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Staff Picks for Top KCTS 9 Stories of 2016

The Workers and the Cold War Arms Factory

Katie Campbell, EarthFix Video Managing Editor

This short documentary is the most powerful story in the EarthFix series Battle Ready. Producer/photographer Ken Christensen takes viewers inside the lives of the workers who have been cleaning up Hanford, the nation's largest nuclear cleanup site, where millions of gallons of radioactive waste are sitting in leaky underground tanks. From start to finish, this is a story you can't take your eyes off of, not just because of the beautifully composed photography throughout, but also the careful storytelling that gives the spotlight to the workers who are paying for this cleanup with their health and in some cases their lives.

How the 2016 Presidential Race Has Been a ‘Gold Mine’ for Seattle Political Cartoonist David Horsey

Enrique Cerna, Director of Community Partnerships

I am a big fan of editorial cartoonist David Horsey because he has the ability to visually and narratively tell a story so succinctly. He can capture the obvious and ridiculous so well. Plus his work in this election season was so spot-on. Like he says in the beginning of the piece, this election was wild and weird. The next four years under Trump promise to be the same. One more thing: David is a Seattle boy and still has his roots here. Nice connection to have for the story.

Outdoor Schools Open Up New Adventures in Learning

Ken Christenson, EarthFix Associate Producer

Katie Campbell's story on the outdoor preschool movement is not only informative, but also brims with genuine, unfolding moments that make for wonderful video storytelling. They transport viewers to the forested classrooms of Western Washington, where this new form of early childhood education took root. I was delighted to march barefoot through the soil, climb trees and ponder decomposition alongside the students. When class was dismissed, I was reluctant to head home, realizing that tomorrow morning's commute wouldn't include a visit to “Squirrel Camp.” Fortunately, I can watch Katie's story and return whenever I like.

The Spirit of Rowing on the Duwamish River

Megan Erb, Editorial Director

One of my favorite stories of this past year is one produced by Aileen Imperial. The Spirit of Rowing on the Duwamish River really captures just that. The Duwamish Rowing Club held their first regatta this past summer. And while you may not automatically think Duwamish River and rowing, you’ll change your tune after this story. That’s the goal of the rowing club’s founder. He’s passionate about expanding the sport to a community that may not have thought about trying rowing. Many of the participants interviewed in Aileen’s story spoke with excitement about being giving the opportunity to get out onto the water and participate in a group sport with their neighbors and friends. It was obvious that the South Park community welcomed this club and sport to their neighborhood. The other reason I choose this story is it came to us through the Story Idea link on our website. We want to hear what is going on in the community and be able to get out and talk to residents in the community who want to share their stories with us. It’s part of what makes KCTS 9 a strong community member and partner. We look forward to telling more of these stories in the New Year.


Stephen Hegg, Content Production Manager

“Voice” spoke to me because it is a story about a passionate artist who confronts an artistic challenge, but also because it is a window in understanding a transgender life. Julian Morris is unusually articulate in talking about the trans experience in a very affirming, positive manner.

Amy Mahardy, Editor

Not only is this story special to me personally as a musician and a queer person, it’s also a very moving and emotional piece. Stephen Hegg and I poured our hearts into this piece and I believe it shows. The journey you’ll go on with Julian as he talks about his struggle with gender, hormones and the potential to lose his singing voice in the process of transitioning will definitely move you. Watch it! I think you’ll like it.

The Beautiful Game: Finding Community Through Soccer

Aileen Imperial, Digital Content Producer

By creating a quiet and poetic portrait of Muhammad “Mo” Jmaileh's love of soccer, Tim Hahn's piece speaks volumes and allows all of us to reflect upon greater issues of racism and Islamophobia. An important story, beautifully told.

Present Moment

Laila Kazmi, Senior Producer

Present Moment is a thoughtful and beautifully shot short documentary film about one family’s journey in coping with the everyday realities of Parkinson’s disease. Filmmakers Aimie Vallat and Noah Dassel present an intimate glimpse into the family’s life and an inspiring story about overcoming challenges. The full film is available online for a limited time starting on Dec 31.

Protecting Vanishing Species as the Artillery Flies

Patty Lindley, Digital Director

This brilliant story by Katie Campbell is part of the must-see EarthFix series Battle Ready, which explores the fascinating symbiotic coexistence of unexpectedly copacetic prairie home companions: soldiers stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and an endangered (and adorable!) population of streaked horned larks, a rare and critical species that calls the base’s open artillery-training lands home. It is an extremely encouraging view of an ongoing collaboration between the military and biologists/ecologists that balances battle-readiness on the one hand with an attendant commitment to safely and thoughtfully sustaining and protecting our precious lands and engendered prairie species.