KUOW Presents

No longer on air.
Joshua McNichols

KUOW Presents connects listeners to a diversity of stories and perspectives from around the Pacific Northwest and around the world on topics that matter to our daily lives.

To find stories by KUOW Presents older than October 15, 2012, go to www2.kuow.org and select "KUOW Presents" from the show dropdown menu in the search function.

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Zeppelin Comeback
1:26 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

A New Kind Of Airship May Herald Return To The Age Of Dirigibles

The Aeroscraft.
Credit Aeros

The 1920s and 1930s are sometimes called "the age of the dirigible." Dirigibles were giant, steerable blimps and zeppelins, and they used to be a popular way to transport crowds of people from place to place. But then there was the fiery Hindenburg disaster. And during wars airplanes could easily shoot them down. After that airships were pretty much reduced to flying above football games and other kinds of surveillance.

A Persistent Problem Overcome

Dirigibles never regained popularity because of a basic problem: they could only dock at special places where they could be tied down. Otherwise, they'd spring up into the air the moment you off loaded the cargo.

Now engineers have overcome that problem by simply compressing the helium upon landing. It's such a simple fix that its inventors are kicking themselves for not having thought of it sooner, and because dirigibles can lift extremely heavy loads much more efficiently than airplanes, the new airship's inventors believe we could see a new age of dirigibles.

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, May 30:

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1:41 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

The Boarding School At The Top Of The World

Inuit family portrait, 1854.
Credit Flickr photo/ paukraus

Margaret grew up in the arctic regions of Northern Canada. Her childhood was happy. She played with caribou hide balls and snacked on dried beluga whale skin. Her family slept together in a one room tent, surrounded by icebergs and kept warm with polar bear fur blankets. 

At night, her sister would read her stories in a foreign tongue. The sister had picked up English in a Christian boarding school. Margaret wanted to learn to speak this way, too. So she signed up for school. Unfortunately, she didn't realize she was agreeing to be torn from her family and her culture and to spend her days doing unending chores at an isolated boarding school.

She had to let her parents know. But how? Listen to find out.

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, May 29:

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Redefining Portraiture
1:18 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

A Portrait In Video

The Smithsonian Institution held a contest recently to see who could create the best portrait. The competition drew lots of engaging photos and paintings. But contest winner Bo Gehring took a completely different approach. A video camera pans slowly over his subject, almost like an MRI machine, with the lens only inches above her body. It begins with her feet and ends with her face. The portrait's soundtrack is a piece of music chosen by the subject.

Above you can see Gehring's winning entry, a portrait of Jessica Wickham. Her chosen music was Arvo Pärt's “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten.”

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, May 28:

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Grassroots Diplomacy
1:38 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

South Korean Group Building Bridges With The North

Spectators peek at North Korea from the South.
Credit Flickr photo/ Chasing Donguri

North Korea announced it would take China's advice and enter talks with the United States. But that doesn't seem likely because the United States says no talks can happen until North Korea takes steps to denuclearize. But North Korea insists on holding on to its nuclear weapons.

One group in Seoul, South Korea, isn't waiting around for the diplomats to work things out. This group's members hope to build bridges with the North now. They want ordinary people on either side of the border to meet up. Their aim: to break down stereotypes and build relationships between North and South Koreans from the grassroots up.

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, May 23:

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Adolescent Creativity
1:18 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Imaginary Friends Forever

"Deven," April 5, 2007. The words read: "Evil. It has lasers. Lasers! It can fly."
Flickr Photo/Matt LeClair

Did you ever have an imaginary friend? Maybe a furry blue monster who hates stop signs or a chattering fairy that hides in your pocket and steals bites of your breakfast cereal? In the past, many people thought imaginary friends were bad and that they indicated some kind of mental anxiety. In the movies, kids confide in imaginary friends when grown-ups fail to pay attention. But now, we know better: kids with imaginary friends are simply creative.

Scroll through the slideshow to see the imaginary friends that a group of elementary children drew up, along with the students' descriptions of the unique traits of each. And if you think pictures of imaginary friends are cool, wait until you hear them on the radio.

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, May 22:

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Land Development Loophole
1:38 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Public Spaces That Appear Private

View of ferry from the POPOS at 925 4th Ave

In some parts of Seattle and San Francisco, developers can build more densely than the law would typically allow if they build what's called a POPOS. That's a Privately-Owned, Public Open Space. It's kind of like a park, only it's not. There are stricter limits on what kind of behaviors will be tolerated. So exactly how public is this public amenity? Today on KUOW Presents, 99% Invisible producer Stephanie Foo tries to get kicked out of one of San Francisco's POPOS.

Seattle's POPOS can be difficult to find. So we've provided a map for you:

Map credit: Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata's office

View Seattle's Privately Owned Public Spaces in a larger map

Full list of stories on KUOW Presents, May 21:

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9:00 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Marjorie Manwaring's "Letter From Zelda"

Writer Zelda Fitzgerald
Credit WikiMedia

In "Letter from Zelda," poet Marjorie Manwaring creates an imaginary letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, written by his wife Zelda from her room in a mental hospital.

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Puget Sound
12:42 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Dipping Below The Surface Of Puget Sound

An octopus in Puget Sound
Credit Flickr photo/ cwilso

Most of us walk around on the surface of the earth, thinking that's all there is. But divers know better. There's just as much going on under the water as there is on land. We hear how dipping below the surface completely changed one diver's perspective.

This unusual interview comes from the podcast Here Be Monsters. Its creator, Jeff Emtman, is one of the recipients of KUOW's Program Venture Fund. He'll be moving to Seattle to do some reporting for us this summer.

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, May 20:

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Politics Made Local
1:41 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Lenin's Popularity Waning In Moscow And Seattle's Fremont Neighborhood

Lenin statue in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood.
Credit KUOW Photo

The Moscow mausoleum where you can see Vladimir Lenin's body has reopened, following a major renovation project. But most Russians now say it's time Lenin received a proper burial — in the ground.

Perhaps they've come to believe, as Americans seem to believe, that it's a little creepy to have someone's body preserved with chemicals and put on display for all to see. It makes him seem like some character from a fairy tale, like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty.

KUOW headed over to what may be the only publicly displayed statue of Lenin in America, in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood, to see how Lenin's reputation is faring here.

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, May 17:

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1:29 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Liberia: America's Original Self-Deportation Scheme

A man peers through a door in Liberia.
Credit Flickr photo/ kennethharper

In the decades leading up to the civil war, white Americans uncomfortable with the rising numbers of free blacks came up with a plan. Get rid of them. Specifically, convince them to resettle in Liberia. It was America's original "self-deportation" scheme. But things didn't go exactly according to plan.

List of stories from KUOW Presents,  May 15:

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11:56 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Poet Colleen McElroy On "Crossing Oceans"

Author Colleen McElroy
Credit Ingrid Pape-Sheldon

One of the most persistent stories about America — that it was made by immigrants fleeing "the old country" — is also one of the most incomplete. And since stories shape our perception of reality, poet Colleen McElroy is intent on telling another aspect of America's story in "Crossing Oceans."  The poem appears in her most recent collection "Here I Throw Down My Heart" (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012).

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Local Icons
1:43 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Space Needle Was Once Considered A Monstrosity By Architecture Critics

Knute Berger at his writer's table in the Space Needle.
Credit Tom Reese Photography

Correction: The original broadcast of this story dated Knute Berger’s year in residence at the Space Needle as 2012. In fact, it was most of 2011.

Seattle's Space Needle turned 50 years old last year. It was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. The public loved it immediately. But the architectural critics of the time were much less enthusiastic. They called it a monstrosity. They called it pretentious. They called it vulgar.

Knute Berger spent much of 2011 sitting at a table in the Space Needle where he worked as its writer in residence. His private area was roped off by those dividers they use to line people up at the movie theater. Sometimes tourists would stop and ogle him, as if he were an exhibit.

Knute sympathizes with those tourists. He’s loved the Space Needle since he first saw it under construction in 1961. He tells us why the critics hated it so much, and how they gradually came to accept it for what it was: an experiment with new materials and an unlikely symbol of optimism from an age when people were building bomb shelters in fear of a Soviet nuclear attack.

Knute Berger is the author of "Space Needle: The Spirit Of Seattle." He and other journalists gather to review the news of the week every Friday at 10:00 a.m. on KUOW.

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, May 14:

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Space Habitats
1:17 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Space Oddity Chris Hadfield Falls To Earth Tonight

One of Chris Hadfield's snapshots of earth from the International Space Station. Shown here is a portion of the Black Sea.
Credit Chris Hadfield / NASA

Today, the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield begins his return to Earth. But during the past six months he's spent at the international space station, he's become a big celebrity, even for an astronaut. That's because he posts his observations from space on twitter, along with photos of places on Earth as he passes overhead. Yesterday, he tweeted a farewell message to his 800,000 twitter followers. The tweet included a link to him singing a version of David Bowie's song, "Space Oddity."

Other stories on KUOW Presents, May 13:

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Gun Violence
1:49 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Can Trauma Be Healed Through Design?

Columbine High School
Credit Flickr photo/ travellingzenwolf

Last week, a task force made up of elected officials prepared to make the final decision on what to do with Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. They agreed they had to do something. After all, the building was full of the memories of the students killed there in December. But should they remodel it? Tear it down and build somewhere else?

For now, the students are crammed into other schools. But economic reality and the school district's space limitations have forced them to face the painful fact: Something had to be done with Sandy Hook.

In a packed meeting, parents, teachers and staff gave emotional testimony. In the end, the task force put off the decision. You just can't rush these things.

Sharing Advice

After the death of a loved one, many of us face the painful drudgery of picking up the pieces of a life. We arrange funerals. We read through the will. Sometimes, friends offer sympathy and advice -- and this helps.

This is also happening with Sandy Hook. Some of the other school administrators who've lived through shootings have stepped forward, to offer their experiences. They've shown that people can get through this, it just takes time. And it doesn't hurt to have a good architect.

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, Thursday, May 9:

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1:42 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

"Letter To Mick Jagger From The St. Paul Chapter Of The Daughters Of Norway"

Poet Marjorie Manwaring
Credit Susan Filkins

The Woodstock generation may be aging, but don't try to tell them they're not still cool. Poet Marjorie Manwaring's "Letter to Mick Jagger from the St. Paul Chapter of the Daughters of Norway" captures the dissonance between how we feel inside, and how we may appear to others.

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