Sound Effect

Saturdays at 10 AM

Sound Effect is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KNKX's Gabriel Spitzer. Each week's show explores a different theme.

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Courtesy of Nick Morrison

Back in the 1970s, before Nick Morrison was a KNKX staffer, some friends asked him if he would help them smuggle a few bricks of marijuana across the border from Mexico. He said, sure.

What came next? In the beginning, normal drug smuggling stuff. A rambler with secret compartments, a jungle, a mango orchard, an operation that seemed to be going great. But in the end? A single terrifying moment that made Morrison regret his decision - and change his ways.

United States Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexandra Sandoval

This week on Sound Effect, we share stories of imperfect crimes. We start by talking to 88.5’s Nick Morrison, who was once hired to smuggle pot. We then meet a man who was a lifelong prankster, until one prank recalibrated his moral compass.

Derek Erdman

Age 14 is often a time of pushing boundaries, experimenting with the the distinctions between right and wrong. 

Derek Erdman tells his personal story from when he was this awkward age. It involves youthful mischief, an answering machine and the Survivor song, Eye Of The Tiger. 

Derek played a prank that went a little bit too far.  But in the end, this one event helped reshape his moral compass and put him on a better path.

Courtesy of the FBI

On August 7th, 2006, at 5:13 pm, a group of four men wearing ski masks, body armor, sweatshirts, and carrying assault rifles and pistols burst into a Bank of America branch in Tacoma, Washington. Waiting outside the bank, in the getaway car, was Alex Blum, a "good kid" who had just achieved his lifelong dream of becoming an Army Ranger.

Why did Alex throw away his dream? And how did he end up a bank robber? Alex Blum's cousin, Ben Blum, tackles those questions in his recent book "Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family, and an Inexplicable Crime."

Courtesy of Kathlyn Horan

When Seattle Police Officer Kim Bogucki stepped into the Washington Correctional Facility For Women in Purdy about 10 years ago, she had no intention of starting a non-profit.

Bogucki was doing gang prevention work and went to the prison to ask some of the women for permission to work with their children. The women were distrustful of police and gave Bogucki a chilly reception.

“Probably the last time that those mothers saw police, we were taking them away from their children,” said Bogucki.

Hacker/Flickr

In the late 90s and early 2000s, a lot of people were still figuring out this whole internet business.

As is often the case, way out ahead of the learning curve were the cyber-criminals, and law enforcement had some catching up to do.

The FBI often relied on the knowledge of private security professionals. So in 2000, they contacted a Seattle expert named Ray Pompon, and recruited him to go undercover as part of a sting operation. Pompon shared his story with host Gabriel Spitzer.

Courtesy of Tony Bamonte

 

Murder is a crime where, by its nature, it’s impossible for a victim to get justice.

 

That’s what was on Tony Bamonte’s mind as he worked to solve those crimes as the sheriff of Pend Oreille County.

 

“The police, we’re the voice of the dead,” Bamonte said. “We’re there to defend them and stick up for them and try find out who killed them. That’s who we are. They have nobody else speaking for them.”

 

Michael Pollack/Flickr

This week on Sound Effect, take a trip down a rabbit hole. It all started when contributor Warren Langford brought to our attention a man who was trying to track down a mystery disco musician on a cassette he found. That led us to Seattle’s first openly-operated gay disco bar in Seattle, Shelly’s Leg, and the story behind the owner Shelly Bauman. In researching Shelly’s Leg, we came across a rumor about a relative of our current President, which is quickly debunked.

Everybody loves a good mystery ... some of us more than others. So when Tom DesLongchamp discovered an unusual looking cassette tape in a bargain bin, and discovered a collection of unidentifiable disco songs on one side of it, his curiosity was aroused. That curiosity soon transformed into a fixation, or maybe even an obsession. 

By Howard Giske, CC BY-SA 3.0

The first openly-operated gay bar in Seattle was a nightclub called Shelly’s Leg. It was founded in Pioneer Square in 1973 by a woman named Shelly Bauman. It quickly became an important center of LGBT life in Seattle.

But it's the bar's origin story -- and the freak parade accident at the heart of it -- that caught our attention.

Sound Effect Producer Kevin Kniestedt sat down with Bruce Buls  a former Seattle disc jockey and good friend of Baumann’s back in the 70s, to learn more about Shelly’s Leg and its namesake. 

 

People will go to great lengths in pursuit of wealth. Mountains will be literally moved in order to make them release the mineral bounty they contain. This is the drive that led to the creation of Monte Cristo, a mining town founded in the North Cascades back in the late 1800s.

 

Today, Monte Cristo is a ghost town. Yet, it still has a hold on people like David Cameron.

 

Schuyler Bogue

 

It wasn’t so long ago that, in order to buy groceries, most people would walk into a market, hand their list over to a man behind a counter, who would then go back into the store room and get everything for them. There were generally no prices listed -- it cost what it cost. You rarely got much say over what brand you got. That was the way it was, and it was hard to imagine it working any differently.

Credit Kevin Kniestedt

This week on Sound Effect, we share the stories that won national awards this year. Our first story, from Jennifer Wing, profiles a group of men that have been playing an elaborate game of tag for decades. Next, we’ll meet Sophie, a curly-haired six-year-old girl from Bellingham who was born a boy, and learn about new research from the University of Washington that suggests trans kids who are accepted by their parents tend to have positive mental health measures.

Tag Brothers

 This story originally aired on October 8, 2016. 

There are lots of games we all played in the schoolyard when we were kids — foursquare, tetherball, maybe some capture the flag if there was  enough time before the bell rang. Some of us just can’t let go.

 

There’s a group of middle-aged men, here in the Northwest,  who play an intense game of tag for the entire month of February, every year. They’ve been playing the game for decades.

 

pee vee / Flickr

This story originally aired on July 30, 2016. 

When Jena Lopez’s child started showing signs of having a non-traditional gender identity during the preschool years, she wasn’t sure what to do. Can a 3- or 4-year-old really know that she’s a different gender from her biological sex? And Jena knew the outlook for transgender kids was grim: Research has shown they tend to have high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide.

Robb D. Cohen / Invision/AP

This story originally aired on November 5, 2016.

So when we get emotional about something, we often have to weigh the risks and rewards of acting on those emotions. If someone upsets us, we need to decide if there is enough of a reward in confronting that person, while potentially facing the risks of upsetting that person as well.

I found myself in one of those situations at small-town bar in the middle of Washington, upset at a very, very famous young man, and wrote this essay.

Wikimedia Commons

 

This story originally aired on February 13, 2016.

In mid-December of 2006, a vicious wind storm hit Western Washington. Gale-force winds knocked out power, knocked down trees and knocked Charlene Strong onto a different life path.

When Strong arrived home she found her wife, Kate, trapped inside the basement of their home.  Water was rushing in, and as each moment passed, it seemed less and less likely that Kate would survive. 

Jennifer Wing / knkx

 

This story originally aired on June 11, 2016.

If you’re lucky, you know who lives next door, and you like them. Hopefully, the feeling is mutual. In an ideal world, neighbors look out for each other. But, of course, not everyone is so fortunate.

What if you live next door to a nightmare? The place where drug deals go down? Where there always seems to be a party going on at three in the morning? The house where domestic violence happens and fights break out? The home that police visit — a lot?

JAYEL AHERAM / FLICKR

 

This show originally aired on April 30, 2016.

This week on Sound Effect we present stories of war and peace.

Ground Zero

Courteosy of Tom Rogers

This story originally aired on April 30, 2016.

Naval base Kitsap-Bangor, located on the Kitsap Peninsula is one of only two military bases in the United States that houses strategic nuclear weapon facilities. It's home to several Trident submarines, which are armed with nuclear weapons. The nuclear capabilities of these submarines have long made the naval base a focus of controversy and protest.

(Credit Anders Beer Wilse/Public Domain)

This story originally aired on April 30, 2016.

During World War II, in a frozen wilderness in southern Norway, on the edge of an icy cliff sat a hydroelectric plant called Vemork. This winter fortress was the center of some of the most important sabotage efforts of the war.

This story originally aired on April 30, 2016.

Woody Guthrie, often considered America's greatest folk icon, authored hundreds of ballads during his lifetime. His most famous song "This Land is Your Land," like many of his songs, sketched both the political and geographic American landscape.

"When the sun come shining, then I was strolling
In wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling
The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me"

Courtesy Faried Alani

This story originally aired on April 30, 2016.

As an orthopedic surgeon in Iraq, Dr. Faried Alani had a highly successful career working at a hospital and a prosperous, happy life with his wife and two daughters. Many of the people he operated on were victims of bombs and bullets, but he forced himself to keep the violence at a distance emotionally, in order to do his job more effectively. 

But that changed one evening, as Alani was leaving work. 

Trajaner/Creative Commons

This week on Sound Effect, our theme is "One of Many" ... the tension between standing out and fitting in.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

At first glance it may seem like the students at St. Francis of Assisi school in Burien are dressed pretty much alike: white collar shirts, red plaid skirts for the girls, navy blue pants or shorts for the boys.

But look closer, and you’ll see that many of them have brought a little something special to their outfits.

“I wear a gold watch,” says Gino Morella.

“I have white Adidas superstars that I’ve worn all year,” says Gabriel Hamilton.

“I tend to wear a leather jacket,” says Rachel Fry.

Creative Commons

Christopher Poulos is the head of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council, dedicated to helping those who have been through the criminal justice system.

It’s the kind of job that he is uniquely qualified for.

As a teenager, Poulos struggled with severe substance abuse, leading him into homelessness and then incarceration. He saw the problems of the justice system firsthand, especially how it disenfranchised the poor and people of color.

Nicole Price

When Nicole Price was 25 years old, life was not going the way she had planned. She was addicted to meth, she had a hard time holding down a job and then a test revealed she was HIV positive.

“I was afraid of dying. I was afraid of never being able to have kids, of never being able to get married. My family not loving me anymore. It was a really scary time,” remembers Price.

Gabriel Spitzer

Any parent of more than one child will tell you that they have no favorites. They will tell you that the well from which love is drawn has no bottom. 

This is what Donald Vass would say about books.

"I sense a type of universal voice coming from all of these books. And often when I open a book and my eyes will land upon a set of words or a sentence, a passage that will speak to me. And sometimes, that will speak to me at a moment when I very much need it," says Vass.

Vass finds this to be true of all kinds of books. 

WIkipedia Commons

To say that Washington State University Cougars have school spirit is a wild understatement, and if you have any in your life, you know they don't hesitate to remind you.

Now, Cameron McCoy and many other members of Coug nation have reached a significant milestone in letting their flags fly. 

Actual flags. 

AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton

Sound Effect producer Kevin Kniestedt shared this essay.   

My earliest memory of watching the Seahawks goes back to when I was probably three or four. I remember sitting in the basement with my dad, with the game on TV, and hearing the announcer saying “there is a penalty flag down.” Since I had no understanding of the game, I imagined that somewhere in that stadium, there was a person standing by a flag pole, lowering and raising a flag that said “penalty” on it every time a player did something bad.

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