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Other News

Interesting news stories from around the Pacific Northwest.

Nicole MacMaster says she still has unanswered questions about the death of her mom, Frankie "Ellen" Schmitz. She says her mother didn't get the death investigation she deserved.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Nicole MacMaster remembers her mom, Frankie "Ellen" Schmitz, as a doting grandmother who loved to crochet. Christmastime was her favorite, and she always kept her house spotless. Nicole says she can practically smell bleach just thinking about her mom’s home, even all these years later. 

“She had a really good heart,” she said. 

Mother and daughter had their ups and downs, but they spent time together right up until the end. Nicole says she wouldn’t trade her for anything. 

Adrian Florez / KNKX

This week on Sound Effect, it’s all about music. We take a look back at some of our favorite stories about musicians, their work and what inspired it. First, we meet a software engineer who created a map of Seattle bands and their connections. Then, a bassist for the band Great Grandpa discusses the intersection of nursing and art.

Courtesy Seattle Band Map

This story originally aired on November 9, 2019.  

Rachel Ratner is in a band called Wimps. She’s also a software engineer and a brand new mother — and the creator of the Seattle Band Map

Monica Martinez


This story originally aired on November 16, 2019.  


The sheer physicality of aging and dying are things we try not to think about, so it’s especially striking when these subjects turn up in unexpected places — say, your indie rock playlist. 

This story originally aired on November 22, 2019. 

At first glance, “hidden” is not the word you’d use for Chance McKinney’s talents. As an athlete in high school and college, he got plenty of recognition. 

“I got a track scholarship to throw (javelin), and went to a Pac-12 school...I mean I kept qualifying for the Olympic trials,” said McKinney.

But this very capable guy has a whole other set of gifts that weren’t so obvious. They emerged years later, when he was teaching high school math in Mukilteo. 

This story originally aired on January 17, 2o20.

Former Mariners infielder Lenny Randle is best remembered in Seattle for a single play. On May 27, 1981, he got on his hands and knees and blew a slow rolling ground ball out of bounds. 

It was one of the few notable things that happened to the Mariners in their early years. That year was a mediocre season, in a series of other mediocre seasons by a mediocre baseball team, but Randle was involved in another notable off-field incident in 1981 — the recording of a funk song about the Kingdome. 

Donna Stath, who works in the Pierce County Auditor's office, helps voters drop off ballots at a drop box in Tacoma.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Donna Stath wears a blue mesh vest with the word “ELECTIONS” on it, as she stands next to a Pierce County ballot drop box. She’s helping voters as they drop off their ballots.

A car pulls up, a window rolls down, a hand reaches out with a burgundy and white envelope.

“Hello! Thank you!” Stath says, taking the envelope from the voter and putting it in a slot just a few inches away. Not a huge distance — the voter watches as Stath puts the ballot in the slot — but it keeps the cars moving.

Hayley Thompson, the coroner in Skagit County, says the makeshift morgue she rents from the local hospital — a space converted from a closet — has a lot of flaws. But it's better than what most coroners have.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

It isn’t often a coroner gets to deliver good news. Last week was an exception for Hayley Thompson.

The Skagit County coroner learned her office was awarded a $250,000 federal grant, seed money that will eventually fund a renovation to bring all of her operations under one roof.

Thompson told KNKX Public Radio that this will offer the county consistent control of death investigations. And it’s long overdue.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

This show originally aired on February 14, 2020.

David Ryder

This story originally aired on February 14, 2020.

Seattle author Paula Becker has a specific audience in mind for her latest book, "A House on Stilts, Mothering in the Age of Opioid Addiction."

“I really want people who have kids of about 11 and 12 to read this book, because I think that the trick is and the challenge is to try not to let the kid tumble over into addiction," Becker said. "So, when they're experimenting is the time to try every possible way to get them back.”

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on February 14, 2020.

Ivanonva Smith spent the first chunk of her life in an institutional orphanage in Soviet-controlled Latvia. She doesn’t remember having any friends or toys, or anything to do. 

“I would just stare at a light and watch the little floaters, those little floaters you get in your eyes, and that was my entertainment,” she said. 

Bonnie and Gerry Gibson named their nonprofit after their son, Greg "Gibby" Gibson.
Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on February 14, 2020.

Bonnie Gibson says her son Greg’s musical talent emerged very early on. 

“I could just see from a young age that he had unusual rhythm. Which, now, I go, did I really want those drums in my basement?” she said. “But it was cute and fun to see a little kid kind of find himself.”

Greg did find himself in music. By high school, he was already involved in the business side, booking bands.  

Gina Corpuz on the land in Bainbridge Island that's been in her family for two generations.
Posey Gruener / KNKX

This story originally aired on February 14, 2020.

Gina Corpuz stands off New Brooklyn road on Bainbridge Island, on land that has been in her family for two generations. She looks in every direction, and sees the history of the Indipino community.

“The Romeros, who lived down the road, there were 12 children,” Gina says. “And then up the hill is where the Rapada children grew up, and there were 13 children in their family.”

A recent tabling event for Mutual Aid Books, an organization that focuses on feeding people’s minds with literature from Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) writers.
Grace Madigan / KNKX

Over the summer, a number of mutual aid projects were created in response to both the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests for social justice. While many have focused on feeding people, Mutual Aid Books takes a different approach. The group’s focus instead is on feeding people’s minds with literature from Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) writers.

Skagit County Coroner Hayley Thompson (left) and Connie Le Sourd, owner of Mount Vernon Cemetery, arrange urns of unclaimed remains in a shared crypt during a committal service in October 2019. Thompson is one of 17 elected coroners in Washington state.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Dr. Carl Wigren could stand in for just about any medical examiner as seen on TV. He’s witty, a fast talker who knows a lot about investigating deaths.

In fact, Wigren has been on TV, after testifying as an expert witness in high-profile criminal cases. He’s the guy you call when a death investigation furnishes more questions than answers. 

And, Wigren says, that happens a lot more than you think. 

An image from "Journey of the Freckled Indian" by Alyssa London, with illustrations by Monica Rickert-Bolter and formline drawings by Preston Singletary.
Courtesy of Alyssa London

Monday is Indigenous Peoples Day. It’s an alternative to the federal Columbus Day holiday that many people feel essentially erases Indigenous history.

Seattle, Edmonds and Bainbridge Island are among the communities around the region that have recently opted to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead. A Seattle-based nonprofit is launching a new children’s book to mark the occasion.


This show originally aired on February 8, 2020.

This story originally aried on February 8, 2020. 

Silvana Clark is an author and a corporate trainer, but back in 1977, she had a different idea of how she was going to make money.

This story originally aried on February 8, 2020. 

Leila Marie Ali


This story originally aried on February 8, 2020. 

Leila Marie Ali was always the thriftiest one in her family. 

Her dad is generous to a fault, always quick to dispense bills to a person on the street or send a chunk of his taxi driver earnings to relatives back in Somalia and Yemen. 

“I remember thinking, this man is taking care of what felt to me like an entire village in two countries, and not taking care of us as well as he could be,” Leila says.  

Posey Gruener / KNKX

This story originally aried on February 8, 2020. 

In December 1931, the only bank in Tenino, Washington, failed. It ran out of money and closed its doors. Suddenly, the residents of the small logging town had a big problem on their hands. They had no currency, no means to do business.

This story originally aried on February 8, 2020. 

Four guys walk into a bar, and what happens next is definitely not a joke.

It started when my partner David and I went out with another couple. We saw a show and, afterward, went for a nightcap at a nearby establishment. We're not naming it here because it's not important where this happened, just that it happened.


This show originally aired on January 25, 2020. 

Matthew "Griff" Griffin on a recent trip to Afghanistan. Some proceeds from the sale of flip-flops and other goods made by the company support schools in the country.
Courtesy of Matthew "Griff" Griffin

This story originally aired on January 25, 2020.

Matthew "Griff" Griffin did four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as an elite fighter with the Army Rangers. While there, he observed a kind of vicious cycle. Extreme poverty creates a breeding ground for extremism. War happens. War provides a kind of economic stimulus. War ends; the economic stimulus does, too. Things fall apart.

This story originally aired on January 25, 2020.  

Back in the late 80s Melissa Reaves was all smiles. She was getting ready to move from Michigan to San Diego, where she could enjoy the sunshine and palm trees, and she had what she thought was a really wonderful boyfriend named Bill. But when it was time to move, Bill was a no-show. 

The nucleus is blue.
Courtesy of Dr. J. Lee Nelson and Coline Gentil

This story originally aired on January 25, 2020.

Not all of the cells in your body actually belong to you. Some cells might be from your mother, passed to you from when you were in utero. If you had children, their cells passed into your body the same way.

Researchers say that this can sometimes even be true for women who have a miscarriage in the second trimester or later, or who decided to terminate a pregnancy. 

Jack Archibald


This story originally aired on January 25, 2020.


The Rev. Chumleigh wasn’t exactly a regular at meetings of the Camano Island Chamber of Commerce. 

He’s a vaudeville entertainer who, at various times, has been known to walk tightropes, eat fire and get shot out of cannons. He’s also an irascible political lefty — in short, an odd fit for the business group. 

Personal Collection of Sidney Rittenberg, via Stourwater Pictures


This story originally aired on January 25, 2020.


Sidney Rittenberg was a singular figure — an American who was a close associate of Mao Zedong, who held high-ranking positions in the Chinese Communist Party, who was on the inside during some of the most important events of the 20th century. 


And Gregory Youtz was meeting him for lunch. 


People gathered on the East 34th Street bridge to remember the late Harold Moss on Thursday. The bridge was renamed for Moss last year. The Tacoma civil rights icon died Sept. 21.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Members of the community gathered Thursday to remember Tacoma civil rights icon Harold Moss, who died last week. Services were held on what would have been his 91st birthday.

People regard Moss as a trailblazer who fought, among other injustices, the discriminatory real-estate practice of redlining.

Thursday’s events included a socially distanced funeral with people in their cars, and a procession over the East 34th Street bridge, which was renamed for Moss last year.

A bed sits made at a long-term care center in Rockland, Mass., back in March. Long-term care facilities in Washington state and across the country have been particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks during the pandemic.
David Goldman / The Associated Press (file)

For months, long-term care facilities in Washington were closed not only to visitors but also to state regulatory authorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These facilities were early hotspots, driving the nation's coronavirus death toll this spring.

That posed a big problem for the staff and volunteers of Washington's long-term care ombuds office.

"For our role, visitation is key," ombuds Patricia Hunter told KNKX.