, Yaa Gyasi visited the Cape Coast Castle, where she learned about the role Africans played in perpetuating the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This knowledge became the impetus for her debut novel “Homegoing,” which chronicles the lives of two Ghanaian sisters and their experiences of slavery. We speak with Berkeley-based Gyasi about the novel, which has been named a New York Times notable book for 2016.

Richard Muller poses for a portrait.

The concept of now has challenged philosophers and physicists for thousands of years. Even Albert Einstein is said to have thought that “now” was outside the realm of scientific understanding. But in his new book, “Now: The Physics of Time,” UC Berkeley physicist Richard Muller says that much has changed since Einstein’s era and that the world is now capable of conquering the concepts of time and now. Muller argues that time, like the universe, is expanding, and what people experience as “now” is really the edge of newly-forming time. Muller joins Forum to discuss the nature of “now” and to explain why we perceive time the way we do.


The American Enlightenment is often viewed as a singular era bursting with new ideas as the U.S. sought to assert itself as a new republic free of the British monarchy. In her book, “American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason,” Stanford historian Caroline Winterer says the myth and romanticization of an American Enlightenment was invented during the Cold War to calm fears about totalitarianism overseas. We talk to Winterer about her theory and hear her thoughts on what she views as America’s multiple periods of enlightenments in fields ranging from farming to religion.

Children are pictured as they attend a lesson in a classroom of a primary school on January 28, 2016.

It’s clear to parents and students alike that good teaching matters, but debates continue to rage over which policies and practices work best in the classroom. Veteran Palo Alto teacher David Cohen has visited classrooms across the state to witness firsthand how over 75 teachers are engaging their students, from mindful breathing exercises between lessons to partnerships with children in Haiti to foster dialogue around earthquakes. We’ll talk with Cohen about the innovation he saw and hear from some of the teachers he met about how they inspire students. And we want your stories: Teachers, students and parents — what do you think sparks learning in the classroom?