Sound Effect | KNKX

Sound Effect

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

  The Manastash Ridge Observatory, or the MRO, sits on top of a huge stretch of earth that pops out of the surrounding landscape of flat timothy hay fields.The ridge is actually an earthquake fault line, one of several in this part of the state.


This show originally aired on September 22, 2018.

This story originally aired on September 22, 2018.    

In 1931 in the small southeast Washington town of Asotin, a 12 year old boy named Herbert Nicholls Jr. shot and killed the town sheriff. 

Nicholls was starving and abused, and had run away from home and broken into the local store to steal some food. The sheriff came in to find him, and Nicholls fired the gun with the intent to scare him away. Unfortunately, the bullet hit the sheriff in the head, killing him instantly. 

Bevis Chin

This story originally aired on September 22, 2018.   

Back in 2012 Dylan Mayer was 19 years old. He was a few years into a new passion: scuba diving. He says spending time under water in Puget Sound is like visiting an alien planet full of strange creatures.

“There is a large fish down there called a Cabazon. It’s a large fish. It’s and ugly fish. And, it will come right up to you. It will nudge you with it’s nose and its face. It’s very curious about what you are,” said Dylan.

Courtesy of Silvana Clark

This story originally aired on September 22, 2018.   

"When I was 11, my mother had me quite well trained for a certain job. But then she fired me from this job. She fired me because I was not cooperating with her shoplifting escapades." 

So begins Silvana Clark's story of rebellion. 

Clark is a writer and speaker based in Bellingham. When she was a kid, one of her main jobs was to accompany her mother to the supermarket, and position herself just so at the far end of the cart. 

Courtesy of Shawn Wenzel

This story originally aired on September 22, 2018.   

My first job in broadcasting came in 1992, in Canton, Ohio, when someone decided that I should be the guy to read the morning announcements at GlenOak High School.

You know the announcements -- they play over the school’s PA system and update the student body on vital news, such as where to buy raffle tickets or what the cafeteria is serving for dessert.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

This week on Sound Effect, our theme is “You Can’t Choose Your Family...Can You?” We’re bringing you stories of family ties that go beyond blood, but still help define who we are and where we come from. First, a middle-aged woman learns she was conceived using an unexpected sperm donor. A bookseller searches for someone to take over his business and learns something surprising about himself. A resilient young woman balances college and guardianship of her younger siblings. Finally, a local doctor shares his journey of adopting a daughter from Kazakhstan.

courtesy of Suzan Mazor

Suzan Mazor was fully in mid-life when her mother made a surprising revelation. "You were conceived by sperm donation," she remembers her mother saying, "and I believe that the OB who delivered you was also the sperm donor."

While some people who learn this news are devastated, Suzan's response was, she says, characteristic for her. "I'm just a very open minded person, and I thought it was cool."

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX Public Radio


The internet didn’t ruin Louis Collins's job, but it sure sucked the fun out of it. 


People no longer needed his help when it came to finding books — they could just look it up on their own computer. For a used book dealer like Collins, this was bad news, and he didn’t take it lightly.


Courtesy of Sam Blackman

When Sam Blackman first met his adopted baby daughter in 2007, the pediatrician and first-time father says he did the one thing he knew instinctively how to do: examine her from head to toe. 


“I put my ear up to her chest and listened to her heartbeat, listening for murmurs,” he says. “But in the end all I could find was a beautiful healthy child. Our child.”


Autumn Adams


A good way to picture Autumn Adams is in her crimson cap and gown. This was last spring, as she graduated from Central Washington University in Ellensburg. 



By her side were two people: her 14-year-old brother John and her 10-year-old sister Kaya. Nothing unusual about family showing up for a big milestone like this.


But, Adams’ family is a little different from the other young grads there that day with their moms and uncles and grandmas. Autumn’s younger siblings have been there with her, on campus, for most of her college education.


The theme of this week’s Sound Effect is “Gatekeepers” — stories about people with power over who comes and goes. First, we hear what it’s like for a prison guard to be locked in with the inmates. Next, a story of escape and betrayal in one of the world’s most repressive countries. Then, the chilling words of a man ready to confront his fate — and his complicated journey to execution. Finally, we hear from a woman who once was tasked with helping determine who was approved to resettle from Vietnam to the U.S.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX


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

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.

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



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.


“After the Vietnam War, people in South Vietnam who had supported the United States presence and war effort, you know, they were treated like the enemy,” said Alison Krupnick, who lives in Seattle.

The theme for this week’s episode of Sound Effect is “Found in Translation” — stories of making ourselves understood, for better or for worse. First, we meet a Kenyan woman who was pleased to meet a white woman familiar with her home country and tribe — until she learned why. Then, we visit a landmark that’s become a flashpoint between a mostly white city government and a changing community. Host Gabriel Spitzer takes us back to a remote village in Alaska where he experienced an unlikely racial clash. A White Center teenager learns how to communicate with his immigrant parents. A scientist looks to an octopus to understand how aliens might think. And we explore what a transplant from South Africa learns about her home after protesting in Seattle.  


The film "Boyz n the Hood" inspired Tristan Agosa. 


It's a gritty, coming-of-age story set in the Los Angeles of the '80s and '90s, complete with gang violence, racism, and this one sliver of hope — the relationship between the main character, Tre, and his dad, Furious. That’s the part Agosa latched onto. 


Anti-government protests in Pretoria, South Africa, in 2016. Neroli Price recently moved to Seattle from South Africa. She has a new appreciation for the more urgent protest style in her home country, compared to protests in the Northwest.
Themba Hadebe / The Associated Press

The third Seattle Women’s March took place Jan. 19 earlier this year. Among the protesters — who marched down East Pine Street wearing pink hats and holding signs with slogans like “the future is female” — was Neroli Price.

This was Neroli’s first time protesting in Seattle since moving to the city in 2018. Everything about the experience felt new, except for the very act of marching itself. That’s because Neroli grew up in “the protest capital of the world”: South Africa.

Dominic Sivitilli grew up on a farm. 

“It was a beautiful place to grow up," Dominic said. "We had all ranges of animals, with a really ancient forest, with a really majestic river there. And so there was just an incredible amount of adventure to my childhood. That was my backyard. And so my mind always kind of drifted to ‘where the hell did this all come from?’”

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX


(An essay from Sound Effect host Gabriel Spitzer)


He looked wildly out of context. This was a place of ice and tundra, of weathered brown skin and tan Carhartts. But this guy showed up in neon-colored rain gear with hippie jewelry and zero explanation of why he was there. 

And he couldn’t really tell us — he only spoke Japanese. 

A hallway inside the Bakaro Mall in SeaTac in August. The city is selling the property. Critics of the sale say it is displacing a unique immigrant community. The city says the mall will be replaced with hundreds of units of affordable housing.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX



One of the places in our region where different languages and cultures mix is SeaTac. Not the airport, the town. The census shows more than 70 languages are spoken there, by immigrants from Somalia, Ethiopia and Mexico — all over. 


And yet the local city council is still dominated by white men and women. A new slate of city council candidates says the city’s leadership needs to reflect that diversity.



This week, stories of speaking out, even when it would have been easier to keep quiet. First, a climate scientist talks about her experience speaking out about sexual harassment and assault in field. Next, a doctor shares what he learned about interacting with the assertive parents of patients.

Max Wasserman / KNKX News


In the world we live in today, if a toaster breaks or those comfy sweatpants you bought for cheap from the markdown rack get a rip in them, you’d probably toss them.


Replacing things quickly, with a tap on our phones or clicks on a keyboard, is so easy to do. This is why what’s going on at libraries across King County, Washington feels kind of radical.


Thierry Ehrmann via Flickr


It all started when CeCe Moore decided to make a family tree as a wedding gift for her niece. At that point she’d had a whole career in entertainment, working as a model and television and musical theatre actress. But once she started digging into her family history, CeCe quickly realized that she couldn’t put it down.


“It just started as a hobby, but once I saw the potential of it, I kind of dropped everything else I was doing,” she said.

Maxwell Hendrix

In the small hours of April 2, 2001, a 92-foot trawler called the Arctic Rose was swallowed up by the Bering Sea. The Seattle-based crew of 15 went down with it, and it was called the deadliest fishing accident in 50 years.

There was no mayday call, no survivors and no obvious reason for this terrible tragedy.

A Coast Guard investigation came up with its most likely scenario: that the crew had mistakenly left a watertight door open, allowing waves to swamp the boat.

Dr. Sarah Myhre is a research associate at the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington. As a paleoceanographer, she studies ancient climate fluctuations by analyzing core samples of the ocean floor.

She's become a prominant voice sounding the alarm on climate change. But it was one of her non-scientific publications that brought on a recent wave of attention, not all of it welcome.

"I get harassed all the time on the internet. I get weird emails, I get hate mail. And the majority of that is in line with what other women scientists also receive," she said.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

The plan for Nathan Myhrvold was to go into academia. He had his Ph.D in physics, and had even done some work with Stephen Hawking.

But then he got pulled into this side project. The project turned into a company, the company got acquired by a little Redmond concern called Microsoft, and before long Nathan became the company’s Chief Technology Officer.

But Myhrvold kept his passion for science … and while he was at Microsoft -- in his abundant free time --- he started writing papers about dinosaurs.

Courtesy of Sam Blackman

Patient advocates say when you're getting medical care, it's important to be a squeaky wheel. And that goes double when you're the parent of a sick child, who may not be able to advocate for him- or herself. 

While that may be wise, it doesn't necessarily endear one to the doctor -- especially if he's been working an 18-hour shift and is trying to get some sleep. 

Sam Blackman is a cancer researcher and a former pediatric oncologist in Seattle. He shared this story of two assertive parents, and what they taught him about being a doctor. 

Adrian Florez / KNKX

The theme of this week’s Sound Effect is “Connection.” But it’s even deeper than that: Everything we do at KNKX Public Radio centers on connecting with listeners and linking listeners with each other. And we’re only able to do that because of your support.

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

Sep 28, 2019
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.