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Best east bay yesterday podcasts we could find (Updated October 2019)
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East Bay Yesterday
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East Bay history podcast that gathers, shares & celebrate stories from Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and other towns throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.
 
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Why did BART come "within a gnat's eyelash" of being derailed by voters before the first track had ever been laid? How did Berkeley force BART to go underground? What's the deal with BART managers getting busted by FBI sting operations? All these questions and many more are answered in this week's episode, which was recorded live at the Oakland ...…
 
Betty Reid Soskin is a living link to America’s long history of slavery. As a young woman, her best friend was her great-grandmother, who was enslaved for the first two decades of her life. When Betty attended the inauguration of Barack Obama she carried a photo of her great-grandma in her breast pocket – and she also carried memories of the ma ...…
 
As hippies and radicals flooded into Berkeley during the sixties, the city faced mounting public health problems that ranged from bad acid trips to riot injuries. The Berkeley Free Clinic launched in 1969 to provide no-cost treatment to those who couldn’t afford (or didn’t feel comfortable dealing with) the mainstream healthcare system. 50 year ...…
 
The previous episodes in this miniseries covered the early history of Canyon and this town’s fight for survival during the height of the hippie era. The conclusion of this trilogy explores this unusual little village’s trajectory since then. How did Canyon manage to transition out of the wild and experimental 1960s, while still holding onto man ...…
 
One of the Bay Area’s first business booms was the rapid growth of explosives manufacturing following the Gold Rush. The power of nitroglycerine and later dynamite enabled industrial-scale mining, continent-spanning railroads, and a total reshaping of California’s landscape. For many decades, the small Contra Costa town Hercules produced millio ...…
 
How can history be used to challenge hate crimes? For the past 7 years, Barnali Ghosh and Anirvan Chatterjee have been exploring questions like this through their Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tours. This episode covers some of the tour’s highlights and discusses the unpredictable nature of turning public streets into a classroom ...…
 
Ruth Beckford was known as “the Dance Lady” because she mentored several generations of young women through her popular classes and introduced the Bay Area to Afro-Haitian styles with her electrifying performances. She also co-founded the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast program, which FBI director J. Edgar Hoover called “the greatest threa ...…
 
Jenny Odell wrote that her inspiration for “How to Do Nothing” was “grounded in a particular location, and that is the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses in Oakland, California.” Odell’s countless hours observing birds and other wildlife in this quiet neighborhood park led to the creation of her new book, which The New Yorker praised for “elegantly a ...…
 
50 years ago, a group of students, activists and community members transformed a muddy, junk-filled parking lot into a park. When the University of California, under heavy pressure from Gov. Ronald Reagan, tore up the grass and surrounded the land with a heavily-guarded fence, this response triggered a surreal and tragic set of events. The mael ...…
 
With the weather warming up, I thought now would be a great time for a deep dive into Lake Merritt (not literally!). First, this episode will explore the wild side of this body of water (which is technically a tidal estuary) with Constance Taylor, a naturalist with California Center for Natural History. Then, I’ll interview Children’s Fairyland ...…
 
During the 1960s, young people from all over the country flooded into a small village tucked behind the Oakland hills amidst a grove of towering redwoods. Some of them just came to party, but many sought to build an alternative to what they saw as the violence and reckless consumerism of mainstream society. In the forest, they built psychedelic ...…
 
During the Gold Rush, Canyon had more residents than Oakland, but today few people know that this tiny village nestled in the East Bay hills even exists. The “Deep in Canyon” mini-series will explore the history of what author John Van Der Zee called “the last rustic community in metropolitan America.” This episode covers Canyon’s many transfor ...…
 
Instead of the usual narrative format, this episode is a one-on-one interview with Cheryl Fabio, the director of “Evolutionary Blues: West Oakland’s Music Legacy.” I interviewed Cheryl for my KPFA radio show this week and I enjoyed the interview so much, I've decided to share it as a podcast. Also, I wanted to spread the word about Cheryl’s upc ...…
 
Stories about Berkeley’s rebellious student movement of the 1960s often start with the launch of the Free Speech Movement. But the roots of this pivotal event go all the way back to the previous decade, when a campus group fed up with the innocuous role of student government started rallying around controversial political issues such as civil r ...…
 
Growing up in Oakland, Mike lost many friends and family members in the streets. Three years ago, he almost became a victim, too, when he was shot seven times while sitting in a car with his daughter. Since then, Mike has recovered his health and built a thriving shoe customization business*. He also moved to a safer area. Today’s episode featu ...…
 
Tobie Gene Levingston left behind his life as a Louisiana sharecropper in the mid-1950s to work at a Oakland metal foundry. Within a few years, he started the East Bay Dragons, which grew to be one of the most legendary Black motorcycle clubs in the world. This episode goes into the Dragons’ clubhouse for a deep conversation with two long-time ...…
 
The style, music and politics of the East Bay have had a major influence on hip-hop since even before the very first rap album dropped. Photojournalist Eric Arnold recently mapped out the most important locations of this history in the “Hip Hop Atlas of The Bay,” part of the Oakland Museum’s exhibition: “RESPECT: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom.” In thi ...…
 
North Oakland’s Golden Gate neighborhood has undergone a rapid demographic shift over the past decade as many longtime Black residents have moved out and wealthier, younger white people have moved in. This episode features five stories that explore how folks are navigating these changes. Interviews for this episode were conducted by cultural re ...…
 
The abandoned pink building on the corner of MacArthur and Martin Luther King Jr. Way has visually dominated that busy intersection for so long that it feels like a monument. But what this monument represents depends on your perspective. It could by a symbol of what happened to one of Oakland’s thriving Black business corridors and the ongoing ...…
 
Following the 1906 earthquake, Oakland’s Lew Hing supported thousands of victims from San Francisco’s Chinatown who were turned away from official relief camps due to rampant discrimination. On the grounds of his massive Pacific Coast Cannery in West Oakland, Lew fed and sheltered this marginalized community when nobody else would. This episode ...…
 
In the early 1900s, newspapers proclaimed that Oakland would become “the great metropolis of the West Coast.” During these boom years, East Bay politicians and business leaders celebrated a hot air balloon called “The City of Oakland” as a representation of the region’s rising prospects. This episode explores the relationship between the balloo ...…
 
Out of all the features on the Long Lost Oakland map, the Ohlone shellmounds have drawn the most questions. Many of those questions were addressed in an earlier episode, so I’m sharing it again. Here’s the original description: “Have you ever wondered what the East Bay was like before colonization? In this episode, Corrina Gould of Indian Peopl ...…
 
Oakland’s Black population nearly quintupled during the 1940s. Tens of thousands of African Americans fled the Jim Crow-era South to work in East Bay shipyards like Moore Dry Dock Company. The backlash to this boom laid the foundation for decades of entrenched inequality and discriminatory housing patterns. This episode explores the rise of one ...…
 
When the Cypress Freeway collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake, many Oakland residents risked their own lives to rescue victims trapped in the ruins. In this episode, a collaboration with Snap Judgement, Raven Roberts shares his memories of what it was like to live through that disaster – and the traumatizing aftermath. Raven’s story reve ...…
 
Up until the 1850s, the East Bay was home to hundreds of grizzlies and some of the tallest redwoods in the history of the planet. Within about a decade of the Gold Rush, nearly all of the bears and the trees were wiped out. This episode looks back at the local environment before colonization—and explores how such a massive wave of devastation w ...…
 
John Muir died on Christmas Eve of 1914, but his gravesite is finally just opening up to the public now. In honor of this occasion, we’ll take a look at a side of “the father of America’s National Parks” that’s not widely known — his life in Contra Costa County. This episode features interviews with John Muir Historic Site park rangers who shar ...…
 
Although Oakland has one of the highest concentrations of lesbians in the country, the history—and impact—of this community is relatively unknown. Lenn Keller is trying to change that with the upcoming launch of the Bay Area Lesbian Archives, a wide-ranging collection of photographs, activist materials, meeting notes, videos and more. In this e ...…
 
What do a Buddhist Church, a lighthouse, a 72-room hotel and a whole block of Victorian houses have in common? They’re all Oakland buildings that were picked up and moved from their original settings. This episode explores the history of structure relocation in the East Bay, from the Gold Rush to current projects. Warning: Assumptions about aut ...…
 
Instead of one long story, the 25th episode of East Bay Yesterday features four shorties. In one interview, a man reminisces about using very unusual bait while fishing with his grandpa at the Berkeley pier. In another, a longtime Oakland postal employee recalls his close calls with stray gunfire. From underground circuses to sideshows, this ep ...…
 
Richard Pryor was one of the most influential comedians of all time, but when he first arrived in the East Bay, he said: “I don’t think I have a style yet.” This episode explores how living in Berkeley during an era full of riots and revolutionaries sparked Pryor’s creative evolution. Authors Cecil Brown and Ishmael Reed share memories of these ...…
 
From jumping off pianos with James Brown to running the streets with Etta James, Sugar Pie DeSanto has led a wild life. In this episode, the soul singer shares memories of performing in Oakland’s legendary 1950s blues clubs, stunning global audiences with her risqué moves, and making grown men cry. As Sugar Pie puts it, “I’m one of the roughest ...…
 
“OG Told Me” isn’t just a new book, it’s a survival guide packed full of advice that Pendarvis Harshaw gathered from more than 50 interviews with Black elders. This episode takes a trip back in time though hyphy-era sideshows, graffiti yards and even a possibly haunted building in downtown Oakland.By East Bay Yesterday.
 
For decades, millions of drivers passing through Emeryville saw an ever-changing array of giant statues along the bayshore. In addition to the towering wooden vikings, dragons and other whimsical creatures, activists used driftwood and trash to build monumental projects responding to the tumultuous political era. This episode traces the rise an ...…
 
Dorothea Lange is one of the most famous photographers of all time, but the local work she did during her many decades as an East Bay resident is often overlooked. This episode explores how she went from taking portraits of the Bay Area’s wealthiest families to documenting the poor and working class. Dorothea’s goddaughter, Elizabeth Partridge, ...…
 
Long before the Athletics moved to Oakland, teams like the Colonels, the Larks and the Aztec Stars played baseball in the East Bay. Special guest contributor Cyrus Farivar digs into the roots of our national pastime—and even visits “vintage” game. Did you know that Oakland’s first black mayor was a pitcher in the West Coast Negro League? This i ...…
 
Four decades after the U.S. government incarcerated nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans, long-hidden evidence revealed that the reason behind the mass imprisonment was a lie. This episode explores how the discovery a “smoking gun” report led to Oakland native Fred Korematsu re-opening his World War II-era Supreme Court case. Korematu’s lawyer, Da ...…
 
Have you ever wondered what the East Bay was like before colonization? In this episode, Corrina Gould of Indian People Organizing for Change shares knowledge of how her ancestors, the Ohlone people, maintained a relatively peaceful culture here for thousands of years. Although this history was nearly wiped out, struggles to protect sacred shell ...…
 
Bruce Lee’s time in the East Bay affected him profoundly. This episode explores how a legendary fight sparked an evolution that changed martial arts forever. Charles Russo, author of “Striking Distance,” and Gary Cagaanan, an Oakland native who trained in one of Bruce Lee’s schools, share insights into this hard-hitting history.…
 
Although rarely credited, Berkeley became America’s first sanctuary city on November 8, 1971. This episode explores how an ancient idea was revived in protest of the Vietnam War and again to support Central American refugees during the 1980s. With sanctuary cities under attack by the Trump administration, learn how the sanctuary movement starte ...…
 
In the mid-1990s, the East Bay was the center of the punk rock universe. Lookout Records co-founder Larry Livermore shares his thoughts on the surprising origins of the scene that produced the biggest-selling punk band of all time and countless other influential (and occasionally notorious) groups. He also reflects on how letting his little rec ...…
 
The East Bay’s KKK started by burning crosses in the hills, and they quickly captured power in City Hall. This movement didn’t last long—their rise and fall all happened around the time of the 1920s. But they did make an impact that changed Oakland forever. The kind of impact that Trump could have on America. This episode features an interview ...…
 
“Black Ahab’s” adventures made him an Oakland hero and one of the most powerful men of color in California—but there’s a dark side to his story that’s rarely discussed. This episode weaves together histories of slavery, whaling and a flood of African American seamen into 19th century Bay Area to explore William Shorey’s rise to the top of a blo ...…
 
When Brock Winstead bought a house in the Golden Gate district, he decided to research the history of his property and find out the identity of every single person who had ever owned that plot of land. What he discovered reveals much about the patterns of land use and displacement that continue to shape Oakland today. From colonization to redli ...…
 
From 1973 until 1982, the Black Panthers operated a school in East Oakland that has been called “arguably the Party’s most important organizing legacy.” Although the school solved many problems that continue to plague America’s education system, these lessons have been largely forgotten. Today’s episode explores the history of the Oakland Commu ...…
 
Bobby Mardis had one hit song in the 1980s and then hung up his leather pants and retired his dreams of pop music stardom. Thirty years later he was re-discovered, thanks to a random encounter at the Oakland museum. The surreal night of partying that followed shows what can happen when you get to re-live the glory days of your youth—for a singl ...…
 
“When they demolished it, it’s like a little part of you… goes with it.” That reaction from a former regular customer of Biff’s Diner was shared by many when the spaceship-shaped building was finally torn down last month. This episode explores the stories of Oaklanders who ate and worked at Biff’s—and why so many of us hold a special place in o ...…
 
What better time than election season to explore the first novel to predict the rise of fascism and a brutal government run by corporate elites? This episode features Tarnel Abbott, the great-granddaughter of Jack London, discussing “The Iron Heel,” Occupy Oakland, and a conspiracy to commercialize the East Bay’s most famous writer.…
 
Loretta Nguyen spent the first few decades of her life living in the only house on the grounds of Oakland’s oldest cemetery. As a young girl, she learned that people are much scarier than ghouls and spirits. This episode explores the nature of fear through stories of grave-robbers, escaped convicts and a very spooky basement. [Also available on ...…
 
Get in the mood for Día de los Muertos with this history of Oakland’s “lost” Latino neighborhood. Tina “Tamale” Ramos and her mother Natividad share delicious stories from their decades of running one of the Bay Area’s oldest Mexican restaurants. This episode explores everything from the “birth” of Old Oakland to the dubious origins of Taco Bel ...…
 
Oakland has been an epicenter of minors engaged in the sex trade for a long time. A recent OPD scandal put a spotlight on this crisis, but failed to illuminate the roots of the problem. This episode features four women with an intimate knowledge of this history – and explores an often overlooked factor for why there are so many underage girls o ...…
 
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