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from Washington State Magazine

Stories from Washington State Magazine—connecting you to Washington State University, the state, and the world. We’ll take you into the lives, research, and experiences of the WSU community, where Cougs from all over talk with us about everything from new ideas and fascinating memories to books and food.

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Season 3
February 29, 2024
Sweet beats with the Cougar Marching Band
Episode 29

Washington State University’s Cougar Marching Band is often the heart and soul that connects WSU alumni and fans at these games. New Cougar Marching Band director Jon Sweet takes magazine associate editor Adriana Janovich behind the scenes. He talks about the music, the marching, the fans, and the incredible Coug spirit in the band.

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January 30, 2024
TikTok Rx: Youth turn to social media for health advice
Episode 28

Young people have lots of questions about diet, exercise, and sexual health. TikTok is one of their most trusted venues for finding out information. Nicole O’Donnell, assistant professor at Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. O’Donnell analyzed health content on TikTok. Influencers with motivational stories were prevalent, while content from credentialed health providers was lacking.


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January 12, 2024
Weather Watch: Reflecting on a Year of Extremes with Nathan Santo Domingo
Episode 27

2023 was a year of weather extremes, with damaging floods, fires, and storms unfolding across the globe. Nathan Santo Domingo, a field meteorologist with Washington State University’s AgWeatherNet, discusses the conditions behind 2023’s extreme weather, how some of those events are affecting food prices, and the Northwest’s forecast for 2024.


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October 26, 2023
Feeding our ethics: A conversation about food and values with Samantha Noll
Episode 26

A simple decision about what to order for lunch can have profound effects on others.

Samantha Noll—a bioethicist and WSU associate professor in the School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs—talks about the ethics of food, including how her childhood on a farm shaped her views of food and some of the environmental and socio-political implications behind our food choices.

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October 10, 2023
Restoring Palouse Prairie: A field trip with Chris Duke
Episode 25

Palouse prairie of eastern Washington and northwestern Idaho is an endangered landscape. It’s dominated by forbs—flowering plants—that cover the fields with a riot of color that attracts native pollinators.

The Phoenix Conservancy is among the groups restoring Palouse prairie. Led by Chris Duke, a doctoral graduate in biology from Washington State University, the organization works to bring native plants back to endangered landscapes from Madagascar to the Great Plains of North America to the Palouse hills.

In this episode, Washington State Magazine editor Larry Clark takes a field trip with Duke to the apartment complexes on the edge of Pullman, Washington, where a half-acre hillside shows how Palouse prairie can thrive even on a small, urban piece of land. They call it a pocket prairie.

As sounds from construction of new buildings surround the area, Duke shows off the blue asters, purple lupine, and myriad other native plants as butterflies and pollinating beetles move from flower to flower. It is a sign of hope and the resilience of native species in the region.

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Season 2
September 15, 2023
Tongues of Fire: Poetry and piano
Episode 24

Eric McElroy is an American pianist and composer who released his debut album, Tongues of Fire, in March 2023 on Somm Recordings. He wrote the songs to accompany poems from modern poets W.S. Merwin, Gregory Leadbetter, Grevel Lindop, Alice Oswald, and Robert Graves. The poems are sung by acclaimed English tenor James Gilchrist and McElroy performs on piano.

McElroy graduated from Washington State University and then continued his postgraduate education in Vienna and Oxford University.

In this episode, Washington State Magazine editor Larry Clark talks with McElroy about the new album, his creative process, poetry, walking, and his influences at WSU and beyond.

July 27, 2023
More than a kick
Episode 23

Dean Janikowski is the kicker for Washington State University’s football team, a 2022 graduate and currently an MBA student at WSU. He also has a great time on Instagram and other social media with photos and videos playing football for the Cougs, riding dirt bikes, and kicking spicy Chicken McNuggets.

In this episode, Dean talks with Washington State Magazine writer Becky Kramer about raising money for the Heather Janikowski Foundation, a charity named for his mom, who died of cancer.

Dean also talks about how he started his sports career in soccer, NIL (name, image, and likeness), and his side gig as a social media influencer.

You can follow Dean Janikowski on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.


July 14, 2023
Kellie Zimmerman, Brightloom, and adventures in tech
Episode 22

Kellie Zimmerman (’01 Busi.) is no stranger to the Seattle tech scene. And she’s on a new adventure in the industry.

She spent over 15 years building and leading teams in companies such as Concur and Avalara.

Zimmerman is now CEO of Bellevue-based startup Brightloom, which leverages AI and data to help restaurants such as El Pollo Loco, Ruby Tuesday, and Jamba Juice accelerate their marketing and customer engagement.

In this episode of Viewscapes, she talks about the twists and turns of the tech industry and her career after graduating in 2001 from Washington State University’s Carson College of Business, with an emphasis in Management Information Systems.

Zimmerman returned to the world of startups when she joined Brightloom in 2020.


May 30, 2023
James Donaldson’s gift of life
Episode 21

James Donaldson had a great college and professional basketball career, a physical therapy business, and many aspirations, even in retirement from sports.

But over the course of several years, illness, bankruptcy, divorce, and circumstances in life sent Donaldson into a dark mental spiral. He found his way back, writing a book about his struggles and starting a foundation to help others.

In this episode, Donaldson talks with magazine associate editor Adriana Janovich about his struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts, his recovery and memoir, and his desire to help other men, especially men of color, who face the same darkness.

Donaldson, a 1979 alum of Washington State University, also talks about his WSU and NBA basketball career, influential coaches George Raveling and Lenny Wilkens, and how the suicide of WSU football player Tyler Hilinski shook him to the core so much that he sought help.



Standing Tall” (Profile of Donaldson in the Spring 2022 issue of Washington State Magazine)

Celebrating Your Gift of Life: From the Verge of Suicide to a Life of Purpose and Joy (Donaldson’s 2021 book)

Your Gift of Life (A nonprofit foundation for mental health awareness started by Donaldson)

Video and more stories about Donaldson at Washington State Magazine

April 28, 2023
No obstacles for this global nomad
Episode 20

Tom Haig (’09 Comm.) loves adventure. From his high-flying diving days of youth to his recovery from a bicycling accident that left him paralyzed, Haig keeps on moving.

He chronicles his life, struggles, and triumphs in a new memoir from WSU Press, Global Nomad: My Travels through Diving, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Haig writes with wit and candor about the ups and downs of adventure, culminating in his new career as a documentary filmmaker.

In this episode, Haig talks with Washington State Magazine editor Larry Clark about reinventing his life, writing his book, and where he’s going next.



Read a review of Global Nomad (Washington State Magazine, Summer 2023)

Wheeling new heights” (Profile of Haig in Washington State Magazine, Spring 2018)

Buy the book at WSU Press

March 30, 2023
Ethics and AI art
Episode 19

ChatGPT, DALL-E, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion—names that most of us hadn’t heard more than a couple of years ago now represent a slew of creative programs powered by artificial intelligence.

Large language model AI programs can write stories and articles, make illustrations and artwork, and converse with users using prompts. But what does it mean for human artists and writers? Will AI steal jobs and creative works? How should people approach the thorny ethical thicket around AI-generated art?

Mark Fagiano, a philosopher and instructor at Washington State University, talks with Larry Clark, editor of Washington State Magazine, about how ethics in action and pragmatism can help people examine not only AI art, but any rapidly evolving technology and issues in society.


Read more: “When will artificial intelligence really pass the test?” and “AI for wildlife conservation—from an AI”  (Spring 2023)

February 20, 2023
An American adventure: Helen Szablya in her own words
Episode 18

Helen Szablya’s recent memoir details her escape from Communism in her native Hungary, her time at Washington State University, and then her roles as an honorary consul to Hungary.

Szablya and her family fled their home country of Hungary and its Communist regime in a harrowing journey under the cover of night in 1956.

They traveled to Austria, Canada, and then to Pullman, Washington, where Helen received a degree, her husband John was an engineering professor, and they raised their family.

She tells the full story in the second volume of her memoir, From Refugee to Consul. Adriana Janovich, associate editor of Washington State Magazine, talked with her about the amazing journey and her experiences along the way.


Read about Szablya (’76 For. Lang.) and her epic journey in a review of From Refugee to Consul.


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