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

Adrian Florez / KNKX

This week’s theme for Sound Effect is “Wrong Place, Wrong Time,” stories of people stuck in circumstances they can’t control and what’s revealed by the choices they make. First, we learn about how the eruption of Mount St. Helens turned one man into a folk hero. Then, we hear about an effort to honor the work of a pioneering black chemist who was erased from history. The driver in a fatal duck boat crash opens up about the painful memories he still copes with years later. We meet a social worker who is trying to keep seniors from becoming homeless. Finally, we tag along with an animal-lover who rescues cats from trees. And, in the full broadcast version of the show, we get some unsettling information about why your hotel room might be keeping you up at night. 

Industry is ever-present around Commencement Bay in Tacoma. Citizens for a Healthy Bay is among the organizations that are invested in improving and maintaining the health of those waters.
Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

David Bean remembers when his family didn’t have enough room for all the salmon in their boat. 

“We caught so much fish that we had to call folks to bring their skiffs over,” said Bean, chairman of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. “I remember one, we overflowed that skiff so much to one side it flipped over and we lost one skiff-load of salmon. But we still had three.”

The waters in and around Tacoma have changed since then. Still, efforts made in recent years have spurred progress. 

Deanna Bender, owner of Over The Moon Cafe, says she wanted to do more than feed people at her restaurant. She wanted to create a space where diners could “check their stuff at the door,” break bread with the people they love and celebrate life.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Imagine writing a letter about the love of your life addressed to a complete stranger. 

The object of your affection may only read it once, or not at all. But it’s almost certain that dozens of people you’ve never met — maybe hundreds — will know exactly how you’re feeling at that moment.

At the very least, Deanna Bender will know.

The Grand Cinema is a nonprofit movie theater in Tacoma.
Amelia Vaugh / Courtesy of The Grand

The Grand Cinema is more than a theater — it’s like Tacoma’s living room. It’s where people come together not only to watch and appreciate films, but also to engage in conversation with their neighbors about those films. 

“There are a lot of theaters where movies are played,” said Jamika Scott, a board member for the nonprofit, in a conversation with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick. “But the difference is The Grand is an organization that was bred out of love for the community, and is sustained by the community.”

The vibrant view from above the Tacoma Night Market, a monthly gathering of vendors and artists at Alma Mater.
Aaron Bender / Courtesy of Over Tacoma

Aaron Bender is a transplant, but he understands what lifelong Tacomans know to be true about their city — even if what they know to be true is hard to put into words.

“Tacoma definitely has a unique feel. Almost a personality,” Bender said. “I don’t know exactly how to describe it. It’s not like dropping into any cookie-cutter area in the country.”

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Tacoma is a pretty special place. We don’t want to romanticize it — it’s complicated, like anywhere. But it does have this quality of openness, a willingness to let people in.

That’s exactly what the Sound Effect team did on Saturday. Gabriel Spitzer hosted a special, live show from KNKX Public Radio’s new downtown Tacoma station, while strangers wandered around on self-guided tours of the space.

And the doors will stay open long past Saturday's grand opening. The new station offers a place to convene community conversations, share culture and just meet up. 

In honor of our debut at 930 Broadway, the latest episode of Sound Effect is all about Tacoma. 

First, a KNKX colleague takes us inside Tacoma's most romantic hidden gem. Then, we meet the Northwest's friendliest raccoons and the park ranger tasked with teaching Tacomans to love them from a distance. We hear from a Tacoma earthquake survivor who remains grateful to a boy who died saving his life decades ago. We discover the family affair that is Tacoma’s alcohol service industry. Tacoma’s first African-American mayor discusses the heartbreak of racism. Finally, we’ll learn about a Tacoma-based newspaper that was part of the GI underground movement.

Linebacker Jadeveon Clowney rushes during an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Clowney was traded to the Seattle Seahawks from the Houston Texans and makes his debut in Seattle on Sunday.
Chris Szagola / The Associated Press

The Seahawks open their regular season at home on Sunday afternoon against the Cincinnati Bengals. It will be the first time fans will see the team’s newest acquisition, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, in action. KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel says Clowney has changed his whole outlook on the team’s chances this year.

The 8 million-gallon containment tank is seen from a distance on Tacoma's tideflats at the site of a liquefied natural gas plant currently under construction.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Editor's note: This series originally published May 22. Environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp was in Tacoma on Tuesday covering the latest developments, including an anti-LNG march and a public hearing related to permits for the proposed project. Listen to her coverage on All Things Considered today and Morning Edition tomorrow, and revisit previous coverage (updates at the bottom of this post).

Puget Sound Energy CEO Kimberly Harris wasn’t surprised to receive a call from Gov. Jay Inslee the afternoon of May 8. But she was surprised to hear what he had to say.

Former NFL football quarterback Jim Zorn, right, shakes hands with XFL Football Commissioner Oliver Luck, left, as Zorn is introduced as the head coach for Seattle's XFL football team, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The Seattle Seahawks open the regular season at home Sept. 8, and football fans have plenty of NFL matchups to keep them satiated through the new year. But what happens when February rolls around? Next year, fans have a new professional team to look forward to, and sports commentator Art Thiel tells Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick that it should be a legitimate league.

Seattle City Council member Lorena González is running for Washington state attorney general.

González announced her campaign in a video released Thursday morning. She cited her experience as a civil rights attorney, as well as her second-term serving as an at-large member of the City Council.

Election workers Mark Bezanson, left, and Julie Olson dump ballots collected earlier in the day from drop boxes onto a table for sorting at the King County Elections office, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Renton. Primary ballots are due today.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Today is the deadline to turn in primary election ballots. Our reporters have identified key races to watch in the Puget Sound region. Revisit our relevant coverage, and watch for updates on results and reaction. First results drop around 8 p.m., and we’ll update this post with the latest in the coming days. (Last update Aug. 15, 4:40 p.m.) 

Dmitri Matheny Group is amon the many friends of KNKX who have performed at Tula's Restaurant and Jazz Club over the years. The group will perform Aug. 7, about a month before Tula's will close for good.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

September marks the end of an era for Seattle jazz performers and fans: the closure of Tula’s Restaurant and Jazz Club in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. It’s a real blow to jazz in Seattle, says Abe Beeson, KNKX’s resident jazz expert and host of The New Cool.

“It’s really been the central headquarters of the Northwest jazz community,” Beeson told Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

Former Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez smiles as he addresses a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, in Seattle. Martinez will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, on Sunday.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Edgar Martinez, the beloved designated hitter who spent his entire career with the Seattle Mariners, will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend. 

Finally. 

“It took 10 years for the baseball world to understand Edgar’s contribution and status,” KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel told Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick in their weekly chat. 

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Before Kevin Yamamoto was hired to run the City of Puyallup in 2015, he witnessed a revolving door of four city managers. Now, he's joining their ranks. 

But he’s not leaving empty handed.

Puyallup City Council members accepted a notice of resignation, effective immediately, from Yamamoto in a late-night vote Tuesday.  

Daniel Lyon and his girlfriend, Megan Lanfear, on a recent road trip.
Courtesy of Daniel Lyon

As soon as Daniel Lyon jumped out of the wrecked fire engine in Twisp, he was burning alive.

“It was the loudest, brightest thing you’d ever seen,” he said of the wall of flames. “It sounded like a freight train all around you.”

Lyon crawled up the ravine to the dirt road and took off running, toward the wildfire safety zone. That, he says, was the easy part.

Sound Effect host Gabriel Spitzer shares his story during our live event on June 4 at The Collective in Seattle.
Adrian Florez / KNKX

For this special edition of Sound Effect, the theme is “Small Miracles,” tales from our live storytelling event. Host Gabriel Spitzer recounts his brush with death after years of humiliation in swim class. Ty Reed recalls how a random encounter saved his life after he fell into homelessness and addiction. Cindy Healy is moved to tears seeing a special spacecraft in a Matt Damon movie. Queen Mae Butters remembers a powerful friendship formed at the end of her hospice patient’s life. And Paul Currington learns to breathe through the smoke of his past.

Paul Currington as a boy.
Courtesy of Paul Currington

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.”

rearview mirror
Juan Karita / The Associated Press

When you look back at things, from a perspective of a new time and place, they tend to look different. That’s our theme for the latest episode of Sound Effect, “Benefit of Hindsight” — how a little time passing can reveal the things we were once blind to.

“Almost Live” cast members reflect on a Space Needle prank that went sideways. A woman shares her experience discovery her lack of smell. A country singer reunites with his “kitchen mom,” who inspired one of his songs. A Seattle woman talks about how a call from the FBI revealed her childhood friend’s home as a house of horrors. And a longtime musician reflects on offensive lyrics in her past. Also, in the full broadcast audio, we hear about a woman who saved Sound Effect producer Posey Gruener’s birthday, after a cult took it away.

A sign points to a remote toilet on a trail near Mount Baker.
Geoffrey Redick / KNKX

For this episode of Sound Effect, we're talking toilets — how these things we'd just as soon ignore actually have profound effects on our lives. We meet an author who is, among other things, teaching women how to pee in the woods without peeing on themselves. A Seattle man explains how he uses portable toilets to connect with his homeless neighbors. We hear what Seattle can learn from San Francisco’s approach to cleaner and safer public toilets. We talk with the Snopes.com founder about abundant toilet myths and their possible origins. And we try to settle a debate between writers at The Stranger: seat up or seat down?   

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks during the 2019 California Democratic Party State Organizing Convention in San Francisco on Saturday, June 1, 2019.
Jeff Chiu / The Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee continues his latest presidential campaign trip with a stop in Detroit today. Meanwhile, here in Washington state, there is good news for people who purchase individual health insurance. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talks about both in his weekly chat with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

Rodeo clown J.J. Harrison gets trampled by a 2,000-pound bull at a rodeo in Hobbs, New Mexico. Listen to his story and others on this week's episode of Sound Effect, "Bouncing Back."
Courtesy of J.J. Harrison

This episode of Sound Effect, “Bouncing Back,” features stories about people who take the hits and come right back for more. We meet a Walla Walla man who became a rodeo clown to scratch his cowboy itch. Then, we meet a legally blind Seattleite who experienced Tokyo with his other senses. An East Side Tacoma woman shares how her experience hitting rock bottom informs how she gives back today. Hear how two rival, “real-life superheroes” fell in love. And, in the full broadcast of the show, meet a woman who helps fellow women of color heal through writing.

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

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.

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

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.

vape pen
Nam Y. Huh / The Associated Press (file)

Gov. Jay Inslee will be signing several bills today, including one that allows a new tax on vaping products. The money will be used to fund cancer research and tobacco cessation and prevention efforts. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talked about his reporting on the subject with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

In this Sept. 14, 2016 photo, Pat McCarthy speaks at the AWB Policy Summit in Cle Elum during her campaign for state auditor.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comments from Wapato City Administrator Juan Orozco. KNKX reached him after our broadcast deadline.

State auditors don’t normally make house calls. But the unprecedented findings in a small Central Washington city earlier this month required a higher level of attention, Washington State Auditor Pat McCarthy says.

“Wapato is a city in pretty dire crisis right now,” she told KNKX’s Ed Ronco. “This one really did rise to the level.”

A Boeing 737 MAX 8 jetliner being built for Turkish Airlines takes off on a test flight, Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Renton, Wash. Passenger flights using the plane remain grounded worldwide as investigations into two fatal crashes involving the airplane c
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

There’s a reason Dominic Gates has stayed on the same beat at The Seattle Times for 16 years. The aerospace reporter says he’s fortunate to cover people across a wide spectrum of perspectives and life experiences: white collar engineers, blue collar manufacturers, corporate executives, scientists.

“My expertise comes from all the people I talk to,” Gates told All Things Considered host Ed Ronco in an interview about his Northwest aerospace coverage. “I like the people of Boeing.”

Chambers Bay at sunset in 2017.
Kari Plog / KNKX

Residents who packed the Pierce County Council chambers agreed on at least one thing Tuesday: Chambers Bay Regional Park — including its accompanying championship-caliber golf course — is a jewel of the South Sound.

But five hours of polarizing public comment revealed that’s about where agreement stops when it comes to new plans for development there, and even supporters expressed reservations about the project.  

Growler jets
John Froschauer / The Associated Press

A national parks organization filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Navy last week, related to jet training at Air Station Whidbey Island.

The nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association sued the Navy to get more information about the exercises, which are planned for one of the quietest places in the lower 48.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks, Friday, March 1, 2019, during a campaign event at A&R Solar in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

The Washington Legislature adjourned its regular session more than a week ago, but Gov. Jay Inslee has been busy signing bills passed by lawmakers. He’s also been out on the campaign trail in his bid for the presidency in 2020. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins shares the latest in his weekly chat with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

Recycling is changing dramatically. So, a Seattle Public Utilities staffer put on some gloves, rolled up her sleeves and sorted through the recycling at a local coffee shop with KNKX Public Radio. Here are the top 10 tips she shared.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Recycling the right way is a point of pride around here. “Obsessive Compulsive Recycler, you’re one of us,” local insurance company Pemco says in one of its cheeky Northwest Profiles.

But getting it right has become more difficult, after China stopped accepting most of our recyclable waste. With so much piling up, some worry if their careful efforts are ultimately keeping the items out of landfills.

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