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

What Is A Geek Girl?

Sep 27, 2013
Flickr Photo/GeekGirlCon

On October 19, downtown Seattle will be invaded by geek girls. That’s when the 3rd annual GeekGirlCon kicks off at the Washington State Convention Center. Maybe you’re wondering, what exactly is a geek girl?  And why does she need her own convention?

Amy Peloff has the answers.  She’s assistant director of the University of Washington’s comparative history of ideas program. She teaches classes in gender, sexuality and women’s studies.  She told Marcie Sillman that defining geek girls is a bit like defining pornography. You may not be able to pin down the specifics, but you know it when you see it.

Pacific Northwest Ballet Photo/Lindsay Thomas

Pacific Northwest Ballet's Studio C is a big rehearsal hall, with the same dimensions as the stage at nearby McCaw Hall where PNB performs. Despite its size, on this afternoon the room feels packed to the gills.

KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

When you think of kale, do you conjure visions of raw greens, a little tough and chewy?  Sometimes they're hard to eat, but you dutifully swallow them down because you know they're good for you.

Actually, foodwriter and former professional chef Sara Dickerman begs to differ. Dickerman says one way to consume your vitamins and enjoy them at the same time is to think outside the box when it comes to healthy foods. Take kale, for example.

Flickr Photo/Semilla Luz

It’s Friday — time to talk over the week’s news with Joni Balter of the Seattle Times, Crosscut's Knute Berger and Eli Sanders of The Stranger. 

A shooting at the Navy Yard in DC and a fatal stabbing in Seattle's Pioneer Square again raise questions about public safety and mental health care. Seattle's race for mayor sees a new round of polling and endorsements. Plus, Pope Francis says Catholics need to find "a new balance" on issues like abortion and homosexuality.  What stories were you following this week?

It has been 33 years since the United States and Iran had diplomatic relations. Now, after an exchange of letters between President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, there is new hope for diplomatic dialogue between the two countries.

Iran is currently under UN and Western sanctions over its controversial nuclear program. It claims it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes, but according to the BBC, the United States and its allies suspect Iran of trying to build a nuclear weapon. Next week, Rouhani will be in New York for the annual General Assembly of the United Nations.

Dr. Shaul Bakhash is the Clarence Robinson Professor of History at George Mason University. He explains the complexity of diplomacy between the two countries.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

A ballot initiative that would raise the minimum wage for some workers in SeaTac to $15 an hour could mark a major change in the larger labor movement’s strategy in the US.

Marcie Sillman talks it over with New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse. We also hear from David Rolf, the president of SEIU Healthcare 775NW, and Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council.

AP Photo/STR

The United Nations General Assembly opened this week and on the top of the agenda is the crisis in Syria. UN weapons inspectors said that based on their investigation, chemical weapons were definitely used in an August 21 attack of a city on the outskirts of Damascus.

While many officials believe evidence points to Bashar al-Assad's government as being the perpetrator of the attack, Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday that the UN and Western officials have incorrectly tied the Syrian government to that attack.

Fred Weir is the Moscow correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, he explains why Russia is still blaming the Syrian rebels for the chemical weapons attack.

Flickr Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives

The US Census Bureau released numbers this week looking at poverty rates and wages across the US in 2012. Our local numbers reflect what’s happening around the country: the number of people living in poverty has stagnated and wages have stayed about the same.

At first glance, this may seem like good news, or even non-news. But the census numbers reveal a larger picture of what’s happening in the wake of the recession: that people in low and middle income brackets aren’t really experiencing a recovery.

Jennifer Romich is the director of the West Coast Poverty Center and an associate professor at the UW School of Social Work. She told KUOW's Marcie Sillman the "statistically insignificant" numbers from the Census Bureau paint a concerning picture of many people that are unable to get ahead financially.

AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara

The majority owner of the Seattle Mariners, Hiroshi Yamauchi has died in Japan at the age of 85. The former Nintendo President never watched a Mariners game in person, but he’s credited by many for saving baseball in Seattle when he purchased the team in 1992.

What’s his legacy? And what does his death mean for the Mariners organization moving forward? Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He talked with Marcie Sillman.

From DASSdance's Facebook page.

Artists are inspired by all sorts of things: a song, an image or a story they want to tell. Choreographer Daniel Wilkins and his company, DASSdance, will premier a new work this weekend, “Tale of Ten Green.”

It springs from the story of the Awa people, an indigenous tribe that lives in Brazil’s Amazon River basin. The Awa haven’t had significant contact with the outside world until recently, and according to Wilkins, the experience has been both violent and exploitative.

“Tale of Ten Green” premiers Friday evening at Seattle’s Washington Hall. 

Interfaith Amigos
Flickr Photo/University of Denver

Imam Jamal Rahman, Rabbi Ted Falcon and Pastor Don Mackenzie came together just after the Iraq War began.  They wanted to find a way to discuss politics and faith and to use their religious convictions to forge a path to dialogue and eventually peace.

The Amigos were originally going to be in studio to discuss the subject of compassion and consciousness, but the unfolding events in Syria hijacked our conversation. We talked about whether President Obama’s original proposal to launch a military attack in retaliation for Syria’s use of chemical weapons was the right way forward on this issues.

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. 

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