Speakers Forum | KUOW News and Information

Speakers Forum

Thursday, 11:00 p.m. - midnight on KUOW

Sarah Vowell, Gloria Steinem, Michael Pollan: you can't make it to every lecture in town but you can hear plenty here. We record talks all over the Puget Sound region, from uber–famous intellectuals to lesser–knowns. From soldiers to urban farmers to humorists; we tape it, then air it on Speakers Forum.

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Courtesy of Paulette Perhach

There’s a thing at talks around Seattle. Often enough, you can feel it when the crowd gets restless if the event goes to a certain length. You can see the people looking for a chance to exit. One bolts, and others rush to follow.

There was no restlessness at author Alexander Chee’s reading on Monday night. Even though the room was a tad warm, no one left. They hardly stirred.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks at the Washington Policy Center's annual gala on Friday, October 13, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

If Diane Ravitch were running for office, her opponent might attack her for being "for Common Core before she was against it." Ravitch served as an assistant secretary of education in the George W. Bush administration, and was originally a proponent of standardized testing, school choice, common core standards and the No Child Left Behind Act. 

Courtesy of Jorge Aguilar

Last year thousands of people hit the streets of Seattle and the nation to march for all things scientific: respect for the scientific method, evidence-based government policies, public funding for research and increased support for STEM education.

Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

You hear of situations where a book comes to a writer in a torrent. In this talk, writer André Aciman tells such a story about his well-loved novel, “Call Me By Your Name,” published in 2007.

Aciman’s book came to renewed acclaim, and some controversy, when the film adaptation became a phenomenon last year. The acclaim: The movie was nominated for multiple awards and won an Academy Award for screenwriter James Ivory. The controversy: Some raised age-of-consent issues about the relationship between 17 year-old Elio and his lover, 24-year-old Oliver.

Courtesy of Sandbox Radio

Over the last few years Speakers Forum has featured broadcasts of the Seattle theatre troupe Sandbox Radio. In that time we came to love the work of actor and comedian Peggy Platt. She wrote and performed skits full of sharp humor and the ironies of life.

U.S. Army Spc. Kevin Welsh provides security before boarding a CH-47 Chinook helicopter after completing a mission in Chak valley in the Wardak province of Afghanistan on Aug. 3, 2010.
Flickr Photo/U.S. Army (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/8tkNqR

Steve Coll is a staff writer for The New Yorker. His new book, a sequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winner “Ghost Wars,” is “Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2016.”

Courtesy of Penquin Random House

As crazy as the world seems sometimes, author Steven Pinker argues our ancestors would most certainly envy us. From life expectancy and standards of health to general prosperity, peace and happiness, he argues we’re better off than they were — and don’t get him started on anesthesia.

Courtesy of Jamie Rand Imaging/Jamie Colman

This past weekend, students in hundreds of cities and towns around the country joined in March For Our Lives  "sibling marches." Before the March For Our Lives Seattle event, students and supporters gathered to hear speeches.

Courtesy of Randy Stewart

Ignite Seattle needs to be on your Seattle bucket list. But until you can make it out to one of their events, listen in to your fellow citizens’ brave and inspiring efforts to share their ideas with hundreds of friendly strangers. 

Courtesy of Emile Pitre

Dr. Temple Grandin was diagnosed as brain-damaged at age two. Her mother Anna steadfastly pursued ways to understand her daughter’s condition and ultimately educate her. Anna came to suspect her daughter was on the autism spectrum, at a time when the prescribed treatment was commitment to an institution. She fought that, too.

Courtesy of Red Hen Press

If you’re familiar with the Dear Sugar advice column, you know who Steve Almond is. For the uninitiated, he was the first “Sugar” — a purportedly female advice columnist on The Rumpus. After a while, Almond says, that got weird.

Courtesy of Penquin Random House

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich is famously small in stature—and has a penchant for short jokes about himself — but he has big ideas about democracy, patriotism, work, leadership, and the American experiment.

'That's Debatable' panel at the SIFF Cinema Egyptian, Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

You don’t have to score tickets to Hamilton to know that debate played a crucial role in U.S. history. When it comes to charting the course of a nation, there is no substitute. The same is true in planning for the future of cities like Seattle. So, here’s a query for a modern debate: Is Amazon, the behemoth internet retailer, good for Seattle?

Christopher Sebastian Parker and Arlie Russell Hochschild at Seattle University, Feb. 12, 2018.
KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

We hear all the time about the social-political divide in the United States, mostly from the comfort of our respective bubbles. When UC Berkeley-based sociology professor Arlie Russel Hochschild realized the extent to which she didn’t understand the experience of right-leaning Americans, she decided to do something about it. She choose to embed herself in Lake Charles, Louisiana, for an ethnographic experiment.

KUOW photo/Sonya Harris

For 26 years, Seattle’s African-American Writers’ Alliance has held a reading at The Elliott Bay Book Company on the last Saturday in February. The group’s mission is to provide support for new and published writers, provide peer review and create opportunities for public readings.

KUOW photo/Sonya Harris

Marriage conjures up so many things, but here’s a longish shortlist: union, promise, vow, relationship, interdependence, security, sacrifice, contract, commitment, hard work, choice. Why do people get married? According to a Pew Research Center study, the top three reasons are for love, long-term commitment and companionship.

KUOW photo

If you listen to David Barsamian’s long-running public affairs program Alternative Radio, you know his distinct voice, full of passionate analysis and notable raspiness. But while as host he always introduces his featured speakers, a who’s who of progressive thinkers, we don’t normally hear Barsamian himself at length.

KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

Journalist David Cay Johnston has known and reported on President Donald Trump for nearly 30 years. When they first met in Atlantic City, Johnston says he recognized Trump as “the P.T. Barnum of our age.” He has also said about Trump, and repeats in this talk, that “Donald doesn’t know anything.”

The White House
Flickr Photo/joswr1ght (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/JeAj3d

Here’s a test for you. Who was the first U.S. President to be born an American, i.e., after the Revolution? Hint: He is the same man who said “As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it.”

That would be President Martin Van Buren.

The U.S. Presidency is marked by pomp, circumstance and widespread reference to its occupant being “the most powerful man in the world.”

Courtesy of Red Hen Press

Several years ago, Seattle poet Tina Schumann was inspired to compile an anthology of memoir, essays and poems by children of immigrants in the United States. 

Investigative journalist Maryn McKenna
COURTESY OF DAVID-TULIS

We take for granted living in a post-antibiotic world. Go ahead: climb that ladder to hang Christmas lights, get a stent to open a blood vessel, let your kids slide into home plate. We don’t have to fear scratches and minor injuries.


Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

Seattle-based writer Ijeoma Oluo has been widely recognized for some time now as a person who speaks sometimes uncomfortable truths about racism in America. That recognition reached a crescendo in recent days with the release of her first book, “So You Want to Talk About Race.”

Courtesy of Josh Patterson

In a parallel universe, poets stand on street corners and recite for us. We stop what we’re doing and gather together with friends and strangers to listen. Then we pay them some tribute and go on with our days, moved and enriched in some way.

Dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones at UW's Kane Hall, January 30, 2018.
Courtesy of Emile Pitre

"Art is going to save us, right?" Choreographer Bill T. Jones opens his talk. He says it’s not a laugh line. His answer is sobering.

In the iconoclastic world of modern dance, Bill T. Jones has long searched for answers to questions like, “What is love? What is death? And what does art have to do with it?” He explores those themes in this talk “Analogy/Form: Finding Meaning in Confusing Times.”

Courtesy of Jamie Rand Imaging/Jamie Colman

The second annual Women’s March was celebrated in Seattle on January 20. Organizers say as many as 100,000 people attended. But those organizers had more in mind than a one-day march. They want to make a change.

KUOW photo/LIsa Wang

As of the 2010 Census, 80 percent of U.S. citizens lived in urban areas. Human beings are drawn to cities for work, culture, camaraderie and hipster coffee shops (among other things).

Every city starts somewhere. Some plug along, while others take off with growth most inhabitants never imagined. Seattle has been both types of city, from the home of the last person leaving turning out the lights, to construction-crane magnet.

Courtesy of Jamie Rand Imaging/Jamie Colman

Tens of thousands of people participated in the second annual Seattle Women’s March. The day started with a rally of fiery speeches to warm up participants on a chilly, rainy morning.

Courtesy of Carmen Maria Machado/Art Streiber

There have been so many momentous days recently. Today, for instance, women around the U.S. and the world (and their allies) are participating in the second annual Women’s March. Yesterday, Congress shut down the government due to differences over border security and immigration.

The Constitution of the United States in the rotunda of the National Archives, in Washington, DC.
Flickr Photo/MrTinDC (CC BY ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/7txMkC

The political climate in the United States is marked by ultra-partisanship. So it’s a good time to ask, how’s the Constitution holding up? A recent event brought together two people with a depth of political and jurisprudent experience to explore that question.

Author Ijeoma Oluo.
Courtesy of Seattle Colleges

This year will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Today, the United States celebrates the birth of the great non-violence activist and civil rights leader. The federal holiday was signed into law in 1983 by President Reagan, but it wasn’t until the year 2000 that all 50 states officially observed the holiday.

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