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Check It Out!

Education Podcasts

A podcast from Sno-Isle Libraries for lifelong learners with inquiring minds. Check It Out! introduces the amazing people who work at, use and collaborate with the library district – and all of the services it offers to residents of Washington State’s Snohomish and Island counties.

A podcast from Sno-Isle Libraries for lifelong learners with inquiring minds. Check It Out! introduces the amazing people who work at, use and collaborate with the library district – and all of the services it offers to residents of Washington State’s Snohomish and Island counties.


United States


A podcast from Sno-Isle Libraries for lifelong learners with inquiring minds. Check It Out! introduces the amazing people who work at, use and collaborate with the library district – and all of the services it offers to residents of Washington State’s Snohomish and Island counties.






Episode 63: Podcast creator Jason Becker will change your mind about umpires

Let’s meet the baseball nut who sticks up for the guys behind the plate that every baseball fan loves to hate. Yes, we’re talking about umpires. In this episode of the Check It Out! podcast, host Ken Harvey talks to his friend Jason Becker, creator of the Umpire Inspire podcast. “In my book, he’s a genius, and he’s producing a fascinating podcast for the officials behind America’s favorite round-ball sport. That’s baseball, and those are umpires,” Harvey said in introducing Becker. “Fans...


Episode 62: Professor's academic research on racial strife leads to his first novel

In Episode 62 of Sno-Isle Libraries Check It Out podcast, co-hosts Ken Harvey and Tricia Lee talk to local author Stewart Tolnay and learn how he has used his study of American racial history to create interesting fiction and nonfiction. Tolnay is a Ph.D. professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Washington. His first fiction novel, “Less Than Righteous,” features a Black Vietnam War veteran, his white girlfriend and the struggles they face as an interracial couple in Everett in...


Episode 61: Peek inside the childlike mind of Chris Ballew and meet Caspar Babypants

Part 1: You Don’t Wanna Be a Rock-and-Roll Star Chris Ballew lived the rock-and-roll life. As frontman for the late, great Presidents of the United States of America, he wrote infectious, goofy, catchy hits about “Peaches” and a “Dune Buggy” when heavy grunge dominated Seattle’s FM radio waves. He toured all over the world. He played to packed arenas and stadiums. He even won a Grammy award. But that’s the old Chris Ballew. Today, Ballew is a genial, funny everyman who now can laugh...


Episode 60: Thanks to the internet and copious amounts of data, the future is now

Rodney Clark helps deliver the future. As the vice president of the Microsoft Azure Worldwide Internet of Things and Mixed Reality Team, Clark and his crew work with more than 8,000 partners and clients to connect billions of everyday devices to the cloud. Sensors on stop lights, cash registers, automobiles, home appliances, exercise monitors, video doorbells. They all generate information and data that allows organizations to take action on that data and insights. “It’s a wave, it’s a...


Episode 59: If coronavirus has you worried, this good doctor reminds you you're not alone

If you’re anxious about the global coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19, you’re not alone. In this episode of Sno-Isle Libraries Check It Out! podcast, you’ll hear how a globe-trotting disaster-relief doctor loses sleep about the deadly virus that has upended our sense of “normal.” Dr. Dan Diamond is a clinical assistant professor at Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine after spending 33 years at the University of Washington School of Medicine in a similar role. In...


Episode 58: Claudia Samano-Losada loves libraries as much as she loves her communities

Claudia Samano Losado has many talents. Early-childhood educator. World traveler. Life coach. Recreation-center owner. Dance-movement instructor. But maybe most importantly, Losado is a fervent Oak Harbor Library supporter. “I think I’m very passionate about a lot of things, and one of my passions is to share with others and to take and give in the same way,” said Losado, a member of the library’s board. “Since I have had so much from the library I’ve wanted to give back to, and this is a...


Episode 57: For food critic Nancy Leson, deadlines got in the way of a good time

Chapter 1: Meet the writer who’s not fond of writing Nancy Leson loves books, she loves libraries, she loves to talk and she loves food. That makes the Edmonds resident an ideal guest for Sno-Isle Libraries Check It Out! podcast. Libraries figured large in Leson’s childhood in Philadelphia. Her family had little disposable income, so off to the library they went to borrow books and glean information from encyclopedias. These days, Leson says, the Friends of the Edmonds Library book sale...


Episode 56: A Rich Frishman picture isn't just a thousand words. It's a story unto itself.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, some of Rich Frishman’s photographs could be novels. Frishman was a news photographer for The Daily Herald in Everett and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize before he left to pursue freelance work. He knows how to tell a story with a photograph, and he still sees and tells the stories of America through his camera lens. Frishman has criss-crossed the country to chronicle its beauty and everyday life in his collections, American Splendor and This...


Episode 55: Sometimes, a guest's gift can be hard for hosts to swallow

David George Gordon admits he was a bookworm as a child. Is that why the prolific author loves insects, and loves to eat them? Sno-Isle Libraries Check It Out! podcast hosts Ken Harvey, Jim Hills and Jessica Russell sat down with Gordon and chewed the fat about his reputation as “the bug chef.” And they graciously accepted the guest’s gifts, as polite hosts do. Yes. Harvey, Hills and Russell ate bugs. The Seattle-based author of “The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook” and 19 other titles covering slugs...


Episode 54: From "J.P. Patches" to elusive gorillas, this Edmonds pair has seen plenty

If you’re old enough to remember when Seattle television was limited to a handful of broadcast channels and you remember J.P. Patches, you’ve seen the work of Sharon Howard and Mike Rosen. Howard got her start in broadcast TV in 1977 with KIRO-TV as a floor director for newscasts and “The J.P. Patches Show.” It was performed and broadcast live, six mornings a week. Without any rehearsal to speak of. “Well, everybody thinks that we had a script and it was planned, but our plans were to...


Episode 53: Scouting clean tech with Tom Ranken

As the outgoing president and CEO of Washington CleanTech Alliance, Tom Ranken has been close to many of the biggest and some of the smallest businesses in the region. What they all have in common, Ranken says, is a goal to change the world. Ranken had plenty of business expertise - Immunex, VizX Labs, Axio Research - on his resume before joining the Alliance in 2010 as its first full-time president & CEO. At that time, the clean-tech industry trade association had 35 members. Under...


Episode 52: Discovering seasonal secrets and looking ahead

In this final episode of the second season of Check It Out!, hosts Ken Harvey, Jessica Russell, Paul Pitkin and Jim Hills relate their personal holiday dreams and nightmares and dive into library resources that may just help set a tasty dinner table. Hills, not beset by the piled-plate, food-touching phobia, shares that a holiday meal is best perceived as a single entity, the sum of its parts as measured both horizontally and vertically. The description, however, takes Russell back to a...


Episode 51: The music of community service with Dave Earling

Dave Earling has worn the mantles of many different roles. Student. Musician. Husband. Father. Grandfather. Teacher. Business owner. City council member. Volunteer. And perhaps most recently and visibly, Mayor of Edmonds. Earling speaks in this episode of the Check It Out! podcast as he brings that role as city executive to close. “I jokingly say that I have a checkered past,” Earling says. “But, if you are truly interested in what you are doing, you’ll be successful and that’s how I’ve...


Episode 50: How to become robot-proof with Amit Singh

The key to long term success is becoming “robot-proof,” says Amit Singh. Singh, the president at Edmond Community College, says students need two things to compete in today’s economy and into the future. “They need technical skills and they need higher-level mental skills,” Singh says in this episode. “We normally call those mental skills ‘soft skills’ such as problem-solving. “Those skills are making you robot-proof. A robot cannot take those jobs.” Singh says that technical skills in...


Episode 49: Building the people's palace with Eric Klinenberg

It may not come as a surprise that Eric Klinenberg gets a warm welcome when he speaks to librarians and supporters of public libraries. Klinenberg is the author of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life that was published in 2018. The book makes the case that shared “social infrastructure,” such as libraries, is critical for the future of democracies and the literal survival of their citizens. He spoke to the...


Episode 48: Keeping government open and transparent with Toby Nixon

Some children dream of being a firefighter or star athlete. After an early civics lesson in school, Toby Nixon knew he was interested in government. That early interest has turned into a life focused on public service and protecting the processes of government. Nixon was re-elected to the city council in Kirkland, Wash., in the fall of 2019, a position he’s held since 2012. Among the many current and former public-service roles Nixon has taken on, he has been a fire commissioner and a...


Episode 47: From the Bookmobile to regency romance, discovering the library

Even for the folks whose jobs are to know things about the library, Sno-Isle Libraries continues to amaze and surprise. In this episode, co-hosts Ken Harvey, Jim Hills, Jessica Russell and Paul Pitkin, “Go over the highlights of what we don’t know.” Service Center Hills points out the oddity that while the library district’s Service Center in Marysville serves all 23 community libraries, Library on Wheels and online services, it is not itself a library. Jessica Russell, Assistant...


Episode 46: Books and book'n'em with Alan Hardwick

What do police officer, adopted son, milkman, cheese cutter, fur trapper and international terrorism have in common? They have all been part of Alan Hardwick’s life. Hardwick is author of “Never Been This Close to Crazy,” the Edmonds Police sergeant’s first novel, which was published in June this year. Hardwick’s 28-year law-enforcement career has touched a number of important areas. Hardwick started in Idaho and founded the Boise Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit. He’s now a...


Episode 45: Serving community with Nate Nehring and Sue Norman

Chapter 1 – Snohomish County Council member Nate Nehring Nate Nehring may look young for a Snohomish County Council member, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a lot of experience. Born and raised in Marysville, Nehring was appointed to an open seat on the county council in 2017 at age 21. He is also the son of Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring. “I remember going out and doorbelling for him,” Nehring says of his father, who was first elected mayor in 2010. Before that, Jon Nehring served as...


Episode 44: Engineering a writing career with Bernadette Pajer

Bernadette Pajer had returned to the University of Washington, intent on completing a degree in engineering. And then the life story of the soon-to-be mystery/crime writer took its own plot twist. Pajer turned her focus toward culture, literature and the arts and completed a Creative Writing Certificate at the UW. From there, Pajer began building on what she knew, which spawned the Profesor Bradshaw Mysteries series. "I don't even remember when I started that (first) book)," Bradshaw...