Jennifer Wing

Special Projects Reporter

Jennifer Wing is an on-call reporter and news host for KPLU. She’s from Philadelphia, but has been living in the Northwest for well over a decade. Jennifer has had many memorable KPLU radio moments over the years, but one that sticks with her is being allowed to watch a young man struggle to learn how to read. Jennifer says, “He'd made it all the way through middle school and most of high school not knowing how. He finally fell into the hands of some adults who cared enough to give him the time and attention he needed.”

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Jennifer Wing

With the Fourth of July fast approaching, many people are making their annual trips to their favorite firework stands to load up for the holiday. This is also the time of year when emergency rooms see hundreds of fireworks-related injuries. 

Boom City, on the Tulalip Indian Reservation north of Everett, has one of the largest selection of fireworks in Washington state. Boom City has more than 130 booths selling everything from sparklers to 500-gram cakes, which is sort of like a fireworks show in a box.

Alex Ragone

This week is the start of summer vacation for a lot of students in the Puget Sound area. It's a time to relax, go to camps and have fun. 

But for children who come from families that don't have a lot of money these next few months are when they often fall behind in their reading skills.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

May 30, 2012 was a beautiful, sunny day. It was also the day when residents and students in North Seattle were told to stay indoors as police searched for the gunman who had opened fire inside a busy café.

When it was all over, five people had been shot dead and the gunman had taken his own life. 

The violence began at Cafe Racer, on the northern edge of Seattle's University District. 

For most kids, the weekends are prime time to play and catch up on cartoons. But for thousands of children across the country and here in the Northwest, Saturdays mean waking up early to head to another school where they sharpen their academic teeth and learn a language that ties them to their cultural heritage. 

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

Will providing  greater access to the arts boost academic achievement? 

Seattle Public Schools is betting it will, and is working to bring arts education into more of its elementary and middle schools.

St. Patrick’s Day holds a special place in Erika Lee Bigelow’s heart. After all, the holiday once brought the Seattle woman a life-changing dose of Irish luck.

Bigelow was 27 and living in Portland when, on a whim, she entered a contest hosted by the beer company Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day. The prize: the winner’s very own pub in Ireland.

“You had to write a 50-word essay finishing the sentence ‘The perfect pint of Guinness...’” she said. “I had been an English major in college and I thought, ‘I can do that.”’

Vivian Maier / Jeffrey Goldstein Collection

Vivian Maier is an artist who is considered one of the greatest street photographers of our time. She was a nanny who lived in Chicago. She never talked about her work when she was alive and became famous for it after she died. That’s when thousands of her negatives were discovered and developed. Some of her work is on display right now at The Photo Center Northwest in Seattle.

Jeffrey Goldstein is a collector and owns the negatives of the photos that are on the walls. We are looking at a black and white picture taken by Vivian Maier. It shows girls, young women, laughing and playing in the shallow waves of Lake Michigan near Chicago in the late 1960's. You can almost feel their joy as they splash each other in the hot sun.

“And this is the north shore, with wealthy households and girls who have most things that they want and they are having fun, with bikinis and they are splashing water and here is Ingar, looking out towards the water and she’s the only one with a white bathing cap on."

Ingar Raymond is a chubby girl. She’s about six or seven years old and Vivian Maier was her nanny. In this picture, Ingar is the only person with her back turned to the camera.

"The lightest areas in the photograph are the clouds and Ingar’s cap. And she’s almost like one of these clouds. Just floating out there in the water by herself."

Joshua Trujillo / AP

Seven hundred and sixteen guns were collected at Saturday’s gun buyback program in Seattle. But officials say they are disturbed by the large number of private gun buyers the event attracted.

Mayor Mike McGinn says he was shocked by what he describes as the “gaggles” of private gun buyers who showed up to tempt people away from the long lines and gift cards and offer them cash for their weapons.

“We had a gun bazaar break out of the streets of Seattle outside of a gun buyback. That was just insane."

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

Seattle’s first effort in 20 years to give people money for turning in guns was so popular on Saturday it ran out of gift cards and had to end early. But even if you were one of the people who didn’t get there early enough, there were lots of opportunities outside the event to get money for your weapons.


Washington State law enforcement officials are slowly becoming familiar with the details of the new marijuana law. It makes it legal for people 21 and older to possess small amounts of the drug.  However one aspect of the initiative could create huge backlogs at the state’s crime labs.

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

After waiting for hours in line last week to obtain marriage licenses, hundreds of same sex couples finally got to tie the knot this weekend.  The ceremonies were made possible by the new voter approved same sex marriage law. 

Inside the sanctuary at Seattle First Baptist Church  twenty five couples, dressed in everything from matching, dapper suits and white dresses to coordinated western cowboy shirts, became a part of Washington State history when Pastor Tim Phillips said these familiar words.

Jeremy Lange / Pike Market Senior Center and Food Bank

The streets of downtown Seattle are filled once a year with hundreds of people singing Christmas carols, or a wacky version of them, for the annual Great Figgy Pudding Street Corner Caroling Competition. Thirty-nine teams are competing for various titles tonight, Friday. Nearly 10,000 spectators came to the event last year.

Some of the teams change the lyrics of traditional tunes to sing about everything from the joys of coffee to solar power. At least one team, the Emerald City Cloggers, dances to Christmas songs.

The race between Democratic U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell and her Republican challenger State Senator Michael Baumgartner is not getting a lot of national attention. Political watchers say Baumgartner is a respected, credible candidate. Despite this, polls are predicting Cantwell will have a very easy path to victory.

Talking about drugs and alcohol with kids is awkward. And now that there is an initiative on November’s ballot that would make marijuana legal for people 21 and older, families might want to figure out what their boundaries will be.  So far, 17 year old Mary Kupper, a junior at Lakeside School, hasn’t gotten that memo yet from her parents Bill and Jane Kupper.

“In recent memory, they’ve never told me ‘don’t do marijuana’. I consider myself a pretty good kid. We’ve had more alcohol talks than pot talks." 

The Associated Press

Ivory, it’s that beautiful creamy white, sometimes even pinkish tooth that can only be had by killing an elephant. Now, A researcher at the University of Washington is helping to put a dent in the illegal ivory trade in Africa. His name is Sam Wasser and he is the director of the center for conservation biology at the University of Washington.

There’s a tiny part of Washington state that is so remote you have to cross an international border twice to get there.

Isolated, surrounded by water and Canadians … why did Point Roberts become a part of Washington and not Canada?

Read more on 'I Wonder Why ... ?'

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

You already know what  recycling  is. Soon you will start hearing more about upcycling. No, it doesn’t involve going up a steep hill on a bike. Upcycling is one of the focuses of this week's Seattle Design Festival and a good example of what it is can be found in an old wooden warehouse in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood. 

Ugochi Alams / Community Fruit Harvest

Isn't it exciting when the plum or fig tree you've been nurturing finally bears fruit? But keeping up with the bounty  and eating it all can be a challenge. Rather than tossing the excess or letting it rot, there are volunteers who are happy to come to your home and harvest what you are willing to give away.

Brian Myrick / The Daily Record

As the Taylor Bridge Fire continues to be battled from the air, people are looking for a safe place to put their horses, cows, llamas and other livestock. The fairgrounds in Ellensburg are holding 150 large animals and counting.

Courtesy of the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery

There are so many ways we can listen to music. Usually the easiest these days is playing tunes on a digital gadget such as a phone or laptop. It wasn’t that long ago when we had to make a trip to the local record store to stock up on the latest hits.

The current exhibit at the Henry Art Gallery, The Record: Contemporary Art And Vinyl, shows how the flat black disk and the sleeve that holds can do so much more than just play music.

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

Here’s an odd fact: Seattle’s dog population is estimated to be around 140,000 and climbing. The number of kids? … 93,000 and dropping.

Seattle’s not such a bad place to raise kids, but based on the 2010 census, roughly 15 percent of our population is 18 or younger. And, when you compare Seattle to Boston, New York City or Chicago our share of little ones looks pretty paltry.

In fact, Seattle is neck and neck with San Francisco, which has the lowest population of children of all major U.S. cities.

So where did all of Seattle’s kids go?

Read more on I Wonder  Why ... ?

A political tale of the little guy going up against the establishment that happened in Seattle more than a decade ago is now on the big screen in movie theaters.

The film Grassroots tells the mostly true story about former monorail champion Grant Cogswell running against incumbent Richard McIver for a seat on the Seattle City Council in 2001.

Andrew_N / Flickr

Have you ever been to Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo and had a difficult time seeing the animals through all of the trees and plants? Well, it’s supposed to be that way. It’s all by design.

The naturalistic animal exhibit was born in Seattle at Woodland Park Zoo nearly 30 years ago.

Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?

Jennifer Wing / KPLU

A tiny space with big ideas. This is the motto of the Telephone Room in Tacoma. It claims to be one of the smallest places in the world where artists display their work.

The Associated Press

The Northwest is home to a variety of companies that have changed how we live our lives.

We spend more now on coffee thanks to Starbucks. Amazon is changing the way we read books. And another company with deep local roots has gotten many of us to buy more of everything: Costco.

Read more on I Wonder Why ...?

Right now the Tacoma Art Museum is the only place on the West Coast where you can see the controversial exhibit, Hide-Seek, Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.

The show covers nearly 150 years of art from the gay and lesbian perspective. It also explores the theory that the gay and straight worlds intermingled more freely before World War II.

Angela Sevin / Flickr

Did you know that in just about every sacred text there is a reference to the environment? From the Bible to the Koran, to ancient Buddhist writings, there are passages that talk about how people have either been destroying the Earth or how we need to do a better job taking care of it.

A new coral work performed by Seattle First Baptist and Plymouth Church focuses entirely on the environment. It's called A Song For Our Planet.

The Academy Awards are coming up this Sunday. There are many wonderful films that don’t get an Oscar. And there are lots of not-so-great movies that win the coveted award.  Seattle’s “20-20” awards look back at past Oscar winners and how they’ve stood the test of time.

Museum of History & Industry

In Seattle, we’re never satisfied: Viaduct out of fashion (… and a little dangerous) – remove it and dig a tunnel; Kingdome no longer fits our vision of a great sports venue – poof!

Remove all the hills because they’re in the way of progress – leveled!

One of the earliest engineers to envision grand changes for Seattle was R.H. Thompson. He’s the guy who leveled the hills in what’s known as the Denny Regrade. To understand our drive to give Seattle a constant make over, we decided to take a closer look at this unsung engineer who dramatically changed the city more than 100 years ago.

Read more at I Wonder Why ... ?

Is Seattle a great but lonely place to live?

The city often ranks pretty high on those lists of the best places to move to – There’s the food, the water, the mountains, the music. But once people get here, they find it’s pretty tough to make friends. There’s even a name for it: The Seattle Freeze.

We wondered: When did the freeze set in? And, how can a newcomer ever break through it? 

Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?