Sound Effect | KNKX

Sound Effect

Saturdays at 10 AM and Mondays ay 7PM

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.

Got a story idea? Email us!

Gabriel Spitzer

Sound Effect is your weekly tour of ideas inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by the wonderful Gabriel Spitzer. This week, the Sound Effect team revisits some of its favorite stories that aired over the last year.  

Amelia Bonow

Ten years ago,  Brian Yeager and Amelia Bonow’s lives changed forever. 

Brian was a musician who tended bar at Belltown’s Lava Lounge. Amelia worked as a server next door at Mama’s Mexican Kitchen. They saw each other in passing.  Soon, they saw each other in the specific.

Sparks flew. 

It was a hard and fast love, but a sure one. Bonow eventually moved into Yeager’s house in Lower Queen Anne, a home they would share with a menagerie of plants and a cat named Rooster. 

Then came the fire.


When Sound Effect producer Kevin Kniestedt heard what was arguably the greatest karaoke performance of his life, he didn't shake her hand, and didn't even ask her name. He did nothing. Was she lost forever?  

In this segment from our episode Lost and Found, which originally aired in March 2015, we hear the story of Kevin's quest to find the mysterious performer and Sound Effect senior producer Arwen Nicks explains how he ruins it. 

Matthew Streib

Sound Effect is your weekly tour of ideas inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by the wonderful Gabriel Spitzer. This week the Sound Effect team explores traditions and takes a look at some lesser-known and long-held practices.

Arwen Nicks

This week we sit down with local reporters to talk about stories that they say deserve more attention.

KPLU's Sound Effect hears from Rachel Lerman and Nina Shapiro, reporters with The Seattle Times, and Josh Feit, co-founder of Publicola and news and politics editor at Seattle Met magazine.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Jocelyn Alexander Shaw wants her students to stop settling for less than their best work.

Sound Effect is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. Each week's show explores a different theme and this week we are Unplugged… kind of.

Wikimedia Commons

For many, even the mention of the word unplugged conjures up memories of the the MTV series that began in 1989. So when the Sound Effect team decided to explore the theme of 'Unplugged' we knew we had to reach out to music journalist and writer, Charles R. Cross to discuss the Grammy award winning 'Unplugged' performance of Nirvana.

Cross lays out the unseen drama happening within the band and highlights some of his favorite moments of what he calls the best performance of Kurt Cobain's career.   

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

If you’ve ever come to, as if from a blackout, realizing you’ve just spent 90 minutes in some Internet rabbit hole or other; perhaps you’ve considered just unplugging – going cold turkey from technology for a little while and just sitting in the quiet. It sounds comforting, even Zen.

Genjo Marinello is an actual Zen priest, the abbot at Dai Bai Zan Cho Bo Zen Temple in Seattle. And you might expect him to be one of those finger-waggers who advocate throwing away your cell phone and just being in the moment.

Arwen Nicks

KPLU's Sound Effect hears from Anzel Herz, a reporter for The Stranger, Rosette Royale, an independent journalist, and Alex Hudson, a writer for the blog Seattlish.

Bruce Hudson


This week on Sound Effect, Gabriel Spitzer and his team scour the archives for the show's most memorable musical segments.

We kick off with a short lesson on a tiny instrument, as Gabriel Spitzer literally tries his hands at the ukulele at the house of a renowned uke expert in Wallingford. Then, off to Vito's on First Hill with Ed Ronco to hear from the restaurant's beloved piano player, Ruby Bishop.

Courtesy of David Montgomery

  David Montgomery may have won a MacArthur Genius Award for his work as a geomorphologist but his love of rock(s) also bleeds into his work as a musician in the local band, Big Dirt. Montgomery sits down with Sound Effect host, Gabriel Spitzer to discuss how his day job plays into his music. 

Ruby Bishop spoke to KNKX (then KPLU) in 2015, for a profile on our show "Sound Effect." Her weekly gigs at Vito's drew regulars and wowed first-timers.
Ed Ronco / KNKX

Ruby Bishop has played piano around the world. She's befriended some of the jazz world's greatest names -- including Louis Armstrong.

At 95, she's still playing Sunday nights at Vito's, on Seattle's First Hill.

In this story from the "Comfort Zone" episode of KPLU's Sound Effect, she talks about the piano, her life, her career, and feeling comfortable behind 88 keys.

And here's a video of her playing at Vito's, from The Seattle Times:

Jaymi Britten

It's usually right about this time every year that Pacific Northwest residents have seen enough of the rain and start daydreaming about trips to the tropics. But Amanda Frazier, who was born and raised in Hawaii and still lives there, wrote a song expressing her envy of the wet climate here.

Parker Miles Blohm

Anton Schwartz abandoned his doctoral thesis on artificial intelligence in order to pursue a career in music.

Schwartz made the decision to leave academia after suffering from chronic fatigue.

This might seem like a drastic career change to most of us, but Schwartz doesn't look at it that way. The way he looks at it, he just consistently followed his passions. 

The Rejections' Facebook page

Who are The Rejections?

"You know the Rockbottom Remainders? Yeah. Like that," says the Seattle-based band on its Facebook page

The band consists of published authors and their "trailing spouses" who, well, know a lot about rejection. They stopped by the KPLU studios last year. Listen to their performance of the song "Men of Luggage (Travel Light)": 

Wikimedia Commons

What would you do if a stranger tried to throw a party at your house and invited all 700 of their Facebook friends? Sound Effect Senior Producer Arwen Nicks lays out local artist and prankster Derek Erdman’s scheme to watch "Singles", a classic grunge film from the 1990s, in the courtyard of the apartment building where it was filmed.


Sound Effect is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. Each week's show explores a different theme and this week we bring you notes from “Underground.” 

This week our gaggle of local journalists includes Kari Plog of the Tacoma News Tribune, Steve Wilhem of the Puget Sound Business Journal and Hanna Brooks Olsen of Seattlish

U.S. Coast Guard


In 1942, German U-boats were all over the North Atlantic. To avoid getting attacked, and to get supplies to the troops in Europe, the United States flew planes on a cold, remote route that hugged the top of the globe. They’d fly to Canada, then to Iceland, across Greenland, and if they were lucky, they’d eventually reach Great Britain.

sharkhats / Flickr

Sound Effect's Gabriel Spitzer spoke with phonographer and sound artist Chris DeLaurenti about his journey into the tunnels beneath Washington's mothballed nuclear power plant.


Mary Ellen Mark / Tiny, Streetwise Revisited

In 1983, Martin Bell and his wife, acclaimed photographer Mary Ellen Mark, set out to document the lives of young people living on the streets of Seattle, and he says he’ll never forget meeting one in particular: 14-year old Erin Blackwell, who went by Tiny.

“She was beautiful and engaging and impossible to forget,” Bell said.

Tiny would go on to become the unofficial star of "Streetwise", the heartbreaking, intimate and, at times, exuberant 1984 documentary.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Sound Effect is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer.

As you may have heard, KPLU is now in a transition period and there is much uncertainty around the future of Sound Effect. So what do we do when we’re feeling frightened or anxious? We watch videos of cute animals.

Star Power: Sound Effect, Episode 44

Nov 7, 2015

Sound Effect is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. Each week's show explores a different theme and this week we reach for Star Power.

A Symphonic Interpretation of Space

Nov 7, 2015
Hubble Space Telescope /

Composer Nan Avant has been in love with classical music since she was a teenager. While her sister and her friends were listening to pop records, Avant was becoming entranced by the music of Antonio Vivaldi and Erik Satie.

It wasn't long after she began her study of classical piano that Avant was composing original pieces, hoping then that she would one day become a conductor. 

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

The Hubble Space Telescope is incredible. The space-based observatory has captured images that have stunned scientists and the public alike. Some of those have been used to shed light on new planets and parts of space never before seen.

But Julianne Dalcanton is pushing for what she calls "the grandchild of Hubble", a new and improved version that could capture more of space than we could have ever imagined.

Erin Hennessey

Each week on Sound Effect we sit down with reporters from the region to talk about stories they think deserve more play.

KPLU's Sound Effect hears from Alex Stonehill, co-founder and editor of The Seattle Globalist; Phyllis Fletcher, managing editor of NW News Network, and freelance journalist Mike Lewis.

Halloween: Sound Effect, Episode 43

Oct 31, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

Sound Effect is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. Each week's show explores a different theme, and this week the team tears a page from the calendar and embraces Halloween.

tibbygirl via Creative Commons

At one of Seattle's most historic hotels, one of the city’s most historic ghosts stories remains very persistent.

As the story goes, Hotel Sorrento is the place where the late socialite (and pot brownie creator) Alice B. Toklas has chosen to walk the halls for eternity.

But why the Hotel Sorrento? Toklas spent the bulk of her adult life with Gertrude Stein in Paris, and never actually stepped a living foot in the hotel.

Wikimedia Commons

It seems like every big city has its own tale of underground tunnels. And the stories of what they were used for are often very similar to each other. For many west coast port cities, the stories often involve drinking establishments with secret traps doors. Bar owners would get a patron good and intoxicated, drop that patron through a trap door and into a basement, which led to a secret tunnel to the port. By the time the poor soul came to, he found himself shanghaied on a boat in the middle of the ocean.