Meet Mike Davis, KUOW’s new arts and culture reporter

Regular KUOW listeners know our arts journalist Marcie Sillman who retired last year. We miss Marcie’s unique voice and reporting, but after a long search, we are happy to introduce her successor. His name is Mike Davis. He comes to us from the South Seattle Emerald, where he was an editor. He spoke to KUOW’s Kim Malcolm about his background and reporting style.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Kim Malcolm: I heard about you about the virtual water cooler. I heard that you like to discover the story behind the artist, that you strongly believe in building trust in a community and that you focus on what is important in a particular story. Did I miss something?

Mike Davis: I appreciate the kind words of my colleagues. I try to live up to those standards. I will add that I am originally from Seattle and I really like telling stories. I want to introduce listeners to artists from the region, dig into who they are and what inspires them to create.

I also want to have fun. As people listen to and read my stories, I want them to share my joy of the arts and be encouraged to get out and experience the arts and cultural events happening in our area.

What prompted you to become an arts journalist?

I wanted to cover something I was passionate about. I have always loved the arts. I started my career covering Beat Arts at the Seattle Weekly. I moved to news coverage in 2020, at a time when it felt like the world was collapsing on us. I did a lot of important work, but it wasn’t fun. I’m excited to be back to covering the arts. It feels good to get back to the rhythm that inspired me to become a journalist in the first place.

What’s on your radar now for the type of reporting you want to do?

On the one hand, I want to be a reminder of the joy that comes with cultural expression, theater, music and the visual arts, and I want to make people smile. But as you know, we are living in serious times right now. This will obviously also be reflected culturally in the artistic community.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with artist Hanako O’Leary. She’s got a show now at King Street Station, Izanami and Yomi. Her unique ceramic pieces truly reflect the power of femininity, and one of the hot topics in our country right now, of course, is the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade. O’Leary was open that she was still processing the decision. She told me about how her art addresses abortion rights:

“For people whose rights are being violated or whose freedoms are being threatened in a very real way, we don’t have time to stop and feel sad or heartbroken, because life goes on and it’s expected that it’s all going on in so many different ways. And so I think for me, doing this work, it was also, in my own way, like training and meditation to be ready when that happens, so I’m not just not to collapse and stop.

You can hear the heaviness of what she was feeling, and we need to hear it, don’t we? The art reflects a spectrum from grief to joy and everything in between. I really encourage people to go see his show. It’s incredible.

And is there anything you are considering?

I can’t wait to cover the show opening next week at the Wing Luke Museum. It’s called Be the Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee. I’m going to interview Lee’s daughter, Shannon, about her father and the show. It will feature digital interactive elements that will allow visitors to follow in Lee’s footsteps as he developed his philosophy of mind, body and spirit.

So long story short, I’m ready to jump in and start sharing these stories.

Listen to the interview by clicking the play button above.

You can reach Mike at: [email protected]

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