skip navigation
Support KUOW

As the Sound Churns

Reporting and photography by John Ryan

Puget Sound is "as intricate and devious a sea as any in the world," in the words of sailor and author Jonathan Raban. Our region has some of the world's fastest tidal currents, and they can spell trouble for oil tankers, kayaks, and even suspension bridges.

While the boils and whirlpools of Puget Sound can be a deadly hazard, they also keep the sound from turning into a dead sea. Our five-part series, As the Sound Churns takes you around Puget Sound, and deep beneath it, to experience the exhilarating and treacherous waters of our backyard fjord.


Funding for As the Sound Churns was provided by the KUOW Program Venture Fund. As the Sound Churns has received several awards:

  • 2007 Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI) Awards: 1st Place, Best News Series
  • 2007 SEJ Awards for Reporting on the Environment: 2nd place, Outstanding Beat/In-depth Reporting, Radio
  • 2007 RTNDA Regional Murrow Awards – Region 1, Radio: Large Market 1st Place, News Documentary
  • Society Of Professional Journalists 2007 Northwest Regional Excellence In Journalism Competition: 1st Place, News Series

Victoria Secrets

Monday, October 16, 2006

Near the entrance to Puget Sound, the city of Victoria, B.C., pipes its untreated sewage to the bottom of the sea. But this summer, the British Columbia government ordered Victoria to use something besides ocean currents to treat its waste. To start off our series on the tidal currents of Puget Sound, producer John Ryan went to Victoria to see if dilution is the solution to pollution. More »


Major-League Mariners

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

In Seattle, some mariners work inside a baseball stadium. But there's also a small band of real mariners who specialize in guiding stadium-sized ships through Puget Sound. Narrow shipping lanes and fast currents demand an expert hand at the wheel to keep the sound safe from a major oil spill. For part two of our series on the tidal currents of Puget Sound, producer John Ryan takes us on a midnight run on a giant oil tanker. More »


Swirls of Deception

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

At Deception Pass, a rising tide endangers all boats. Some of the world's fastest tidal currents shoot through the narrow passage north of Whidbey Island. In part three of his series on the swirling waters of Puget Sound, Producer John Ryan joins a group of kayakers as they learn to ride the fire hose of Puget Sound's strongest currents. More »


Admiralty Inlet

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Of all the ferry runs that cross Puget Sound, one gets canceled for rough seas more than all the rest combined. More than two hundred times last year, the Keystone ferry, between Whidbey Island and Port Townsend, couldn't leave the dock because of dangerous currents in Admiralty Inlet. For our series on the churning waters of Puget Sound, producer John Ryan reports from the bow of the M-V Klickitat. More »


Bridges Over Troubled Waters

Friday, October 20, 2006

A wind storm sent the bridge known as Galloping Gertie crashing to the bottom of the Tacoma Narrows more than half a century ago. A third Tacoma Narrows Bridge is now under construction, and this time, the turbulent waters of the Narrows have been a serious hazard for bridge builders. In part five of his series on the swirling currents of Puget Sound, Producer John Ryan takes us deep inside the giant blender known as the Tacoma Narrows. More »