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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Courtesy EPA Gorst Creek Removal

Most abandoned landfills do not have a happy ending. Kitsap County alone has dozens of them, sitting around and festering in the ground.

But one place, called the Gorst Creek Landfill, is finally getting cleaned up, thanks to some very dedicated peninsula residents and $27 million from the Navy.

Courtesy Ruby Brown

Former 88.5 KNKX Jazz Sunday Side Up host Ruby Brown had known for a long time that her brother Andy had battled mental health issues. But it wasn’t until last summer when he took his own life that she and her family were able to understand the extent of it.

Courtesy Seattle Choruses

Last April, composer, arranger and conductor Paul Caldwell was weeks away from leaving Chicago for a new life and new job as the artistic director for the Seattle Men’s Chorus and Seattle Women’s Chorus. But after leaving his best friend’s place, he became the victim of a terrible hit and run accident.

Caldwell was struck by a car, severely fracturing several bones in his body, including his legs and right arm. His head landed on a bag filled with sheet music, rather than the hard street, saving his life.

Tacoma, Wa by Atomic Taco/Flickr

This week on Sound Effect, we bring you some memorable stories we’ve shared about the people of Tacoma.

GI Newspapers

88.5’s Paula Wissel gives us a glimpse into the underground GI movement, a network of subversive publications and meeting places catering to the military which sprung out of the antiwar movement during the Vietnam era. We learn about one particular underground newspaper published near Ft. Lewis.

Paula Wissel / KNKX

In the late 1960s and early '70s, all sorts of underground newspapers had emerged from the counterculture and antiwar movements. Most of them weren’t actually all that underground, since there wasn’t much risk involved in publishing or distributing them.

But if you were in the military and you wanted to publish stories that strayed from the company line, you could get in serious trouble. That led in part to something called the GI underground movement.

Patrick Rodriguez via Wikimedia Commons

Often times our sense of responsibility is to a place, a community. For writer Jack Cameron, that place is Tacoma; he just loves his hometown.
“There’s not a lot of pompousness around Tacoma. [It] almost doesn’t care about image and that’s what I like about it,” says Cameron. 

Ashley Gross / KNKX

To live in the Northwest is, to some extent, to roll the dice. If you lived through the 1965 Seattle earthquake, or the Nisqually quake in 2001, or if you just read the New Yorker article about the “really big one” destined to hit our region, you know this well: There are forces under our feet that could just shrug our cities off into the abyss.

The push and pull of continental plates is so huge compared with a puny little human. And yet, for a man named Kelcy Allen, the act of a child shielded him from the seismic forces. He’s spent decades feeling grateful to the boy who died saving his life.

Courtesy Stephen Cysewski

 

Four years, after becoming the “Upper Tacoma Business District,” Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood finally reclaimed its name.

Back in 2007, the area was struggling with drugs and gang violence, and business owners felt re-branding the neighborhood would do away with what they saw as a tarnished reputation.

 

But to many locals, the name Hilltop was a point of pride. The decision to rename the neighborhood was eventually reversed in 2011.

Kevin Kniestedt / knkx

There are some things you might only be able to notice if you happen to be an insider. If you have lived in Tacoma for any extended period of time, there is a pretty good chance that you feel a bit territorial about it. It is a city that gets told that it can't measure up to Seattle. It is often associated with a certain aroma, while residents know that the smell doesn't really exist anymore, or at least doesn't compare to how it did decades ago.

This week on Sound Effect, we bring you stories of TMI, as in too much information. 

The Jeopardy Champ

Seattle resident Ken Jennings won 74 times in a row on the popular trivia show "Jeopardy!" and is the the second highest earner in game show history with a total of more than $3.1 million. He explains how he keeps all that information in his brain.

The Home of The Cloud

Credit Allie Ferguson

Ken Jennings says knowing a lot of random facts can really come in handy when it comes to bringing people together — connecting with total strangers. He says having random knowledge about someone’s job or alma mater is a little bit like knowing about a person before you even get to meet them.

Jennings says that the trick to being able to consume and retain so much knowledge is largely due to a wide interest in everything, because people are more likely to retain things that they are interested in.

Will James / KNKX

The electronic data we use isn't as ephemeral as it seems. Our photos, videos, and email take up physical space in the world.

Patty Martin knows this. Some of it ends up outside her kitchen window. 

Martin lives in Quincy, a rural Washington town that happens to house vast chunks of the internet in gigantic data centers. 

Quincy, a town of about 7,000 people in a bowl of gentle hills, was known for food processing plants that turned potatoes into French fries.

SUE OGROCKI / AP PHOTO

Editor's Note: This post, which contains accounts of sexual assault, may not be suitable for younger listeners.

The phrase 'rape kit' is often used in the media and on television shows like "Law and Order: SVU" to refer to the process of collecting evidence of sexual assault. The term makes it sound like this neat and tidy little exam. However, the actual process is long and difficult. Your body is a crime scene; the nurse scraping every part for evidence of assault: DNA, bruises, fingerprints, hair, dirt.

Courtesy Scott Losse

For comedians like Seattle’s Scott Losse, sharing lots of information about their flaws and their family members is just a given. He goes on stage in front of a live audiences telling jokes about things like his lifelong issues with anxiety and his deep love for his 16-year-old cat named Kitty.

But comedy often comes from pain, and that's true for Scott. When he was younger, Scott lost his two older brothers — one from suicide, the other, in a car accident.

Scott Losse talks with 88.5’s Ariel Van Cleave how seeing a therapist led to him performing on stage.  

3 Generations Of Diaphragm Defeat

Feb 18, 2017
Courtesy of Sarah Anne Lloyd

After years of bad experiences with hormonal birth control, at 19, I thought I had found a holy grail: The diaphragm. It was 2006, and nobody used diaphragms anymore, but I knew all about them — because since I was about 10 years old, I knew that my very existence depended on my mother leaving hers in the dresser drawer one cold winter day in January of 1986. I was conceived under the dining room table, on the shag carpet of their Fremont apartment.

“Be careful,” she said. “You were a diaphragm baby.”

Courtesy of Alex Ashley

Alex Ashley, a journalist and musician from Bellingham, Washington, has known his friend, Kit Knowles, for almost five years now.  The connected after the loss of a mutual friend. 

When it comes to their friendship, they trust each other, they communicate — all the boxes are checked. 

Except one.

“There’s an old proverb — you’ve probably heard it — that says ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder,’” Ashley says.  “But what if that’s all you have: absence? What then?”

 

Pain Of A Broken Heart by Dennis Skley via Flickr

This week on Sound Effect, we’re sharing stories of heartbreak, and the different ways people respond to it.

Credit Alex Gao

Marcus Haney has caught several big named musicians on camera, including the likes of Coldplay and Elton John.

In 2014, he was asked to produce a music video for the British band Bear's Den. He came up with the idea of coming to Seattle to film his younger brother, Turner Haney, and Turner's friends, who all attended Seattle Pacific University, capturing youth on the brink of adulthood. 

Michelle Penaloza

Hearts are usually broken in a moment, at a specific place. Michelle Penaloza, a poet who lives in Seattle, understands that memories, good, bad and everything in between, are tied to things. Maybe it was a song that was playing in the background. Or perhaps it’s a certain park bench where someone delivered bad news.

 

Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

A trinket, unintentionally loosed from a handful of change KNKX producer Nick Morrison used to pay for his morning coffee created a connection between him and his morning barista.

“I just said, ‘My sister,’ and she said, ‘My son,” he remembers.

Shauna, the team leader of the coffee cart had the same glass heart.  The two locked eyes, clasped hands, and created a connection recalled every time Morrison picks up his split-shot latte.

Wikipedia Commons

In 1950s Tacoma, Harold Moss and his wife Willibelle faced racism in the search for a home.

“You learned that when you called a white realtor, you had to use your white voice, and if you sounded black, you weren’t going to get anywhere,” said Moss.

The couple owned a plot of land on which they intended to build a house, but banks refused to give him a mortgage and contractors refused to build. They decided to keep the land and buy a house instead.

Credit Sarah Cass

Broken hearts are what inspires a lot of the music we listen to, whether it’s pop, soul, country or the blues. But what if that song of love gone wrong is about you, and you’re relationship with that musician? And what happens when you and that artist get back together, but those songs, they’re still out there. This is the experience of Seattle musician Jenn Champion and her partner, Sound Effect contributor Arwen Nicks. 

Courtesy of "Hella Black Hella Seattle"

This week on Sound Effect, we've teamed up with the women behind the "Hella Black Hella Seattle" podcast to tell stories of black history in the Northwest. 

Black History Month

We meet the women behind the "Hella Black Hella Seattle" podcast and talk about what black history means to them. 

Seattle's 'Queen of Gospel'

Meet Seattle's 'Queen Of Gospel'

Feb 4, 2017
Courtesy of Eula Scott Bynoe

Pastor Pat Wright can't read music, but she made a hit single as a solo R&B singer, performed for three U.S. presidents including Barack Obama, and sang at Jimi Hendrix's funeral.  

Wright began and continues to direct Seattle's renowned Total Experience Choir. Founded in 1973, the choir has performed for presidents, and toured in 28 countries and 33 states.

She attributes its success to the type of music they perform.

"You can't make old folks out of young people ... your music director has to find music they can identify with," says Wright.

Soul Food: Seattle Chef Kristi Brown Talks Culinary Power

Feb 4, 2017
Courtesy of Kristi Brown

At age 13, Kristi Brown knew she would be a chef, but she remembers planning multi-course meals by the time she was 5.

"I'm a big believer in working on your purpose," she says, "That really is the only answer that you have if you want to be happy."

Seattle Black History Through The Lens Of A Beauty Salon

Feb 4, 2017
Jennifer Wing / knkx

To enter De Charlene William's Beauty and Boutique hair salon at 21st and Madison, where First Hill meets the Central Area in Seattle, you have to get past an iron gate.  The extra security is a reminder that doing business here for 48 years has not always been easy.

"I've been through a lot here on this corner," Williams says.

Editor's Note: This post, which contains recollections of the civil rights movement, contains a racial slur that some might find upsetting. Just a heads up.

We’ve all experienced the uncomfortable feeling of being told to move on. Maybe it was a school bully, or perhaps it was a job you really wanted but didn’t get. For Marion West and her husband, Ray West, it was when they bought a house.

Courtesy of Natasha Marin

Natasha Marin would like white people to know that because of the color of their skin, they have an inherent advantage, or privilege.

 

“Privilege is complicated," says Marin. "A lot of people hear the word 'privilege' and they think about luxury. Privilege is not about luxury. Especially in terms of white privilege, it’s about benefits and boosts that society affords to you because of your appearance.”

 

Courtesy of Rose Bosacker

At hospice centers throughout the Northwest, there’s a simple message written on posters and plaques and displayed throughout the halls. It says “Please forgive me,” “I forgive you,” “Thank you,” and “I love you” It’s the four things you’re supposed to express at the end of your life to find peace of mind before you die.

Courtesy of Taylor Shellfish Farms

Almost every night in the winter, there are hundreds of farmers at work along the Washington coast. The lights of their head lamps are just barely visible on the shoreline. They are shellfish farmers out harvesting clams, oysters, and geoducks. They are up at such late hours because of the tide. That’s when it’s lowest during the winter months.

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