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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Pfc. Holly Horned of the Indiana Army National Guard adjusts her gas mask before entering a gas chamber during a nuclear, biological and chemical warfare training exercise at Camp Atterbury, Ind., June 15, 2010.
Flickr Photo/DVIDSHUB (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/8cwDmR

Author Mary Roach has a specialty of sorts; she writes about the funnier aspects of science. Along with the humor, she’s known for her thorough research.

Her books include “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers,” “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex” and now “Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War.”  

Mary Roach spoke with Seattle Review of Book’s co-founder Paul Constant at Town Hall Seattle on June 15. The event was sponsored by University Book Store. Ana Sofia Knauf recorded their conversation.

Stock paper
Flickr Photo/Hobvias Sudoneighm (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/Fecq6

Author Mark Kurlansky tells the story of the time he met legendary newsman Walter Cronkite. Cronkite greeted him with the line “I know you. You’re the leading expander of minutiae.”

If you’re only familiar with Kurlansky’s book titles that may seem an apt description. His latest is “Paper: Paging Through History.”

But he begs to differ. He says he’s not trying to find the obscure in minor details. He’s looking for critical keys to history.

Sebastian Junger speaks at TED Talks Live in November 2015 at Town Hall New York.
Flickr Photo/TED Conference (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/A7DoJU

News of soldiers who struggle on their return home from war is a constant in the United States. Author Sebastian Junger looked for an explanation for this cultural phenomenon, and may have found it in his research into Native American history. His new book is “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging.”

Amanda Saab at Ignite Seattle 30
Photo courtesy of Randy Stewart

The Ignite series started in Seattle in 2006. Each event gives you the chance to talk about something that inspires you, for 5 minutes, on a stage in front of hundreds of strangers. Their motto is “enlighten us, but make it quick!” 

Donald Morehead talks about life as a homeless person in Seattle at an event from Seattle Public Library and KUOW on June 3, 2016.
Courtesy of Seattle Public Library/Alex Garland

The Jungle is a three mile-long homeless camp under Interstate 5. It’s been in the news frequently since a deadly shooting there on January 26.

Many of us have driven over it, maybe without thinking about the hundreds of people who live there. What brought them there? What’s it like? And why do many residents prefer it to homeless shelters?

Photo: Brie Ripley

A recent poetry reading at Folio, The Seattle Athenaeum, featured three renowned Northwest poets: Heather McHugh, Lucia Perillo and Washington poet laureate Tod Marshall. What’s an Athenaeum? Listen in. All will be revealed.


Sandbox Radio members (front) Seanjohn Walsh, Lisa Viertel, Katie Driscoll, Eric Ray Anderson (back) Shigeko Calos-Nakano, Lizzy Burton
Photo by Truman Buffett

It’s Sandbox Radio time again on Speakers Forum, with special guest Nancy Pearl. Here’s our presentation of their latest work "The Words and the Bees." 


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

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