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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Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This story originally aired May 6, 2017. 

Solomon Dubie is the 29-year-old founder of Cafe Avole, a cozy little coffee shop in Rainier Valley. It’s one of the only places in Seattle you can get Ethiopian coffee brewed the traditional way — in a jebena. It's basically a clay pot with a long neck and short spout.

Solomon was born and raised in Seattle, but his family is from Ethiopia — where the coffee plant was first discovered.

They take coffee seriously. But it’s not just about the taste; it’s a whole event with three unique rounds of brewing.

Courtesy of The Blind Cafe

This story originally aired May 28, 2016.   

This week on Sound Effect our theme is “Out of the Darkness,” but KPLU’s Ed Ronco and Ariel Van Cleave found that going into the darkness can shed a lot of light on the world around you, and even your own personality.

The Blind Café is a pop-up event that travels the country, offering guests the chance to have dinner in the dark. Not candlelight. Not a dimly lit room. We’re talking total, 100 percent, pitch black.

Soul Food: Seattle Chef Kristi Brown Talks Culinary Power

Aug 5, 2017
Courtesy of Kristi Brown

This story originally aired February 4, 2017. 

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."

Courtesy of Edwin Martinez

This story originally aired April 8, 2017.   

Edwin Martinez runs Onyx Coffee in Bellingham, Washington. The shop is a bit unusual. Martinez calls it "a mad scientist lab" for studying human behavior with coffee.

He sells just coffee and nothing else, not even cream.  The coffee comes straight from his family’s farm in the mountains of northwest Guatemala.

"So if you love coffee, you are just in seventh heaven." said Martinez. "But if you aren't here for the coffee, this is the most disappointing coffee house in America."

Messy Kitchen by Mark Knobil is licensed by CC BY-NC 2.0 bit.ly/2lXrOpi

This show originally aired on March 4, 2017.

This week on Sound Effect, stories of what happens when things get messy, for better and for worse.  

Fun With Slime

In the 1990s and early 2000s, kids television channel Nickelodeon became popular for dumping bright green slime on everyone and anyone. Lizzie Neilson had the opportunity to get slimed as a kid and lived to tell the tale. 

The Writing On The Wall

Courtesy of Lizzie Nielson

This segment originally aired March 4, 2017.

Seated in a bucket, ears plugged, grinning through the cascade of green, oozy chaos, fourth-grade Lizzie Nielson lived a Nickelodeon fan’s dream.

“I have all the paperwork in order to suggest that I was slimed,” says Nielson.

 

She does, in both photographic and certificate form, lest anyone doubt this point of pride.

 

Courtesy EPA Gorst Creek Removal

This segment originally aired March 4, 2017.  

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 of Kevin Clark / Everett Herald

This segment originally aired March 4, 2017.

Sometimes a mess serves a very special purpose. For the Pyles family in Lake Stevens, Wash., words scrawled across their home help them communicate with their son, Jessie.

Courtesy Ruby Brown

This segment originally aired March 4, 2017.  

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.

“The Great American Road Trip Death Valley” by CGP Grey is licensed under CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/2tqn5lf

This week we share some of our favorite stories from out of town.

The Hoh Rain Forest

We take a trip to the Hoh Rain Forest and, while two young boys frolic in mud, we learn about the riches of the rainiest part of the lower 48. 

Connecting Transgender Men

Transgender Traveler Builds A Brotherhood

Jul 22, 2017
Malcolm Rene Ribot

This story originally aired January 21, 2017. 

Malcolm Rene Ribot has been busy exploring America for the past year and a half. He’s hiked mountains, swam in hidden lakes, touched the waters of both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and slept under the stars. He’s done this in 48 states and plans on visiting the last two — Hawaii and Alaska — in the next few months.

Credit Kevin Kniestedt

This story originally aired on March 18, 2017. 

More than 23,000 people lost their lives following the 1985 eruption of Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia. In response, the United States Geological Survey and the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance created the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, to help prevent other volcanic eruptions from becoming disasters.

City of Soap Lake

 

Soap Lake, in Central Washington, is a small town with a really big dream. It’s home to about 1,600 people, and its economy has seen better days. A lot of small towns in that situation might respond by trying to lure a big-box store or coming up with a snappy tourist slogan. But those ambitions are far too puny for Soap Lake.

 

Bookstore by Jordy Templeman is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 bit.ly/2lMHyhJ

This show originally aired on February 18, 2017.

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

This segment originally aired on February 18, 2017.

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.

Credit Allie Ferguson

This segment originally aired February 18, 2017. 

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

This segment originally aired February 18, 2017. 

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.

Courtesy Scott Losse

This segment originally aired February 18, 2017. 

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.

3 Generations Of Diaphragm Defeat

Jul 15, 2017
Courtesy of Sarah Anne Lloyd

This segment originally aired February 18, 2017.   

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

This segment originally aired February 18, 2017.   

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?”

 

This week on Sound Effect, we share stories about our parents, and about being parents.

Trick Riders 

The McMillan family in Soap Lake, Wash. has taken in seven foster children. Most of the kids are now accomplished horseback riders, often performing tricks at rodeos. Lynette McMillan explains why she felt drawn to adopt these kids and how the rodeo lifestyle helps them adjust to a new life.  

My Mom Back Then

This story originally aired on December 3, 2017.

Lynette McMillan had a small, quiet family, relatively speaking. She and her husband were raising three kids on a ranch in Soap Lake, Wash. They took a trip to a friend's place, a couple that had taken in foster kids and giving them a better life than what they had previously. This was the inspiration for the McMillans to become foster parents themselves. 

Courtesy of Polly Story-Lebl

 

This story originally aired on January 21, 2017.

One big way to flip the script is to mess with the traditional parent-child dynamic. For many, it can seem like parents are these older beings with no life before their children were born. In modern parenting especially, parents don't appear to even have a life when you're a kid.

 

But what if you could meet your mom or dad at a younger age? Maybe even the same age you are now? What would it be like? What would that person be like?

 

Courtesy of Mike Long.

This story originally aired on April 29, 2017.

Seattle writer Michael Long was a terrible student in grade school. It wasn't that he couldn't do well; it was just that he had no interest in it. Instead of studying or paying attention in class, he would often be caught doodling or staring off into space.

(courtesy Nancy Leson)

This story originally aired on June 18, 2016.

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. 

Finding The Time To Say 'I Love You' To Your Dad

Jul 8, 2017
Courtesy of Dominic Black

This story originally aired on April 15, 2017.

When I think back on it now, when I was growing up there’s two things that were really hard for me to tell my parents. The first was: ‘Hey Mum and Dad, so we’re getting sex education at school.’

And the second was, ‘I love you.’

Insomnia by Alyssa L. Miller is licensed under CC BY 2.0 bit.ly/2j5q5Nf

This week on Sound Effect, we bring you stories of things that keep us up at night. We'll hear stories of fear and anxiety and meet people who work unusual graveyard shifts.

Radio Nightmares

Sound Effect gets a lot of inspiration from the hit radio show This American Life. So we thought we'd ask host Ira Glass what keeps him up at night. Turns out, his childhood fears were pretty dark.

The Cameraman

Brighterorange / Wikimedia Commons

Ira Glass, the host of This American Life, is headed to Seattle later this month to give a talk. We grabbed a few minutes with him to ask what it is that keeps him from sleeping.

 

As a child, Ira Glass spent nights considering his own mortality.  

“I would just lie in bed, trying to get my mind around the idea that I would be dead and everything in the world would continue without me,” remembers Glass.

Tim Durkan

The sidewalks of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood are home to drug addicts, the mentally ill and kids who’ve run away from home. These are the people most of us give wide berth to as we make our way in and out of trendy restaurants and bars. We turn a blind eye to then when they are camped out in a bus shelter. The level of caution afforded to these individuals goes up significantly when it’s dark outside.

Courtesy Arrington De Dionyso

Editor's note: The audio version of this story contains language some readers may find inappropriate.

Sometimes the things that keep us up seem to come out of nowhere. Something we might never have given a second thought to all of a sudden, for reasons we can’t quite understand, become front and center in our life.

That’s what happened to Arrington De Dionyso. He’s a painter and musician from Olympia.

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