Sound Effect

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

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When it comes to music, the idea of band rivalries goes back decades. The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones has been a classic matchup that goes back five decades.

In the Pacific Northwest, the most visible example of a band rivalry started 25 years ago, when Nirvana and Pearl Jam were two of the biggest bands in the country.

provided by the Compline Choir

The Compline service at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church feels very traditional – ancient, even. But the all-male Compline Choir chants its monastic prayers and hymns to a pretty eclectic flock. Elders bent with age mix with people who live on the street, families with small children and young adults in a pretty obvious drug haze.

They’re all there to feel the thrum of sacred music, ringing through this soaring, 90-foot-high cathedral.

Parker Miles Blohm / KPLU

Getting a tattoo can certainly be an occasion for regret. Getting a tattoo that has an intentional misspelling in it could potentially lead to more opportunity for regret. Naming your debut album after your intentionally misspelled tattoo pretty much sums up the "no regrets" attitude of the Seattle-based band Chastity Belt.

MF821-03188616A / Flickr

This week on Sound Effect, you are what you eat. We bring stories of food, and how it intersects with identity.

We Eat War

ElmerGuevara / Wikimedia Commons

For Claudia Castro Luna, nothing transports her back to her native El Salvador more quickly, and more vividly, than then pupusa. It’s the unofficial national dish of El Salvador, consisting of a think corn tortilla wrapped around a rich filling.

But for Castro Luna, Seattle’s first civic poet, the pupusa contains more than pork, cheese and beans. It contains the history of the country of her birth, and of her journey away from it.

Courtosey of Hachette Book Group

 

Seattle-based writer Lindy West writes a lot about culture and feminism. She’s called out comedians for telling rape jokes. She’s shouted her abortion and she’s faced down many, many internet trolls. She’s written and thought a lot about her body. She went from feeling ashamed of being heavy – she usually uses the term fat – to accepting who she is, without hesitation.

Courtesy of Hsaio-Ching Chou

For many immigrant families, food is a way to both stay connected to their culture, and a way to survive. For the Chou family, opening a restaurant seemed like the only way to make ends meet in small town Columbia, Missouri.

When they opened Chinese Delicacies in 1980, Hsiao-Ching Chou was only 8 years old. The restaurant defined her childhood, even inspiring her career later as a food writer in Seattle.

For the family, it defined their American experience. They developed a menu that appealed to American tastes and later bowed to customer demand and installed a buffet. 

(courtesy Nancy Leson)

Nancy Leson, half of knkx's  Food for Thought duo, has been in the food industry for a long time. But some of her earliest memories of food come from bars -- not as an employee, but as a patron — a six-year-old patron. 

Leson grew up in Philadelphia, in a time and place where children were allowed to belly up to bars and eat Slim Jims and pickled eggs, or order a Coke with loads of  Maraschino cherries. 

The reason Leson wound up in those bars was that that was where she would find her mother. 

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Everyone’s got a favorite food. But how about a favorite crop? 

Dr. Stephen Jones, director of Washington State University's Bread Lab in Mt. Vernon, loves wheat. A lot.

"The sheer beauty of the crop in a field like this ... you can almost hear the voices in it — the voices of the tradition, the voices of the people that came before us into this crop," said Jones. "I don't get that when I walk into a lettuce field, but I do in wheat."

Ariel Van Cleave / KPLU

The town of Lynden, Washington sits just to the south of the U.S.-Canadian border.  It's a small town of about 13,000 people.  

Lynden is also home to the Lynden Dutch Bakery (which makes a tasty short cake), Darigold (maker of cream, both ice and whipped), and of course, acres of berry farms.

Lynden just turned 125 years old recently, and to celebrate, folks there decided they needed a birthday cake — but not just any cake cake would do for such a celebration.  They wanted a really big birthday cake — one that would highlight all that Lynden had to offer.

This week on Sound Effect, we tell stories of the lies we hear and the lies we tell. 

Old Time Con Woman

One woman became one of the most infamous liars in the Northwest in the early 1900s. Maude Wagnon, who went under the alias Maude Johnson, swindled railroad companies out of an estimated thousands of dollars.

Student Scam

Courtesy of the Washington State Archives

 

At the turn of the 20th century, trolleys were just beginning to transform cities across the country. At the same, one Oregon woman figured out a way to defraud the companies that operated these interurban railroads.

 

Maud  Wagnon, who went under many aliases but was known by most as Maud Myrtle Johnson, was dubbed the "Queen of Fakers" by newspapers across the Western United States for her history of swindling the trolleys. How did Maud become one of the most infamous liars of the Northwest?

 

David Nogueras / knkx

 

When something seems too good to be true, it probably is. More than 90 Chinese international students at the University of Washington had to find this out the hard way.

 

This past spring, Chinese students were the target of a scam. The alleged ringleader, a fellow Chinese student who goes by FY, possibly walked away with nearly a million dollars.

 

Courtesy of Benjamin Kantner

There are lots occasions when bending the truth is something we want to happen. This is what more than 60,000 people do every summer in the Nevada desert for Burning Man, the iconic week-long festival with art, music and lots of partying. It’s an event that attracts the likes of hippies, Hollywood celebrities and tech billionaires. However, Burning Man is also sometimes described as one, giant, utopian lie.

Before going to Burning Man, where he is known as Konifer, 31-year-old Benjamin Kantner’s life in Seattle looked good on paper. But it felt like he was lying to himself.   

Simone Alicea / knkx

For our show this week, we wanted to talk to someone who hears lies all the time: Tow truck drivers. That’s what Sound Effect Executive Producer Erin Hennessey suggested. She sent 88.5’s Simone Alicea to a towing company in Bellevue to talk to someone who’s heard it all.

But it turns out Erin wasn’t being totally forthcoming, herself, about the role she had cast for these drivers. She and Simone sat down to compare notes about their impound experiences.

Amber Hageman

After graduating with a degree in computer science, most people with that valuable diploma in hand, would head out into the world hoping to land a well-paying job in the tech world.

 

AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

There has been a lot of attention paid in recent years to the risks of playing professional football. While head injuries are nothing new to football, the National Football League implemented nine years ago, and has since constantly tweaked a concussion protocol, and has adjusted other rules to assist in player safety.

Robb D. Cohen / Invision/AP

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.

AP Photo/NASA TV

Getting people into space involves a lot of risks. From the explosive fuel needed to launch a rocket to the flecks of space dust that could poke a hole in an orbiting shuttle, astronauts are always prepared for the worst.

Wendy Lawrence, a retired astronaut and naval aviator living in Washington state, understood the risks of her job even when seven of her colleagues were killed reentering the Earth's atmosphere in 2003.

Credit Allie Ferguson

A lot of bands have a very particular sound that is very identifiably them, and that often makes it easier to be marketed and defined. But Sebastian and the Deep Blue, from one song to the next, can sound like a completely different band. In fact, in their “about” section on their website, this is how they define themselves:

Courtesy of Michal Lebl

This week on Sound Effect, we tell stories of risks and rewards and why people make the decision to take the leap. 

Up, Up And Away

Astronaut Wendy Lawrence knows the risks and rewards of space travel very well. She remembers what it was like to travel into space on the first mission after the space shuttle Columbia exploded while returning to Earth, killing all seven crew members back in 2003.

Stardew Valley

"UNCLE SAM WANTS YOUR PRIVACY" BY JEFFSCHULER IS LICENSED UNDER CC BY 2.0 BIT.LY/1YJNAO9

This week Sound Effect listens in on stories of eavesdropping.

Allie Ferguson / KPLU

Anacortes, Washington is home to a tight-knit and lively local music scene and prolific indie musician Karl Blau has long been at the center of it. He released over 30 albums in the his nearly 20-year career.

Blau's latest project was an all-ages music venue and online radio station called the Anacortes Music Channel. He created it to highlight and support local music. The space, housed in a beautiful old brick building in downtown Anacortes, became a hub for the small town’s artists.

Facebook

Sometimes on Facebook you might read what seems like a cry for help from a friend, someone struggling to cope who might need you to intervene.

Or maybe it’s nothing -- just someone quoting song lyrics or something. It’s hard to know, and it’s often easier to just ignore it.

The suicide prevention group Forefront is helping create tools for people who notice red flags in a friend’s post.

These are tools that Stephen Paul Miller didn't have several years ago, when he saw a concerning post on by a friend on Facebook.

Amy van Cise

Deep down on the sea floor off the coast of Alaska, about a dozen underwater microphones sit, anchored down by big heavy wheels from old trains. They sit and listen to the world of sounds around them.

Courtesy of David Liston

Private investigative work is dangerous, thrilling, romantic – or at least, that’s the impression you’d get if you just hear about P.I.s from TV and movies. In reality, according to David Liston, it can be so tedious that “there has to be something kind of wrong with you in order to be able to do it.”

Photo Courtesy of Marcos Lujan

In 2001, producer Warren Langford found a toy cassette recorder at a yard sale in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This was not any old recorder. This was a Talkboy, the must-have Christmas toy from Warren’s childhood that he never received. And the 50-cent asking price was too good to pass up.

Flickr

This week on Sound Effect, we bring you stories of virtual reality and what happens when real life meets technology like the internet, video games, and even television.

Hunter Hoffman


Being treated for a severe burn is one of the most physically painful things a human can experience. Dead skin has to be scrubbed away. The skin has to be stretched so that as it heals, it doesn’t get tight. If this is not done, a patient can be maimed permanently. It’s during these treatments, or wound care sessions, that the pain is often the worst.

Ariel Van Cleave / knkx

One of the best parts about playing video games is losing yourself inside whatever world they take place in. Maybe you’re a plumber tasked with saving a princess from a great sorcerer. Or you could be an agent with the British secret service trying to save the world from Spectre. But if you’re Dima Veryovka and Sean Vesce, the objective is a little different. The games they make are all about how you connect to the world around you.

 

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