As 2010 winds to a close, the KPLU News reporting team has been looking back at the stories they covered this year, and have chosen some favorites.
The reports they selected aren't necessarily the 'biggest' news stories of the year, or necessarily on the reporter's beat. They are the ones that for each were memorable because of they exemplify the art, beauty and impact of the aural medium, the joy of radio storytelling.
Paula Wissel, law and justice reporter:
What I liked about the stories was that they both had a strong sense of place, dealt with things that are unique to the Pacific Northwest and looked at how we are influenced by our surroundings. Painting the Light had a definite affect on me. It forever changed how I look at gray skies.
Bellamy Pailthorp, business and labor reporter:
- Living With War At Home: A Rare Woman General
- Living With War: Submarine Trainee Amber Pfeiffer
- 787 Delays: Ongoing coverage
- Foreclosure Clogs, More Headaches for Local Agency
If it seems strange that KPLU's business and labor reporter would choose a military profile for this list, consider the fact that Joint Base Lewis-McChord is now the third-largest employer in Washington, after Boeing and the state government. And you could say the woman general was one of that entity's top executives. She was just departing her post at the base to take a promotion at the Pentagon when I met her. It's the first time in more than 20 years of radio reporting that I managed to put a very effective unzipping sound into a story. I hope you'll take the time to listen to it.
Liam Moriarty, environment reporter:
- Reflections on the Water: Daniel Evans and the Adventuress
- Cancun Climate Conference: The Kids Are Alright
About his series work, Liam writes:
My series "Reflections on the Water: Conversations about the Salish Sea" took me all around the region. I got to meet interesting people doing interesting things and see how these waters look through my neighbors' eyes. And, during the first week of December I reported from the U.N. climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, a high point was speaking with Ian Siadek and Lauren Ressler, a pair of Seattle University students who attended the conference as part of the youth delegation. Their energy, intelligence and passion were impressive.
- Seattle Symphony Debuts Young Conductor
- Community Colleges Offer 4-year Degrees
- Architecture Graduates Find Few Jobs
The story about the Seattle Symphony's young conductor showed me a new side of symphonies and teenagers. I'd never witnessed a conductor molding and shaping an orchestra and certainly not one who's only 17 years old. Plus, it was fun to play with lots of beautiful sound!
Keith Seinfeld, science and health reporter:
- Barefoot Running, The Scientific Merits
- Surgical Checklists Make Operations Safer in Washington
- Chile's Big Earthquake and Tsunami Offer Valuable Lessons for Northwest (a two-part report)
Jennifer Wing, reporter:
- Artscape: Ukuleles Bring the Islands to Tukwila
- Artscape: Bold and Fearless, Glass Artist Ginny Ruffner
- Artscape: Scratching an Itch With a Paintbrush
- The New Cell Phone Law: Will It Make Us Safer?
About her ukulele feature story, Jennifer writes:
I've been in love with the intrinsically happy sound this little instrument produces for a long time and have been looking for an excuse to do a ukulele story. A friend told me about Foster High School in Tukwila and how it has become very hip to roam the halls there playing the ukulele. Well, not only do they play, but they sing too! It's amazing to see the tough outer shell of some of these kids just melt away as soon as they start to strum. Tiny Tim was totally onto something.
Florangela Davila, Artscape reporter
Over the past year, I've watched art in all forms be created: modern dance, ballet, chamber music, theater, jewelry. Even food. But what struck me the most was meeting, watching and listening to Bret Walker. He's always been a painter: before, and then after, a traumatic brain injury left him in a wheelchair. I interviewed his sister Cass who photographed her brother's recovery, an unflinching documentation in black-and-white. And I visited Bret in his airy, light-filled, wheelchair-accessible house, still making bold, colorful paintings.
In the fall, I came upon a story about a group of artists reclaiming a space: the former Immigration and Naturalization Service building. The hulking building was both a beacon of hope as well as a nightmare memory of incarceration for those in the local immigrant community.
Gary Davis, Online Managing Editor, former education reporter:
- Renton High Shows Why School Newspapers On The Rise
- Inside an Everett School's Grad Rate Success
- Artscape: Following Aristotle - Ballard High's Storytellers
The joy of being an education reporter is the opportunity to listen to kids, hearing their stories, finding out what matters to them. These features are my favorites because they're rich in the voices of youth, resilient and creative. It's also the story of educators who make sure those voices are heard.