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

Ingmar Zahorsky / Flickr

Maybe it’s the busy primary election season that has us in this mindset, but we’ve been thinking a lot about voting lately. And our Going Places team wondered what it’s like in other parts of the world.

This week we hear from Danna Brumley, who is an experienced guide and world traveler, much like her husband, KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

She and her family wound up in Costa Rica during an election once. She says the country is already festive for travelers, but on Election Day, it's like "New Year's Eve, all day long."

Dave Blanchard / OPB

New charges were announced last week in connection with the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Harney County, Ore.

It is the latest turn of events in a saga that began last January, when armed militants took over the headquarters of the refuge – events that are documented in “41 Days,” a radio documentary from Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Don Wilson / Port of Seattle

[Editor's note: This story has been updated with more information about loopholes how airlines and travel websites deal with 24-hour cancelations.]

Finding a good deal on airfare can be tricky. The prices change quickly. There are conflicting reports on when airlines post their sales and specials. It all seems kind of arbitrary. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says it’s all a matter of knowing where (and how) to look.

1. Shop Around

Screenshots

Way back when (you know, 10 years ago), travelers carried these things called guide books. Maybe some of them still do, but most of that information now lives in your smartphone. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has some favorites. Here they are:

1. KAYAK

What it does: The search website’s app lets you look for flights, car rentals, hotels and more.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Seattle’s South Lake Union area is home to a notable retailer, but not the big online one you’re thinking about. This is a store called Shine, and it’s part of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

The interior of the store looks like a regular boutique: rich, dark brown wood paneling, with focused lights that make sweaters and scarves and books pop off the shelves. But the store specializes in items that are “oncology specific.”

Michael Janke / Flickr

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has a confession to make.

"I was a travel snob," he said. "I was one of those who said I'll get to places like Hawaii or Puerto Rico or the Caribbean when I'm in my golden years and I've seen everything else on the planet."

He went to Hawaii for the first time about five years ago, and returned just last week.

Credit: Flickr/Cloudzilla

If you’ve ever woken up to a mystery — maybe some kind of strange object in your yard, or an act of overnight vandalism and you don’t know how it got there — well then this story is for you.

Meet a woman in Seattle who put up some cameras to keep an eye on her cats. And the cameras run day and night. In person, her neighborhood seems quiet, but as seen on TV, we discover it is not.

Andrew Harnik / AP

President Barack Obama plans to visit Cuba next month. The trip is expected to be officially announced today – part of multi-nation trip through Latin America. His visit there would be historic. The last time a sitting president went to Cuba was Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

Leiris202 / Flickr

It’s time to discuss something controversial. A topic so polarizing it has the potential to tear the very fabric of our society: The selfie.

Visit any place that attracts tourists – Pike Place Market, St. Peter’s Basilica, Tokyo’s Shibuya district – and you’ll see people with cameras held aloft. Sometimes those cameras are at the ends of poles. And the people are very often photographing … themselves.

Love them or hate them – and KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley hates them – selfies have become part of our culture.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Though he's now a proud Washingtonian, KPLU's Ed Ronco is a Michigander by birth, and every year at this time, he goes looking for a particular Polish pastry traditionally sold in southeast Michigan on Fat Tuesday. 

Today is Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras. Or, if you’re from where I grew up, in metro Detroit, today is Pączki Day.

Jason Mrachina / Flickr

Groundhog Day was this week and, in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow. Legend says that means an early spring. Whether or not Phil’s prediction is accurate, KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley is thinking about spring break.

The lead-up to a vacation can be stressful, Brumley said.

Handout photo

The blue-haired drag queen stood in the middle of the street in a sequined dress, a quilted rainbow affixed to her bosom. She was angry. So was the protester in front of her, a smaller man carrying a megaphone and a sign reading “REPENT.”

Just before the start of Seattle’s most recent Pride Parade downtown, a group of protestors came marching down Fourth Avenue, urging the crowd to rebuke homosexuality and profess a belief in Jesus Christ.

Mark Healey / Flickr

We have mail! A KPLU listener named Trapper writes:

We're traveling to Norway for a couple weeks with our 2 boys in August (ages 6 and 8). We figured that since we need to layover in Reykjavik, we should take a few days to tour Iceland. Does it make sense to do this for only 2 full days?

“Yes,” says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley. “Iceland is super kid-friendly, it’s a perfect layover, it’s relaxing, and that time of year the days are long and you can spend some time outside.”

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

National Parks date back to 1872, so it might seem a little unusual that they’re celebrating their centennial this year. It’s because the agency that manages them – the U.S. National Park Service – wasn’t created until 1916. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says the more than 400 national parks are great places to spend a vacation, offering nature, and a lot more.

Presidents And Rails

So who gets credit for creating the national parks?

Ed Ronco / KPLU

The World Happiness Report ranks Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark and Norway as the happiest nations. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says his experience has been different. 

“I went to school in Denmark,” he said. “I would not peg any of these countries as what I think of as the happiest places on earth.”

David Schenfeld / Flickr

In the world of global tourism there are the old standbys – global capitals that have been captivating visitors for decades. But KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says there are some emerging destinations that could see more travelers in the new year.

Myanmar

Andrew W. Sieber / Flickr

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley tends toward independent travel in his own life – the kind where you can break with your itinerary for an afternoon, or decide spontaneously to spend an extra day in a city you like.

But this week, he’s talking about cruise travel – which often comes with a very specific itinerary.

“It’s a great way to travel if you have multiple generations with you,” he said. “It’s a turnkey solution to a big family trip. And often times it’s super cheap.”

Repositioning Cruises

Earthbound Expeditions

In Prague, it’s the main square. In Paris, it’s the region around the Louvre. In New York, it’s Times Square. And here in Seattle, it’s the Space Needle or Pike Place Market.

Every city has its tourist hot-spots. And while you wouldn’t want to go to Rome and skip the Colosseum, KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley urges people to look deeper.

Rebecca Boyd / Flickr

We heard a while back from Jessica, a listener who tweeted the following message: “I like #GoingPlaces that involve more than standing/looking at things. But not an adrenaline junky. Interesting trip ideas?”

Good news, Jessica: KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says you don’t have to go far. But you can if you want to. More on that later.

Wintertime Fun

Brumley’s family has been trying cross-country skiing. It’s relatively easy, but still gives you a workout, and it costs way less than its downhill counterpart.

Deanna Keahey / Flickr

Winter in the Northwest is famously gray and drizzly. And that causes many of us to look for a temporary reprieve. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says how far you travel to find it depends entirely on what you’re looking for.

Cold Sunshine

Sometimes, all we need is a little sunshine. If that’s the case, you’re in luck, Brumley says. Here are some nearby recommendations.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Social media, easy-to-carry camera phones, and other technological advances make it easier than ever to stay in touch with friends and family. It’s also easy to stay in touch with work. And that can be a problem when you’re on vacation, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

"I see it wherever I go," Brumley said. "People on beaches in Hawaii or Mexico ... texting or working, and paying more attention to their gadgets and phones than they are to their surroundings and the people sitting with them at that very moment."

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.

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