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Hidden Talents: Sound Effect, Episode 196


This show originally aired on November 25, 2019. 

The theme for this week’s Sound Effect is “Hidden Talents.” First, we hear how a summer job at a theme park launched one woman’s career at NASA and Microsoft. Then, a young man leaves his Mormon faith for a new religion: stand-up comedy. A country star shares how being bullied motivated him to excel on stage and in sports. We meet a man who fled El Salvador’s civil war — and may have changed the course of the country. Finally, how one performance of “I’m a Little Teapot” changed the summer, and maybe even the lives, of a bunch of Boy Scouts.   


The summer after she graduated high school, Cindy Healy did what a lot of Orange County teens did: she got a summer job at a theme park. In this case, Knott’s Berry Farm. 

Cindy was deployed to the Buffalo Nickel arcade, which at that time featured such cutting-edge gaming experiences as Pac-Man and Space Invaders. And within the arcade, Cindy began to draw a plum assignment: manning the change booth. She soon found out why, in an encounter that proved pivotal to her future career


As a child, Bengt Washburn had two passions: art and comedy. He grew up in a little town in Utah, in a devout Mormon household. 

Washburn’s Mormon faith stayed strong throughout childhood. But, when he was a young adult, doing his mission work in Seattle, doubts started to grow. His pursuit of fine art is what made him question the path he was taking.

In this story, Washburn tells us how his wavering faith and the mental decline of his mother opened up a door to a career that, until then, was considered off limits.


At first glance, “hidden” is not the word you’d use for Chance McKinney’s talents. As an athlete in high school and college, he got plenty of recognition. But this very capable guy has a whole other set of gifts that initially weren’t so obvious.

Chance is now a successful, full-time country musician. But his motivation to achieve, both in sports and in music, comes largely from being bullied as a child.


It was political violence that drove Al Martinez to leave his home country. He fled El Salvador’s civil war and found his way to Seattle. He made a life for himself here, started a business, and did his best to forget about politics. 

But recently, Al discovered talents he didn’t even know he had, and he was able to use them to help shape the future of El Salvador.


Once upon a time, there was a kid who discovered he had a flair for the stage. And that kid gave a performance (in his best Axl Rose mode) that would change the summer, and maybe even the lives, of a bunch of Boy Scouts.  

That kid was not Wolfe Maykut. But Wolfe was profoundly affected by the events in this story. Wolfe shared the tale at Sound Effect’s live storytelling event in June. Listen here.

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.