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Sound Effect

This show originally aired on October 19, 2019.

Alison Krupnick on an early trip to Ho Chi Minh City, circa 1989.
Courtesy of Alison Krupnick

 

This story originally aired on October 19, 2019. 

 

The Vietnam War officially ended in 1973, but people continued to flee the country well into the 1980s. Hundreds of thousands of people escaped the country on boats. Thousands died at sea. It was an international humanitarian crisis. The men, women and children fleeing were called boat people.

 

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

This story originally aired on October 19, 2019.

Grace Jo was 6 years old when her mom scooped up her and her older sister, and set out to cross the Tumen River into China. 

 

“We walked three nights and four days,” Jo said, recalling the trek along rocky mountain trails. “A lot of tree branches were hurting our skin. A lot of wild animal sounds we could hear at night, and we had to hide from people.”

 

At the river’s edge, the water level went up to her mother’s hips. 

 

“My mom managed, and all three of us able to cross river and come to China.” 

 

But escaping North Korea and finding freedom are two different things. Five years later, Jo and her family were captured, and deported back to North Korea. 

 

  The fact that she’s alive, not imprisoned or executed, is kind of miraculous. She — and hundreds of other North Korean refugees — owe their lives to a Seattle-area man named John Yoon. 

 

Walla Walla Community college students Eric McAlvey, front, and Kevin Bayna, rear, show their support for the scheduled hanging of child-killer Westley Allan Dodd, Jan 4, 1993.
Mason Marsh / The Associated Press

This story originally aired on October 19, 2019.

In the fall of 1989, in Vancouver, Washington, a short, 29-year-old man named Westley Allan Dodd raped and murdered three young boys. The boys were brothers Cole and William Neer, ages 10 and 11, and 4-year-old Lee Iseli.

A few weeks later, police arrested Westley at a movie theater after he tried and failed to abduct another boy. He quickly confessed to the three murders. The prosecution sought the death penalty, and Dodd pled guilty.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

This show originally aired on September 21, 2019. 

Collections come in all shapes and sizes. Whatever it is, a collection can take on a life of its own. And it says something about the person behind it. That’s our latest theme — The Collector: why we’re drawn to collect stuff, and what we’re willing to do in pursuit of it.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

We have all been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in our own ways. And the Sound Effect team has been doing our best to cover it in a podcast called Transmission. Today on Sound Effect, we share some more stories that have stood out to us from the series.

WIKIPEDIA COMMONS/LOOZRBOY

This show originally aired on March 30, 2019.

Rabbi turns 500-year-old love songs into rap

Jun 20, 2020
Sam Leeds

This story originally aired on March 30, 2019

Ladino is the language of Sephardic Jews whose ancestors were expelled from Spain during the Inquisition.

Now, 500 years later, it’s spoken in more than 30 countries – a language of the Diaspora. But, Ladino is mostly spoken by elders in the Sephardic community and it’s in danger of going extinct.  

One man is determined to save Ladino. His name is Rabbi Simon Benzaquen.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This story originally aired on March 30, 2019.

Xolie Morra Cogley is a musician in Seattle, and leader of the band Xolie Morra and the Strange Kind.

“I’ve always been into music since I was very little," Cogley says. "And so music, I think, really helped to move me in a more social direction, because I didn’t really do a lot of talking when I was little. But I developed a communication skill using music that helped me fit into certain groups. So I didn’t have to have conversations. I was just playing music.”

Courtesy of Ilan Speizer

 

This story originally aired on March 30, 2019.

The American Blues is a genre born of suffering — of oppression, heartbreak and hard work. It originated in African-American communities of the Deep South, but it all sounds very familiar to Jewish Seattleite Ilan Speizer.

Tulalip Lushootseed Department

 

This story originally aired on March 30, 2019.

 

About a decade ago, Juliet Shen took on dream project. Shen, a typeface designer and artist, was commissioned by the Tulalip Tribes to create a new font specifically for Lushootseed, the now endangered language used by most of the coast Salish tribes. Shen isn’t Native American, but she often thought about the disconnect between Western typeface design and indigenous cultures.

Southern resident orca whales, seen frolicking in 2008 less than 200 yards from shore near the light house at Lime Kiln Point State Park.   The one breaching is Canuck L-7, in the foreground is Faith L-57. Neither is still living.
Jeanne Hyde

This story originally aired on March 30, 2019.

Author’s note: Sometimes the best stories are not planned out or deeply researched in advance, but rather the product of simply listening and letting a narrative take you where it wants to go. This one came about because I had always wanted to learn more about how orcas communicate: the extent to which we know they have some sort of language. I asked around and learned the person to contact is Jeanne Hyde, a wonderful character who has devoted more than a decade of her life to constantly listening to killer whales. Jeanne’s passion for telling the stories of these orcas is infectious. And her collection of sounds provides unique perspective, especially on the tragic grief ritual of mother orca Tahlequah, who caught the world’s attention in 2018. You’ve gotta listen! (This story originally aired March 29.)

Adrian Florez / KNKX

We have all been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in our own ways. And the Sound Effect team has been doing our best to cover it in a podcast called Transmission. Today on Sound Effect, we share some more stories that have stood out to us from the series.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

This show originally aired on June 29, 2019.

For this special edition of Sound Effect, the theme is “Small Miracles,” tales from our live storytelling event. Host Gabriel Spitzer recounts his brush with death after years of humiliation in swim class. Ty Reed recalls how a random encounter saved his life after he fell into homelessness and addiction. Cindy Healy is moved to tears seeing a special spacecraft in a Matt Damon movie. Queen Mae Butters remembers a powerful friendship formed at the end of her hospice patient’s life. And Paul Currington learns to breathe through the smoke of his past.

Cindy Healy (right) stands with friend and fellow engineer Becky Manning Mitties in the NASA clean room.
Courtesy of Cindy Healy

This story originally aired on June 29, 2019.

It may have not completely hit Cindy Healy, a former NASA engineer, until she was sitting in the theater watching the Matt Damon movie, "The Martian." 

"And I'm trying hard to suppress an audible sob because I know I am the only one crying at this part of the movie," she said. "And I'm just wiping away tears and my son looks at me like I'm crazy. And I lean over to him and I whisper 'that's my spacecraft.'"

Our hero, suiting up for the water.
Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

This story originally aired on June 29, 2019.

It’s 1985 — think New Coke and “We Are the World” — and little 8-year-old Gabe is shivering on the tile floor next to Jewish Community Center swimming pool in Canton, Ohio. I’d just wrapped up my “Advanced Beginners” swim class, and was lined up with the other kids awaiting our Red Cross cards. That card would be my ticket to the next class: Intermediate. 

Courtesy of Ty Reed

This story originally aired on June 29, 2019.

By his own account, Ty Reed is gainfully employed, has the love of his friends and family, and is a productive member of society. But less than five years ago, he was a homeless drug addict and petty criminal. 

It wasn't supposed to be that way. Growing up, he says, his family was "like the Huxtables," and in 2006, he was a successful mortgage professional. But an addiction to crack and — later — methamphetamines turned him into "a down and out homeless person" by 2014.

Paul Currington as a boy.
Courtesy of Paul Currington

This story originally aired on June 29, 2019.

Sitting in an emergency room, trying to catch his breath, Paul Currington had one thought playing over and over in his mind: “Please, God, please don’t let my last thoughts on Earth be of my mother.”

They weren’t his last thoughts, especially of his mother.

Growing up, Currington’s mother smoked two to three packs a day — always enveloped in clouds of smoke. She had a volcanic temper, he says: “I would do anything to not have to go home so I wouldn’t have to show up in her crosshairs.”

Queen Mae Butters

This story originally aired on June 29, 2019.

Queen Mae Butters was panting her way up six flights of stairs, just about ready to turn around and find someone else to take the job.

"Then I hear Rose's twangy New York accent encourage me from above: 'You're going to make it nurse! You're almost here! Keep climbing!'" Butters said. 

Geoffrey Redick / KNKX

This show originally aired on June 8, 2019.

toilet seat up in a public bathroom
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This story originally aired on June 8, 2019.

It all started with a raised toilet seat in The Stranger's editorial department bathroom. 

In this photo taken on Thursday, April 26, 2018, a woman in a wheelchair passes a Pit Stop in San Francisco. The Pit Stop program provides public toilets, sinks, used needle receptacles and dog waste stations in San Francisco's most impacted neighborhoods
Ben Margot / The Associated Press

This story originally aired on June 8, 2019.

Seattle, like many other cities, commonly deals with people going to the bathroom in public spaces.  If you are someone who does not have access to shelter, finding a safe place to go to the bathroom in Seattle is especially difficult.

In fact, work by the Seattle Auditor’s Office revealed just how limited bathrooms are citywide: six publicly funded bathrooms are available for use 24/7, said City Auditor David Jones. And of the bathrooms available, few were usable.

A remote toilet on a hiking trail near Mount Baker.
Geoffrey Redick / KNKX

This story originally aired on June 8, 2019.

In 1989, a young woman named Kathleen Meyer published a book called "How to Shit in the Woods."

For a book whose name can't be said on the radio, it has done very well. The book is now in its third edition, with 2.5 million copies sold. Meyer says it has been found on a coffee table in a nunnery, at a bed and breakfast in Scotland, and in the library at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. 

A brand-new toilet set-up at an ecampment near Interstate 90 and Rainier Avenue.
Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on June 8, 2019.

Mark Lloyd pops his trunk and pulls out his supplies: kitty litter, a small military surplus tent, toilet paper, sanitizer and a 5-gallon plastic bucket, complete with toilet seat.

This is the rudimentary toilet set-up that Mark has been assembling and delivering to homeless encampments for about three years now. He guesses he’s given away between 75 and 100.

“It's something people need, and I can fill it,” he says. “You really can only do good when you provide people a more sanitary situation than they were.”

You won't find a colony of alligators in a sewer like this one. It would be "a completely inhospitable environment in the first place," says Snopes.com founder David Mikkelson.
Sean Havey / The Associated Press

This story originally aired on June 8, 2019.

No, Thomas Crapper didn’t invent the modern flushing toilet. Airplanes don’t directly dump “blue ice” and human waste from 30,000 feet. And alligators can’t thrive in a New York City sewer.

These are some of the abundant toilet myths that have circulated across the internet and beyond.

Courtesy of J.J. Harrison

This show originally aired on June 1, 2019.

This story originally aired on June 1, 2019.  

In 2018, Seattleite Chris Jeckel decided it was time to visit Tokyo. He had just ended a four-year relationship, and he was struggling to find his footing again. Tokyo seemed like the perfect place, he said, to "shake things up."

Jennifer Wing

 

This story originally aired on June 1, 2019.

Sheree Cooks is a 37-year-old working mom of three. She’s been a leader of parent teacher groups in Tacoma. She gives talks to school administrators about race and equity, and she co-founded the nonprofit Eastside Community Action Network.

 

This photo was taken at a rodeo in Hobbs, New Mexico, where rodeo clown J.J. Harrison fell down in front of a 2,000-pound, charging bull. "I remember thinking this could be the end," he said.
Courtesy of J.J. Harrison

This story originally aired on June 1, 2019. 

When J.J. Harrison fell down in front of a charging, 2,000-pound bull in Hobbs, New Mexico, everything seemed to slow down.  

"I just remember thinking this could be the end," he said.

It wasn't. And even though Harrison was pretty beat up that day, he was back at it almost immediately. "I got my check and I drove five hours to get to the airport," he said, "because I've got to keep going."

Parker Blohm / KNKX

 

This story originally aired on June 1, 2019. 

Emotional intelligence and good self care are important for a lot of us, but they can be a little illusive as well. And if you’re a teenager, it can be even more of challenge to understand what and why you’re feeling something. That was the case for Christy Abram. Though, her work now is focused on helping her fellow women of color get through the harder parts of life by sharing their stories with others through the written word. 

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