Stories from a radio workshop in Seattle
Transom is a week-long workshop that teaches people how to create a radio story.
This year, ten aspiring radio producers from across the U.S. learned how to tell a story with sound from workshop instructors Rob Rosenthal and Whitney Henry Lester right here at KUOW. The intensive training culminates with a presentation of the participant's work, and they did so to a sold out crowd on January 26, 2019 at The Collective.
As staunch champions of new voices in public media, we are pleased to present to you the following stories. While no two are alike, each one is about a person or a place in Seattle.
"If the facts became sound, people might listen."
Judy Twedt, an atmospheric scientist and professor at the University of Washington, was stumped. She was throwing a lot of numbers at her students, and even though they were listening, it wasn't resonating. Numbers are numbing.
So she came up with an idea — if the facts became sound, maybe people might listen. She started composing music based on climate change data, pairing notes with levels of carbon.
Judy Twedt: The Sounds of Warming
Produced by Michelle Wallar Martin, a freelance journalist who considers herself lucky to live where she can see, on occasion, two mountain ranges and salmon spawning all in one short bike ride.
Her work has appeared in The Denver Post, Alaska Airlines Magazine and on KBCS, among other places. She once envisioned a romantic career studying primates in the jungle. But then a three-week stint planted in one steamy spot spying on howler monkeys left her with a crick in her neck and a suspicion that reporting on the science was more her calling than doing the science. Martin clings to the idea of a free press that shares stories with heart, bravely exposes wrongdoing, and investigates solutions.
"When I can get into that tiny little crevice between joy and suffering ... that's what I live for."
Joe Kye's first memories are in Korean. He moved to Seattle when he was six. The music he composes on his violin and looping pedal is inspired partly by his bi-cultural heritage — how he sometimes feels like an impostor. Through his songs, he hopes to lead listeners to "that tiny little crevice between joy and suffering."
Joe Kye: Musical Misfit
Produced by Kristin Leong, Community Engagement Producer here at KUOW. She is also the founder of ROLL CALL, a TED-Ed innovation project humanizing the culture gaps separating students and teachers. You can find her on Twitter @kristinleong.
"I want to avenge my mother's death, and I've been looking for her killer."
Twenty years ago, Susan Lieu's 38-year-old mom went in for a tummy tuck, the narrowing of her nostrils, and a chin implant. But the plastic surgeon botched the procedures and she died. Today, Lieu performs a one woman show centered around her mom's tragic death.
Susan Lieu: Seeking Vengeance
Produced by David Fleit, a recent New York transplant who is proud to call Seattle his new home. He works in the nonprofit community as a grant manager at the Schultz Family Foundation. When not at work, he can be found exploring the food and landscape across the Pacific Northwest, searching for stories to share and wondering when will be the right time to get a dog.
"I'm going to take care of you and love you."
Pat Hansen has lived on Lake Union since 1979 — that's where her 54-foot sailboat is moored. Over the years, she and her husband would take the boat out to the San Juan Islands and Desolation Sound. The boat was their life, but they wanted to build something together — a house. They bought a lot in 2005 and got to work. But the following year, her husband died. Then the stock market crashed in 2009 and she lost all her savings — and her newly completed home.
Pat Hansen: Lady of the Lake
Produced by Rachel Robertson, a science communicator for Oregon State University’s College of Engineering. She translates technical research for a broad audience through writing, video and podcasts. Her work passion is Engineering Out Loud, a podcast she co-founded, hosts and produces with her talented and hilarious coworkers. Outside of work you can find her on one of her four bikes.
"Some people come in and I can see the relief on their faces that it's me, whether it be because I'm black or I'm a woman or I'm queer. One of those things is going to resonate."
Kelli Wimbley-Dinh realized not everyone has a good experience getting their haircut. Sometimes, it can be a stressful experience, one where people might feel judged. Besides that, most barbershops are male-dominated. So Wimbley-Dinh decided to open a barbershop in Pioneer Square with queer-identifying folks and women in mind.
Kelli Wimbley-Dinh: Everyone’s Barber
Produced by Sam Leeds, a beginning radio producer and a longtime storyteller. During the day she is a media relations specialist at C+C, where she’s worked on campaigns for the Holocaust Center for Humanity, the James Beard Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy and more. At night she’s producing, writing and editing her audio series Bi the Way. You can find more of her work here.
"Waste not, want not."
Kitty McKoon-Hennick got the nickname "The Deck Wench" in 1975 on a schooner on Lake Washington. That nickname has always resonated with the woodworker and adventure-seeker. Believe it or not, she moved to Seattle for the weather.
Kitty McKoon-Hennick: Deck Wench
Produced by April Simpson, who reports on rural issues at Stateline, a news service of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Before joining Pew, April was associate editor of Current, where she covered public broadcasting and nonprofit media. She lives in Washington, D.C.
"Before, my goal was to be a good DJ. But now I want to be a good dad."
Eddie Lu loves DJing. He used to do it all the time before he fell in love, moved to Seattle, and became a stay-at-home dad. Now he imagines ways he can combine his love of mashing beats with his new parental lifestyle.
Eddie Lu: DJ Dad
Produced by Erin Conway-Smith, a Southern Africa correspondent for The Economist. Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, she lived in Beijing before moving to Johannesburg.
Conway-Smith began her career in radio, as a reporter and producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, but since then (until this workshop) has worked in print, with bylines in The Globe and Mail, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent, Times of London, Maclean's magazine and others.
"From the moment you enter the building you become a part of the narrative, too."
The Bureau of Fearless Ideas is a nonprofit that aims to develop young people's writing skills. They have an unconventional method for achieving their goal, and it involves stimulating imaginations to the max.
The Bureau of Fearless Ideas
Produced by Dacia Clay, assistant program director at Classical KING FM and the creator, host, and co-producer of the Classical Classroom podcast, a show she recently brought with her to Seattle from Houston Public Media.
She’s also a host, music writer, and interviewer for KING’s new music project and radio station, Second Inversion. When she’s not trying to figure out how to use recording equipment, she likes to run, write, and figure out how to use outdoors equipment.
"That's why I like doughnuts. It's efficient — I love efficiency."
Mi Kim and her dad would often eat doughnuts from the gas station near his office when she was a kid. Now she makes doughnuts for a living.
Mi Kim: For the love of doughnuts
Produced by Rachel Lerman, a technology reporter with the Associated Press. She previously worked for The Seattle Times and the Puget Sound Business Journal. She enjoys theatre and pretending to know how to kayak.
"It was an easy choice ... to return home, pick up the hammer, and continue what my family has been doing for generations."
For Daniel Swanson, cobbling runs in the family. This is why he decided to continue the legacy:
Daniel Swanson: The Cobbler
Produced by Molly Smith, a reporter for The Monitor, a newspaper in McAllen, Texas on the U.S.-Mexico border, where she covers the cops and courts beat. A Seattle native, Smith has lived in Texas since 2014, and became interested in audio after interning with Austin’s NPR affiliate during graduate school.