Kari Plog | KNKX

Kari Plog

Digital Content Manager

Kari Plog is an eager newcomer to public radio and a longtime admirer. Her background as a print journalist started at The News Tribune in Tacoma, where she covered government and communities across Pierce County.

Her work included an award-winning investigation into a deadly boat launch in Tacoma. Before joining KNKX in November 2018, Kari worked for her alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University, where she served as senior editor of the institution’s magazine, producing long-form storytelling from Parkland to Norway.

Kari also worked for several years as a college newspaper adviser at the University of Puget Sound, and continues to serve as a passionate advocate for aspiring journalists and student media. She’s a lover of orca whales, wine and Prince. She lives in Tacoma with her husband and their lovable 75-pound lapdog, Bernie.

Ways to Connect

Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards, left, and Harold Moss in 2018. Moss died Monday night at the age of 90. Woodards describes him as a father figure to her.
Courtesy of the City of Tacoma

Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards says the feelings she gets talking about her mentor, friend and adoptive father Harold Moss, who died late Monday at the age of 90, are still raw. Even so, she feels compelled to talk about him — now more than ever.

Musician Rosemary Ponnekanti plays the double bass for Pakak, a walrus at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, in late July. Ponnekanti, who works for the communications team at the zoo, composed music that prompted musical responses from the walruses.
Courtesy of Point Defiance Zoo

Walruses have a huge vocabulary of sounds. They whistle, they grunt, and they can even sound like a steam train.

But, Rosemary Ponnekanti says, they also can sound musical. 

“They make bell-like sounds and they can use their flippers to make percussive noises,” said Ponnekanti, who works on the communications team at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma. “They also get this funny, guttural kind of (sound) — I can’t even do it myself because I don’t have the right equipment in my voice.” 

Heat rising from the roadway blur the image of a fire truck driving through a burned out area Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, during a media tour to survey wildfire damage in Bonney Lake.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

A wildfire that has consumed a hillside overlooking the Sumner Valley in East Pierce County continues to burn. The Sumner Grade Fire, which started Monday evening, has burned an estimated 800 acres in the Bonney Lake area. It’s destroyed four homes.

Meanwhile, a number of separate brush fires and structure fires have flared up nearby, putting an unprecedented strain on fire districts’ pool of resources.

Gibraltar Senior Living, which operates under the name Alpha Cottage LLC, is located in the Parkland area of unicorporated Pierce County, near Franklin Pierce High School.
Kari Plog / KNKX

This story has been updated to include remarks from the state's long-term care ombuds. 

A long-term care facility in Pierce County was put on notice for unsanitary conditions two weeks before an employee brought COVID-19 into the building, infecting a majority of the residents living there. It was the latest in a series of similar warnings from the state that called into question the safety of residents. 

Gibraltar Senior Living houses many residents who are formerly homeless and suffering from severe mental illness.

Xuyen Le, Tommy Le's aunt, speaks while Sunny Le, Tommy's father, listens in the background during a news conference Wednesday at the Asian Counseling and Referral Service in South Seattle.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

An outside investigator presented the King County Council with a scathing review of the sheriff’s department on Wednesday, centered on its handling of the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Tommy Le.

Le was killed three years ago by sheriff’s Deputy Cesar Molina, who was responding to a report of a disturbance in Burien. Initial reports said Le wielded a knife in the incident, but the review concluded all he had on him was a ballpoint pen.

Artist Toka Valu stands in front of the murals he helped create at the site of the future Federal Way light rail station. The murals were damaged in an act officials suspect is racially motivated.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Authorities are investigating vandalism to temporary murals near the construction site of the future Federal Way light rail station. Sound Transit says the murals included depictions of people of color, and officials suspect the damage is racially motivated.

Family and friends of Manuel Ellis gathered Friday to celebrate what would have been Ellis' 34th birthday. Ellis was killed by Tacoma police nearly six months ago.
Melissa Ponder

Friday would have been Manuel Ellis’ 34th birthday. 

“I was there when he was born,” Regina Ellis Burnett said of her nephew. “Unfortunately, I was not there when his life was taken. We’re here to celebrate.”

Adrian Florez / KNKX

In this episode of Sound Effect, we’re featuring stories from this show and the KNKX newsroom that earned regional and national recognition.

Youth and education reporter Ashley Gross talks about a quirk in state policy that is giving an artificial boost to graduation rates across the state. KNKX’s Will James dives into the turmoil that, up until recently, plagued the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office. Producer Posey Gruener shares the story of a beloved professional boxer whose life was tragically cut short. Gabriel Spitzer introduces us to a man who is helping his homeless neighbors, one makeshift toilet at a time. And producer Kevin Kniestedt shares what he learned after rediscovering a box of old love letters from past girlfriends. (KNKX's Ed Ronco and Geoffrey Redick also earned recognition for long-form storytelling about the five-year anniversary of the Oso landslide, part of the station's regional reporting project KNKX Connects.) 

A person wears a mask as she waits to enter the Ram Restaurant and Brewery, Tuesday, June 23, in Tacoma.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Health officials in Pierce County are taking steps to learn just how many people are wearing masks in public, and if they’re wearing them correctly. They say their findings show it’s not enough, and habits vary widely depending on the type of location.

Staff and volunteers with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department recently conducted a 48-hour survey, during which they observed people in more than 20 locations countywide.

An election worker sorts ballots at the Pierce County Election Center in Tacoma.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It's primary election day, and KNKX Public Radio has a roundup of some key local, state and federal races. Catch up on past coverage and view the latest results. (Last updated Aug. 7, 4:50 p.m.)  

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor talks on his phone at a staging area at the ferry terminal in Steilacoom in 2018, after a plane was stolen from Sea-Tac Airport and crashed.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

Against a backdrop of mounting scrutiny and calls for change, Pierce County voters will elect a new sheriff for the first time in nearly two decades.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor announced in October that he would retire after serving for 19 years — the longest tenure for a sitting sheriff in the state’s second-largest county.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

We have all been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in our own ways. And the Sound Effect team has been doing our best to cover it in a podcast called Transmission. Today on Sound Effect, we share some more stories that have stood out to us from the series.

Monet Carter-Mixon (center), sister of Manuel Ellis, joined Ellis' family and friends Sunday for a balloon release celebrating the late father of two, who was killed March 3 in Tacoma police custody.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

“You are loved. You are missed. You are remembered.”

Those were the words printed on dozens of balloons that were released into the air in downtown Tacoma on Father’s Day, during an event honoring Manuel Ellis.  

Katrina Johnson, cousin to the late Charleena Lyles, spoke at a rally on June 18, 2020, the three-year anniversary of Lyles' death.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Katrina Johnson stood alongside a score of families Thursday morning, demanding justice for a long list of Black men and women whose lives were taken by police officers, both here and across the country.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

We have all been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in our own ways. And the Sound Effect team has been doing our best to cover it in a podcast called Transmission. Today on Sound Effect, we share some more stories that have stood out to us from the series.

The family of Manuel Ellis and their attorney, James Bible, address reporters during a news conference Tuesday in Tacoma. They renewed calls for the state to lead an independent investigation into Ellis' killing on March 3.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Gov. Jay Inslee says he’s convinced the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department shouldn’t lead the investigation into the killing of Manuel Ellis. He announced Wednesday that the state is reviewing how the investigation should proceed, including who will make charging decisions.  

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

UPDATE, June 10: Gov. Jay Inslee says he's convinced the Pierce County Sheriff's Department can't lead the investigation into Manuel Ellis' death. The governor is working with Attorney General Bob Ferguson to decide how the investigation will proceed. Read the latest developments here

The family of Manuel Ellis has released a new video from the night Ellis was killed in police custody. Their attorney says it shows a man "begging for his life." 

Paul Currington as a boy.
Courtesy of Paul Currington

This story originally aired on June 29, 2019.

Sitting in an emergency room, trying to catch his breath, Paul Currington had one thought playing over and over in his mind: “Please, God, please don’t let my last thoughts on Earth be of my mother.”

They weren’t his last thoughts, especially of his mother.

Growing up, Currington’s mother smoked two to three packs a day — always enveloped in clouds of smoke. She had a volcanic temper, he says: “I would do anything to not have to go home so I wouldn’t have to show up in her crosshairs.”

Protesters gather outside the County-City Building in Tacoma on Friday, demanding justice for Manuel Ellis, who was killed while in police custody March 3. His death was ruled a homicide, according to a report made public this week.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The family of Manuel Ellis spoke, and the Tacoma City Council listened. 

The council unanimously voted Friday to submit a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee, calling for a state-sanctioned independent review of Ellis’ death. Ellis died March 3 in police custody. His death was ruled a homicide, in a medical examiner’s report made public this week. The cause was lack of oxygen due to physical restraint. 

Hundreds gathered at a vigil Wednesday night to remember Manuel Ellis, who died March 3 in the custody of Tacoma police officers. His death has been ruled a homicide by the Pierce County medical examiner, and the officers have been placed on leave.
Joel Schomberg/Longhouse Media

Marcia Carter says she cried for two months and 10 days, waiting for answers about the death of her son, Manuel Ellis. This week, she got some. But now the family is left with even more questions. 

“We want answers,” Carter said Thursday, outside the Pierce County Superior Court, flanked by representatives from the regional chapter of the NAACP and the activist group Tacoma Action Collective. “No more talking.” 

Four Tacoma police officers were placed on administrative leave Wednesday, after a report from the Pierce County medical examiner became public. It ruled Ellis’ death a homicide, caused by a lack of oxygen due to physical restraint. Ellis died in police custody during an arrest in South Tacoma on March 3.

People block traffic as they lay face down on the street in an intersection in Tacoma, Wash., for 8 minutes and 46 seconds during a protest Monday, June 1, 2020 against police brutality and the death of George Floyd.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Hundreds of Tacoma residents flooded the city's streets Monday, to protest police brutality and systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Thousands of protesters flooded downtown Seattle on Saturday, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier in the week. The demonstrations turned violent, prompting Seattle officials to institute a curfew for the city.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has issued several emergency orders in response to peaceful protests that turned violent on Saturday in the city’s downtown core.

She issued an order of civil emergency prohibiting the use of weapons, formal and informal, and instituted curfews Saturday and Sunday from 5 p.m.-5 a.m.

The Point Ruston development in Pierce County, home to many local businesses, is among the places that have been quieter after businesses shuttered due to the novel coronavirus. Those businesses may be cleared to open up soon.
Tom Collins / KNKX

Pierce County is preparing to reopen its economy, after Gov. Jay Inslee announced a more flexible strategy  for easing social-distancing restrictions in counties across Washington.

Friday’s announcement came just as the governor’s original stay-home order was set to expire Monday.

In an exclusive interview with KNKX Public Radio, County Executive Bruce Dammeier said officials plan to move swiftly on an application to begin reopening the economy under the new criteria of Inslee’s so-called Safe Start plan.

Bridget Parkhill, right, talks on the phone as she visits with her mother, Susan Hailey, center, who tested positive for the new coronavirus, Thursday, April 2, 2020, at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that long-term care facilities statewide will have access to widespread testing for all their residents and staff in the coming weeks.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

In many ways, “family planning” is a misnomer. The “planning” part only goes so far. Even with all the tools at your disposal, a lot of it is mostly out of your control and up to chance. A million little things have to go exactly right to bring life into the world. 

When you throw a global pandemic into the equation, the typical uncertainty that comes with starting a family is amplified to tremendous proportions. 

In this episode of Transmission, we explore how the response to COVID-19 has altered the lives of growing families. 

Courtesy Kari Plog

When my husband, Christian, and I talked about starting our family, we knew only so much would be within our control. But we never imagined just how out of our control everything would get.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

We have all been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in our own ways. And the Sound Effect team has been doing our best to cover it in a podcast called Transmission. Today on Sound Effect, we share some more stories that have stood out to us from the series.

Dr. Karen Cline-Parhamovich stands in the autopsy suite at the Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office in Tacoma on May 11, 2020. She starts work as the new chief medical examiner Monday.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Pierce County is finally getting a new medical examiner, after nearly a year and a half of turmoil and uncertainty.

The County Council confirmed Dr. Karen Cline-Parhamovich in a unanimous vote Tuesday. Cline attended the meeting remotely after recently relocating here from New Mexico, where she has served as interim chief medical investigator for the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator. She begins work in Pierce County on Monday. 

Thomas Kyle-Milward (center) with his Milk and Scotch teammates at the Columbia County Fair in Oregon in 2014. He was "very insulted" when competitors talked trash about his overalls. But they weren't laughing after he beat them to the finish line.
Courtesy of Thomas Kyle-Milward

This story originally aired on May 25, 2019.
 

Thomas Kyle-Milward wears a tie to work, but deep down he’s still a farm boy.

Kyle-Milward grew up on a small family farm outside Portland, Oregon. The farm had its own rhythm: morning and evening chores, planting, harvest. And every year — the Columbia County Fair.

Kyle-Milward is building a life in urban Tacoma now, but he still makes it out for the fair each summer. And, as he’ll proudly share, he brings along bragging rights as the 2014 wild cow milking champion.

Windows in the Seattle skyline light up in the shape of a heart, offering encouragement for a city reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It’s been less than two months since residents were ordered to stay home to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. And it will be at least another two months before life starts to resemble normal again, according to a plan released Friday by Gov. Jay Inslee’s office.

Inslee announced that he’ll extend the stay-at-home order Monday, the day it’s set to expire, until at least May 31. But he also announced a phased plan that will slowly reopen public life across Washington state over the coming weeks and months.

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