What you clicked on: The most read MyNorthwest stories of 2023

Dec 30, 2023, 6:00 AM

From left, Producer Nicole Thompson and KIRO host Dori Monson. (Courtesy of the Monson family)...

From left, Producer Nicole Thompson and KIRO host Dori Monson. (Courtesy of the Monson family)

(Courtesy of the Monson family)

From Dori Monson’s tragic and unexpected death to Amazon’s mandate bringing employees back in the office and nightmare tenants, the city of Seattle and the state of Washington had a busy, headline-filled year. Here are the top-performing stories of 2023 on MyNorthwest.

Top 5 news stories

Seattle homeowner pays $125K settlement for cutting down tree: Cutting down trees to improve his view ended up costing a Seattle resident $125,000 after settling a lawsuit with the city.

The city’s lawsuit claimed the homeowner and landscaping company were responsible for damaging multiple trees of varying sizes and damaging recent restoration efforts in the park.

No fun at Funko as move from Everett goes south: Funko moved a large part of its operations out of Everett to Arizona, causing a class action lawsuit from its investors in the process.

The suit alleged that the company failed to tell investors that it was experiencing significant delays in the rollout of a new software program, critical “to the efficient operation of its new distribution center,” according to court documents obtained by The Everett Herald. The stock price fell by 18%.

Study: ‘Seattle quite unsafe for its residents,’ Tacoma even lower: A WalletHub study found Seattle as the 158th safest city in America. The city ranked 163rd for thefts and hate crimes per capita, and 160th for home and community safety.

“Seattle has been on a downward slope since 2020 when it ranked 116th,” WalletHub senior analyst Jill Gonzalez told MyNorthwest. “In 2021, it went down to 133rd and then to 148th in 2022.”

Customers flock to gun stores as WA assault weapons ban nears: Gun stores across the region reported surging sales when Governor Jay Inslee’s assault weapons ban loomed over the state.

“The intent of the law was so vague that I think a lot of people don’t have any idea what he’s really trying to do in all honesty,” Nick, a customer at Pantel Tactical, told KIRO Newsradio. “For the past few weeks, it’s been chaos as we get closer to the deadline. It’s going to get busier and busier.”

Real estate excise tax could become highest in nation with new bill: The bill, HB 1628, was set to create a new real estate excise tax rate of 4% for real estate sales of $5 million or more if passed.

“That is a lot of money, and the opponents say this would be the highest REET tax in the country at 4%,” KIRO Newsradio’s Matt Markovich said.

Top 5 KIRO Newsradio stories

Longtime KIRO Newsradio host Dori Monson dies at age 61: On the first day of the year, The KIRO Newsradio staff, Bonneville International and his immediate family announced the tragic news of Dori Monson’s death.

A longtime watchdog of government and social issues, Dori was known by his many listeners as a boy from the “mean streets of Ballard.” At the time of his passing Dori was KIRO-FM’s top-rated mid-day host.

Gee Scott: ‘If you don’t want to go back to work, go find another job’: Gee Scott, co-host of The Gee and Ursula Show, shared his thoughts on Amazon’s demand for its corporate staff to report back to the office by May 1 of this year.

“If you don’t want to go back to work, go find another job,” Gee said. “Look, this whole working from home thing, I think is fantastic. I am fighting for four days a week, I think it is fantastic. If you have the opportunity to work from home, that work-life balance, I’m not hating on you.”

Broadcasters, politicians, coworkers and friends remember Dori Monson: Just a day after the announcement of his passing, Dori Monson was remembered by a collection of public figures he had interviewed, broadcasters who had worked in the industry alongside him, coworkers who shared years of happy memories with him, and thousands of fans.

Dori’s career in radio started in 1982 at the University of Washington and included work at KING-TV, KING Radio and at KIRO since the early 1990s. A man of deep faith and a fierce advocate for girls’ sports for more than 25 years, Dori coached Shorecrest High School to its first state girls’ basketball title in 2016.

Life put in perspective after John Curley’s cabin burns down: After KIRO Newsradio host John Curley’s cabin in Cle Elem burned down, he took to The John and Shari Show to provide a perspective on the important things in life.

“I jumped in the car. I raced over there, the flames must have been 15-30 feet in the air, and this beautiful little log cabin is going away. And finally, which seemed to take a long time — they squirt it and stuff, but they were hitting with the hose and the foam and everything,” John said.

‘Frasier’ wasn’t the first influential Seattle TV show: KIRO Newsradio historian Feliks Banel took a deep dive into Seattle as a backdrop for television series after a “Frasier” sequel series debuted on Paramount+.

This has happened many times after the first run of “Frasier,” notably with “Grey’s Anatomy” and “iCarly.” A quick look at Wikipedia reveals many other shorter-lived series set in Seattle around this same time, the most intriguing of which is “Citizen Baines,” starring James Cromwell as a retired U.S. Senator who comes home to Seattle and his neglected family.

Top 5 KTTH stories

Rantz: Homeless at encampment with pool explain why they won’t leave: KTTH host Jason Rantz uncovered a homeless camp that featured a swimming pool, and quickly learned how resistant they were to leaving.

While outlets cover the encampment from a distance, The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH was offered a tour of the encampment by two of its homeless occupants. The encampment houses between 20 and 25 people, and it’s grown in the last year. They live in RVs and cars. Monica said many of them have full-time jobs (some as landscapers and one as a chef) and are choosing to live at the encampment to save money or for the freedom.

homeless pool Seattle

(Screenshot from video by The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH 770 AM)

Rantz: Seattle student failed quiz for saying men can’t get pregnant: A history teacher at Chief Sealth International High School in Seattle failed a student on a quiz for saying only women can get pregnant and that only men have penises.

Question 4 was a true or false question with the statement, “All men have penises.” The student labeled the statement “true” since it is, in fact, true. But the teacher penalized the answer, marking it incorrect. The teacher claims women can have a penis.

Gross: Nightmare tenant made Seattle landlord go homeless: KTTH producer Max Gross documented Jason Roth’s odyssey of losing a home to a tenant who is unwilling to pay rent, and how city laws protected the “nightmare tenant.”

“I wasn’t mad. I just approached him and asked ‘What can you pay?’ and we took that route,” Roth told Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH. “He proposed to me what he could pay. And we did a formal agreement. I paid an attorney to read it up and he [still] couldn’t pay.”

That’s when Roth heard from a friend. To his surprise, he was informed that his rental property was listed as an Airbnb.  

“This is totally backwards,” Roth said. “This is totally not what we agreed upon.” 

Not only is the nightmare tenant not paying rent, but he’s also not paying utility bills that are in Roth’s name as the owner.  

Rantz: Middle school hosted ‘disturbing’ licking game with staff and students: A principal at Desert Hills Middle School in Kennewick is facing discipline for an inappropriate, “sexualized” licking game between students and staff.

Two plexiglass panes were stationed in the middle of the gymnasium and each side of the glass had four spots of marshmallow cream. Students and staff then competed to lick it off the plexiglass, often with adult educators and their minor students licking their respective sides of the glass at once.

Suits: Seattle is ‘unsafe, and we can’t vote to make it safer’: KTTH host Bryan Suits claimed Seattle is more violent than ever and there is nothing you can do about it — especially for those working but not living in the city.

“Part of the problem is that livability for people who visit Seattle is almost nil. Because we can’t vote, you know that the districts are changing,” Bryan said. “According to the map, in January of 2024, we’re going to be in the seventh district.”

Top 5 weather stories

Sunny now, El Niño soon; How to prepare: Written in September as the weather began to change with summer waning, KIRO meteorologist Ted Buehner rolled out the details of Seattle’s upcoming El Niño winter.

September is National Preparedness Month, and given the recent hot, dry weather, along with regional wildfires, smoke, and air quality concerns, people should take it seriously. This kind of weather is a key reason to prepare for Western Washington’s fall and winter weather in advance.

Earthquake jolts Western Washington on Christmas Eve: On Christmas Eve, the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed a 4.0-magnitude earthquake hit Western Washington at 7:14 a.m.

The epicenter was located about four miles from Quilcene, the agency reported. The agency also noted Bremerton (23 miles away) and Victoria, British Columbia (46.4 miles), as “nearby places” to the tremor.

Northern lights likely to illuminate Washington skies: The summer gave Washington a chance to see the northern lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, without taking a trip to Alaska or Canada.

(In July), the sun sent a burst of energy and particles toward Earth. That surge of energy will arrive and peak during the next few days, disturbing our planet’s magnetic field in the upper atmosphere and creating a colorful release of photons of light.

How hot, dry will it get? A preview of the Seattle summer weather: KIRO meteorologist Ted Buehner outlined what kind of summer Seattleites would see in 2023.

Last summer at Sea-Tac Airport, only 0.54 inches of rain fell from June 21 until October 21 – the driest period ever on record. Last summer also had a record number of 90-degree-plus days, the most ever. To have such record warm and dry conditions two years in a row would be quite rare.

4.3-magnitude earthquake felt across Puget Sound region: Official reports from the U.S. Geological Survey ShakeAlert confirmed a 4.3-magnitude earthquake struck the Puget Sound region in early October.

The epicenter was located just under Marrowstone Island near Port Townsend and approximately 10 miles from Freeland in Island County.

Top 5 traffic stories

WSDOT breaks ground to fix one of worst chokepoints in WA: KIRO Newsradio traffic reporter Chris Sullivan celebrated a specific project breaking ground in January — the connection between Interstate 90 and Highway 18 in Snoqualmie.

The congestion at this interchange has become unbearable. On some days, the backups can reach more than a mile. Trucks routinely roll over when making the turn onto Highway 18 too fast.

I-90/SR 18 interchange

The state is finally breaking ground on a project addressing one of the worst chokepoints in the region, the connection between Interstate 90 and Highway 18 in Snoqualmie. (Photo courtesy of the Washington State Department of Transportation)

Massive change coming for drivers between I-90 and I-5 in Seattle: Sullivan wrote that Nov. 14 was the day the red lights turn on in the collector-distributor lanes that manage the northbound I-5 Seattle exits and the connection from I-90.

The need for last-second dangerous merging and lane changing is almost over between Interstate 90 and Interstate 5 north in Seattle.

‘Amazon Effect’ crushing morning traffic into Seattle: MyNorthwest documented Amazon’s mandate to have its employees return to offices this year, including all the repercussions that came with it — including traffic.

We thought that our traffic had returned to close to pre-pandemic levels at the start of the school year. The return of Amazon workers to Seattle shows we hadn’t seen anything yet.

Who knew a small lane switch on I-5 could create such chaos?: A small lane shift led to a seven-mile backup and hour-long delays into Seattle in July, causing chaos across the highway.

I was more than surprised that a slight lane shift created what we saw on the freeway. It usually doesn’t happen like this, but this spot, right near the Seneca Street exit, has a lot of moving parts.

What’s up with the I-405 bridge to nowhere in Bellevue?: Sullivan wondered where the new bridge over I405 in South Bellevue leads to, as it looks like “a bridge to nowhere.”

I’ve been watching the construction of this bridge for months. It’s over southbound I-405, just south of SE 8th Street. It doesn’t seem to be attached to anything, and it appears to be a dead-end on the hillside on the left side of the freeway.

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What you clicked on: The most read MyNorthwest stories of 2023