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.
Bill Bernat didn’t even realize how unhappy he was. Bill lives in Seattle, but at the time he was in the Bay Area, working in tech. And as he describes it, he was not the easiest guy to work with.
Bernat says there wasn’t a single moment of transformation — it’s a constant process, a rediscovering of humility and connection. And it’s not over. Listen to this story about how a four-month hike changed his perspective.
KINGDOME FUNK HIT
We head back in time now, to the early 1980s and some of the most forgettable Seattle Mariners seasons ever. The team … was bad. But, while the Mariners were posting losing records – one particular player was releasing a pretty good record.
Sound Effect Contributor Hans Anderson tells the story of how a baseball strike led one Mariner to become the new, musical version of himself he always wanted to be.
LIFTING LEGAL DEBT
Getting out of prison is a chance to make a fresh start. But people who’ve paid their debt to society often find there’s another debt hanging over their heads. And that can be a huge hindrance to getting life back on track.
It’s called a legal financial obligation, or LFO.
Even when they start out small, they can balloon into the thousands, thanks to double-digit interest rates.
Now, imagine someone comes along and knocks that debt down to an amount you can actually afford.
This is what happened in September, when hundreds of people showed up at a Tacoma courtroom. Listen to hear how this effort is changing lives.
MAN OF GOD
The kind of momentous personal transformations people have in movies or motivational talks are really hard to pull off. And early on, almost nobody expected Malik Shakoor to turn his life around. As a kid he was talented and troubled in almost equal measure.
Fast forward to the present, and Shakoor is the first Muslim religious coordinator, or chaplain, at the Washington State Corrections Center in Shelton. Sound Effect producer Jennifer Wing explains how he got there.
A NEW HOME
David Trainor is retired. He’s lived in Shoreline for years, and he’s watched with alarm as more and more people in the area have struggled with homelessness.
Ivan Dempsey was one of those people. He grew up in Florida, and moving to the Northwest would open up one of the most difficult chapters of his life. But it would also lead to a new start. Listen to this story about an unexpected friendship.