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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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.” 

Clay Jenkinson as John Wesley Powell
Photo Courtesy of Katrina Shelby Photography

Scholar and author Clay Jenkinson is known to many listeners as the co-host of The Thomas Jefferson Hour. You may also know that every year he visits Seattle to perform one of his historical interpretations. He calls it the highlight of his year.

Taken at the second Storywallahs event; the theme was Coming Home.
KUOW Photos/Bond Huberman

The 24-year-old man didn’t have a home.

So he came up with a bold plan: Go to the nicest neighborhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan, knock on the doors of 10 mansions and ask if he could move in.

Pacific Ocean from across the straights.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

In 1520, explorer Ferdinand Magellan called it “peaceful.” At more than 60 million square miles, the Pacific Ocean covers 30 percent of the earth’s surface -- an area larger than the landmass of all the continents combined. It is our planet’s largest and deepest ocean basin, and it has stories to tell. So, where to begin?

Author Simon Winchester sees many good starting points. His new book is “Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers.”

Writer Sonya Lea and her husband Richard Bandy in high school in the 1970s.
John Carswell/Courtesy of the author

When writer Sonya Lea’s husband underwent a radical surgery, he lost three pitchers of blood.

That severe blood loss deprived his brain of oxygen, causing permanent damage. When he emerged from the operating room, his eyes were shocked open, and his personality had changed.

Professor Robert Reich at Town Hall Seattle on Oct. 19, 2015.
Flickr Photo/Al Garman (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1TeSMCu

Robert Reich says he’s often stopped by strangers at airports. People walk right up to him, forego any niceties, and get straight to the question: “What are we going to do?”

Reich says that makes him optimistic, because it’s not just liberals asking.

Gloria Steinem and Cheryl Strayed at Benaroya Hall on Nov. 8.
Courtesy of Bre LeBeuf

Gloria Steinem doesn’t like being called an icon. She sees herself as one in a tide of women who made and make change, so she doesn’t want to be put up on a pedestal.

But she is called an icon, and has come to represent the modern struggle for women’s rights and equality.

Washington and Lafayette at Mount Vernon, 1784, by Thomas Prichard Rossiter and Louis Rémy Mignot.
Public Domain

In 1777 Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette was a French aristocrat looking for military glory. Since the French weren’t at war, the 19-year-old crossed the Atlantic to join George Washington and other American revolutionaries in their fight with the British.

That’s where Sarah Vowell comes in.

Courtesy of Dean Forbes, Seattle University

Legendary science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin visited Seattle University recently to meet with students and read from her novel "The Lathe of Heaven." The work was chosen as the common text reading for SU freshman and transfer students this year.

Prison jail bars
Flickr Photo/Thomas Hawk (CC BY NC 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1MLz2Y5

The United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world. But that’s a relatively recent development. Over the last three decades rates of incarceration in the U.S. have increased five-fold.

Currently there are about 2.2 million U.S. citizens behind bars. Race and class are major factors in who goes to prison. If current trends continue, 1 in 3 young black men will spend time behind bars. The projected rate for young white men is 1 in 22.

Courtesy of Sandbox Radio/Truman Buffett and Joe Iano
Courtesy of Sandbox Radio/Truman Buffett and Joe Iano

This week on Speakers Forum we’re presenting a chill-worthy (and very funny) episode from Sandbox Radio. It’s a first for us, and just in time for Halloween.

The Stranger calls their work “fresh, joyful and awesome.” But given the season, they’ve added a touch of “creepy” to the mix.

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