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.

Subscribe to the Speakers Forum podcast!

Use Apple Podcasts | Use another player | Subscribe to the RSS

Ways to Connect

Dr. Ira Helfand at 2013 conference in Oslo, Norway.
Flickr Photo/atomwaffenfrei. jetzt (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/e1AiM1

What have we learned from our historic use of nuclear weapons? And given their terrible destructive force, why have we not banned them? 

This talk by Dr. Ira Helfand offers detailed insights into the dangers of nuclear proliferation and war. He covers the risks of the U.S.-Russia and India-Pakistan conflicts, the threat of terrorism, the North Korean wild card, the possibility of an accidental war, and how a modern nuclear war would impact humans and the environment.

Journalist Sonia Shah at her 2013 TED talk in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Flickr Photo/Ted Conference (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/eMH3af

In a 2006 study, 90 percent of epidemiologists predicted a pandemic would kill 165 million people sometime in the next two generations.

Research published this year confirms that threat, and suggests the impacts would be greater than those caused by world war or financial crises. The study concluded that “leaders at all levels have not been giving these threats anything close to the priority they demand.”

Ballard Bridge south approach under construction, 1939
Flickr Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/wpQDgY

How much do you know about the history of the place you live? If that place is Seattle, points of interest include how the natives of this area lived, why the so-called pioneers chose to settle here, and why this town won out over others as Puget Sound’s central city. In this talk, professor Linda Nash delves into the historic depths of how chance and natural resources fueled this booming metropolis of trade and expansion.

A sign at the Occupy Philly protest.
Flickr Photo/-Curly- (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/aEmiVj

Author and journalist Chris Hedges is a radical by U.S. standards. He believes our system of government is so compromised by corporate influence that nothing short of revolution and corporate overthrow can fix it. His suggestions include nationalization of banks and utilities.

This is your brain on information overload

May 6, 2016
Author and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin
Courtesy Photo/Peter Prato

With more and more information at our fingertips, the human brain is constantly sorting and filing an overwhelming amount of data.

In his book, “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload,” neuroscientist Daniel Levitin breaks down hard science on brain productivity. He addresses simple things to help improve brain efficiency, like making lists and checking them off, taking breaks and allocating time.

Author Peggy Orenstein
Courtesy Photo/Michael Todd

For her new book, “Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape,” Peggy Orenstein conducted ongoing, in-depth interviews with dozens of young women. The result is an honest picture of the sex lives of women 15-20 years old.

Thomas Merton Center dinner honoring Bill McKibben, 11/4/2013
Flickr Photo/Mark Dixon (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/hkccL6

On his recent visit to Seattle, author and environmentalist Bill McKibben apologized for his “life’s work of bumming people out” about climate change. He continued with that sobering work in this talk at Town Hall Seattle, but not without sharing his optimism about the successes and the future of the environmental movement.

Courtesy of David Haldeman

This Humanities Washington Think & Drink conversation addresses the effects of climate change in the Northwest. It features Amy Snover, director of the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group, Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien and KUOW environment reporter Ashley Ahearn. They spoke at Naked City Brewery and Taphouse on March 30. Anna Tatistcheff recorded their talk.

Timothy Egan (with Oscar Wilde) in Galway, Ireland
Courtesy of Timothy Egan

Seven years ago, writer Timothy Egan was on a trip to Helena, Montana. While on a walk with the governor he came across a statue that intrigued him and asked a simple question: “Who is that?” The answer lead Egan on an extended journey leading toward his new book, “The Immortal Irishman.”

Egan, who lives in Seattle, is a New York Times columnist and the author of seven books. He spoke at Town Hall Seattle on March 1. Jennie Cecil Moore recorded his talk.

NPR political correspondent Mara Liasson speaking at KUOW studios on March 31, 2016.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

NPR national politics correspondent Mara Liasson spoke March 31 at Seattle Town Hall about political trends in this election cycle. 

She was then joined by a panel of local communications experts to discuss the challenges news organizations and journalists face in a shifting media landscape. The panel included: Seattle Times editor Kathy Best, KUOW president and general manager Caryn Mathes, GeekWire co-founder John Cook and Providence Health Services and Swedish Hospital executive Dan Dixon.

John Nichols and Robert McChesney at UC Berkeley.
Flickr Photo/Steve Rhodes (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/gVotXN

In their new book “People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy,” Robert McChesney and John Nichols argue for a return to democratic ideals -- or else. Their dire warnings point to the possibility of a massive failure for our economy and political system without the renewal of core democratic infrastructures: “a credible free press, high quality education for all and checks on inequality, militarism and corruption.”

In this Sept. 17, 2014 file photo, Colorado-based author Jon Krakauer gestures during an interview in Denver.
AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File

Shocked by the story of a family friend, author Jon Krakauer began an exploration of why sexual assault is at once so prevalent and yet so unreported and not prosecuted.

His new book is “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town.” In this talk he explains how what happens in Missoula, Montana is a template for our national failure to confront the epidemic of sexual assault.

Senator Cory Booker at Town Hall Seattle
KUOW Photo/John O'Brien

In this talk, Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) challenges all Americans -- left, right and center-- to rise above cynicism and treat one another with love and respect, even if we don’t always see eye to eye. His new book is, “United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good.”

Booker spoke at Town Hall Seattle on March 24.

Actress Lauren Weedman writes about her roller coaster ride of a life in her new book "Miss Fortune: Fresh Perspectives on Having It All From Someone Who Is Not Okay."
Courtesy of Sharon Algona

In the late 1990s actor and comedian Lauren Weedman starred in the Seattle sketch comedy series “Almost Live!” That launched her career in TV and film in New York and L.A.

Weedman writes about her roller coaster ride of a life in her new book "Miss Fortune: Fresh Perspectives on Having It All From Someone Who Is Not Okay." She spoke with The Stranger’s Dan Savage at Town Hall Seattle on March 17. Anna Tatistcheff recorded their talk.

Robert Gates being sworn in as U.S. Secretary of Defense in 2006.
Public Domain

In his varied career, Robert Gates has gone from CIA recruit to director; academic to president of Texas A&M University; Air Force veteran to U.S. Secretary of Defense; Eagle Scout to Head of the Boy Scouts of America.

Gates worked for eight presidents, and said he respected all but one. You’ll find out which in this talk at Town Hall Seattle on  Feb. 2.

His new book is “A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service.” In it he assesses the types of leadership that cause institutions to fail and succeed. Jennie Cecil Moore recorded his talk.

Web Exclusive: Listen to the full version of his talk below

Jennifer Hopper in KUOW's green room in 2014.
KUOW Photo/Akiko Oda

In the summer of 2009 a terrible crime was committed in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle. Jennifer Hopper and her partner Teresa Butz were attacked in their home. Hopper survived, but Butz was murdered.

Journalist Eli Sanders wrote a series of articles in The Stranger about that attack and its aftermath. He received the Pulitzer Prize for the third piece in the series “The Bravest Woman In Seattle.”

Author Kara Platoni
Courtesy of Justine Quart Photography

Kara Platoni took a year off to travel around the world searching for cutting edge investigations into sensory perception -- including what the taste of fatty acids does to mice and us and how scent triggers memories in Alzheimer’s patients.

The lessons she learned inspired her new book “We Have the Technology: How Biohackers, Foodies, Physicians, and Scientists Are Transforming Human Perception One Sense at a Time.”

Activist Abby Brockway was part of a panel discussing civil disobedience in response to climate change.
Courtesy of Rising Tide Seattle

Would you risk arrest and prosecution to protect the environment? Or empathize with those who do? Humanities Washington made this the focus of their most recent Think & Drink: “The Necessity Defense: Climate Change and Civil Disobedience.”

KUOW’s Ashley Ahearn served as moderator. The panel included activist Abby Brockway and UW professors Richard Gammon and Megan Ming Francis. Brie Ripley recorded their conversation at Naked City Brewery on Feb.17. 

Photo Credit: Chris Bennion

Sandbox Radio, a troupe of artists that has been bringing contemporary stories, skits, and music to the stage and airwaves since 2011, presents "The Big One." 

It includes the following performances:

Flickr Photo/Indra Galbo (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/3GLm42

Among a long list of achievements, University of Washington professor Ralina Joseph co-founded the group WIRED (Women Investigating Race, Ethnicity, and Difference.)

The meaning and importance of the term "difference" is the focus of her recent lecture “What’s The Difference With ‘Difference?’”

The StoryCorps 'Finding Our Way' event at The Gates Foundation, Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Caroline Dodge

When StoryCorps came to Seattle’s New Holly neighborhood last summer, people from all over the city took the opportunity to visit with a friend or family member and record a conversation. Their stories can stop you in your tracks.

Gretchen Rubin at the World Domination Summit 2013 in Portland, Oregon.
Flickr Photo/Chris Guillebeau (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/f4Zory

Gretchen Rubin is a student of human nature. And she’s built a cottage industry around helping people improve their habits and happiness.

“Habits are the invisible architecture of a happy life, and when we change our habits, we change our lives,” she said.

Carrie Brownstein at The Neptune Theatre.
Courtesy of Jason Tang Photography

Musician, actor and writer Carrie Brownstein co-founded the band Sleater-Kinney and currently stars in the television series Portlandia and Transparent. She spoke with novelist Maria Semple about her new memoir, “Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl.”

Anna Tatistcheff recorded their conversation at STG’s Neptune Theatre on Nov. 6, 2015.

Please note, this talk contains unedited language of an adult nature.

Web Exclusive: Listen to the full, unedited event below

Courtesy of Forterra/Photo by Robert Wade

Ampersand magazine recently hosted an evening of storytelling, poetry and entertainment inspired by our sense of place here in the Northwest.  The magazine is an offshoot of Forterra, an organization dedicated to creating sustainable connections between human society and nature. This event took place at Town Hall Seattle on Nov. 12, 2015. Thanks to Florangela Davila for our recording.

Marcus Green at Seattle's Mount Zion Baptist Church on Jan. 15, 2016.
Courtesy of Seattle Colleges

An excerpt from a speech by Marcus Green, founder of South Seattle Emerald. Green spoke on Jan. 15 at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Seattle.

Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter.
Wikimedia Commons

In 2012, Anne-Marie Slaughter worked long hours for the U.S. Department of State. After leaving Washington, she wrote an essay for The Atlantic titled, "Why Women Still Can’t Have It All."

Travel expert Rick Steves speaks at Seattle Central College.
Courtesy of AARP/Bruce Carlson

Rick Steves is known for his guidebooks and radio and television shows, but travel is more than a business to him. He calls it “a political act.”

As an example, Steves tells about the time he changed vacation plans to go to El Salvador on the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. "No more expensive, no more risky than going down to Mazatlan, but a life-changing experience," he said.

Steves spoke Dec. 10 at the Seattle Central College Broadway Performance Hall as part of AARP’s Life Reimagined Speaker Series. Jennie Cecil Moore recorded the event.

Kevin Powell at The Seattle Public Library.
Courtesy of Naomi Ishisaka

Seattle Poet Nikitta Oliver – who moved from a mostly black community in Indianapolis 12 years ago – said Seattle was a culture shock.

“I had dealt with white supremacy before, but never like this – never in a covert way where people could use the same progressive language I could use and at the same time make me feel like I didn’t belong here,” Oliver told an audience at Seattle Public Library’s main branch downtown.

Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard tell stories of Christmas at Seattle's Town Hall.
Courtesy of Jean Sherrard

For the last 10 years, a troop of Seattle actors have gathered to tell holiday stories. Although sometimes Grinchy, these stories have always been festive and delightful.

Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, left, UW Professor Megan Ming Francis and Seattle Police Assistant Chief Robert Merner at Humanities Washington's Think & Drink.
Courtesy of Mike Hippel

There’s been a spotlight on race and policing – but that isn’t because the situation gotten worse.

“Why a lot of black people have a deep suspicion, distrust, of police is not something that just happens because we see Michael Brown or we see Freddie Gray,” said Megan Ming Francis, a political science professor at the University of Washington.

“It’s a really, really long history that has placed us where we are right now.” 

Pages