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

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. 

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.”

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