Sound Effect

Saturdays at 10 a.m. - 11 a.m.

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. 

Sound Effect is on iTunes. Subscribe to our podcast.

Got a story idea? Email us at soundeffect@kplu.org.

 

Alexander Synaptic / Flickr

This week Sound Effect brings us stories of coming out of the darkness.

‘Bathed In Light’

Imagine being in a cramped, sunless space for three whole months and then emerging into the light. That’s exactly what Petty Officer Steve Watkins experiences at the end of a submarine patrol at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. To kick off our show, he tells us about climbing the 20-foot ladder toward the pinprick of light at the top, and bursting out into fresh air. “It’s just the most amazing experiences,” he said, “just to be bathed in light.”

Courtesy of The Blind Cafe

This week on Sound Effect our theme is “Out of the Darkness,” but KPLU’s Ed Ronco and Ariel Van Cleave found that going into the darkness can shed a lot of light on the world around you, and even your own personality.

The Blind Café is a pop-up event that travels the country, offering guests the chance to have dinner in the dark. Not candlelight. Not a dimly lit room. We’re talking total, 100 percent, pitch black.

Courtesy of Jenny Heddin

Mental illness has long carried a stigma in society. In 2015, Olympia resident Jenny Heddin found herself face to face with the consequences of that.

The year started off great for Jenny. She had just gotten married to the love of her life. Matt Heddin was a wetlands biologist, a nature lover, and a caring partner. In early 2015, Matt and Jenny had a baby on the way.

Courtesy of Jason Schmidt

Jason Schmidt was three years old when police barged into his house and arrested his father for selling cocaine. “That was a very confusing evening for me,” said Schmidt, a Seattle author. It turned out to be just one episode in a chaotic childhood, where love and warmth mingled with drugs, violence and crime.

(Credit Gabriel Spitzer)

Kristi Hamilton had hit rock bottom. After the passing of her mother, repossession of her house, and a long stretch of severe drug and alcohol abuse, she found herself homeless. She found herself sleeping anywhere she could — a friend's house, her car, shelters, or behind a grocery store. But between a renewed faith and winning what is the equivalent of a lottery ticket if you are homeless, Hamilton pulled herself out of the darkness, and returned to a life filled with sobriety and a roof over her head.

Michal Lebl

This week on Sound Effect we share stories of body language and the different ways we express ourselves with, and about, our bodies.

The Nude Model

As Katrina Spade, the founder and executive director of Urban Death Project, watched her children grow rapidly, it sank in that she was aging just as quickly — and death was on the same fast track.

A Mother And Daughter Discuss Their Abortions

May 21, 2016
Samie Detzer

There is an old rule of etiquette that cautions to never discuss politics, religion or sex in polite company; and when one brings up abortion they hit all three marks.

Seattle-based activists Amelia Bonow and Lindy West have been pushing for more conversations about abortion with the social media campaign #shoutyourabortion. The campaign was created as a direct response to the GOP push to defund Planned Parenthood.

Polite or not, many people are discussing abortion more loudly and more publicly than before.

(Courtesy Heather Corinna)

Some conversations about your body can be more difficult to have than others, especially when it comes to involving parents in that conversation.

When you’re a teenager, and the topic is sex, the awkwardness level grows exponentially. Sex-ed classes can be helpful, but let’s be honest, teens aren’t asking the questions they really want to ask because they're surrounded by their peers.

Jen Owen / E-NABLE

In the basement of a house in Burien, Peregrine Hawthorn shows me his three hands dangling from a chord. He loves them. He assembled them himself. They look like robot hands.

The components of each hand were made by a 3-D printer for about $50 with the help of an organization called E-NABLE. This is much cheaper than a high tech prosthetic hand which can cost more than $100,000.

Hawthorn, who is in his early 20s, calls one of the hands that dangles from the line the "Cyborg Beast."

Aaron D'Errico

Aaron D'Errico had one dream as a child — to be a soccer star in the same manner as his father, David D'Errico, an original Seattle Sounder and former U.S. Men's National Team captain. 

But where Aaron's dreams went, his body couldn't follow. Born with cerebral palsy, Aaron was never going to be a much of a soccer player, much less a professional. That wasn't about to stop him, however.

The Friday Harbor man put pen to paper and created Ammon Walker, a comic book superhero and super-spy who uses his status as a professional soccer star as his cover. Like Aaron, Ammon has cerebral palsy. But unlike his creator, Ammon has developed technology that allows his body to overcome it.

(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

This week Sound Effect takes a look at some interesting people and "that other thing they do."

Paul Allen Band

We begin by talking to KPLU All Blues host John Kessler about covering the release of Paul Allen's blues/rock album. Yes, Microsoft co-founder and Seahawks owner also plays the guitar, and we hear how he lined up some musical all-stars for his recording project.

Cemetery Tree-nabber

(Courtesy Brittany Cox)

Brittany Cox has had a pretty interesting career. She's a watchmaker and expert on antique clockwork and automata (mechanically-coded, self-operating machines). But just after Christmas in 2008, she found her "other thing."

Cox was driving to Sea-Tac airport to pick up a friend. She got there a little early and the cell phone waiting lot was full, so she decided to drive around to kill some time.  

Soon she found herself at a cemetery near the airport.  It was so close, in fact, that she could see the control tower and watch planes take off and land.

Susie Lee Sculpts Dating With Siren

May 14, 2016

After divorcing her partner, Susie Lee found herself once again on the dating scene. But she discovered romance had a new dimension, and it was a big one – the internet. Rather than be simply discouraged by the aspects of online dating she found dehumanizing, she created her own dating app, called Siren, together with co-founder Katrina Hess.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Bob Kramer found his love for knives after he decided to leave the circus.

He landed a job in the kitchen at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle, and realized he was fascinated by the craftsmanship that went into a good knife.

Rather than stay a knife hobbyist, Kramer decided to set out on a course to become one of the world's most renowned knife makers.

Gabriel Spitzer traveled to Olympia to talk with Bob Kramer about his not-so-pointed path toward making knives from meteorites. 

Dick Stein's Decorum Forum: Your Northwest Etiquette Queries Answered

May 14, 2016
Dick Stein

Pacific Northwesterners are not known for being blunt. Sometimes our shyness can get in the way of decorum. Here to help is KPLU’s advice expert Dick Stein to answers etiquette questions from Sound Effect listeners.

 

Courtesy of Michele Mulholand

For a brief period in the 1970s, KPLU's own production manager Nick Morrison ran a strip club in downtown Seattle. It was called The New Paris Follies and it employed a number of dancers including local burlesque favorite, Eartha Quake. She heard Morrison talking about his time at The New Paris Follies on KPLU and decided to call in about her own story.

Flickr

This week Sound Effect dips into the world of startups to understand what’s so exciting, and so maddening, about working in a DIY enterprise.

Warrior Pose

We begin by meeting Othmane Rahmouni, co-founder and CEO of Yoga Panda. It is, to use a startup cliché, Uber for yoga. Rahmouni explains to Gabriel Spitzer what drives him to take risks as an entrepreneur. They then repair to a hot yoga studio, where Rahmouni makes a heroic show of not laughing while Gabriel attempts the poses.

Job-Title Bingo

Chelon Lone Photography

Being involved in a startup can be exhausting, expensive, stressful and risky. As a result, the people involved in such ventures can often be found taking their work, and themselves, pretty seriously.

Bridget Quigg is a Seattle writer who has worked in the tech world for a decade.  She recently completed the run of her one-woman show "Techlandia," which skewers startup culture — with love. 

(credit Sam McHale)

The concept started in a coffee shop a block away from their school. The first run of 65 shirts sold out in under an hour, next to a table of Girl Scouts selling cookies outside the cafeteria. Less than two weeks later, more than a thousand requests poured in for a t-shirt that began as a high school class assignment.

Greta Zorn, Alex White and Taya Christianson found that, without meaning to, they had a startup on their hands. The three are seniors at Seattle's Northwest School, and they created the punky t-shirt at the center of this story.

Courtesy of Jonathan Sposato

It’s no secret that gender equality is an issue for the tech and startup world. According to the tech data firm, CrunchBase , only about 15 percent of U.S. startups that received investor funding from 2009 to 2015 had at least one female founder.

Courtesy of Monica Washington

K. Wyking Garrett always had an entrepreneurial spirit. As a young kid, he started his own car wash business. In high school, he launched a clothing line. Garrett always had strong role models in business, especially his grandfather.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Growing up in Seattle in the 1930s, it was Bonnie Buckingham’s brothers who played the guitar. But Bonnie coveted it, and would take any opportunity to get her hands on the instrument. Soon, she says, “they couldn’t get it away from me.” So began the musical life of the woman who would become known as Bonnie Guitar.

Bonnie showed herself to be a prodigy and, in spite of having hardly any female role models, she busied herself playing local gigs and slowly getting better and better. 

Jayel Aheram / Flickr

This week on Sound Effect we present stories of war and peace.

Ground Zero

Courteosy of Tom Rogers

Naval base Kitsap-Bangor, located on the Kitsap Peninsula is one of only two military bases in the United States that houses strategic nuclear weapon facilities. It's home to several Trident submarines, which are armed with nuclear weapons. The nuclear capabilities of these submarines have long made the naval base a focus of controversy and protest.

Courtesy of Vanessa Davids

Vanessa Davids did most of her military service “inside the wire,” as an Arabic translator on a base in Iraq. Her job called on her to translate audio and video recordings, in hopes of gathering intelligence, foiling attacks and probing enemy action. She translated bomb plots, beheadings, even in some cases child pornography. As a result, she got an intimate, and dark, perspective on human nature.

“Doing the work that I did, it really seemed to me at the time that evil was in every single person, and it was just a matter of how well they hid it from you,” Davids said.

(Credit Anders Beer Wilse/Public Domain)

During World War II, in a frozen wilderness in southern Norway, on the edge of an icy cliff sat a hydroelectric plant called Vemork. This winter fortress was the center of some of the most important sabotage efforts of the war.

That’s because besides electricity, the plant manufactured a rare substance Hitler needed for an atomic bomb: heavy water. The allies thought that if Hitler got his hands on this stuff, the Germans could win the war. So they wanted to destroy the plant. And their first plan was an outright air attack.

Woody Guthrie, often considered America's greatest folk icon, authored hundreds of ballads during his lifetime. His most famous song "This Land is Your Land," like many of his songs, sketched both the political and geographic American landscape.

"When the sun come shining, then I was strolling
In wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling
The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me"

Courtesy Faried Alani

As an orthopedic surgeon in Iraq, Dr. Faried Alani had a highly successful career working at a hospital and a prosperous, happy life with his wife and two daughters. Many of the people he operated on were victims of bombs and bullets, but he forced himself to keep the violence at a distance emotionally, in order to do his job more effectively. 

But that changed one evening, as Alani was leaving work. 

Credit Ken Wilcox via Flickr

This week Sound Effect brings us stories of rivalries.

Rivalries In Sports

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