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

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.

The Seahawks' field logo, in happier times.
Flickr Photo/sunshine.patchoulli (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/9oYiX

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.

Flickr Photo/Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Japanese officials are still battling radioactive groundwater that is leaking as a result of the Fukushima Nuclear plant meltdown triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The latest effort to block contaminated water from leaking into the Pacific Ocean is a $470 million ice wall. How do you build an ice wall and how does it work? Larry Applegate, the president of Seattle-based firm SoilFreeze, a company that  creates frozen walls and tunnels, explains the technology to Marcie Sillman.

Flickr Photo/Robert Gaskin

It has been two months since the last special session in Olympia came to a close. Now Governor Jay Inslee is saying he wants to call another one.

Lawmakers failed to pass a transportation package during the last special session. The special session will only be called if there are enough votes to pass a transportation package that was stalled during the last legislative session.

Senator Rodney Tom said he is holding seven public meetings around the state to assess what the public wants in a transportation plan. Jerry Cornfield of the Everett Herald joins us for more analysis on the compromises and possibilities for a new plan.

KUOW Photo/Jenna Montgomery

Ava Anissipour is on a mission to convince Federal Way to re-classify pygmy goats as pets, not livestock. Anissipour has had a pygmy goat since she was nine years old; she's 12 now.

Anissipour says pygmy goats make perfect household pets: affectionate, smart and well behaved. The Federal Way City Council plans to vote on pygmy goat classification in the coming weeks.

Marcie Sillman sat down with Anissipour to talk about her efforts.

Seattle's Department of Transportation is providing $2.3 million to go toward a change in start times for Seattle Public Schools.
Flickr Photo/tncountryfan

The Seattle teachers union and the school district have reached a tentative agreement on a new two-year contract. The union will vote on the agreement today, on the eve of the first scheduled day of school. Marcie Sillman talks with Ballard high school teacher, Noam Gundle and Chris Eide, executive director of independent teachers group Teachers United, to get their perspectives on the agreement.

 

Sillman also spoke with KUOW reporter Ann Dornfeld who explained the main issues surfacing in the contract negotiations.

Paul Constant

Tuesday afternoon, activists led by The Stranger's Dan Savage will protest in front of the Russian Consul General's house in Madison Park. The protest is in response to a Russian law passed in June that outlaws "propagandizing non-traditional sexual relations among minors."

Russian authorities have interpreted that language broadly and as a result, people seen as "promoting gay values" have been arrested and subject to violence from police or other Russians.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

"When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they are going to be stunned, and they are going to be angry," said Oregon Senator Ron Wyden on the Senate floor in May, 2011. He was referencing the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance program.

KUOW Photo/Carlos Nieto

UPDATE: 8/7/13, 1:13 p.m. PT

Peter Steinbrueck, who was trailing Ed Murray and Mike McGinn in the Seattle mayor’s primary this morning, spoke with KUOW’s Marcie Sillman on Weekday today and conceded the race.

KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

If a Hollywood filmmaker decided to make a movie version of composer Richard Wagner's epic "Ring Cycle," he would probably have the latest computer wizardry at his fingertips. But the "Ring" is performed live onstage, featuring more than 15 hours of music spread out over four nights of opera.

Francia Russell hasn't performed in 50 years, but she says as soon as she hears the music for George Balanchine's Concerto Barocco, her body starts to move: "I could do it in my sleep, you know, get up and sleepwalk and do it."

Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times

If Seattle’s dance community had a mayor, it might be Tonya Lockyer. As executive artistic director of Velocity Dance Center, Lockyer oversees a busy hub of classes, performances, lectures, and even potluck dinners. Professional dancers mingle with aspiring amateurs and visiting artists check in at Velocity to learn more about the city’s dance scene. Velocity is busy seven days a week, and you’ll often find Lockyer at her desk, taking in the activity and plotting to create more.

Wikipedia Photo

One hundred years ago on May 29, 1913; art sparked a riot.

Well, "riot" might be too strong a word. But when the audience in Paris' Theater des Champs Elysees heard the first notes of Igor Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring," the catcalls began. They got even louder when the dancers of Ballets Russes appeared on stage, clad in heavy wool costumes, their legs bandaged in thick stockings that were secured, peasant-style, with wide dark ribbons. And as soon as the classically trained ballet dancers began to stomp, to jump up and down on two feet, to stand with toes pointed inward rather than the more traditional ballet pose, by all accounts the audience went crazy.

Bond Huberman

When it comes to musical talent, there's no shortage in Seattle. The city boasts a thriving indie rock scene, great jazz and classical musicians, and the country's most popular hip-hop act, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. 

But the string trio The Onlies are little outside the norm. For one thing, Sami Braman, Ryan Calcagno and Leo Shannon play fiddle-inspired old-time and traditional tunes. And for another, despite performing together for a decade, none of the three is old enough to have a driver's license.

KUOW Photo/Jason Pagano

Chick Corea plays "Darn That Dream"

Pianist and composer Chick Corea has touched almost all the musical bases during a career that has spanned almost five decades.  From avant garde to bebop to Latin fusion, Corea has experimented and mastered multiple jazz styles and has won a loyal following of fans and critics.

Marcie Sillman interviews Chick Corea

Ken Lambert, Seattle Times

Daemond Arrindell wants to change the world. Not through the ballot box or protest marches. Arrindell’s weapon is poetry. He uses his words to touch individual lives, particularly the lives of young people.

Mirror
Courtesy/Doug Aitken Workshop

When Seattle Art Museum opened its expanded downtown building in 2007, some people thought the main entrance on First Avenue was a little undistinguished.

One of those people was the late arts patron Bagley Wright. His wife, Virginia, says he thought the museum entrance needed to be marked in a dramatic way. "Because it looked like the entrance to an office building," she recalls.

POC Photo/Paul O'Connell

When you hear the word burlesque, what comes to mind?

Some of us envision down and dirty night clubs populated by weary strippers clad in not much more than feather boas and G-strings. For most of the past century, burlesque has been synonymous with women doing a little bump and grind for mostly male audience members. Remember the musical "Gypsy?"

charred battery
NTSB Photo

Last Updated: March 12, 2013 5:30 p.m. 

In a statement, the FAA said Boeing could go ahead with its plan to test a redesigned battery system for the 787. The FAA also gave the green light to limited flights for two aircraft that will have test versions of the new systems.

12th Ave Arts
Illustration/SMR Architects

The 12th Avenue Arts project will transform a Seattle Police Department parking lot into one of Capitol Hill's newest multi-use buildings. In addition to retail and apartments, the building will include two theaters and office space for three small theater companies.

Photo/Charles Peterson

You probably know the bands that put Seattle on the international music map in the early 1990s. Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam have become legends, but they're only part of the Seattle music story. Women rocked the scene, too. Gretta Harley came to Seattle in 1990, looking for her tribe, and she says she found it.

courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet

If you ask American ballet dancers to name the person with the biggest impact on their artform, chances are they'll answer: George Balanchine.

"George Balanchine changed the way we look at dance," enthuses Seattle arts writer Sandi Kurtz. "In the same way Picasso changed the way we look at visual art, the same way Mozart changed what we heard in the concert hall."

Pages