Sound Effect | KNKX

Sound Effect

Saturdays at 10 AM

Sound Effect is stories inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KNKX's Gabriel Spitzer. Each week's show explores a different theme.

Sound Effect is on iTunes. Subscribe to our podcast.

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Protesters, including Bryce Green, 12, center, make the raised-fist "Black Power" sign as they take part in a Black Lives Matter protest march, Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

We start with a man who is fighting for better access to sidewalks for people with mobility issues. Next, the story of a man who started the first Black Panther chapter outside of California when he was 17. Then, a couple of activists take on a dictator, and pay the ultimate price.

Alaskero Foundation/John Stamets / courtesy of Cindy Domingo

The brutal slayings of two 29-year-old Filipino-American labor activists in Seattle on June 1, 1981, shocked the city and the wider Filipino-American community.

Sister Judy Byron (in blue, at left) having a dialogue with board members of Merck Pharmeceuticals in New York at the Interfaith Center.
courtesy of Judy Byron

When Judy Byron became a nun, she thought she'd spend her life wearing a habit and teaching school. And she did do that, for a while. But then an opportunity came along to make an impact in a different way.

Sister Judy became a shareholder. A shareholder in pursuit of justice.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Conrad Reynoldson isn’t looking to go far. Specifically, he’d like to cross the residential stretch of 44th Street Northeast right next to his office. It’s about 15 feet.

Reynoldson lives with Muscular Dystrophy and navigates the world in a power chair, which makes that quick crossing a lot more complicated.


Despite Seattle’s reputation as a progressive place, it has a complicated history to reckon with. One chapter of the city’s story is branded with a racist caricature — which pervaded the region beyond the restaurant the image represented: the Coon Chicken Inn.

Courtesy of Elmer Dixon

When Elmer Dixon was growing up in Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood in the early 1960s, the neighborhood was incredibly diverse. In the playground across the street from his house you could find every kind of kid.

“Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, black, white, Latino,” Elmer recalled.



This episode orignally aired on February 24, 2018.  


This story originally aired on June 30, 2018. 

V ia Yelp


Some kids go straight to college after high school. But Marisa Comeau-Kerege went to Senegal.

She knew she wanted to do a gap year, she spoke a little French, and this francophone country in West Africa seemed like a great fit. So she signed up for a service program and began to prepare. She expected a bit of culture shock, but once she got there she realized how unprepared she really was. Everything was new, all the time, she says. And there were times when she felt very homesick. 

via Yelp

Some kids go straight to college after high school. But Marisa Comeau-Kerege went to Senegal.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX


Frog had left a note. It was for Toad, and it said he just wanted to be alone today.

So begins the story by Arnold Lobel in the collection, "Days with Frog and Toad." And like many of Lobel’s stories, the deceptively simple narrative hides important lessons about childhood and friendship. In this case, Jana More Lohn says, the story teaches us lessons about solitude.

A younger Mary Anne Moorman.
Courtesy of Moorman

Mary Anne Moorman has been a management consultant, an activist, a storyteller – even a radio host. She’s also been keeping a secret since she was a little girl.

“Where are you?” a younger Moorman asked. “Everywhere,” the voice replied.

Garry Knight/Flickr

We start with a deeper look at Frog and Toad, and why Frog wanted to be alone. Next, a bus driver thaws the “Seattle Freeze” for a passenger. Then, a woman battles a voice that encourages her to do destructive things. Finally, a marriage is strengthened, even though the couple is separated by iron bars.

Shirley Lidel and husband, Michael, on their wedding day.
Courtesy of Lidel

About 20 years ago, Shirley Lidel made a vow: no more men.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX


Susan Fee always knew she wanted to move back to Seattle someday. She and her husband both grew up around here, namely Federal Way, but work opportunities had them move to different parts of the Midwest, including Chicago, St. Louis, and Cleveland. Once Susan and her husband became empty-nesters, they were ready to return to Seattle. As they prepared to move, Susan heard rumors that the city had grown frosty in the 25 years since she'd moved away.


Courtesy of Geoffrey Redick


version of this essay was originally published by Fatherly, an online parenting magazine. Geoffrey Redick is a producer for All Things Considered, who joined KNKX in April 2018 after a decade working part time as a producer and full time as a stay-at-home dad.

In this podcast episode, Geoffrey shares his essay and discusses it with another working dad, Sound Effect host Gabriel Spitzer. 

Creative Commons Zero — CC0

We start with a woman talking about the value of her father lending a gentle ear and a gentle voice when she was growing up. Next, a son joins his father to take part in a journey that his dad started 43 years earlier. Then, a look inside a book made by prison inmates on McNeil Island for their children, to share what life was like for them. Finally, a man finds his way into the medical profession, but on his own rather than from the pressure of his father.

KNKX producer Geoffrey Redick reads to his kids at his Seattle home.
Courtesy of Geoffrey Redick

A version of this essay was originally published by Fatherly, an online parenting magazine. Geoffrey Redick is a producer for All Things Considered, who joined KNKX in April 2018 after a decade working part time as a producer and full time as a stay-at-home dad.

Courtesy of Sam Blackman


Sam Blackman’s dad wanted his four sons to find their own path — as long as it was the one he’d chosen for them.

Alan and Andy Dappen traveled the Inside Passage twice: in 1974 and again in 2017, when they were nearing retirement. Both times, they traveled in their handmade canoes.
Courtesy of Nathan Dappen

Growing up, filmmaker Nathan Dappen heard the story of his dad’s canoe trip to Alaska so many times that it came to seem almost like a legend.

The story, as Nathan remembers it, goes like this.


This show originally aired on February 17, 2018. 

Jennifer Wing / KNKX

This story originally aired on February 17, 2018.

  If you own a dog, it is terrifying to find your beloved pet unresponsive to the point where they won’t even open their eyes when their name is spoken. About four of these cases come into the Blue Pearl Veterinary Clinic in South Tacoma each week.


Raccoons at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Washington.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This story originally aired on February 17, 2018.

If you visit Tacoma's Point Defiance Park most any afternoon, you'll see raccoons lounging about the trails by day, often next to signs warning visitors to not feed them. 

If you drive slowly enough through the park's roads, they might rush out of the misty old-growth forest to greet you, tiny paws outstretched for food. If you're on a bike, they might scurry after you for a stretch.

Joe McNally

This story originally aired on February 17, 2018.

George Divoky is a scientist in Seattle, at least most of the year. But don’t expect to find him around here during the summertime.

Tom Paulson

This story originally aired on February 17, 2018.

Ollie was a gray and white tomcat, a bit of a tough guy, but with a soft side. He’d often curl up on Tom Paulson’s chest at night. Tom is more of a dog person, but he and Ollie bonded — maybe because Ollie was “not weird and scary like a lot of cats. [He] had more of a dog personality.”


But pets are mortal, and one day Tom got a call at work from his wife with the news: Ollie was dead. Please come home and deal with him. So Tom headed home, and collected the cat.

Gabriel Spitzer

This story originally aired on Feb. 17, 2018.

Have you seen Peaches? This free-flying Goffin's Cockatoo can be spotted in parks all over Seattle, usually within flying distance of his human companion, Taryn Smethers. Sound Effect host Gabriel Spitzer speaks with Smethers about why she chose to let her pet bird fly free — and about how his social life has changed hers for the better.

If you'd like to be certain of a Peaches sighting, just head to Peaches McFly's Instagram page.

Abandoned yard at the site of McNeil Island's former prison, which closed in 2011.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

There are thousands of stories about McNeil Island. And chances are, you haven’t heard any of them. This week on Sound Effect, host Gabriel Spitzer talks through some of them with KNKX reporters Simone Alicea and Paula Wissel, who host KNKX Public Radio’s podcast Forgotten Prison. Flickr

We start with a collection of people telling us about something they spent money on that wasn’t necessary, but was totally worth it. Then, a Seattle author talks about why she chose to pay a lot of money for a 150-square-foot apartment in the city. Also, a man takes a huge inheritance and spends it on building a school halfway across the world.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX


Seattle writer Paulette Perhach often finds herself confronted with the question, “Am I crazy for doing this?”

What she means is, does it make sense, as an artist, to continue to live in a city where the cost of housing has nearly doubled in the past six years or so?

In 2017, Ryan Fenster was having a tough year. He'd been accepted into grad school, but the funding had fallen through. Then, after weeks of feeling weak and ill, the doctor told him that he had Type I diabetes.

And then, Jeopardy! called.