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Indy on Air

Indy on Air

Author: The Sammamish Independent

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Indy On Air is a podcast that compliments the new digital newspaper, the Sammamish Independent. Join us as our podcast team takes a deep dive into important topics that affects the Sammamish community.
38 Episodes
AI and Education

AI and Education


The release of artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT in November 2022 launched many conversations about AI in the past few months. With original writing that can't be caught by plagiarism checks and that can be indistinguishable from human writing, concerns have been raised about the potential for cheating in academics. Many also wonder what the future of AI will hold. We talked to University of Washington professor Jeff Blimes and a teacher at Eastlake High School for their perspectives on AI.
With air quality in the Seattle area the worst in the world in October, many wondered whether this would be yet another "new normal." After all, wildfires nearby have brought smoke to Sammamish nearly every year in recent memory. We talked to a firefighter and local hiker for insights into the impact of these fires and what is being done to address them.
It’s no secret that there’s a national teacher shortage right now, and that many teachers are not happy with the resources the district provides them inside and outside classrooms. With Seattle schools starting a week late from a teacher strike, we wondered how teachers in Sammamish feel about returning back to school this year. We talked to three teachers in the Lake Washington and Issaquah school districts to get insights on what our local teachers are faring as schools try to return to pre-pandemic life.
In April 2021, Sound Transit posted an update about the North Sammamish Park and Ride, a parking lot for drivers to leave their cars in to travel through public transport, moving the completion date to 2045 - 21 years after the previous 2024 promise. We talked to former council member Jason Ritchie and a few Sammamish citizens to gain a better understanding of what the North Sammamish Park and Ride is, and why it’s taking so long to build.
Ever since the brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police in 2020, there has been a national awakening on the need for police reform. Last year, Washington state passed House Bill 1310, which aimed to limit the use of the force by police to reduce deaths. We spoke with state representative Roger Goodman — who represents the 45th District and chairs the House Public Safety Committee — to gain a better understanding of the police reform legislation, how it impacts our community, and the work that he has done this year to clarify some parts of the legislation at the request of law enforcement.
After nearly two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, cases and hospitalizations have hit new records in King County due to the rapid spread of the omicron variant. With some schools shutting down, a general lack of staff across businesses, and shortages of COVID testing, people have been wondering — when will all this be over, and what is our local government doing to help us get through the current crisis? We spoke to Mayor Christie Malchow to find out how the City of Sammamish has addressed these challenges.
Holidays with Omicron

Holidays with Omicron


For many Sammamish residents, holiday plans are forging ahead, despite the world being hit, once again, with a new COVID-19 variant. With many uncertainties on how extensively the omicron variant will spread, and how severe cases could get, some people have become more cautious about holiday travel plans. Others are still planning to make that long overdue trip to see family members or go on a destination vacation. We spoke with a few members of our community to see how omicron has impacted their holiday plans.
Teachers across the country are being targeted for “left-leaning” curriculums by conservatives, who have zeroed in on opposition to critical race theory and ethnic studies in the media and on political campaigns. We invited guests with opposing perspectives — conservative radio host Jason Rantz and Eastlake High School humanities teacher Shila Hodgins — to see how far apart the two sides really are.
As we head into the first few months of the 2021-22 school year, students are grappling with a huge change of pace as they go back to school in-person. Homework has increased, tests are done in the classroom, and kids are finally being held accountable for their academic performance. To see how this major shift from a year-and-a-half of remote learning has affected students, we speak to teachers and students who are experiencing this first-hand.
In June, an extreme heat wave strained the Pacific Northwest and left the majority of homes in Sammamish unbearable. This unprecedented event underscored the urgent need to take action to prevent the worst effects of climate change. We explore what cities can do on their own to become more sustainable, and compare Kirkland, which has a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with Sammamish, which does not. We also meet a high school student who tried to get Sammamish to adopt a sustainability master plan, and ask him what happened after he met with Mayor Karen Moran and city officials to pitch his proposal.
With so many highly-rated high schools across the Eastside, our communities, including Sammamish, are notorious for adding pressure on kids to get into competitive colleges and majors. Before the admissions process formally gets underway, we find out what is motivating students in their college choices, why some of them are so focused on getting into a top-ranked college, and what can a student do if the college application process does not work out as they had planned. Guests include high school juniors, an independent college admissions counselor, and a college transfer student who moved to different school after his freshman year.
Local teen Ketki Ketkar's recent bronze medal at an international fencing competition represented the tip of iceberg—a growing fencing community here in Sammamish. For relatively wealthy communities such as ours, parents are very keen on finding activities that pique their kids' interests and allow them to specialize in something for extracurriculars and college applications. Fencing has become an attractive alternative for kids who do not have the height nor size to play traditional sports such as basketball or football. It has also become a surprising forum for gender equality, where girls start out competing at the same level as boys. At the same time, new interest among Asian families has helped to diversify the sport. For this episode, we interview a competitive fencer, a coach, a fencing mom, and our very own editor (who is also a fencer) to talk about why they love playing with swords and what it takes to compete.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a rapid increase in housing prices in Sammamish. Although this recent spike has been caused by more people working from home and looking for larger spaces, several structural factors have built up to make housing more unaffordable in Sammamish and across the greater Seattle area over the last two decades. This affordability crisis has created many negative consequences in our region, including increased gentrification, displacement and homelessness. We invite Zillow economist Jeff Tucker, Futurewise Eastside program coordinator Brady Nordstrom, and Windermere Real Estate agent Jen DerGarabedian to discuss these housing trends, and how they have contributed to greater inequity in our community today.
One year ago, schools in Sammamish closed their doors due to COVID-19, with teachers and students going home to an uncertain future. What many thought was a two-week lockdown became a year of teaching and learning on a laptop from home, especially for secondary students who have yet to return to campus. Now, the reopening is just on the horizon, with Gov. Jay Inslee ordering all school districts to offer hybrid instruction by April 19. This pandemic has affected the community around our schools in different ways. We check in with students, parents and a teacher to reflect on this tumultuous year, and what they plan to do when schools open their doors next month.
In 2019, former mayor Don Gerend, who served on Sammamish City Council for 18 years, filed a legal complaint against the City of Sammamish to the state's Growth Management Hearing Board, alleging the city broke state law when it tinkered with its methodology for measuring traffic and road capacity in order to stop growth and development. After playing out for more than a year, the state board ruled that Sammamish violated Washington state's Growth Management Act, but this decision is now being appealed in court. The podcast team explains what this case is really about, and speaks with Don Gerend on why he took legal action against the city instead of enjoying his retirement from public service.
Robert Monster is a Sammamish resident who is no stranger to controversy. He is the CEO of Epik, a company that provides domain and web hosting services, and is known for doing business with several far-right and extremist websites including Gab and Infowars. Last month, it became the domain registrar for Parler, the social media platform that was used by many Trump supporters to coordinate the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. In this wide-ranging interview, Monster discusses why he is motivated to provide technology support to controversial organizations, where he draws the line between free speech and hate speech, and the role that he sees Epik playing to counter-balance the current political and media environment. 
The Issaquah School District (ISD) is currently planning to build a new elementary and high school at Providence Heights, which is located just outside the southern border of Sammamish adjacent to 228th Ave SE. With the City of Sammamish opposing the construction of these two schools, we interview Ron Thiele, the superintendent of ISD, and Kavya Yerramili, a junior at Skyline High School, to discuss why ISD wants to build these schools as soon as possible. 
Almost no part of the United States has been spared by the COVID-19 resurgence this fall and winter. With cases and deaths rising again in the Greater Seattle area, we interview an urgent care doctor from Overlake Clinics and a health educator from Public Health King County to discuss the current state of the pandemic. We ask them what their experience has been like on the frontlines treating patients and managing the public health response, and what local residents can do to stay healthy and help keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed.  
The diversity of Sammamish is what makes this city unique, and that diversity really shows in the different ways that people celebrate the quintessential American holiday of Thanksgiving. The podcast team interviews five Sammamish residents to learn about their Thanksgiving memories and family traditions, as well as how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered their plans for this year. 
On the eve of the election, we explore the history of how the U.S. created and maintained such a convoluted and undemocratic process called the Electoral College for electing the president. Special guests include Alex Keyssar, Matthew W. Stirling Jr. Professor of History and Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, and Kieran Jacobson, AP Comparative Government and Politics teacher at Eastlake High School.
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