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

Ask a Muslim participants at the New Holly Gathering Hall on April 2, 2017.
Courtesy of Baron Visuals

What if you lived in a place where people often looked at you with suspicion? How would you get past that — the stares, the mistrust, or worse? Given the chance, what would you want people to know about you?

KUOW has been hosting a series of “Ask a ___” events. The goal is to create a safe and respectful environment for people to explore each other's cultures. 

In this March 21, 2017 photo, Misty Copeland, first African-American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, appears at the Steps on Broadway dance school in New York.
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Ballerina Misty Copeland started her dance training at the late age of 13. Nonetheless, she was soon recognized as a prodigy and rose quickly to opportunity and success. In 2015, she became the first African-American woman promoted to principal ballerina by American Ballet Theatre.

Courtesy Private Collection

There are many reasons to be thankful for the life and work of author Betty MacDonald.

If you have a love/hate relationship with chickens, her best-seller “The Egg and I” will satisfy both passions. If you have children in your life, her “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle” series will likely delight and challenge them. And if you suffer from self-doubt her book about finding work in the Great Depression, “Anybody Can Do Anything,” may help.

Photo courtesy of Nikki Barron

What difference can a day make? For half of the world’s population who struggle with social, economic, and political inequity, a day honoring women may be only symbolic, but could be life changing.

Author Viet Thanh Nguyen at Seattle Public Library
KUOW photo/Sonya Harris

Before Viet Thanh Nguyen became the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the novel “The Sympathizers,” he was a 4-year-old boy uprooted from war-torn Vietnam and transported to a refugee camp in the United States.

Nguyen’s experience as a refugee marked his journey towards becoming an American in crucial ways. He describes the experience of being both a refugee and an American as being “split in two.”

Courtesy of Scott Baerst

In a recent double bill, journalist Matt Taibbi joined author and anti-poverty advocate Joel Berg to discuss what happened in our recent presidential election and what’s next. Their talks and conversation cover ample ground, from the realities of the campaign trail and our political system, to our tendency to blame politicians instead of taking personal responsibility.

Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

There are many things to know about Roxane Gay. She grew up in Nebraska. Her family is of Haitian descent. She came to critical attention in 2014 for her best-selling collection of essays “Bad Feminist.” She teaches creative writing at Purdue University. She is the first black woman hired to write a Marvel Comics series, “Wakanda.” She kind of owns Twitter. But perhaps the most crucial thing you need to know about Roxane Gay is that she is awed by and in love with her craft, fiction writing especially, in difficult and delightful ways.

microphone podium
Flickr Photo/Tom Woodward (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/6LG5Lf

The term "gaslighting" comes from the 1944 film "Gaslight," about an abusive husband who secretly manipulates the lighting in his house in order to drive his wife mad. It has been used more recently to refer to a political phenomenon involving the dissemination of untruths to an extent that causes the public to doubt truth from falsehood.

University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

The investigation continues into January's shooting at the University of Washington during a speech by controversial writer Milo Yiannopoulos. One man was injured but as yet, no one has been charged.

Still, University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce is defending her decision to allow the speech to happen. She spoke about it during a recent taping for the Seattle Channel's Civic Cocktail.

Courtesy of Lynette Hoy

Author Lori Tsugawa Whaley grew up in a rural, mostly white community disconnected from her Japanese heritage. She didn’t even realize there was something different about her until she faced teasing and prejudice in grade school. 

Courtesy of Chris Bennion

The Sandbox Radio troupe brings radio theatre to life with their always original, often surprising work. Our presentation of their “New And Improved?” episode features the following performances:

Courtesy of Angela Carlye

In 1963, John Lewis was 23 years old when he addressed a crowd of over 200,000 people at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Lewis was already a veteran of the civil rights movement. He had been a devoted anti-segregation and voting rights activist in college and was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders who dared to ride integrated buses into the segregated South. He had become the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

KUOW Photo/John O'Brien

Hundreds of transgender people, their families and allies gathered at the University of Washington Tacoma Saturday Feb. 25.

The occasion was a rally against Washington State Initiative 1552. The measure would “override state and local prohibitions against gender-identity discrimination in certain public-accommodation facilities, require that public schools restrict access to some facilities based on sex at birth, and allow related lawsuits against schools.”

Professor Joy Williamson-Lott
Courtesy of The University of Washington

“Are you ready to go back in history?” Professor Joy Williamson-Lott asks that question early on in this talk. She’s encouraging the audience, exciting us, but also challenging us.

The history of public education in the United States, her area of focus, is rife with deeply troubling inequality and injustice.

Neon Sugar
FLICKR PHOTO/Adam Engelhart (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/fqv6q

A friend might try to talk you out of smoking cigarettes or your alcohol consumption, but would they criticize your sugar habit? What if they knew that not long ago scientists were paid to proclaim the dangers of fat when the facts pointed to sugar and carbohydrates?

Pages