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Numbers Game: Sound Effect, Episode 178

Posey Gruener / KNKX
Rainbow Bingo players blot out the numbers as they're called at Ballard Northwest Senior Center.

This story originally aired on May 25, 2020.

This week on Sound Effect, we share stories about how numbers can be the difference between winning and losing, spending and saving, or even life and death. We meet Seattle drag queen Sylvia O’Stayformore, who hosts Rainbow Bingo at the Ballard Northwest Senior Center. A Seattle doctoral student explains how she uses music to help people make sense of complicated climate data. An auctioneer reflects on winning the Chicago Marathon at 15 years old. We tag along with two women and learn the art of eating three meals a day on $75 per month. A champion wild cow milker explains what he reluctantly calls a sport, and how he stays connected to his rural roots. And we hear how one man’s fight against the draft board during Vietnam led all the way up to the office of the president.


For almost five years, Sylvia O’Stayformore has been hosting Rainbow Bingo at Ballard Northwest Senior Center. It’s bursting with color, themed prizes, a bar and — of course — performances. Carlye Teel, the center’s director, immediately knew Rainbow Bingo was a perfect fit after hearing about it and the accompanying mission: “everyone is welcome.” Check out the sights and sounds on bingo night.    


Judy Twedt is so enthusiastic about communicating scientific data to laypeople that she wears it for everyone to see. The University of Washington doctoral student showed up for her conversation with host Gabriel Spitzer wearing a dress covered in colorful blocks, representing the history of our warming planet. Hear some of the music and how Twedt went about creating it.  


There are a few nunmbers to pay attention to in this story about a young Laura Michalek. The first is 15: her age the year she won the Chicago Marathon. The second is 26.2: the number of miles in the Windy City race. And then there's three and one. Listen to this story to learn more about the significance of those two numbers


Sylvia Hall is committed to living well below her means. The Seattle attorney could retire comfortably now if she wanted to, but she loves what she does and supports family back home in St. Louis. She recently took a trip to an average boutique grocery store and shared money-saving tips, along with Seattle writer Paulette Perhach, who admires Hall’s frugality.


Thomas Kyle-Milward wears a tie to work, but deep down he’s still a farm boy. He grew up on a small family farm in Oregon's Columbia County, where he proudly holds the title of 2014 wild cow milking champion. Listen to his conversation with Sound Effect host Gabriel Spitzer, and learn more about how he stays connected to his rural roots in his urban home.


Fred Lonidier was very much antiwar in the 1960s. He realized, as a student in San Francisco at the time, that with graduation would come the draft. He thought joining the Peace Corps was a sure way out. It wasn’t that easy. Hear how he fought his “immediate draftable” status all the way to the president of the United States.

Sound Effect is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KNKX’s Gabriel Spitzer.

Kevin Kniestedt is a journalist, host and producer who began his career at KNKX in 2003. Over his 17 years with the station, he worked as a full time jazz host, a news host and produced the weekly show Sound Effect. Kevin has conducted or produced hundreds of interviews, has won local and national awards for newscasts and commentary.