SoundQs | KUOW News and Information

SoundQs

SoundQs is a series of stories based on listener questions (formerly known as Local Wonder).

At KUOW, stories start with your curiosity. So, what do you want our reporters to investigate? Do you have questions about what’s happening in the news? Is there something you’ve always wondered about our region? We’re listening. Send us your SoundQs, and a KUOW journalist may follow up.

How to Submit a Question

Use the form below, email it to us at soundqs@KUOW.org, or share it on social media and tag @KUOW / #SoundQs.

 

Nikk Wong lives on North Beacon Hill and wonders if a plane might one day crash on his house.
KUOW Photos / Megan Farmer

Seattleites worry a lot about disasters. Earthquakes, landslides, forest fires (or at least the smoke from them) ...

Then there's the concern that a plane might land on your head.

Orca whale, Tahlequah or J35, carrying her dead calf
Photo courtesy of Michael Weiss, Center for Whale Research

It's now been nine days that a J-pod orca mother has been carrying her dead calf on her head, refusing to let it sink.

Kim Malcolm talks with Dr. Deborah Giles about how individuals can help with the recovery of southern resident killer whales. Giles is a killer whale biologist with the University of Washington's Center for Conservation Biology.

Here are three of Giles' suggestions:

Traffic on Second Avenue in downtown Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Oran Viriyincy (CC-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1irsJLd

“Why are Seattle drivers the worst?”

That’s a question we get a lot from listeners.

But when cities are ranked by number of accidents, speeding tickets, or DUIs, Seattle rarely comes in first.

So why do Seattleites feel like they’re surrounded by bad drivers?

Natasha Weled was present for the walk-through of her apartment after she moved out. That proved vital for winning her case against her landlord, Allied Residential, because she was able to show the discrepancy between the form she received after the walk
Courtesy of Natasha Weled

Natasha Weled was told she would get back the security deposit she put down on a two-bedroom apartment in Bellevue. Instead she got a letter from a debt collections agency. 

Weled sued her former landlord, Allied Residential, and won. These are her tips for tenant success.

Tenants should not pay for normal wear and tear when they move out of rental housing. Attorney Scott Crain of Northwest Justice Project recommends documenting when, for example, a stove stops working as a result of normal use. Keep photos and send written notice to your landlord, he said.  

Natasha and Brent Weled outside the courthouse in Issaquah, where they presented a case against Allied Residential, their former landlord.
KUOW Photo/Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Natasha Weled was on guard.

It was February, and she was moving out of her two-bedroom apartment in Bellevue, and the property manager had stood her up for the final walk-through — twice.


Citizen scientists count butterflies on Sauk Mountain, in the North Cascades.
Eilís O'Neill/KUOW-EarthFix Photo

Jean Bradbury lives in northeast Seattle. She’s an artist, and she loves swallowtail butterflies.

“These guys are big—like we think of a monarch, maybe—big like the palm of your hand,” Bradbury says. “They’re pale bright yellow. Very, very beautiful.”

She says she hasn't seen many swallowtail butterflies in Seattle before, but this summer she sees them every day.


Linus Sticklin, age 7, wowed the crowd with his knowledge of natural disasters.
KUOW Photo/Kristin Leong

A catastrophe-focused crowd turned out last night for KUOW’s Disaster Night! — a quiz show about natural disasters (and disaster movies), at the Royal Room in Columbia City. 

More Hall on the University of Washington campus, left, and Damage of 7.1 earthquake in Mexico, September 2017.
University of Washington/http://pcad.lib.washington.edu/image/745/ & Credit Courtesy of Miyamoto International

When the next major earthquake roils our region, University of Washington’s civil engineers and seismic experts will not be safe.


Staying cool in the International Fountain at Seattle Center is one way to beat the heat.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

If you don’t have air conditioning like most of Seattle, what’s the best way to cool your home? 

How risky is it to swim in Washington lakes?

Jul 10, 2018
Jackson Ludwig loves to swim in Washington lakes.
KUOW-Earthfix Photo/Eilis O'Neill

Jackson Ludwig loves lakes.

“Where I was from — Moscow, Idaho — there’s not a lot of lakes to swim. And so being here was like, ‘Oh my God, there’s all these lakes I can swim in!’” Ludwig said. “Once you have that, going back to an indoor pool is like, ‘Hm, I don’t really like this as much.’”


An LED street light in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Seattle street lights are, it appears, bad for spiders.

And you and me and other wildlife — the intense white-blue light can disrupt the circadian rhythms of anyone beneath its glare.

A stroller was used to hold up a sign during the Solidarity Day protest outside of the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac.
Daniel Berman for KUOW

Question: “I’m a new mom to a six-month-old baby, and hearing how desperately these women missed their children, and vice versa, made me feel heartbroken and ashamed of our country,” listener Kari Blankenship wrote.  

She and other KUOW listeners have been asking what they can do to help locally detained parents. 

Passengers make their way through security at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Want to cut the long lines at the Seattle-Tacoma airport this summer?  All you have to do is hand over scans of your face, eyes and fingerprints to a private company called CLEAR. 

Oh, and $179.


KUOW listener Audrey Farmer was curious about why escalators on her commute seem to break down so often.
KUOW Photo/Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

If it feels to you like certain light rail escalators tend to break down often, you’re not wrong. Some escalators break so frequently, in fact, that Sound Transit is paying more than half of what it originally spent on those escalators in order to fix them.


Seattle has three times the number of households in the top 1 percent as the national average according to Mark Long, a professor in the Evans School at the University of Washington
KUOW Graphic/Teodora Popescu

Seattle got richer in the last decade. You know that.

But how many of those in the top 1 percent income bracket live here?

Hikers at Rattlesnake Ledge. The number of visitors to this trail have been increasing over the last years.
Flickr Photo/Matt Kowalczyk (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/6unaK9

At 2 o’clock on a recent Friday afternoon, the parking lot at the Mailbox Peak trailhead was almost full. This much was to be expected: Mailbox is a popular hike in the Middle Fork Valley, just outside of North Bend.


Courtesy of Jacob Wesley Sutton

In the wake of school shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida this year, parents are asking: "How do I talk to my child about mass shootings?"

KUOW helped answer that question with a story we did in March.


Washington State Trooper Rick Johnson
KUOW Photo/Katherine Banwell

State Trooper Rick Johnson has heard some curious excuses from people driving in the HOV lane.

"I forgot I didn’t have my kids in the car.”

“I consider my dog/golden retriever a person.”

Others are more brazen: “We’ve confiscated a number of mannequins,” he said.


Carol Duescher currently lives in her car.
KUOW photo/David Hyde

The number of chronically homeless people in King County is up 28 percent this year, according to the latest look at the homeless population, which was released today.  

Compare that to the experience in Utah, which slashed chronic homelessness over a 10-year period. "I think Seattle could do the same thing, if that was a priority," said Joe Camacho, who lives in a shelter near the Space Needle.


Seattle traffic was ranked 9th worst in the country in 2017, according to INRIX
KUOW Photos / Megan Farmer

It was 8:30 a.m., and I was crawling south on Interstate 5 in gummy Seattle commuter traffic. 


The newly constructed Arbora Court Apartments, with 133 units, is shown on Monday, April 23, 2018, in Seattle. Forty of the apartments have been set aside for families transitioning out of homelessness.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Three years ago, the city told developers: You can either pay into a fund or build affordable housing units yourselves.

Listener Andrew Chinnici heard about that on KUOW and wanted to know: How is it working out?

Well, Andrew, so far there are permits for just 19 units through this fund.

Henry lives in Belltown, where he likes to cuddle, go for walks, and poop.
KUOW Photo/Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Everybody poops, especially your pooch.

Seattle pets generate over 80,000 pounds of poop a day, according to Seattle Public Utilities. That’s 40 poop tons — the weight of a fire truck.

MV Puyallup is one of the biggest ferries in the fleet
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Ferries have been running a few minutes behind, and listener Nick Wilson wanted to know what was up.

Turns out ferries can reduce CO2 emissions significantly by laying off the throttle just a bit. Like, equivalent to taking more than 1,200 cars off the road.


3 reasons we're farming Atlantic salmon in Puget Sound

Apr 30, 2018
Nathan Cultee dumps 16 farm-raised Atlantic salmon into a container on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, at Home Port Seafood in Bellingham.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Every time I report on the Great Atlantic Salmon Escape of 2017, someone asks me the same question: Why don’t we just farm Pacific salmon species in Puget Sound?

Listener Michael Hrankowski wrote in recently with that exact question. Well, here’s why not.

Seattle Sounders fans burn a Portland Timbers scarf during the 'March to the Match' before an MLS soccer match, Saturday, March 16, 2013, in Seattle.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

The unofficial chants of Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders fans can sometimes get a little, shall we say, impolite? 

Bike share bikes in Seattle
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Kim Malcolm talks with Dr. Frederick Rivara about whether the increasing popularity of bike sharing has led to more head injuries. Dr. Rivara is professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington.

This interview was inspired by a question from KUOW listener Patricia Boiko.

Fifth grader Nina Perry at KUOW Public Radio in Seattle
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Eleven-year-old Nina Parry noticed a man sitting outside her neighborhood QFC. She and her mom brought him food. But there were others.

“Ever since I can remember, I've been seeing homeless people asking for money or just sitting in the streets being cold,” she said.


An Uber driver near the San Francisco International Airport.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Last spring, an Uber heading north in Seattle hit another car so hard it was cut in half

That brings us to today's KUOW listener question: Who has more insurance coverage to handle your medical bills in case of a crash — an Uber driver or a taxi driver? 


Recology employee Zakarya Sales works at the final quality control station, removing any visibly obvious contaminants from sorted bales, at the Recology Materials Recovery Facility on Tuesday, October 31, 2017, on S. Idaho St., in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Have you wondered where your recycling goes once it's picked up? A KUOW listener was curious about that, so we asked Hans Van Dusen, the solid waste contracts manager at Seattle Public Utilities.

He tells Kim Malcolm about the journey our cans and paper takes. 


Gabino Abarca was able to attend the University of Washington thanks to state lottery funds.
KUOW Photos/Megan Farmer

Retired school teacher Michael Hobson is displeased by how much his property tax is increasing, even though lawmakers did it to fully fund public schools.

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