Archive for Great Stories to Read and Hear

Are we alone in the Universe? Or are there other Earths out there?


Bill Borucki first asked that question growing up in Illinois and Wisconsin.  Unlike most of us, he figured out how to answer it.

Bill is the Principal Investigator for NASA’s Kepler mission, a spacecraft launched in March 2009 to search for “exoplanets” (the term used to describe other Earths in the Universe).

The technology designed by Bill requires incredible precision.  It’s like seeing a flea on the headlight of a car parked several miles away.

In our conversation, Bill describes the many years of work perfecting the technology and getting NASA’s approval.  You’ll especially enjoy Bill describing the moment when he first looked at the data and found the answer to the question that we’ve all been asking.

Give ’em the PICKLE!!!


During the 1960s and 70s in the Pacific Northwest, the ultimate birthday party was going to Farrell’s Original Ice Cream Parlor.  And it made no difference whether you were 7 or 70 years old.

Nothing could beat the bell-ringing and drum-pounding that started the parade around the restaurant.  And if you were lucky enough to be celebrating your birthday, a huge ice cream sundae – big enough for a small army – would be put in front of you followed by more bell-ringing, drum-pounding and everyone singing “Happy Birthday.”  Nothing beat going to Farrell’s for your birthday.

The marketing genius behind all this chaos – Bob Farrell – was born and raised in Brooklyn but the Air Force sent him to a radar station in the Pacific Northwest.  He stayed out west, went to college and gained some real-world experience and then opened the first Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor in 1963.

His success grew until there were 130 shops when he sold out 10 years later in 1973 to Marriott.  Farrell stayed with Marriott for another dozen years but left to co-found the Stanford’s and Newport Bay restaurant chain, finally retiring from the restaurant trade in 1995.

But Farrell couldn’t stop preaching his brand of customer service.  He found a ready and willing audience for his pitch and went on the road consulting for the likes of Nike, Nordstrom and Safeway.  And he was still at it until shortly before he passed away on August 14 at 87 years old.

There’s no better story than hearing Bob Farrell explain why you must “Give ’em the Pickle.”  Give it a listen.  You’ll love it.  And you’ll probably want to give some pickles to your friends, neighbors, employees and customers.

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War of the Worlds – Don’t Miss It!


It may be the best radio program ever broadcast.  Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater Listen to Stitchercompany’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ science-fiction thriller, War of the Worlds.

But the lawyers at CBS were nervous about what Welles was planning to broadcast. They told him to tone it done.  It was too realistic.  Too frightening.  They didn’t want so much realism.  Don’t use the names of real places and people.

But Welles was persistent and demanding.  And he was good at what he did.  And that meant a big audience.  That would sell a lot of advertising.

The program that Welles broadcast on that Halloween evening in 1938 still resonates today.  It’s great radio.  It’s realistic.  And it can be frightening if you forget that it’s the magic of radio at its best.

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Les Schwab Means Fine Tires… and Even Better Service


Listen to StitcherThe story is familiar. It’s been told many times.  But it seems to get better with every telling.

Sudden Service… Pride in Performance… If We can’t Guaranty it, We won’t Sell It.

In 1952, Les Schwab bought a business in Prineville, Oregon known as OK Rubber Welders.  Its building didn’t have indoor plumbing and looked so bad that his wife cried when she saw it.

But it was his business and he would run it the way he wanted to.  And that meant valuing his employees and customers above everything else.

Les Schwab said the organization he built was unique; that there weren’t any others like it anywhere.  And he may be right.  Find another company that pays half of what it earns to its employees. And that always promotes from within; every promotion and opportunity is always offered first to existing employees.

Most important is their commitment to integrity and honesty.  No exceptions are ever made.  Steal one dime from the company and you’re fired.  No second chances or excuses.  That’s the code of ethics at Les Schwab.  Nobody misunderstands it.

Les Schwab’s tire company has grown to be one of the largest, privately-held businesses in the Pacific Northwest.  And as it grew, its employees shared in the company’s financial success.  But more important is how, with nearly 9,000 employees and approaching 500 stores, the organization has stayed true to its core values, the principles that Les Schwab spelled out when he started it in 1952.  That’s the lesson Les wants you to learn.

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Oregon’s Battery Russell attacked by the I-25 Submarine


As dawn broke over the east coast of Japan on November 21, 1941, no one believed things would ever be the same again.Listen to Stitcher

The air was electric with anxiety and anticipation.  No one knew what would happen during the next two weeks.  But everyone knew their lives would be changed forever.

November 21 was a Friday.  In the United States, families were making plans for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.  The upcoming weekend, for most, would be busy making preparations – getting ready to travel, planning the holiday meal.

Nationally, the economy was still recovering from the Great Depression when as many as 1 out of every 4 workers couldn’t find a job.  It had been a devastating decade, demoralizing the can-do spirit that was America’s hallmark.

And everyone was casting a wary eye across the Atlantic towards Europe where Hitler’s plans looked clear and frightening.  What wasn’t known was where he would strike next.

It was against this backdrop that Americans started thinking, in 1941, what they were thankful for.

One of the reasons why things would never be the same again – for millions of people around the world – was on that Friday morning, a Japanese submarine known simply as “I-25” – the Japanese didn’t name their submarines – started its two 12,000 horsepower engines – and with its crew of 94 officers and men headed its bow eastward into the Pacific Ocean.

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