Ed Ronco

All Things Considered Host

Ed Ronco came to KPLU in October 2013 as producer and reporter for KPLU’s Morning Edition. Ed started in public radio in 2009 at KCAW in Sitka, Alaska, where he covered everything from city government, to education, crime, science, the arts and more. Prior to public radio, Ed worked in newspapers, including four years at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, where he covered business, then politics and government.

Ed grew up in Wyandotte, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University.

Ways To Connect

Ed Ronco, KPLU

Mama's Mexican kitchen in Seattle is going to be closing soon after 40 years in business. For its patrons, this means farewell to cheap, late-night burritos in Belltown, cozy booths and the Elvis Room.

Andrew Harnik / AP/pool

The more than 50-year freeze in relations between the U.S. and Cuba is finally thawing. Earlier this month, both countries opened embassies in each others’ capitals. 

Earlier this year, three groups of KPLU travelers visited Cuba, including KPLU’s Ed Ronco and travel expert Matthew Brumley. Their tour guides on those trips were Frank Alpizar and Alejandro Infantes, who happen to be in Seattle this week on vacation.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

From Louis Edelman’s apartment in Seattle’s Lower Queen Anne neighborhood, you can see the Space Needle. Seattle’s iconic landmark is just a few blocks away. But it’s not the only thing popping out of the skyline. Construction cranes dot the landscape, too, as they build office towers and apartments in South Lake Union.

Edelman, who has lived in the 100 block of Roy Street for 10 years. He tends bar down the street and lives in an older apartment building, which he affectionately calls “the bartender projects.”

How To Pack Lightly And Still Have What You Need

Jul 23, 2015
Justin Steyer / KPLU

As a tour organizer, Matthew Brumley routinely arrives at a destination a day or so before his clients, and then meets them at the airport. Recently, he was in Johannesburg to greet an arriving flight.

“I was sitting there with South Africans, and we could pick out every single American,” Brumley said. “They were coming off the plane with every single gadget and they were overdressed to the point where you would think they were going on a survival mission.”

You don’t need to pack everything. In fact, you can probably get away with packing much less than you think.

David McSpadden / Flickr

This week on Going Places, we're talking about staying places.

Specifically, what if you went overseas and instead of staying for a vacation -- a week or two -- you stayed for a year? Or six months? 

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says if you have the time, there’s a lot of value in living and working in a foreign country.

“If you’re young, universities love seeing this on your resume,” he said. “If you’re older and you’re a retiree, it’s a way of getting away from the golf course and the evening cocktail hour, and doing something really interesting with your life.”

Jeff Seifert / KBRW

It’s no secret that many residents of Alaska are fans of the Seattle Seahawks. Some residents of Barrow got a surprise when Seahawks Kevin Pierre-Louis and defensive tackle Jimmy Staten showed up to thank fans for their support.

“A lot of us Seahawks fans knew the team was doing their tour throughout the state, but none of us expected them to come up here,” said Jeff Seifert, general manager of Barrow radio station KBRW.

Barrow is 1,976 miles north of Seattle.

Kvitlauk / Flickr

India has given birth to some of the world’s great artistic traditions. So says Amit Sankhala, a travel designer who lives in Delhi. As he shows his country to visitors, one of his favorite things to do is connect the dots between Indian traditions and western forms of art.

Forts And Castles

Throughout the country are forts and palaces, many dating back thousands of years.

“It’s something you would imagine would be in Morocco, or staying in castles in France or Italy,” Sankhala said. “Over time, they have become these amazing places to stay.”

Todd Petit / Flickr

You’re looking to get away for a weekend, but the Fourth of July (or maybe the summer in general) kind of crept up on you. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says have no fear: There are still plenty of options.

First, this late in the game you'll need to be flexible. But there are some tricks you can use:

Steve Bennett / Flickr

Even before the 2010 earthquake that devastated its capital, Haiti was the scene of political unrest. There were government upheavals in 1991 and 2004. Americans are used to seeing those images on TV newscasts, and in newspapers.

But the country also has seen growth in tourism, says Wilbert Denis. He grew up in Haiti, and has watched as visitors arrived on the island.

Sights To See

Beaches are probably Haiti's biggest draw. Denis says Labadee is his favorite. "It's so vibrant," he said. Also check out St. Marc.

AP Images

Calling Jordan Spieth's win Sunday at the U.S. Open golf championship at Chambers Bay one of the wildest he'd ever seen, KPLU's sport commentator Art Thiel said the exciting finish might not make up for the event's shortcomings.

Spieth, 21, won on the final hole when rival Dustin Johnson three-putted from 12 feet out to lose by a stroke.

The epic, pressured end followed three days of player criticism of the dry, fast conditions at the University Place course which was holding its first-ever major tournament. 

"It was very dramatic finish to a wild week of both golf and controversy," Thiel said.  "There was a lot of controversy around the greens at the course. (The players) took to social media to rake it after it was done.

"It's a real blow for a lot of people who worked 15 years in Pierce County to make this dream happen," Thiel said.

"They are going to have to decide what is honest criticism and what is sour grapes."

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.

Plenty To Do In London, No Matter Your Age

Jun 18, 2015
Gary Bembridge / Flickr

The Going Places mailbag – OK, fine, it’s an e-mail inbox – brought us a nice note this week, from a listener with a pressing travel question.

Abe in Redmond writes: “I am taking my 11 and 13-year-old boys to London in August.... I am curious about the less-obvious places you like to visit in the city.”

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley took his then-13-year-old son to London last summer, and he offered some advice:

Do It On Foot

Densho Digital Repository

A Seattle group is building an online encyclopedia to catalogue the stories of Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II.

The group “Densho” received more than $360,000 from the National Park Service for the effort.

The money will also help Densho work with other organizations, to connect Japanese Americans’ stories with more contemporary examples of injustice.

AP Images

Mike Trostel is the senior historian and curator at the U.S. Golf Association museum in Far Hills, N.J., and is among the thousands of people in the Puget Sound this week for the U.S. Open.

We sat down with him to talk about the history of the U.S. Open, and about golf's future. Our conversation took us from the first U.S. Open in Rhode Island, to the moon, and back.

Here are five things we learned from Trostel:

1. It took a long time for golf's premiere event to head west.

The first time the U.S. Open came to the west coast was in 1948 – in Los Angeles – more than 50 years after the event began. This is the event’s first time in the Pacific Northwest.

Bologna A Window Into Italy's Food, Political Divide

Jun 11, 2015
Lorenzoclick / Flickr

Bologna is in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. It’s famed for its food (Bolognese sauce anyone?) and is often considered one of Italy’s culinary centers.

“And yet there are hardly any tourists here,” says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley. “You walk through Florence and it’s elbow to elbow. Same with Rome and Venice. But you come here and you get a little slice of real Italian life.”

It’s also a good jumping off point for short trips to other famous Italian locales.

Three Things You Might Not Know About Tour Guides

Jun 4, 2015
Earthbound Expeditions

If you’ve ever traveled abroad – especially with a group – you’ve probably met up with a local tour guide at your destination. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has been leading tours around the world for nearly 30 years. He says local guides are key experts that bring a lot of knowledge to a trip. But there are other layers of guiding that happen behind the scenes. Here are three things you might not know:

Don Wilson / Port of Seattle

Travel over long distances can wear you out. As anyone who’s flown a great distance can tell you, the sudden change in time zones can wreak havoc on your body. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has been almost every continent on the planet, and has a lot of experience fighting off jet lag. Here's his advice:

Before The Trip

Exercise more. If you’re already pretty active, keep it up. If you’re kind of sedentary, maybe take a few more walks. You don’t need to get “in shape” before a flight, of course, but it helps to be more alert.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Ruby Bishop has played piano around the world. She's befriended some of the jazz world's greatest names -- including Louis Armstrong.

At 95, she's still playing Sunday nights at Vito's, on Seattle's First Hill.

In this story from the "Comfort Zone" episode of KPLU's Sound Effect, she talks about the piano, her life, her career, and feeling comfortable behind 88 keys.


Ed Ronco / KPLU

Travel brochures and websites can often paint a picture of an “authentic” experience in a foreign country. But KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says so often, what people consider an “authentic” is far from real.

Cultures are changing, especially in Europe. Travel advertisements often show you a romanticized version of what you’ll actually experience.

“They’re selling you the cliché of a country – the little boy walking down the street with a French baguette, and the two people playing bocce ball in Italy,” Brumley said. “It’s getting harder to find that.”

James Melzer / Flickr

Summertime means the height of tourist season for many destinations in the northern hemisphere. That can mean big crowds at museums and other popular sites.

But KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says there are ways to avoid the crowds.

Off-Season Travel

The dead of winter is a great time to see Europe, but anytime between October through March should work, Brumley said. The weather isn’t as nice, of course, but if you’re planning mostly indoor activities, what’s the difference?

On the first Wednesday of each month, the Fireside Room at Seattle's Sorrento Hotel fills up with readers. Some bring books, others tablets or laptops or smart phones. At 6 p.m., the room falls silent, and people read, together, for two hours.

In the gallery above, you can see what the Sound Effect team is reading.

And hear about how the Silent Reading party began -- and what makes it special -- from Christopher Frizzelle, co-founder of the event and editor in chief of The Stranger:

Heribert Pohl / Flickr

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Leipzig, Germany, was in economic ruin.

“They had an unemployment rate here in the mid-1990s of over 25 percent,” he said. “Now they’re under 5 percent.”

And it's gaining a reputation as "The New Berlin." Porsche, BMW and DHL all have major operations there now. And this city of more than 500,000 people is becoming a new center for art, music, and tourism.

Johannes Gaebler is a tour guide in Germany. He’s originally from Berlin, and was first in Leipzig in the early 1990s, not long after Germany was reunified.

Belgium Is About Blending In, Relaxing Like A Local

Apr 30, 2015
Antwerpen Toerisme & Congres / Flickr

  France, Germany and the Netherlands draw millions of tourists every year. Nestled in between those countries (and Luxembourg) is Belgium. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says travelers who overlook this country miss out on an important part of European history and culture.

Emigration Point

Antwerp’s harbor was where millions of Europeans said goodbye to their home continent. One of them was a German scientist who arrived in town, renounced his citizenship, and boarded a boat for the United States.

Daniel Peckham / Flickr

Amsterdam is the largest city in The Netherlands, and a hub for air travel in and out of Europe. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says there are similarities between western Washington and the Dutch capital.

“It’s a great city to get a bike and cruise around,” Brumley said. “There are some phenomenal museums here, and some great architecture.”

Coffee Culture

Eric Peacock / Flickr

King County officials are asking local voters to support a property tax hike so local law enforcement officers, firefighters and other emergency first-responders can get an upgrade for their aging radio system. 

“It’s about 18 years old. And the problem is twofold," said Marlin Blizinsky, with the Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network. "One is that the system is wearing out.”

Moyan Brenn / Flickr

One of the casualties of the global economic crisis late last decade was Iceland's economy. Unemployment soared, banks toppled and protests ensued.

And then came tourism.

It wasn’t a silver bullet, but it helped bring Iceland’s economy back from the brink. The island nation’s popularity among global travelers is on the rise.

This One Time In Sicily, And Other Travel Surprises

Apr 9, 2015
Ed Ronco / KPLU

Picture it: Sicily, 2012.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley is in Palermo, checking in to a B&B for the night. They tell him the room has low ceilings.

“And that’s OK,” he said. “I’m not a tall guy.”

Santiago Duarte / Flickr

Craig Holt knows coffee.

In 1997, he started the Seattle-based Atlas Coffee Importers. Now, he travels to do business in coffee-growing regions of the world. One of those places is Colombia, in South America.

3 Places To Visit In B.C., Far Away From Vancouver

Mar 26, 2015
Philip Stone

Last week, KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley highlighted a trip through British Columbia and along the Canadian Rockies, along the Alberta boundary. But the conversation was broad, and we thought it would be worthwhile to revisit B.C. and focus on some special places.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

So you want to get away for a summer vacation, but you'd rather not spend a fortune, and you'd rather not travel overseas. 

Head north, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

Mark Stevens / Flickr

For an escape to the American Southwest -- with its open deserts, dark skies, and peaceful solitude -- begin in bright, noisy and busy Las Vegas.

That's the advice of KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley, but only because flights to the nightlife hotspot are relatively inexpensive. You can stay if you want, of course, or you can strike out into the countryside for some of the most beautiful scenery available in the United States.

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