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Sound Effect

Storytelling Podcasts

"Sound Effect" is a weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place where we live. The show is hosted by KNKX's Gabriel Spitzer. Each week's show will explore a different theme. 655571


United States


"Sound Effect" is a weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place where we live. The show is hosted by KNKX's Gabriel Spitzer. Each week's show will explore a different theme. 655571








Seattle rapper Porter Ray found an outlet for his heartbreak in his artistry

Author’s note: “It was really moving to hear how Porter Ray overcame adversity on multiple occasions and was able to heal through his music. And to see in person the joy his son brings him was truly inspiring.” (This story originally aired on March 7, 2020.) It’s not all that uncommon for musicians to share their experience with struggle and heartbreak through their songwriting. But for Seattle rapper Porter Ray Sullivan, who goes by Porter Ray on stage, being able to have an outlet like...


Machines from the past, inspiring writers of the future

Author’s note: Valentine’s Day, first-graders, typewriters and an enchanting teacher, Kelye Kneeland, deftly orchestrating it all. This is one of my favorite stories from 2020. I remember driving to Bellevue that day in February to gather the interviews, listening in the car to news headlines about COVID-19. At that point, there were 15 confirmed cases in the United States. We knew the dark clouds were gathering on the horizon but had no idea of what was to come. In normal times, this...


Farewell: Sound Effect, Episode 215

Saying goodbye is hard. But sometimes, it’s an opportunity to celebrate. Today, we celebrate nearly six years and 214 episodes of Sound Effect with one final episode. For our finale, we’ll spend two hours looking back at some of the most memorable stories from the show, which has showcased hundreds of stories that the people from our region have shared with us — and with you. We’ll meet a gay man defiantly carving out space for himself in the country music world, when — to his shock — a...


The storm that would last a lifetime: Activist Charlene Strong remembers how her fight began

This story originally aired on February 13, 2016. In mid-December of 2006, a vicious wind storm hit Western Washington. Gale-force winds knocked out power, knocked down trees and knocked Charlene Strong onto a different life path. When Strong arrived home she found her wife, Kate, trapped inside the basement of their home. Water was rushing in, and as each moment passed, it seemed less and less likely that Kate would survive. Charlene Strong did lose her wife that night and then went on to...


Snowdrift, the lost cat that didn't really want to be found

If you've ever lost a pet and were lucky enough to find it, you know the sharp pain of expecting the worst and then the huge wave of relief when you are reunited with animal. I experienced this roller coaster so many times I lost count. These searches and reunions involved the same animal; a cat named Snowdrift. This clever little cat was technically lost, a lot, and I’m not so certain he ever really wanted to be found, by me.


To punch a celebrity or not to punch a celebrity, that is the question

This story originally aired on November 5, 2016. So when we get emotional about something, we often have to weigh the risks and rewards of acting on those emotions. If someone upsets us, we need to decide if there is enough of a reward in confronting that person, while potentially facing the risks of upsetting that person as well. I found myself in one of those situations at small-town bar in the middle of Washington, upset at a very, very famous young man, and wrote this essay. I feel like...


A cult took away my birthday. This woman got it back.

This story originally aired on June 22, 2019. I was born into the Love Family, a culty commune that existed in Seattle in the 1970s and '80s. The family had a leader, a patriarch named Love, and 300 to 400 brothers and sisters. Their first names represented the virtues that Love saw in them — Purity, Solidity, Imagination, Devotion — and their last names were all Israel. I call it a culty commune because "commune" explains why people joined it, and everything positive they left with. "Cult"...


World's first gay country album was made in Seattle in 1973

This story originally aired on March 31, 2018. In 1973, in the midst of the Stonewall era, a Seattle band called Lavender Country released an eponymous album. The album delivered radical politics with a country twang, and became known as the world's first openly gay country album. In this interview, Patrick Haggerty tells Gabriel Spitzer how the album lived, and died, and lived again. He also explains why the album might never have existed if it weren't for his father--a "hayseed" of a dairy...


How a homeless man helped this writer overcome his fear of the woods

This story originally aired Dec. 22, 2018. Olympic National Park, with its temperate rainforests and stunning views, exerts a natural pull on many Pacific Northwesterners. But it repelled Seattle writer Rosette Royale. To Royale, the park seemed like a damp, mucky, inhospitable place. "I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to haul a 50-pound pack into the wilderness and camp there for days," he said. "It didn't make sense." Then he met Bryant Carlin. Carlin was a vendor for Real...


The music of Prince brings two people together in an unlikely way

This story originally aired on September 2, 2017. Robbie Luna is a man of many hats, a Seattle area carpenter by day, and by night he fronts two bands, one of which is a Prince cover band called " Purple Mane ." With Prince's 2016 death the band suddenly found themselves carrying the weight of being both a fun sexy party band, while also being a respectful tribute to a beloved musical genius. No one is better suited for that challenge than Robbie. His performance as Prince is impeccable, he...


The Mariner who blew the ball foul also made a funk hit about the Kingdome

This story originally aired on January 17, 2o20. Former Mariners infielder Lenny Randle is best remembered in Seattle for a single play. On May 27, 1981, he got on his hands and knees and blew a slow rolling ground ball out of bounds. It was one of the few notable things that happened to the Mariners in their early years. That year was a mediocre season, in a series of other mediocre seasons by a mediocre baseball team, but Randle was involved in another notable off-field incident in 1981 —...


Bullying motivated this country star to excel on the field and on the stage

This story originally aired on November 22, 2019. At first glance, “hidden” is not the word you’d use for Chance McKinney’s talents. As an athlete in high school and college, he got plenty of recognition. “I got a track scholarship to throw (javelin), and went to a Pac-12 school...I mean I kept qualifying for the Olympic trials,” said McKinney. But this very capable guy has a whole other set of gifts that weren’t so obvious. They emerged years later, when he was teaching high school math in...


An indie-rock essay on dementia from Seattle-based band, 'Great Grandpa'

This story originally aired on November 16, 2019. The sheer physicality of aging and dying are things we try not to think about, so it’s especially striking when these subjects turn up in unexpected places — say, your indie rock playlist. Carrie Goodwin plays bass for the Seattle-based band Great Grandpa , and she also happens to be a nursing student. In her song “Rosalie,” Goodwin introduces us to someone losing her grip on life — and maybe gets us a little closer to wrapping our brains...


Seattle Band Map is the 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon' for Northwest musicians

This story originally aired on November 9, 2019. Rachel Ratner is in a band called Wimps. She’s also a software engineer and a brand new mother — and the creator of the Seattle Band Map . “I was in a band called Partman Parthorse, and that’s where the idea started," Rachel says. "I remember I was talking to one of my friends about the band and how I was able to, through other people I played music with, connect my band to my friends’ bands, and we started to diagram them out, like a six...


Family Matters: Sound Effect, Episode 204

This show originally aired on February 14, 2020. This week on Sound Effect, our theme is “Family Matters.” First, we meet one Indipino woman and learn how she connected to her roots on Bainbridge Island. Then, we meet a mother and author who is sharing her son’s story of addiction as a cautionary tale for other parents. We meet a woman who might have been forbidden from having children a century ago — and we meet her daughter. Grieving parents turn a tragedy into something constructive . And...


For Bainbridge Island's Indipinos, it's time to 'Honor Thy Mother'

This story originally aired on February 14, 2020. Gina Corpuz stands off New Brooklyn road on Bainbridge Island, on land that has been in her family for two generations. She looks in every direction, and sees the history of the Indipino community. “The Romeros, who lived down the road, there were 12 children,” Gina says. “And then up the hill is where the Rapada children grew up, and there were 13 children in their family.” Indipino stands for Indigenous and Filipino. It's a community that...


'I'm the boogeyman': Mother shares story of son's addiction as cautionary tale to parents

This story originally aired on February 14, 2020. Seattle author Paula Becker has a specific audience in mind for her latest book, "A House on Stilts, Mothering in the Age of Opioid Addiction." “I really want people who have kids of about 11 and 12 to read this book, because I think that the trick is and the challenge is to try not to let the kid tumble over into addiction," Becker said. "So, when they're experimenting is the time to try every possible way to get them back.” Becker writes...


After a devastating fire, grieving parents launch mission to install thousands of smoke detectors

This story originally aired on February 14, 2020. Bonnie Gibson says her son Greg’s musical talent emerged very early on. “I could just see from a young age that he had unusual rhythm. Which, now, I go, did I really want those drums in my basement?” she said. “But it was cute and fun to see a little kid kind of find himself.” Greg did find himself in music. By high school, he was already involved in the business side, booking bands. “I would get a phone call from somebody in, like, Chicago...


'Incredibly insensitive': How a proposal to honor the childless tanked on Bainbridge Island

This story originally aired on February 14, 2020. It started over a few glasses of wine, with friends passing around a smartphone and sharing views of a sketch by late-night comedian Bill Maher. The idea presented there, for a holiday on par with those honoring moms and dads, often provokes laughter. “I Didn’t Reproduce Day” would celebrate single people, aunts and uncles who help out — and not just by being allies to parents or mentors to young people. Maher makes the case that people who...


This mother and scholar of eugenics says she would have been deemed 'defective' a century ago

This story originally aired on February 14, 2020. Ivanonva Smith spent the first chunk of her life in an institutional orphanage in Soviet-controlled Latvia. She doesn’t remember having any friends or toys, or anything to do. “I would just stare at a light and watch the little floaters, those little floaters you get in your eyes, and that was my entertainment,” she said. Ivanova was born with intellectual and developmental disabilities. By the time she was adopted at age 5, she still didn’t...