Edmar Castañeda plays the arpa llanera, a traditional folkloric instrument from Columbia and Venezuela. Classical harps have 46 or 47 strings, but the smaller llanera has only 32. That makes it lighter, swifter and somehow more least it sounds like it in the hands of this master from Bogotá.

You may consider jazz to be a world apart from the rock, pop or hip-hop you love (or hate). However, you might be surprised to learn about jazz's influences on many genres through its rich history, from the newest performing artists of today, to legendary musicians that shaped the sounds we love so much. / Flickr

There are many computer scientists these days trying to create machines that can make connections the way human brains do; but it is not an easy task.

Now the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence is sponsoring a contest to see whose software can best answer 8th grade science questions. 

Jim Levitt

Bob Mintzer, Grammy-Award winning saxophonist and co-founder of the Yellowjackets, was featured arranger at Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend for 2015.  He conducted a special all-star big band at the Saturday matinee concert at the McCurdy Pavilion at Fort Worden State Park.  

The concert was recorded for radio and will be broadcast Sunday, October 12 at 2 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on KPLU’s Jazz Northwest. It will also be streamed live on

Confessions: Sound Effect, Episode 40

Oct 10, 2015
Cristina Bejarano via Wikimedia Commons

Sound Effect is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. This week our theme is confessions.

Local author Nicole Hardy had her life changed by confessions. Senior Producer, Arwen Nicks sits down with Hardy and learns how she used the money she made from her memoir, “Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin” to become a deckhand on a tall ship. 

Parker Miles Blohm

Every so often, vocalist Francine Reed invades Seattle for a few months to take the stage at Teatro Zinzanni, 

  a permanent tent show that’s a wild mix of cirque, vaudeville, dinner theatre, glitz and glam.  And Francine fits right in whenever she takes her turn as diva-in-residence.  She was first introduced to an international audience when she joined Lyle Lovett’s Large Band.  During her current stint at Teatro, Francine and Teatro’s house band visited the KPLU

Christopher Pluta via Pixabay

Some residents in the higher hills of Seattle and Issaquah experienced tropical weather overnight, with warm, moist air pushing temperatures up as high as 70 degrees by Friday morning.

Everyone else was in the 50s, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

Jwinters via Wikimedia Commons

A Washington school district has revealed that a football player who died following a head injury had suffered a concussion before.

KCPQ-TV reports KCPQ-TV reports that Highline School District Superintendent Susan Enfield said Thursday morning that Evergreen High School football player Kenney Bui had a concussion several weeks before being injured at last Friday's game.

She says he was cleared by a doctor to return to the field.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

There will be no football game Friday night for Evergreen High School in Seattle, following the death of one of their players after last week's game.

Kenny Bui's death was brought up at Seahawks practice this week, where cornerback Richard Sherman discussed the risks associated with football. It is also the topic this week for KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel.

Tragic But Rare

Despite Bui being the fourth high school football player to die from an on-field injury this season in the United States, Thiel said it's still a rare event in sports.

Note: Each month, KPLU invites a teen guest DJ to play his or her favorite pieces on the air. The program is part of KPLU's School of Jazz.

Colby Jackson from Bellarmine Prepartory School is the Student DJ for the month of October. Colby's hour aired from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on October 8th.

JPellgen / Flickr

Facing pressure from federal regulators, Governor Jay Inslee has directed state officials to take another stab at updating clean water rules, tied partly to how much fish people eat.

Patrick Rodriguez via Wikimedia Commons

Tacoma voters have less than a month to decide whether to raise the city’s minimum wage, and if so, how much. Thursday evening, debaters at Pacific Lutheran University will give their best arguments in favor and against a $15 minimum wage.

Michael Tieso / Flickr

The San Juan Islands call themselves an “Inspiration for the Senses.” Vancouver, British Columbia is “Spectacular by Nature.” And Boise settles for a one-word description: “Active.”

Whatever the slogan, tourism marketers work hard to attract your attention, and your money. Here are some of the best and worst travel slogans from around the world, according to KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley:

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

The maker culture is built around a do-it-yourself ethic. It’s not unusual to meet people teaching themselves carpentry, computer hacking or electrical engineering. But what about DIY biochemistry? or do-it-yourself genetic engineering? or do-it-yourself neuroscience?

used with permission of Jason Padgett /

KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer talks with Tacoma resident Jason Padgett about the night he was mugged outside a Tacoma karaoke bar, and how that incident changed the trajectory of his life.

Padgett suffered a concussion in the attack, as well as internal injuries. He also developed post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Ted S. Warren / AP

More than 150 groups in Washington state have come together to form the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. It’s an effort to fight climate change that some are calling “historic in scope.” The consortium has announced plans to put a statewide carbon-capping initiative before voters in 2016. 

Nancy Leson

Nancy was puce with envy when I told her about my new digital cooking thermometer.

“A Thermapen?" she gasped.  She'd been lusting after one for years.

“Nope,” I told her. I bought a cheap knock-off.

Jasperdo / Flkr Creative Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union says an eastern Washington county is operating a modern day debtors’ prison in violation of both the United States and Washington State Constitutions.  The ACLU of Washington and the law firm of Terrell Marshall Law Group filed a class-action lawsuit against Benton County, which includes the towns of Richland and Kennewick.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

The future of Washington state's charter schools may be up in the air, but for now, they are still receiving public funding.

Though the state Supreme Court ruled last month charter schools violate Washington’s constitution, state education officials sent regular funding payments to the schools at the end of September, according to Tom Franta, CEO of the Washington State Charter Schools Association.

College Tragedy Raises Questions About Guns And Mass Killings

Oct 6, 2015
John Locher / AP

Law enforcement officials say the weapons used by Chris Harper-Mercer in last week’s shooting at Umpqua Community College were lawfully purchased.

Celinez Nunez is the assistant special agent in charge for the Seattle field division of the ATF. She told reporters at a press conference in Roseburg last week that more than a dozen guns were found at the community college and the shooter’s apartment.

Slaven's Recommended Reads: Silver Linings

Oct 6, 2015
Jamie Henkensiefken

It’s not just every cloud that has a silver lining. In this segment on Sound Effect, Gabriel Spitzer speaks with King County Supervising Librarian Amber Slaven, who curated a list of books with messages of hope in spite of gloom.

Scott Applewhite / AP

The president of Liberia thanked Seattle-area philanthropists at a weekend appearance in Bellevue, crediting their early support during the Ebola crisis with helping to save many lives.

Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf cited support from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others as crucial in helping Liberia eradicate Ebola. The Allen Foundation committed $100 million, while the Gates Foundation pledged $50 million.

Šarūnas Burdulis via Wikimedia Commons

The predicted effects of global climate change are grim, to say the least. Global warming is expected to cause more extreme weather events, as well as a rise in sea level, drought and flooding; it’s not a pretty picture.

But, according to weather blogger and KPLU commentator Cliff Mass, it won’t actually be that bad here in the Northwest.

Courtesy of the Low Income Housing Institute


One of the many challenges of being homeless is staying clean and having fresh clothes. An organization called the Low Income Housing Institute has two urban rest stops in Seattle, where people living on the streets or in their cars can take a shower and clean their clothes free of charge. One is downtown; the other is in the University District.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Washington aerospace businesses are meeting this week in Spokane for an annual statewide summit, where they are planning to talk about some of the industry’s most pressing issues, including reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. 

Dorsay Alavi

Seattle's biggest jazz event of the year is the Earshot Jazz Festival, encompassing dozens of performances from Benaroya Hall to intimate jazz clubs such as Tula's.  The Wayne Shorter Quartet (pictured) headlines this year's festival on October 11, but there are many outstanding jazz groups playing all around Seattle from October 9 through November 18.  Earshot's Executive Director John Gilbreath joins Jim Wilke on Jazz Northwest (Sunday, 2 PM Pacific on 88.5 KPLU) to talk about and share music by some of the performers in the first weeks of the festival.

Silver Lining: Sound Effect, Episode 39

Oct 3, 2015
used with permission of Jason Padgett /

"Sound Effect" is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. Each week's show explores a different theme. This week we go out in search of silver linings.

Pianist Jovino Santos Neto was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro but has made Seattle his home for some years now.  Lucky us.   Jovino is one of the most highly regarded Latin Jazz pianists in the world and is a three-time Latin Jazz Grammy nominee.  He teaches at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts and leads groups of various sizes.

Tim Durkan Photography

If Friday’s clouds and drizzle are getting you down, hang in there. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says a warm, sunny weekend is in store as soon as the work week ends.

John Locher / AP

There's still no known motive for the gunman who opened fire at a community college Thursday in southern Oregon. The city of Roseburg was rocked by news that ten people died in a shooting at nearby Umpqua Community College.