John O'Brien | KUOW News and Information

John O'Brien

Producer, Speakers Forum

Year started with KUOW: 2006

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 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Ways to Connect

Phillip Deng at Ignite Seattle 31
Photo courtesy of Randy Stewart

The Ignite series brings locals together to share ideas, inspirations and understanding in a rapid-fire, accessible format. The program was invented here, and you’re invited.

Ignite Seattle 31 took place on November 17 at Town Hall Seattle. Sonya Harris recorded the talks. Scott Berkun was the emcee. 

Poet Rachel Zucker
Courtesy of Rachel Zucker

Several years ago, poet Rachel Zucker was asked to write a lecture about poetry. That process led her, in part, to question what it is that poets do — and why.

She recently presented that lecture, “The Poetics of Wrongness,” as part of the Seattle Arts & Lectures Poetry Series.

KUOW's Ashley Ahearn and mountaineer Dave Hahn speak at Eddie Bauer store in University Village on October 28, 2016.
KUOW Photo

Professional mountain climber and guide Dave Hahn has summited Mount Everest 15 times — more than any non-Sherpa climber. He has a foothold in the Northwest as well, having climbed Mt. Rainier over 270 times.

KUOW environment reporter Ashley Ahearn wanted to learn more about Hahn’s life, how mountaineering has changed over the years, and what motivates him to keep climbing. Hahn spoke with  her at the Eddie Bauer store in University Village on October 28. Sonya Harris recorded their talk.

Photo of Melissa Ponder

Ampersand Magazine is a production of Forterra, a Seattle-based conservation and community-building organization. Ampersand Live is a gathering of poets, artists and storytellers keen on preserving and celebrating the fragile bond between society and nature in the Pacific Northwest. 

Activist Ralph Nader
Flickr Photo/Sage Ross (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/5ryFHB

In this talk, activist Ralph Nader focuses on why we fail to make political progress, even when a majority of citizens passionately support an issue. He argues that left-right coalitions focused on Congress are one key to breaking gridlock in Washington, D.C. He calls on Seattleites especially to gear their tech savvy towards political participation.

People take part in a 'Black Lives Matter' demonstration.
Flickr Photo/Joe Brusky (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/pscnno

You may have heard the term “white fragility.” Dr. Robin DiAngelo coined the expression to describe the defensive positions white people often take when confronted with the facts of racism.

This talk details the realities of our racist society today and points towards possible remedies.

Social workers Bradly Smith and Jackie St. Louis check in on Tonja Warner, who is homeless. Smith and St. Louis walk with cops on their beat and connect people they encounter with services.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray about the state of emergency on homelessness and what we've done in the year since it was declared.

Poet Lucia Perillo
Courtesy of James Rudy

The accolade "local treasure" is not easily awarded. Poet Lucia Perillo earned that and many other awards, including a MacArthur Genius Grant. 

Perillo died in Olympia on October 16 at the age of 58. She had lived with multiple sclerosis since her diagnosis in 1988.

UW Professor Megan Ming Francis at Kane Hall on October 12, 2016.`
Courtesy of Emile Pitre

As we come to the end of a very long presidential election cycle, what can we do to remedy our legacy of racial injustice and move forward? University of Washington professor Megan Ming Francis searches for answers to that question in her talk “Race and Violence in American Politics.”

Maria Semple at Town Hall Seattle
KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

If you don’t already love Maria Semple’s Seattle-brewed writing, her new work may pull you in. Just one day in the life of protagonist Eleanor Flood will likely leave you wanting more.

(Clockwise from top left) Claire Miccio and baby John, Kris 'Sonics Guy' Brannon, Maliah Washington, Jessica Salvador, Lance Forshay and Andrew Scudder, and Paul Constantine.
KUOW Photos/John O'Brien

A question arose this election season, as it does periodically: How well do U.S. citizens and candidates for public office understand and value the contents of the Constitution of the United States?

Developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik
Wikimedia Photo/Kathleen King

The concept of "parenting" has only been around since the 1960s. Child development researcher Alison Gopnik believes our modern views on child raising do a disservice to children’s ability to thrive.

Gopnik is a professor of psychology and philosophy at University of California, Berkeley, where she directs the Gopnik Cognitive Development Lab. Her new book is “The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children.”

She spoke at Town Hall Seattle on October 3. Sonya Harris recorded her talk.

Sandbox Radio actors Mik Kuhlman, Rebecca Olson, Keith Dahlgren and Eric Ray Anderson.
Courtesy of John Ulman

Sandbox Radio is back on Speakers Forum! Our presentation of their latest work, "Gold Rush,"  includes the following performances: 

Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Flickr Photo/Jean-Marc (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/ggWBMX

From Romulus and Remus to its infamous fall, the once “small, ordinary” town of Rome came to define empire and change the world forever. British scholar, television host and author Mary Beard has made mining the history of that empire her central work.

Beard is a classics professor at Cambridge and the author of “SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome.” 

Alaina Caldwell, Gerald Elliott, Jodi White, Alissa Wehrman, Eula Scott Bynoe, Matthew Brasco and Jasmine Jackson.
KUOW Photo/Brie Ripley

It’s all over the news and social media: A person of color is shot and killed by police, there’s a protest, and an investigation, then another shooting. What does this seemingly endless cycle say about racism in America? 

This summer, Speakers Forum recorded an event called “Black Lives in America: Healing and Moving Forward.” It was hosted by the crew at HellaBlackHellaSeattle, a podcast focused on creating community for people of color in Seattle. 

Pages