Marcie Sillman | KUOW News and Information

Marcie Sillman

Arts and Culture Reporter

Year started with KUOW: 1985

Marcie Sillman arrived at KUOW in 1985 to produce the station's daily public affairs program, Seattle After Noon. One year later, she became the local voice of All Things Considered, NPR's flagship afternoon news magazine. After five years holding down the drive-time microphone, a new opportunity arose. Along with Dave Beck and Steve Scher, Marcie helped create Weekday, a daily, two-hour forum for newsmakers, artists and thinkers.

The new century brought new challenges. Marcie and Dave Beck created The Beat, Seattle's only broadcast program to focus specifically on arts and culture. In 2002, after more than 15 years as a daily host, Marcie decided to become a full-time cultural reporter. During her career, more than 100 of her stories have been heard on NPR's newsmagazines, as well as on The Voice of America. In 2005, she became KUOW's first special projects reporter. In this role, she produced in-depth audio portraits and documentary series about life and culture in the Puget Sound Region.

In September, 2013, Marcie was part of the team that created The Record, a daily news magazine focused on the issues and culture of the Puget Sound region. After two years as Senior Host of the program, Marcie returned to full-time cultural reporting.

Ways to Connect

Flickr Photo/Elvert Barnes

In Canada, Quebec's separatist government has attempted to ban public servants from wearing religious symbols while at work. That includes everything from crosses to face coverings. Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer has been following the story. He talks with Marcie Sillman about why the issue has so many people upset. Plus, what Neil Young said to get his music banned from at least one Alberta radio station.

Flickr Photo/Ryan Sitzman

China plans to cut coal consumption in major northern cities including Beijing and Shanghai by 2017 to curb pollution. Could this impact demand for Wyoming coal and proposed (and controversial) coal export terminals in Washington state?  Marcie Sillman talks it over with David Roberts who writes for the Seattle-based environmental magazine, Grist.

Instagram Photo/TheEnsemble

Seattle’s Fringe Festival starts this week. It features local companies and artists, but the festival is also drawing performers from around the world. 

The great recession hit small arts groups hard; the festival was on hiatus for several years after its 2003 season and returned just last year.  How did Seattle’s fringe community fare?  Seattle Times theater critic Misha Berson shares some perspective on the health of local companies with Marcie Sillman.

Michael Young at the KUOW studios.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

University of Washington students head back to campus next week. While the state Legislature did increase funding for the UW and other state colleges and universities, money is still a problem when it comes to higher education. It factors into everything from course offerings to faculty retention. Those are some of the challenges that face University of Washington President Michael Young. He joins us today.

Cities all over are short on cash. And some are turning to crowdfunding to get public projects off the ground. From a streetcar in Kansas City to a skate spot in Portland, Oregon, sites like Neighbor.ly and Citizinvestor are making it easy for residents to raise money to fund civic projects. Marcie Sillman talks with Rodrigo Davies, a researcher at MIT’s Center for Civic Media about civic crowdfunding and its complications.

Flickr Photo/Ian Fisher

The Seattle City Council is considering a proposal that would bring a free, public toilet to Pioneer Square.

Local development company Urban Visions is offering to purchase the so-called “Portland Loo” for the city, in exchange for being allowed to add three stories to its mixed-use building in the neighborhood.

Fans at a Seattle Seahawks match.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Sunday night at Century Link Field, Seattle Seahawks fans broke the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd noise at a stadium. Then, they broke the record again. The final reading was an ear-splitting 131.9 decibels.

When Money And Love Collide

Sep 16, 2013
Flickr Photo/Jenifer Correa

It's no surprise that money stress doesn't bode well for romance. For many couples, decisions like marriage, divorce or children hinge on the question: Can we afford it? Marcie Sillman talks with UC Santa Barbara economics professor Shelly Lundberg and couples counselor and director of UC Los Angeles' Sexual Health Program Gail Wyatt about how money impacts our love lives.

The United Nations inspectors say they have convincing evidence that chemical weapons were used in a large scale attack in Syria last month. In a report released earlier today the inspectors said the samples they collected from an area of Damascus provided clear and convincing evidence that the nerve agent sarin was used.

The inspectors were not charged with determining who launched the chemical weapons. The news closely follows this weekend’s announcement that Russia and the United States had reached agreement on a framework for Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons program. The United States and its allies say military force is still a possibility if Syria fails to follow through on its agreement. Meanwhile the war in Syria continues.

Borzou Daragahi has been covering events in the Middle East for the Financial Times. He’s based in Cairo. He explains what the reaction in the Middle East has been to the announcement that Syria would give up its chemical weapons.

KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

It’s Friday — time to talk over the week’s news. President Obama took to primetime to postpone a vote in Congress authorizing a Syrian strike in favor of diplomatic talks.

Seattle mayor Mike McGinn officially kicked off his reelection bid against challenger Ed Murray and big money poured into the campaign against Washington's GMO labeling Initiative 522.

Plus, KING 5 announced big plans for new local programming and a the state Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for light rail to come to Bellevue.

It all happened this week, and we'll talk about it with Joni Balter of the Seattle Times, The Stranger's Eli Sanders and Knute Berger of Crosscut.

Flickr Photo/tiff_seattle

Once again, the entire stadium at Century Link Field will be open for Seattle Sounders FC fans this Friday. The Sounders are hoping to unseat the current top team in the Western Conference: Real Salt Lake.

Forwards Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey will return to Seattle fresh off of their US National Team game against Mexico in World Cup qualifying. Steve Clare, editor of Prost Amerika Soccer,  joins us to explain all that is at stake on Friday and beyond.

Michael Erard's book "Babel No More."

It might seem that tools like Google Translate make the ability to speak different languages less valuable to employers. But Michael Erard, author of “Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners,” says that being bilingual or multilingual is still important.

All kinds of organizations from Starbucks to the World Health Organization seek out people who are proficient in multiple languages.  Erard calls them the "staff hyperpolyglot." Marcie Sillman talks with Erard about multilingualism in the workplace.

Lynn Shelton's New Film "Touchy Feely"

Sep 12, 2013
From the "Touchy Feely" Facebook page.

Seattle cinephiles have known about director Lynn Shelton for years, starting with her 2004 film, "We Go Way Back" to her 2009 hit, "Humpday." Shelton's newest film, "Touchy Feely" is, at its heart, a story about love.  And "Touchy Feely" is once again deeply entrenched in Shelton's home the Northwest. Marcie Sillman talks with the filmmaker about her latest project.

Sentencing begins soon for Carri and Larry Williams. They were convicted of several charges this week in the death of their 13-year-old adopted daughter Hana Williams.

In May 2011, the Ethiopian teenager died in her own backyard from hypothermia. Her autopsy also found that malnutrition was a contributing factor.

This week, her adopted parents were both convicted of first-degree manslaughter. Carri Williams was convicted of the most serious charge: homicide by abuse. Larry Williams was not. On that charge, the judge declared a mistrial.

Many questions involving a possible retrial, appeals, and sentencing remain unanswered. Rich Weyrich is the prosecuting attorney for Skagit County. He talked with Ross Reynolds. Cassie Trueblood served as defense attorney for Larry Williams. She talked with Marcie Sillman.

The international community may soon be charged with the destruction of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons stockpile. After the US and Russia, Syria is assumed to have the world’s third largest stock of sarin, mustard gas and other toxic weapons.

The US began the process of destroying its chemical weapons in the 1990s, after it signed the International Chemical Weapons Treaty. Umatilla, Ore., was once home to one of the nine US Army installations that house chemical weapons. Umatilla staff successfully finished the process of dismantling that weapons stockpile in October of 2011.

Our Richland correspondent Anna King explains how they went about the process of destroying chemical weapons.

Should Parents Post Baby Pics Online?

Sep 11, 2013
Michael Clinard

We’ve all seen them: cute baby pictures in our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feeds. For many parents, it’s hard to resist the temptation to share just how adorable their kid looks in their first rain boots or winter hat. But some are saying parents should pause before hitting that "share" button. Marcie Sillman talks with Amy Webb about why she doesn’t post anything about her daughter online.

It’s been one week since the first day of school, and to say that the start was rocky would be an understatement. A highly contested teacher contract debate had parents worried whether schools would even begin on time last Wednesday. When school did open, software problems caused confusion all over the Seattle district. With all this news, it promises to be an exciting year. Marcie Sillman talks with Seattle Superintendent José Banda about the first week and what’s on tap for the school year.

Flickr Photo/Gates Foundation

The head of the Seattle-based  Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says he’s stepping down. Jeff Raikes made the announcement Tuesday morning.  He says he’ll stay on the job until a replacement is found.

Jeff Raikes talked to  KUOW’s Marcie Sillman about his top accomplishments over the past five years as the Foundation's chief.

Should Kids Get Lawyers?

Sep 10, 2013
law court crime
Flickr Photo/Joe Gratz (CC BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/bkUna

In Washington state, children in dependency cases where parental rights have been terminated are not provided legal representation. That's not the case in other states. In Massachusetts, kids have the right to legal representation at birth.

 

Critics of Washington's policy contend that children have legal interests too, and without a lawyer, those interests are not protected. Some supporters argue that children are not in a position to articulate their best interests or direct a lawyer to represent them.

 

Marcie Sillman sits down with two attorneys, Lisa Kelly, director of the University of Washington's Children and Youth Advocacy Clinic, and Catherine Smith, from Smith Goodfriend, P.S., for two perspectives on this issue. 

Flickr Photo/Chris Martino

Salmonella is not just in poultry anymore; it's in our spices. In a recent study of more than 20,000 food shipments, the United States Food and Drug Administration found that nearly 7 percent of spice lots were contaminated with salmonella. That's twice the average of all other imported foods. Oregano, basil, cumin and black pepper are just some of the spices where salmonella contamination was found.

Marcie Sillman talks with FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess about the study. Burgess recommends adding spices to your food during the cooking process which will kill the salmonella bacteria and to follow basic food safety procedures.

Jamie Ford's book "Songs of Willow Frost."

Jamie Ford’s debut novel was a sensation: "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” was the story of a Chinese-American boy who falls for a Japanese-American girl.  Unfortunately, their love affair was stymied by World War II and the girl’s internment in Minidoka, Idaho.

Ford follows his bestselling novel with another book that comes out of Asian-American history.  “Songs of Willow Frost” is the story of a Chinese-American girl forced to give up her young son to an orphanage when the Depression hits. Ford says the book was inspired by his own family history. He spoke with Marcie Sillman today.

Flickr Photo/Wojtek Ogrodowczyk

Congress reconvenes today, and at the top of their agenda is deciding whether to sanction President Obama’s proposal to launch military attacks on Syria. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is denying the use of chemical weapons on civilians by his government. The situation in Syria has changed significantly since 2011 when protesters took to the streets of Damascus. Over one million children are living in refugee camps outside of the country and two million are internally displaced.

Kenneth Pollack is a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and the author of the book “Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy.” He talked with KUOW’s Marcie Sillman about the Syrian government, its relationship to the United States and its position in the Middle East.

Flickr Photo/Jonathon Colman

Congress is back in session this week, and Syria is at the top of the agenda. That means other business like immigration reform and the debt ceiling moves to the back burner. Why can’t Congress do two things at once? Marcie Sillman and Ross Reynolds talk with Andrea Seabrook of DecodeDC.

KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

Seattle is a city full of icons. Visitors stop to gawk at the Space Needle. They marvel as Pike Place Market fishmongers blithely toss a fresh salmon to one another as the crowd cheers them on. And they trek to a dead end street in the Fremont neighborhood to pay homage to a homely gray cement sculpture.

This is the Fremont Troll, and he's been a hulking presence under Highway 99 for the past 23 years. Co-creator Steve Badanes, a University of Washington architecture professor, and two of his students submitted the idea for the troll in 1990. The Fremont Arts Council was holding a contest to create an artwork for this street end. A panel of judges would pick three finalists, then the public would vote at a booth at that year's Fremont Solstice Festival.

Seattle Times Photo/Erika Schultz

Rose Cano is a social worker in the broadest sense. By day, Cano translates for Spanish-speaking people with health care needs. But Cano's true social platform is theater. She envisions a society where live drama is accessible and in demand by everyone. And she devotes her time outside the office to making that happen.

Flickr Photo/sunshine.patchoulli

The 2013 NFL season kicked off on Thursday night. The Seattle Seahawks hope to pick up where they left off last year with a road game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. And if you believe the hype, they have a chance to go all the way to the Super Bowl this year. Sportswriter Seth Kolloen gives us a preview.

It’s Friday — time to talk over the week’s news with Joni Balter of the Seattle Times, The Stranger's Eli Sanders and Peter Jackson of the Everett Herald. This week President Obama said he'll ask Congress to approve a military strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

 Governor Inslee floated the idea of another special legislative session to get a transportation package passed. Plus, Microsoft buys a $7.2 billion chunk of Nokia, Amazon's Jeff Bezos makes his first visit to the Washington Post as its newest owner and former president Bill Clinton tries to explain the Affordable Care Act to America. 

Facebook Photo/Greg Kucera

If you want the long view on Seattle's Pioneer Square, Greg Kucera is your man. Kucera has run his eponymous art gallery in the neighborhood for 30 years, first in a rented storefront on Second Avenue, and now in a space he owns a few blocks east. 

His front door is just across the street from one of the Union Gospel Mission shelters, and on a quiet Saturday morning, several men sit on the curb outside the Mission, drinking from paper cups.

Jonathan Raban's book "Driving Home."

Writer Jonathan Raban came to Seattle from his native England in 1991. Microsoft and Starbucks were in their toddler years and Seattle’s music scene had just become an international sensation. What was once a workingman’s town was evolving, and Raban was here to chronicle that change. "Driving Home," a collection of Raban’s essays written over 20 years, is out now in paperback. He talks with Marcie Sillman about the Seattle he first met.

Flickr Photo/Curtis Cronn

The University of Washington Huskies inaugurated their newly renovated football stadium in style on Saturday night. The Huskies beat number 19 ranked Boise State 38 to 6. It was great news for coach Steve Sarkisian. He's led the team for the past five years and he desperately wants to restore the Huskies to their former glory days.

Twenty-two years ago, in 1991, the University of Washington was on top of the football heap. The team shared a national title with Miami and the man at the helm was Don James. He remembers that night that the national title was finally announced.

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