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

This photo shows the area of a deadly shooting in downtown Seattle on Wednesday night. A gunman opened fire in downtown Seattle on Wednesday night, killing at least one person and wounding several others, authorities said.
Suzanne Asprea / via The Associated Press

Editor's note: This story is developing. We will update as more details become available. 

Seattle police have released information about the suspects involved in a fatal shooting in the city’s downtown core Wednesday night.

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.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

For the latest Sound Effect, our theme is “New Year, New Me” — stories of reinvention, no matter what the calendar says. First, we meet a self-proclaimed former “couch potato” whose four-month solo hike changed how he sees the world. Then, we learn about the funk song former Mariners player Lenny Randle wrote about the Kingdome. We learn about an effort to eliminate legal debt for formerly incarcerated people. We meet a basketball player who made the unexpected leap to man of God. And finally, two unlikely roommates overcome setbacks to form a genuine friendship

Adrian Florez / KNKX

In celebration of our 200th episode, this week’s Sound Effect theme is “Suite 200,” where all of the stories connect to a place with Suite 200 in their address. First, two sisters follow up their brush with scientific fame by tackling homelessness in Seattle. Then, we meet a mom who helped raise money for childhood cancer research with help from some special athletes. We learn about a population boom in Bremerton that puts 21st century Seattle to shame. Finally, we meet one of Tacoma’s biggest advocates who has taken up residence in a city that’s, well, not Tacoma. 

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Everyone wants to tell a story about homelessness. But it’s not just one story:

“I was a mom who wasn’t prepared to lose anything. And I lost everything.” 

“I had pictures on my wall and I had carpet between my toes. Now I don’t get that.”

“People are dying out here in the cold.” 

And homelessness isn’t just one thing. So, KNKX Public Radio and The Seattle Times Project Homeless team have partnered on Outsiders, an in-depth podcast series to help you understand what’s actually happening.

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

Author's note: I’ve worked at KNKX Public Radio just over a year now. And it’s stories like this that brought me here. The words scribbled on love notes hidden in boxes at Tacoma’s Over The Moon Cafe belong on the radio. As I said in this story, reading them over a tasty meal feels like being engrossed in a good book you never want to put down. But hearing them spoken — by the woman who dreamed up the restaurant where they live in anonymity — is that much better. The audio injects life into these stories of everyday people, which is precisely what KNKX does best. I hope everyone enjoys this story as much as I do. And if you have time this holiday season, stop by for a meal and leave a note of your own. (This story originally aired Sept. 12.)  

Adrian Florez / KNKX

This week on Sound Effect, our theme is “Cheating Death” — stories of defying the odds and living to tell the tale. First, we meet a 1920s daredevil who survived 104 vertical feet of certain death. A diver recounts her underwater brush with death. A a 92-year-old author recalls how an unlikely ally saved her from Nazi occupation. We meet a UW researcher studying how to help your dog live longer. And a local storyteller talks about his unexpected connection with a woman who was awaiting a heart transplant. 

Former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland (left, center) talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and former NFL football player and Lincoln High School graduate Lawyer Milloy during a visit to the high school in 2015.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Marilyn Strickland, Tacoma’s former mayor and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, announced Thursday that she’s running for Congress in Washington’s 10th District. The seat is being vacated by U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, who recently announced he would not seek re-election in 2020.

A sign on a door points to the main entrance of the state auditor's office in Olympia.
Rachel La Corte / The Associated Press (file)

The State Auditor’s Office released a fraud report Monday morning detailing $6.9 million in misappropriated funds within the Pierce County Housing Authority (PCHA). It’s believed to be the largest misappropriation on record in the state, propagated by the authority's former finance director.

Pierce County has found its next chief medical examiner, to replace Dr. Thomas Clark.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Pierce County has found its next chief medical examiner, shortly after reaching settlement agreements with the office’s top two officials.  

The county announced Tuesday that Dr. Mark Fajardo will lead the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office as soon as he relocates from Southern California. He’ll succeed Dr. Thomas Clark, who recently announced his intent to retire amid a whirlwind of complaints

One of the Fort Casey disappearing guns overlooking the gateway to Puget Sound.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This week on Sound Effect, the theme is “Playing Defense” — stories of protecting our turf. First, we travel to Whidbey Island to learn about massive forts that were built in the 1890s to protect Puget Sound from invading ships. Then, we hear the story of a gifted Thurston County boxer with a magnetic personality — and a weakness. We learn what it takes for students of color to thrive at a mostly white university. An evolutionary biology researcher helps us understand that, sometimes, viruses are on our side. And we look back at one of the greatest middleweight boxers of a generation. 

Adrian Florez / KNKX

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.   

Adrian Florez / KNKX

This week on Sound Effect, “Getting There” — stories of what happens along the way. First, we hear a serendipitous story about a veteran and a training map of a small Washington town. Then, we learn about a legendary punk rock riot on a ferry in 1987. We meet a doctor facing death who wants to teach other doctors how to deliver bad news. A young person happens upon an obscure printing press in Olympia, and develops an unexpected friendship with the woman who runs it. Finally, we hear an indie-rock essay about aging. 

Adrian Florez / KNKX

First, we learn about a map that shows the vast web of connections among Seattle bands. Then, we meet the chief of equity for Seattle Public Schools, whose  work is informed by her own past experience as a black student in the district. We meet a performance artist who explores how expectations of beauty killed her mother. We travel to a ridgetop observatory where young adults are working out who they’re going to be. And we learn how a Tacoma woman went from “cult” to college

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. gavels as the House votes 232-196 to pass resolution on impeachment procedure to move forward into the next phase of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press

The House of Representatives voted Thursday 232-196 to pass a resolution formalizing its impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Just two Democrats voted no — Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey.

KNKX Public Radio has gathered remarks and formal statements from members of Congress in Washington state. (This post is developing. Check back for updates.)

Adrian Florez / KNKX

This week on Sound Effect, our theme is “You Can’t Choose Your Family...Can You?” We’re bringing you stories of family ties that go beyond blood, but still help define who we are and where we come from. First, a middle-aged woman learns she was conceived using an unexpected sperm donor. A bookseller searches for someone to take over his business and learns something surprising about himself. A resilient young woman balances college and guardianship of her younger siblings. Finally, a local doctor shares his journey of adopting a daughter from Kazakhstan.

Skagit County Coroner Hayley Thompson (left) and Connie Le Sourd, owner of Mount Vernon Cemetery, arrange urns of unclaimed remains in a shared crypt during a committal service on Wednesday, the first of its kind in Skagit County history.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The 25 people may have gone unclaimed over the past two decades, but Skagit County Coroner Hayley Thompson wanted to be sure they were not forgotten.

They were among the 50 unclaimed decedents held in urns and stored in the coroner’s office when Thompson took over in 2016.

The newly elected coroner knew right away that an administrative building is no resting place for the dead.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor, right, stands outside a Pierce County Superior courtroom in May 2019 following an appearance by a teen suspected in a robbery and murder of a 79-year-old convenience store owner.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Washington’s second largest county is about to get a new sheriff for the first time in two decades. Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor announced last week that he will retire at the beginning of 2020. 

The theme of this week’s Sound Effect is “Gatekeepers” — stories about people with power over who comes and goes. First, we hear what it’s like for a prison guard to be locked in with the inmates. Next, a story of escape and betrayal in one of the world’s most repressive countries. Then, the chilling words of a man ready to confront his fate — and his complicated journey to execution. Finally, we hear from a woman who once was tasked with helping determine who was approved to resettle from Vietnam to the U.S.

The theme for this week’s episode of Sound Effect is “Found in Translation” — stories of making ourselves understood, for better or for worse. First, we meet a Kenyan woman who was pleased to meet a white woman familiar with her home country and tribe — until she learned why. Then, we visit a landmark that’s become a flashpoint between a mostly white city government and a changing community. Host Gabriel Spitzer takes us back to a remote village in Alaska where he experienced an unlikely racial clash. A White Center teenager learns how to communicate with his immigrant parents. A scientist looks to an octopus to understand how aliens might think. And we explore what a transplant from South Africa learns about her home after protesting in Seattle.  

Associate Medical Examiner Megan Quinn, who recently agreed to a settlement with Pierce County following months of turmoil in the Medical Examiner's Office.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Megan Quinn was placed on administrative leave less than a month after she accused the chief medical examiner of mismanaging death investigations in Washington’s second-largest county.

And while Quinn will finish out the year with the title of associate medical examiner, she won’t return to work again. Instead, she will leave the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office at the end of the year with a settlement package valued at more than $450,000, according to an agreement announced Tuesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, poses during a ceremonial swearing-in with Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, during the opening session of the 116th Congress.
Susan Walsh / The Associated Press

Like Washington's other congressional Democrats, U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer supports the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. It's a polarizing discussion that Kilmer — who is part of a bipartisan working group in the House — says he doesn't "run gleefully into."

During a visit to the new KNKX studios on Monday, Kilmer spoke with KNKX's Kari Plog about a variety of subjects, among them the challenges facing a growing Puget Sound region, including his 6th Congressional District — or in his words “70 percent of Tacoma and everything to the west.”

He also addressed civility and bipartisanship in the other Washington, and efforts to modernize Congress.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

The theme of this week’s Sound Effect is “Connection.” But it’s even deeper than that: Everything we do at KNKX Public Radio centers on connecting with listeners and linking listeners with each other. And we’re only able to do that because of your support.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Collections come in all shapes and sizes. Whatever it is, a collection can take on a life of its own. And it says something about the person behind it. That’s our latest theme — The Collector: why we’re drawn to collect stuff, and what we’re willing to do in pursuit of it.

First, the co-owner of a Tacoma bar shares how he came to acquire a small collection of glass art from Dale Chihuly. Then, we meet a woman who makes jewelry out of animal bones. A man shares how his obsession with a certain tree led him on an intense trip to Chile in pursuit of seeds. We meet a Seattle librarian who is helping catalogue more than 30,000 zines from across the country. Next, we learn about the man who collected — among many things — recordings of ferry horns. Finally, one of our own shares what he’s learned from a collection of letters from past girlfriends.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

UPDATE, Sept. 20, 6 p.m.: Adds details from strikes in Seattle and Tacoma, as well as audio of a live Q&A with reporter Simone Alicea, who followed a march by Amazon workers, and audio of a live Q&A with environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp. 

Amid an ongoing investigation into his conduct, Pierce County Medical Examiner Thomas Clark has announced he will retire effective next year.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Amid an ongoing investigation into his conduct, Pierce County Medical Examiner Thomas Clark has announced he will retire, effective next year, after nearly a decade leading the office.

In a news release Monday, the county said Clark will continue serving as the top official in charge of death investigations and autopsies until county officials can find a full-time replacement.

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.

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. 

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.”

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