John O'Brien

Producer, Speakers Forum

John O’Brien produces Speakers Forum at KUOW. He learned to love radio as a child waking up one summer morning to the harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel.

As a teenager, he would drive the back roads of Indiana and Michigan late at night listening to vintage radio theater. The question of whether or not he had the legal right to drive then remains a mystery. Only The Shadow knows.

Inspired by a chance meeting with Noah Adams, he learned to make radio as an intern on KUOW’s The Conversation with Ross Reynolds.

John has been recording talks for Speakers Forum since 2007. Early on he learned Seattle is a Mecca for any touring speaker, because Seattleites read so much, support a wide variety of venues and ask smart questions. He says that makes his job easy, and always interesting.

John is a graduate of St. Johns College.

Ignite Seattle
11:19 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Passionate Topic, Packed Auditorium, Five Minutes - Go!

At Ignite Seattle 24 Seijen Takamura asks, "Can bicycles be lonely?"
Flickr Photo/Randy Stewart (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Since 2006, Ignite Seattle has given Puget Sounders the opportunity to share their insights into a topic they’re passionate about. It’s the prototype for what has become an international event.

The concept is simple. Have a great idea? Share it. The only catch? You have to do it in front of a packed auditorium, in five minutes.

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Storytelling
10:46 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Rebecca Solnit On The Power Of A Story

Author Rebecca Solnit.
Flickr Photo/Shawn Calhoun (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Human beings have been drawn to stories for thousands of years. They captivate us. We yearn for them — “tell the one about … ” — ad infinitum. Sometimes we get the story right. Sometimes not. Stories break. Stories change. And sometimes it helps to turn a story upside down.

Our guest is writer and historian Rebecca Solnit. Her books explore ecology, landscape, community, art and politics.

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Leadership
10:24 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Author Simon Sinek On Why Leaders Eat Last

Simon Sinek speaks at a TED Conference in Vancouver, Canada, last March.
Flickr Photo/TED Conference (CC-BY-NC-ND)

"Well, that makes total sense!"

That’s what you might say after listening a while to our guest Simon Sinek this week on Speakers Forum.

It’s the little things he points out, like why checking your cell phone constantly during your kid’s baseball game (or your meeting with a colleague) is a bad idea. The little things add up, sometimes resulting in the makings of a leader.

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Gender Equality
1:40 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Damn Right We're Trans*

CeCe McDonald (center) at the Trans* Pride Seattle march, June 27, 2014.
Credit Nate Gowdy Photography/nategowdy.com

What sex were you assigned at birth, boy or girl? It’s a simple question. Too simple sometimes. Not everyone fits neatly into the role they were assigned. Boys and girls are not all the same. A transgender person is someone “whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth."

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Live From University Bookstore
8:47 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Garrison Keillor On His New Book 'The Keillor Reader'

Garrison Keillor stopped by the KUOW studios near University Bookstore to take a picture with social media producer Bond Huberman.
Credit KUOW Photo

For the average NPR listener, hearing the name Garrison Keillor may summon up the sound of his voice: deep and soothing, wise and mischievous, but with a palpable tinge of sadness. Keillor spoke at Seattle’s University Bookstore on June 12.

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Wartime Ethics
9:56 am
Fri June 20, 2014

A Discussion Of U.S. Torture With Brigadier General David R. Irvine

In the aftermath of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq questions remain concerning how the U.S. waged those wars. Among them, did we follow the Geneva Conventions, or did we abuse the rights of our enemies? And how are we responsible for our actions as a nation at war?

In a recent event titled “Exposing the Truth of U.S. Torture,” a panel of concerned citizens examined questions of our rights and obligations in wartime.

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Author Interview
11:50 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Confronting Menopause In A RV On The Way To Burning Man

Credit Sandra Tsing Loh's book "Madwoman in the Volvo."

We've all done it — that crazy RV trip to Burning Man. It leads to all sorts of problems. In hindsight, maybe not a great idea, but you make the best with what you've got, right? Well, perhaps, if you’re anything like our guest this week. Her trip proved to be the start of an arduous journey, but it makes for a great story. 

Sandra Tsing Loh’s new book is “The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones.” In it she takes on her experience of menopause.

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Author Interview
11:43 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Ms. Warren Goes to Washington: A Progressive Senator’s Life Story

Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Flickr Photo/Senate Democrats (CC-BY-NC-ND)

This week on Speakers Forum, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren tells the story of her life and her vision of a progressive America. Warren is known as an advocate for consumer protection. She was largely responsible for the hard-won establishment of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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Financial Crisis
9:54 am
Fri May 30, 2014

'Stress Test': Before, During And After The Panic Of 2008

Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner and President Barack Obama at the G20 London Summit, 2 April 2009.
Flickr Photo/Downing Street (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The financial crisis of 2008 is widely referred to as the worst fiscal disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It threatened large financial institutions with collapse and resulted in bank bailouts and downturns in stock and housing markets around the world.

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Author Interview
10:18 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Nomi Prins On The History Of Wall Street And The White House

Credit Nomi Prins' new book, "All the Presidents' Bankers"

In Nomi Prins' new book "All the Presidents' Bankers," she delves into over a century of close ties between the White House and Wall Street. Using archival correspondence, she explores the ways a small group of influential people, elected and not, has shaped American policy at home and abroad. The book details economic expansion, contraction and crises from the panic of 1907 to today, in the context of what Prins calls America’s genealogy of power.

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Intiman Theatre
9:07 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Tony Kushner's 'Angels In America' Comes To Seattle

Playwright Tony Kushner
Flickr Photo/Commonwealth Club (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Tony Kushner is the author of "Angels in America," a two-part play inspired by the tragic rise of the AIDS epidemic. "Angels" debuted on Broadway in 1993, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony award for Best Play that same year.

Seattle’s Intiman Theatre will be staging a production of "Angels" this summer, opening August 12.

Kushner spoke with writer, editor and It Gets Better project co-founder Dan Savage at Town Hall Seattle on May 10.

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Speakers Forum

Sarah Vowell, Gloria Steinem, Michael Pollan: you can't make it to every lecture in town but you can hear plenty here. We record talks all over the Puget Sound region, from uber–famous intellectuals to lesser–knowns. From soldiers to urban farmers to humorists; we tape it, then air it on Speakers Forum.

Email: speakersforum@kuow.org