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

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.

And here's a video of her playing at Vito's, from The Seattle Times:

Thanks To Those Who Help Us Get Where We're Going

Nov 26, 2015
KPLU

On this Thanksgiving, we pause for a moment to say thanks. As millions of people hurry from place to place across the country this weekend, thousands are helping them get there. Pilots, flight attendants, TSA officers, baggage handlers, front desk clerks, hotel maids, rental car agents, cooks, servers and more.

We'll be back next week with more travel topics (namely, how people get lost in their personal technology while on vacation). But for now, just thanks, to all of the folks who help us travel, and to you, for joining us each week on Going Places.

Don Wilson / Port of Seattle

If you’ve flown recently, you’ve also experienced airport security. And you’ve maybe also had to wait as travelers with a certain clearance are let through security ahead of you. It’s part of a program called TSA PreCheck, where travelers can pay $85 and undergo some advance screening once, allowing them to breeze through much shorter security lines without removing shoes and belts.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Changes in federal law could soon mean a standard Washington state driver's license is not good enough to get you through airport security.

The Real ID Act toughens the requirements for driver's licenses to be recognized by the federal government. In short, only IDs you've obtained after proving legal residency or citizenship (U.S. or otherwise) will count. Washington state has no such requirement to obtain a standard driver's license.

Matthias Schrader / AP

Correction: In the audio version of this piece, Matthew Brumley says refugees are not heading to the Netherlands or Denmark. Both countries have taken refugees in this most recent crisis, though fewer have gone to Netherlands than other European countries, and Denmark has taken a hard stance against granting asylum to many.

U.S. Coast Guard photo

It was going to be an adventure.

Even before they came aboard the Holland America cruise ship Prinsendam, John Graham and his 13-year-old daughter, Malory, knew that much.

Walk Through Famous Paintings On Your Way To Normandy

Oct 29, 2015
Shogunangel / Flickr

Most Americans have heard the word “Normandy” in the context of World War II, as well they should have. The D-Day invasion centered there in 1944 was a watershed moment in the conflict, and involved enormous sacrifice from allied troops.

But while World War II history is an important reason to see northern France, it’s not the only reason, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

Begin in Paris

Heading north out of the French capital, stop in Giverny, home of Claude Monet.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

There are a lot of things that have kept Louis Edelman in his Lower Queen Anne apartment for the past 10 years.

It has a view of the Space Needle. It’s less than a minute’s walk to where he tends bar just down the street. And at the time we met this past summer, the rent for this two-bedroom space was $1,400 a month – cheaper than studios in some other neighborhoods.

Moyan Brenn / Flickr

When the Iron Curtain fell in Eastern Europe, the region underwent massive change. You can see examples of that in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley made his first trip there in 1986.

“All the buildings were gray. You could walk across Charles Bridge and be alone. It was very Kafkaesque,” he said. “The mood was dark and mysterious and intriguing and romantic.”

Today, Prague is a major commercial hub.

Xianyi Shen / Flickr

Hainan Province, an island in the South China Sea, is one of China’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s also where former KPLU Production Assistant Shunying Wang grew up.

“I like to call it Asian Hawaii,” Wang said.

The main city – Haikou – is crowded and busy, but escape into the countryside and you’ll find resorts, peace and relaxation.

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:

Norm Lanier / Flickr

Maybe you have been on a vacation where, when it is time to come home, you think, “What if I just stayed?”

For thousands of retirees every year, that is a reality. They leave the United States and become permanent residents abroad, often in some place warm and sunny.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says that has risks and rewards.

In Case You Want To Visit The Pope

Sep 24, 2015
Vincente Villamón / Flickr

Pope Francis’s first visit to the United States includes stops in Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia. He is the leader of the Catholic Church, but he is also a head of state. Vatican City is the center of Roman Catholicism and an independent nation – the world’s smallest, in fact.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has made numerous trips to the Vatican. He has seen Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict. Brumley says there has been renewed interest in visiting Vatican City since Francis became pope in 2013.

YouTube

Cities across the Puget Sound area are paying more attention to gun violence. In Seattle, a federal grant worth half-a-million dollars is designed to help law enforcement trace guns used in crimes, and pay for more prosecution. And in Tacoma, the city is holding “Gun Safe T Awareness Week.”

Ed Ronco

The photo of Michi Hirata North’s professional debut is in black and white. She’s 8 years old, sitting at a piano on a concert stage in Tokyo with an orchestra behind her.

“I couldn’t even reach the pedals,” she said.

The photograph suggests that this little girl is about to become something big – a professional musician whose talents as a performer and teacher are still respected, 75 years later.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Modern travel comes with a lot of options. From western Washington, you can travel by plane, car, ship or train. You can also travel cinematically.

KPLU’s Ed Ronco and travel expert Matthew Brumley picked some of their favorite travel movies – either films about a journey, or those that transport you effectively to a different place.

Matthew’s Picks

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Courtesy Beth Whitman

 

In the middle of a 7,000-mile motorcycle trip from Seattle to Panama, Beth Whitman found herself stuck along the Guatemalan border. 

Other people flowed freely in both directions across the line between the two countries. But not Whitman. For some reason, the guards were not letting her into Guatemala.

And she was by herself.

"I sat for an hour, angry that they weren't letting me through with just a signature," she said. 

Christina Opalka

Group tours and all-inclusive resorts make getting away easy. But sometimes you want to plan your own trip and escape the usual tourist destinations. 

That's what Christina Opalka does. She and her family have had some spectacular trips. And she says if you're willing to research enough online, and "be a little bit fearless," you can, too. 

Pasayten Wilderness, Washington

Todd Petit / Flickr

Many of the communities affected by this year's wildfires in central and eastern Washington have economies that rely heavily on tourism.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says once the wildfire danger has passed, people should consider taking time to visit central and eastern Washington, to inject money back into the economy.

Some places have been evacuated and suffered damage from the wildfires. But others are just in a region people have chosen to avoid, to steer clear of wildfire danger this summer.

Here are some good places to look:

Ed Ronco / KPLU

There are three kinds of flight experiences: The ones you forget, the ones you’ll never forget, and the ones you want to forget. We’re focusing on those last two in this week’s “Going Places.” Travel expert Matthew Brumley tells stories about experiences he’s had, including:

'You Never Know Who You'll Need' When Traveling

Aug 13, 2015
Ed Ronco / KPLU

Our friend Ale Infantes, who lives and works as a tour guide in Havana, told us a story recently about a visit he made to Washington, D.C.

He was trying to take the city’s Metro system, and was told he should catch the blue train.

“I never pictured a completely blue train,” he said. “But I was expecting more than a sign saying just ‘Blue Line,’ which I never saw.”

Infantes watched for a while as gray trains passed by.

AP Images

Sometimes the world can feel so trivial. Literally. We'll return to destinations and travel trips in short order. But this week, the "Going Places" crew offers some travel trivia. Take the quiz below and see if you get your passport stamped -- or seized.

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.

But for Bella Biagio it's more than a loss of a business, a job or a building; She's worked there 18 years. So for her, it's the loss of family -- albeit an odd one she refers to as, "The island of misfit toys."

"We are the train with the square wheels. And the gun that shoots jelly and the Charlie in the Box," she said. "It's so dysfunctional but it works."

A lot of older Seattle is disappearing under the ceaseless march of urban development, she said. And the town is lesser for it.  There are not as many none corporate, "genuine" places in Seattle anymore, she said. Certainly not many like Mama's, a popular, divey Mexican eatery on the corner of 2nd Avenue. and Bell Street.

Andrew Harnik / AP

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:

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