Other News | KNKX

Other News

Interesting news stories from around the Pacific Northwest.

Artist Alfredo Arreguin, left, talks about his painting of former Washington state Supreme Court Justice Charles Z. Smith, standing in the middle with his wife, Eleanor Martinez Smith, and Justice Steven Gonzalez at the May 2014 unveiling of the portrait.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press file

When Steven González was first named to the Washington state Supreme Court, as an associate justice in 2011, he brought his family to the Temple of Justice – that large, sandstone building in Olympia where the court meets.

They were in a hallway looking at portraits of the previous justices – black-robed white men with serious expressions on their faces, staring out from the walls.

House Speaker Pro-tem Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, presides over the Washington House, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Author's note: After the death of George Floyd, we had a series of conversations about race. This one, with state Rep. John Lovick, still sticks with me. Lovick's background — having grown up in the Jim Crow south, and a long career in law enforcement — provided a unique perspective on a moment when the nation was focused on the intersections of race and policing. I appreciated that he spoke from the heart. It's not easy to do that under the best of circumstances, let alone at such a painful time for so many people. And while there was pain in this conversation, I also heard hope. (This story originally aired June 4, 2020.)

Credit Parker Miles Blohm

Author’s note: “It was really moving to hear how Porter Ray overcame adversity on multiple occasions and was able to heal through his music. And to see in person the joy his son brings him was truly inspiring.” (This story originally aired on March 7, 2020.)

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX


Author’s note: Valentine’s Day, first-graders, typewriters and an enchanting teacher, Kelye Kneeland, deftly orchestrating it all. This is one of my favorite stories from 2020. I remember driving to Bellevue that day in February to gather the interviews, listening in the car to news headlines about COVID-19. At that point, there were 15 confirmed cases in the United States. We knew the dark clouds were gathering on the horizon but had no idea of what was to come. In normal times, this typewriter story is a charming piece about how one teacher uses old technology to engage students. But listening to this story well into a global pandemic is an incredibly vivid reminder of all of the magic and connection that happens when students and teachers are in the same room, and of all that is lost when school is carried out in little boxes on computer screens. I am hopeful that in the not-too-distant future, small fingers will once again be straining to press down on the typewriter keys in Kneeland’s classroom and that appreciation for teachers like Kneeland will be openly expressed. (This story originally aired March 7, 2020.)  

Manuel Ellis, who was killed while in Tacoma police custody March 3. Ellis is remembered as a musician and father whose life was marked by  by pain, struggle, and a search for redemption.
Courtesy of Tacoma Action Collective

Author’s note: As protests against police brutality and racism swept the United States in 2020, the name of a Tacoma man was sometimes shouted alongside George Floyd's and Breonna Taylor's. Manuel Ellis was killed by Tacoma police on March 3 after he encountered officers on a dark residential street. For protesters, Ellis' death was part of a pattern of police using inappropriate force against Black people. As KNKX spoke to Ellis' family and friends, other themes emerged as well: the ways in which childhood trauma and mental illness can alter the course of a person's life, and how not everyone has the same access to treatment. This story offers a glimpse into the life of someone who became one of 2020's unfortunate symbols. (This story originally aired June 12, 2020.)

Hip-hop music is taking top honors. That’s according to the list of best local music albums of the year that the Seattle Times has releases annually. It’s voted on by local music writers, radio personalities and others who keep their finger on the pulse of local music. 

Kirt Edblom/Flickr

This week, many parents will read “The Night Before Christmas” to their children. Well, KNKX has something special for you: a reading of an abridged version of the almost 200-year-old poem by many of the voices you hear on the air here at KNKX, and some you don’t normally get to hear on the air. Enjoy.

The long-vacant Gault Middle School building in Tacoma.
Will James / KNKX

They briefly occupied an abandoned middle school, hoping to make it into housing. They dumped trash on the steps of Tacoma’s city hall, urging trash collection at encampments. And now a group pushing for better housing in the city says it plans something on Christmas Day, too.

2020 was a challenging year for a lot of us, and the film industry was no exception. But some local filmmakers were able to get their work completed and out to the public. Vivian Hua, the executive director of Northwest Film Forum, joined us to share some of her favorite locally produced films of 2020.

Three decades ago, KNKX's Dick Stein was in the chimney sweeping business, and thought he was done with radio.

Boy was he wrong.

After 30 years on the air here, Dick is broadcasting his last show today. As he heads into retirement, he sat down with KNKX's Kevin Kniestedt to look back at his career. 

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, bangs the gavel as she presides over the Washington Senate, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press (file)

Washington state's Employment Security Department has been hit hard during the pandemic. There was a dramatic increase in jobless claims when businesses were forced to shut down in the spring. And a crime ring used stolen identities to take hundreds of millions of dollars from the unemployment insurance program.

Another season of giving is upon us, and with that comes Giving Tuesday and the kick-off of the KNKX Winter Drive. In a year that has been like no other - one in which the value of accurate, fact-based news and soothing, uplifting music has been deeply felt - we hope you’ll consider supporting KNKX. Donations from individual listeners make it possible for us to continue this work in 2021.

Launch the season of giving by participating in Giving Tuesday! Giving Tuesday (December 1, 2020) is a worldwide event dedicated to generosity. Since its inception in 2012, this global day of philanthropy has steadily grown in popularity, with millions of participants supporting the causes they care about every year.

The message "We will note be erased" is written on a mirror behind the bar at Seattle's Wildrose in Capitol Hill. The Rose is among the last remaining lesbian bars in the U.S. It’s part of the Lesbian Bar Project fundraising campaign amid the pandemic.
Grace Madigan / KNKX

There are only a few lesbian bars left in the United States and one of them is in Seattle. The Wildrose opened on New Year’s Eve in 1984 in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Now, the bar is facing an unknown future. The Rose, as it's known, is a part of the Lesbian Bar Project, a fundraising campaign to help the remaining bars around the country survive the pandemic.

Dr. Nicole Yarid, an associate medical examiner for King County, walks into the autopsy room dedicated to examining people who died from COVID-related complications. Yarid told KNKX that the pandemic response has detracted from other priorities.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Since its founding more than a century ago, Washington state has seen few changes to the way sudden or unusual deaths are investigated. And experts from every corner of the system acknowledge it’s far from perfect. 

Charles Krupa / The Associated Press

Making the transition from being in the military to living and working outside of it can be challenging. COVID-19 has made it even harder.

Nicole MacMaster, who lives in Central Washington, goes through records related to her mother's death in 2012, including amended copies of her mother's death certificate. MacMaster was featured in KNKX's three-part series on death investigation.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

A new law going into effect in 2021 will, in part, provide more funding for training in the state's system of death investigation. The change is the first small step toward improving education for chief death investigators statewide, especially elected coroners — who serve about a third of Washington’s population and have a wide array of experience

Black Lives Matter activists gathered in Pioneer Square on Wednesday night to call for every vote to be counted in the presidential election. They also stressed the need to "protect every person" for truly equitable elections in the future.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Black Lives Matter activists gathered in Seattle on Wednesday night, calling for every vote to be counted in the presidential election. But they stressed that their work does not end with the election.

Leaders of the rally in the Pioneer Square neighborhood, titled “Count Every Vote, Protect Every Person,” tried to channel concern over the election into local causes they’ve been advocating for years. They made the argument that every vote cannot truly count if some people are disenfranchised or killed.

Bartender Sam Schilke watches election results on television at a bar and grill Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Portland, Ore.
Paula Bronstein / The Associated Press

The predictions turned out to be true — that we would not know the result of the presidential contest on Election Night, and that there would be false claims in the meantime.

Last night, President Donald Trump incorrectly claimed victory, with no basis for doing so. At the time of his remarks from the East Room of the White House, neither candidate was close to the threshold of 270 electoral votes needed to claim the presidency.

To understand the national picture, we turn to a voice right here in the Northwest.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Saying goodbye is hard. But sometimes, it’s an opportunity to celebrate. Today, we celebrate nearly six years and 214 episodes of Sound Effect with one final episode.

For our finale, we’ll spend two hours looking back at some of the most memorable stories from the show, which has showcased hundreds of stories that the people from our region have shared with us — and with you.  

We’ll meet a gay man defiantly carving out space for himself in the country music world, when — to his shock — a record label called.

We’ll hear how an unlikely friendship drew a Seattle man to leap out of his comfort zone.

And we’ll hear the tale of a family cat who wanted nothing to do with her family, and many other stories today.

There will be some laughs and some tears. But most importantly, this episode will be a celebration of this place we live — and all the hard work that went into sharing what makes the Pacific Northwest unique.

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

If you've ever lost a pet and were lucky enough to find it, you know the sharp pain of expecting the worst and then the huge wave of relief when you are reunited with animal. I experienced this roller coaster so many times I lost count.

These searches and reunions involved the same animal; a cat named Snowdrift.  This clever little cat was technically lost, a lot, and I’m not so certain he ever really wanted to be found, by me.

Wikimedia Commons


This story originally aired on February 13, 2016.

In mid-December of 2006, a vicious wind storm hit Western Washington. Gale-force winds knocked out power, knocked down trees and knocked Charlene Strong onto a different life path.

When Strong arrived home she found her wife, Kate, trapped inside the basement of their home.  Water was rushing in, and as each moment passed, it seemed less and less likely that Kate would survive. 

Robb D. Cohen / Invision/AP

This story originally aired on November 5, 2016.

So when we get emotional about something, we often have to weigh the risks and rewards of acting on those emotions. If someone upsets us, we need to decide if there is enough of a reward in confronting that person, while potentially facing the risks of upsetting that person as well.

I found myself in one of those situations at small-town bar in the middle of Washington, upset at a very, very famous young man, and wrote this essay.

The music of Prince brings two people together in an unlikely way

Oct 31, 2020
Courtesy Leah Tousignant

This story originally aired on September 2, 2017.

Robbie Luna is a man of many hats, a Seattle area carpenter by day, and by night he fronts two bands, one of which is a Prince cover band called "Purple Mane." With Prince's 2016 death the band suddenly found 

How a homeless man helped this writer overcome his fear of the woods

Oct 31, 2020
Bryant Carlin

This story originally aired Dec. 22, 2018.  

Olympic National Park, with its temperate rainforests and stunning views, exerts a natural pull on many Pacific Northwesterners. But it repelled Seattle writer Rosette Royale. To Royale, the park seemed like a damp, mucky, inhospitable place. "I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to haul a 50-pound pack into the wilderness and camp there for days," he said. "It didn't make sense."

Then he met Bryant Carlin.

Courtesy of Patrick Haggerty

This story originally aired on March 31, 2018.   

In 1973, in the midst of the Stonewall era, a Seattle band called Lavender Country released an eponymous album. The album delivered radical politics with a country twang, and became known as the world's first openly gay country album.

In this interview, Patrick Haggerty tells Gabriel Spitzer  how the album lived, and died, and lived again. He also explains why the album might never have existed if it weren't for his father--a "hayseed" of a dairy farmer who gave his son permission to be exactly who he was.

This story originally aired on June 22, 2019.

I was born into the Love Family, a culty commune that existed in Seattle in the 1970s and '80s. The family had a leader, a patriarch named Love, and 300 to 400 brothers and sisters. Their first names represented the virtues that Love saw in them — Purity, Solidity, Imagination, Devotion — and their last names were all Israel.

I call it a culty commune because "commune" explains why people joined it, and everything positive they left with. "Cult" explains all the things that went wrong, and why it eventually ended.

From left to right: Yến Huỳnh, Ashley Jackson, Sonj Basha, Rachel Alger, Ivana Trottman, Rachel Morowitz, Abriel Johnny, Sharlett Mena, Hannah Sabio Howell, Bre Weider, Akua Asare-Konadu, Yasmin Trudeau, Graciela Nuñez Pargas, Lucy Aragón Noriega.
Karina Matias / Karinamatias.com

Sharlett Mena’s campaign for Washington’s 29th Legislative District may have ended after the August primary. But the driving force behind why she ran in the first place is continuing into Tuesday’s general election. 

Mena launched the #VoteAsYouAre project to center voices of people who she says have been historically overlooked or made invisible in government. It’s a movement of young women and non-binary people who are working to empower others with similar lived experience — especially within millennial and Generation Z populations — to use their voting power. 

Sound Effect producer Jennifer Wing conducts an interview atop the Space Needle in Seattle.

Nearly six years ago, before the show that eventually became Sound Effect first aired, the team cycled through a lot of rejected names: Northwest Corner, Public Market, Face for Radio, to name a few.

Now, 214 episodes later, the household name that has brought you hundreds of stories from people and places across the Pacific Northwest signs off for good.

Temple of Justice in Olympia
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This year, Washington voters have a say in who they'd like to see on the state Supreme Court. The two justices most recently appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee drew challengers in this election. Two incumbents are running unopposed.

Hugh Spitzer teaches state and federal constitutional law at the University of Washington. He also has the perspective of having run for a seat on the court in 1998. He spoke with KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco about who is on the court, why it matters, and how he thinks about this choice.