Erin Hennessey

News Director

Erin Hennessey oversees KPLU's news team. Before accepting the position of News Director in 1996, she spent five years as KPLU's All Things Considered Host and filed news stories for KPLU and NPR. Erin is a native of Spokane and a graduate of the University of Washington and London's City University - Center for Journalism Studies. Erin worked in the film industry and as a print journalist in London and New York before returning to Seattle to work in broadcast news.

Erin's most memorable moment at KPLU: "Interviewing NPR's Cokie Roberts about multi-faith families and the challenges of juggling different holiday traditions."


medal of honor
3:40 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Seattle Native Honored with Presidential Medal of Honor

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Army Capt. William D. Swenson of Seattle, Wash., during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP Photo

President Barack Obama says a former Army captain and Seattle native who survived one of the Afghan war's deadliest firefights is a reminder that Americans look out for one another, even when it's difficult.

Obama commented at a White House ceremony Tuesday before placing America's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, around former Army Capt. William D. Swenson's neck. Before the ceremony, the president spoke with Swenson’s parents, Carl and Julie.

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Tracing Earth Day's roots
3:40 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Tom Paulson: Letter and Mom prove I came up with Earth Day

Tom Paulson and his mother, Connie Wagoner, are seen looking at a scrapbook of Paulson's childhood achievements.

Who came up with the idea for Earth Day? Depends who you ask.

If you ask Tom Paulson, founder and editor of, he’ll tell you it was he and his childhood friend who gave the idea to President Lyndon B. Johnson. And he’s got a presidential letter—and his mother’s word—to back him up.

Born in 1957, Paulson was 9 years old when he penned the Earth Day letter to the president with his neighbor, friend and fellow Cub Scout Brad Jones, who is now an attorney in Tacoma.

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Food for Thought
5:00 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Homemade vinegar: For starters, it's easy to do

This "mother of vinegar" starter turns red wine into red wine vinegar.
Nancy Leson

Making your own vinegar is not complicated, thank goodness, but it does require a  good starter. Seattle Times food writer, Nancy Leson, tells KPLU's Erin Hennessey how she makes her own red wine vinegar and why it's so special.

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4:38 pm
Sun January 13, 2013

StandUp Washington rally in Seattle calls for more gun control

Retired minister and gun owner Jack Severns participated in the rally to ban assault weapons.
Hattie Lewis

Downtown Seattle's Westlake Park filled up with hundreds of people Sunday who came out to show their support for gun-control legislation. One of those attending was Jack Severns from Kent who wants to see a ban on assault weapons.

"I've owned guns since I was 12 years old but I want to see them used correctly."

Many at the rally talked about revisiting the second amendment.

The rally, called StandUp Washington, included speakers, music and remembrances for those lost in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

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5:00 am
Tue November 6, 2012

Tracing Edward Curtis's steps with author Timothy Egan

Princess Angeline, the oldest and last surviving child of Chief Seattle
Edward Curtis Curtis Library, Northwestern University

If you've seen sepia images of Native American Indians, you've probably seen Edward Curtis's work.

A new biography, "Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis," pays tribute to the Seattle photographer. KPLU's Erin Hennessey walked around Seattle's Pioneer Square with  author Timothy Egan to see where Curtis took some of his early photos, including his first portrait of an American Indian, Princess Angeline, the last surviving child of Chief Seattle.

Street Cents
5:00 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Houseboats ahoy!

Houseboat for sale in Portage Bay.
Courtesy of Cooper Jacobs Seattle Real Estate

There are not many places on the West Coast where you can find house boats. That means the supply is limited so they are usually in high demand. And don't forget the slips for the homes. Those can go for a pretty penny, too. A recent ad in the Seattle property listings featured  a piece of property on Lake Union that's 14 x 30 feet, 35 feet of water, with an asking price of $95,000.

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6:00 am
Mon May 14, 2012

May Day vandalism: Whose anarchy is this?

May Day 2012 violence in Seattle
Erin Hennessey

Weeks have passed since the May Day protests, but Seattle police are still asking for help identifying the individuals who damaged property. The violence was largely attributed to people who've been called anarchists. So what is anarchy anyway?

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May Day protests
2:17 pm
Mon April 30, 2012

Tensions mount in Seattle on brink of May Day protests

Posters like this one and other information has some in Seattle concerned that tomorrow's May Day protests could get out of hand.
Erin Hennessey KPLU

From Mayor Mike McGinn worrying about violence to a guy on the street wondering if the ferries will run, tensions in Seattle are mounting over May Day protests.

Groups are planning May Day marches in Seattle to protest capitalism, immigration laws and labor practices, but the most consistent rallying cry is for a “general strike.” How many people will go on “strike,” how many will show up to rally and whether there will be an outbreak of violence on the streets are unknowns.

And that uncertainty appears to be jangling some nerves in the city.

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Global Health
4:49 pm
Fri April 27, 2012

Seattle's William Foege wins Presidential Medal of Freedom

William Foege at home in the Northwest.
Tom Paulson

President Obama has announced the recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Among the honorees is William Foege. The Vashon Island doctor developed a vaccination plan that wiped out small pox.

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Other News
11:30 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Seattle users drive library e-book collections over New York's

There's a high demand for e-books at Seattle Public Library but print circulation is also robust.
Erin Hennessey KPLU

Seattle has always been a city that likes to read. But if the Seattle Public Library's growing e-book collection and its high usage is any indication, even more people are reading more books. And, we're also outpacing New York.

The Seattle Public Library now has just over 100,000 digitized books compared to the New York Public Library which has about 88,000.

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Public policy
8:00 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Seattle law to protect breastfeeding moves on to final vote

Does public breastfeeding bother you?
The Associated Press

About a dozen women testified in favor yesterday of the Seattle City Council proposed rule to add protection for breastfeeding mothers.

A committee considering the new law voted 3-0 to pass it onto the full council, which will vote on the bill on Monday. The committee is expecting unanimous support of the bill.

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4:18 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

Western to offer summer classes in Seattle

Western Washington University is offering summer session classes for the first time in King County starting this June. The classes will be held at North Seattle Community College.

Paul Cocke, Director of university communications, says the goal is to help students graduate in a timely manner.

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Festivals and events
12:02 pm
Sat March 17, 2012

Photos from the St. Patrick's Day Dash in Seattle - share yours

Masked elf at Dash
Erin Hennessey KPLU

According to the Website for the St. Patrick's Day Dash in Seattle, the event began 27 years ago as a race between bars and as a training event for an Irish Olympian. Now it’s Seattle’s largest single-distance run/walk, jog or crawl where the winners cross the finish before the last person starts.  The Dash covers nearly 4 miles of city streets with a 15,000 person ribbon of green. 

We'd love to see your photos – please post them in the comments section below. Cheers!

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John T. Williams
11:52 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Update: John T. Williams totem pole raised

Roughly 90 people carried a totem honoring slain First Nations woodcarver John T. Williams from the Seattle Waterfront to Seattle Center on Sunday.
Erin Hennessey KPLU

A 34-foot totem pole honoring slain First Nations woodcarver John T. Williams was carried from the Seattle Waterfront to Seattle Center and raised by some 90 people on Sunday. The pole was carried to its final destination with traditional singing, drumming, and dancing. 

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State of the City
4:55 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

In State of the City, Seattle mayor focuses on economic recovery

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn warned in his State of the City speech today that the economic storm isn’t over. The city faces another budget shortfall in 2013 and more state and federal cuts are on their way.
City of Seattle

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn delivered his third State of the City Address today focusing on education, public safety, and the economy – noting that the city was knocked down pretty hard during the recession.

He said Seattle lost 35,000 jobs with unemployment peaking at 8.2 percent. But progress has been made.

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