Sound Effect | KNKX

Sound Effect

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX


David Trainer was helping out at an encampment for homeless people when he first met Ivan Dempsey. Ivan had a dog. David had a dog. It was cold: David offered gloves, and Ivan accepted hand warmers. They had a friendly interaction, though nothing out of the ordinary. 


On the way back home, out of nowhere, David had a thought: “What would it be like to have Ivan move in with me?” he said. “I know that’s crazy talk. I don’t know the guy, he’s a stranger.” 


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. 

Adrian Florez / KNKX

In celebration of our 200th episode, this week’s Sound Effect theme is “Suite 200,” where all of the stories connect to a place with Suite 200 in their address. First, two sisters follow up their brush with scientific fame by tackling homelessness in Seattle. Then, we meet a mom who helped raise money for childhood cancer research with help from some special athletes. We learn about a population boom in Bremerton that puts 21st century Seattle to shame. Finally, we meet one of Tacoma’s biggest advocates who has taken up residence in a city that’s, well, not Tacoma. 

If you know someone who lives in Tacoma, it’s likely they have made one thing clear to you: they love Tacoma, and are very territorial about it.

And make no mistake, Marguerite Martin loves, and probably always will love, Tacoma.

Bremerton Housing Authority


Seattle was the nation’s fastest-growing big city over the past decade, having swelled by over 20 percent. But that pales — proportionately, at least — in comparison with Bremerton in the 1940s. 


Bremerton’s population was 15,134, according to the 1940 census. Five years later it had more than quintupled, to more than 82,000. 


Courtesy of Yeung family


By the time they were 10 and 12, the Yeung sisters had been on national TV, gotten a personal tour of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and had a face-to-face meeting with President Barack Obama. 


This early notoriety followed their forays into space exploration — or at least, space-adjacent. Rebecca, now 14, and Kimberly, now 12, had visited the stratosphere three times with their Loki Lego Launcher, a homemade weather-balloon-borne science probe. 

Courtesy Christine O'Connell


Before the Sounders were a Major League Soccer powerhouse, they were part of a minor league outfit called the USL. They also were in a different building back then, and one of the businesses down the hall from the Sounders office is where Christine O’Connell worked doing graphic design.

This show originally aired on October 27, 2018. 

Tim Durkan

This story originally aired on October 27, 2018. 


Seattle photographer Tim Durkan is known for his photos that document the lives of men and women who are homeless. But Tim also spends quite a bit of time chasing down the moon. A photo he’s taken many times is of a full moon sitting atop the Space Needle like a celestial flag.


Credit Parker Miles Blohm

This story originally aired on Oct. 27, 2018.   

If you are a musician in the Seattle Symphony, you already have a certain mastery of your craft. Andy Liang is in the second violin section with the Symphony, and despite being an incredible talent, he would probably be the first to tell you that he is not perfect. But he does possess at least one type of perfection: perfect pitch.

Gabriel Spitzer

This story originally aired on October 27, 2018.   

When Caroline Garry first noticed she had a problem with perfection, she was in her bedroom closet scrubbing down a pair of white leather Nikes. Caroline was in seventh grade, and like a lot of kids she had gotten attached to a new pair of school shoes. But unlike a lot of kids, Caroline would come home from school every single day and clean them. In hiding. Whether they were dirty or not.

"I just felt this compulsion. I needed to."

Momka Peeva / Momka's Glass

This story originally aired on October 27, 2018.   

Bulgarian-born Momka Peeva knows a thing or two about glass. In fact, she probably knows everything there is to know about all kinds of glass. She even wrote a book about it, which is still the go-to text on glass composition and manufacturing used in Bulgaria today.


Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on October 27, 2018. 

The expectations for Elise Ray Statz were enormous.

These days she is the head coach of the University of Washington women's gymnastics team. But back in 2000, she was captain of the USA Olympic team, and that team’s job was to win gold in Sydney, Australia.

Alaskero Foundation/John Stamets / courtesy of Cindy Domingo

Author’s note: I used to cover business and labor for KNKX and had a tiny bit of knowledge about the brutal murders of two young Filipino-American labor activists in 1981. Then, in 2018 while covering another story, I met the brother of one of the men who had been killed. He mentioned how the family and friends of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes had always suspected that the murders had been ordered by none other than the former dictator of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos. I put a lot of time into producing this story to weave in archival news footage and the memories of two key people responsible for doggedly pursuing justice for the slain men. (This story originally aired March 23.)  

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

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.)

This story originally aired on October 20, 2018.

Nightmares happen to us all. For people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, nightmares can be debilitating, nightly experiences. “Trauma nightmares are almost [like playing] a video tape of a traumatic event,” says Dr. Murray Raskind. He’s a psychiatrist at the VA Puget Sound hospital in Seattle and a professor in the University of Washington School of Medicine, who’s been researching PTSD treatment since he started working with a support group for African American veterans of the Vietnam War, in 1994.


This story originally aired on October 20, 2018.

Growing up in Taiwan, Dean Huang always knew he wanted to study abroad, especially after visiting cousins that had immigrated to Boston. “It’s just that Taiwan is really small, and I feel like I can maximize my potential and challenge myself to receive a different education.”


This story originally aired on October 20, 2018.

This Danish tooth-maker became a dream therapist, at the urging of his Jewish Unitarian minister wife. As one does.

OK, better back up. For Flemming Behrend, his career as a dental technician was something that he loved. He hand-made artificial and prosthetic teeth, shaping porcelin and pigments into lifelike choppers. He appreciated the art of it, and the satisfaction that came from delighting his patients. 

Courtesy of Kate Noble


This story originally aired on October 20, 2018.

Kate Noble says she knew at a young age that her family was dysfunctional.


“Many layers of conflict. Maternal, psychiatric dysfunction, absentee father,” Noble recalled.


Help came to Noble in the form of a dream. She was three and a half years old.


A U.S. Marine helps a young Cuban child off one of the refugee boats that were pouring into Key West for weeks, May 10, 1980.
Fernando Yovera / The Associated Press

Author’s note: One of the delights of producing the six-part podcast Forgotten Prison was digging through abandoned boxes of photos, letters and other archives to uncover the unknown stories of McNeil Island prison, sometimes referred to as Washington’s Alcatraz. One of the more surprising things we discovered was that, back in 1980, McNeil Island played a role in the story of Cuban refugees fleeing to the U.S. in the Mariel boatlift. It was difficult to find out much information other than that hundreds of the refugees had been sent to McNeil. Then, after the podcast aired, I heard from a woman who remembered that time well and had quite a story to tell. (This story originally aired May 4.)  

Adrian Florez / KNKX

This week on Sound Effect, our theme is “Cheating Death” — stories of defying the odds and living to tell the tale. First, we meet a 1920s daredevil who survived 104 vertical feet of certain death. A diver recounts her underwater brush with death. A a 92-year-old author recalls how an unlikely ally saved her from Nazi occupation. We meet a UW researcher studying how to help your dog live longer. And a local storyteller talks about his unexpected connection with a woman who was awaiting a heart transplant. 

Matt Kaeberlein, Ph.D., with his silver Keeshond Chloe, 14, and his German Shepherd Dobby, 8. Betty, a black mixed-breed around 13-15 years of age, is unpictured.
Courtesy of Kaeberlein

Researcher Matt Kaeberlein runs the Kaeberlein Lab at the University of Washington, where he and his team studies the biology of aging. Their goal is ambitious: to learn the biological mechanisms behind what makes people get "old," and then to find interventions that would actually slow the rate of aging.

They'd like to increase the human healthspan, or the period of life spent free from disease. And, for that matter, they'd like to extend the canine healthspan, too.

Courtesy of Obie Pressman


The ad read, “Help wanted with chores around the house, heavy lifting and going for walks.” 


It was the late 1990s, and Obie Pressman needed the work, even if the ad wasn’t especially illuminating. 


“It struck me as a little odd," he said. "I knew I wasn’t getting the whole story.” 


Courtey of Guy Faussett


Back in the 1920s, a career as a “daredevil” was not unheard of. Newsreels showed people dancing on top of skyscrapers and balancing on the wings of airplanes. At the age of 46, Al Faussett from Monroe, Washington, decided that being a daredevil would be his next career.


“Al’s wife had had enough of him and promptly divorced him when he decided his career was going to change and he was going to become a daredevil,” said Guy Faussett, Al’s great-grandson.


Courtesy of Laureen Nussbaum


On a dark and rainy afternoon, Sound Effect producer Jennifer Wing and I meet Laureen Nussbaum in the lobby of a retirement home in North Seattle. Laureen is a petite woman. She is 92 years old, and insists on helping us with our gear. 


Laureen opens her arms to receive one of our bags, “Can I carry something?” she asks.


Jennifer hands over her coat and with that, Laureen glides up an enormous spiral staircase as we speed up a bit to keep up with her.


Courtesy of Katie Morgan

It started out like any other underwater volunteer shift — scattering food for the salmon and perch, then diving down deeper to hand feed the rockfish, sturgeon and other species who make their home in the 400,000-gallon tank. 


Credit Parker Miles Blohm

This week, stories of the unusual things we can’t get enough of. We meet a scientist who is also widely recognized as an artist who paints cats. A musician from Yugoslavia talks about making art during war time. A man makes a one person stand against those who think vaccinations are bad.

Craig Egan


This story originally aired on Oct. 14, 2018.  

Craig Egan, who lives in Tacoma, stumbled into an obsession kind of by accident. It happened on FaceBook.


“A friend of mine posted some graph that had an anti-vax slant to it. At that point I had no idea that this was a thing,” Craig remembers.


Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX



Jenny Shrum is a National Park Biologist in one of the most beautiful places on Earth: San Juan Island.


Before coming to the island, she worked on seasonal contracts for years at national parks all over the west. As a biologist, most of those jobs involved monitoring large animals.


“I’ve worked with lynx in Colorado and wolverine in Idaho and grizzly bears in Montana, seals in Alaska, Hawksbill turtles in Hawaii,” said Shrum.


Tommy Tang / Tommy Tang Films

What do gelatin, a wrestling ring, and feminism all have in common? Jello Underground. An all-female run jello wrestling tournament. Part performance, part competition, part declaration of female power and sex positivity.