Gabriel Spitzer | KNKX

Gabriel Spitzer

Sound Effect Host and Senior Producer

Gabriel Spitzer is the Host and Senior Producer of Sound Effect, KNKX's "weekly tour of ideas inspired by the place we live." Gabriel was previously KNKX's Science and Health Reporter. He joined KNKX after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago. There, he created the award-winning mini-show, Clever Apes. Having also lived in Alaska and California, Gabriel feels he’s been closing in on Seattle for some time, and has finally landed on the bullseye.

Gabriel received his Master's of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and his degree in English at Cornell University. He’s been honored with the Kavli Science Journalism Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and won awards from the Association of Health Care Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists and Public Radio News Directors, Inc. He lives in West Seattle with his wife Ashley and their two sons, Ezra and Oliver.

Gabriel’s most memorable KNKX moment was: “In just my second week here, I found myself covering the unfolding story of a mass shooting and citywide manhunt. It was a tragic and chaotic day, when the public badly needed someone to sort the facts from the rumors. It made me proud of our profession.”

Ways to Connect

Courtesy of UW Medicine

 

At Harborview Medical Center, it is not uncommon for people to work there for decades. Over time, these individuals whose passion for work is as unwavering as a religious devotion, shape how this massive institution runs. These are Harborview’s “lifers.”

 

Dr. Eileen Bulger, Harborview’s Chief of Trauma, trained under one of these individuals. His name is Dr. Michael Copass.

 

Courtesy of Harborview Medical Center

This week we spend the hour with stories from Harborview Medical Center, the Level 1 Trauma Center covering four states and nearly 100,000 square miles. We hear the story of a tragic house fire in Alaska that gave rise to a world-class medevac system. We visit a clinic serving refugees, and a club where staff and patients blow off steam by laughing at nothing. We get to know psychiatric patients getting counsel from people who have been in their shoes, and meet a doctor whose life changed when he was called to help a pregnant woman gored by a yak.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

It’s midday on a Tuesday, and people are scattered around the green lawn of Harborview Park, having lunch. Amid their quiet murmurs and the drone of traffic on nearby I-5, comes a thundering sound: laughter.

About a dozen people stand in a rough circle near the park’s center, red in the face, doubled over laughing.

Welcome to Harborview’s laughter club. For nearly two decades this is where doctors, patients, staff and members of the community have come together twice a month to laugh at nothing. It’s a way for people connected to this hospital to blow off steam.

courtesy of Judd Walson

 

Students of Professor Judd Walson often ask him for advice on their career paths and how he became a global health specialist. But Walson didn’t always know he wanted to be a doctor and says his career path was anything but straightforward.

In fact, as a young boy he was a talented magician getting paid to perform around the country and even overseas in Sweden. When he graduated High School, he didn’t know what he wanted to do and so he left for Europe to become a street performer.

 

Courtesy of Michael Henrichsen

This story originally aired on September 9, 2017.

Michael ​Henrichsen’s parents met at a Duran Duran concert. He’s named after the lead singer of INXS. He practically has 1980s and 90s pop music in his DNA. So maybe it’s no surprise that, after hearing a Debbie Gibson song in a piano bar, the 30-year old Henrichsen got a little obsessed.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on September 9, 2017.

Last June, Ana Ramirez headed to a meeting of the Western Washington University student government. She had just been elected as Vice President for Governmental Affairs and, as it turned out, the meeting was about her.

Ramirez, now a 19-year-old sophomore, is an undocumented immigrant, brought into the United States from Mexico when she was six months old. She had just learned from university administrators that she wouldn’t be allowed to assume the position she had campaigned for and won.

Credit Chris Cozzone

This story originally aired on September 9, 2017.

Tricia Arcaro Turton’s career started with a big fat “no.” She says she was never one to be discouraged just because someone tells her she can’t do something. And at a young age, she was told that she couldn’t be a 

boxer. She decided to write off the sport all together.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

This story originally aired on September 9, 2017. 

When Meg Martin first moved to Olympia, Washington from Montana in 2007, she was recovering from a drug addiction and looking to start a new life. In Olympia, she threw herself into outreach work. She volunteered for a program that uses bicycles to deliver clean needles to people on the street who use injection drugs.

 

courtesy of Paula Becker

 

Paula Becker grew up reading the "Mrs. Piggle Wiggle" children's books, and loved the whimsical stories of her uncanny ability to cure children of bad character traits. The author of the books, Betty MacDonald, lived in Washington. Many years later, when Becker moved to the Evergreen state, she asked her local librarian what had become of the best-selling author.

 

Every Tuesday night, St. Paul’s Episcopal church in Seattle opens its doors and invites people living with mental illness and homelessness to come in and create. In the unique art space they can paint, knit, play music or find their own creative pursuits.

 

The Karen Korn Project was founded by Pastor Kae Eaton and Patricia Swain, in honor of Swain’s daughter Karen. Karen died from suicide in November of 2014, after struggling with mental illness and homelessness herself.

 

Seattle Public Library

 

Real estate. It’s a hot topic in the Northwest right now. A white-hot market like Seattle’s creates winners and losers, depending on which side of the transaction you happen to be on. These days, you’d probably rather be a seller than a buyer.

 

But back in 1985, when Merlin Rainwater and her husband bought their place, the roles were reversed. They were able to score a little bungalow on the East slope of Capitol Hill for just $50,000.

 

Courtesy of Mark Goetcheus

 

The day that changed Michael Freeman’s life came about 22 years ago.

“I was crushed by an eight-ton truck in a loading dock across the pelvis. They took me out to Madigan and did emergency surgery,” Freeman said.

In the course of his treatment he was given a common blood-thinning medication, to which he turned out to be severely allergic. The complications would eventually cost him one of his legs. He was sent to Harborview in Seattle for two months to recover.

Zappy Technology Solutions / Flickr

 

Wolfe wanted children. But when he went to a sperm donor clinic, he didn’t expect that he’d end up with seventeen.

 

After an extensive judging process, Wolfe wasn’t sure if he’d even be selected.

 

“This was more like trying out for NASA,” Wolfe said. “They did extensive blood work. They looked at my family history going back multiple generations. They looked at any kind of genetic abnormalities. They had me on a treadmill jumping around.”

 

 

Kwesi Salih is serving more than 50 years in prison for the murder of a woman who was in a car that Salih and his friend tried to carjack.

 

“I didn’t think how my actions could take another person’s life. You know, I live with that every day of my life now,” said Salih who spoke over the phone from Stafford Creek Correctional Center in Aberdeen, Washington.

 

University of Washington

Ana Mari Cauce says her relationship with her big brother was pretty typical when they were growing up. 

"Every scar on his body was probably given to him by me," Cauce says, "He had a scar over his mouth where I kicked hime in the mouth -- not on puprose! He was in the front seat, I was in the back seat. He did some kind of name-calling and so I went to kick the back of teh seat, he turned around I caught his tooth."

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

The rising cost of Seattle real estate isn’t just affecting housing: it’s also bearing down on houses of worship.

The tide of rising rents and gentrification has pushed a string of churches out of Seattle neighborhoods such as the Central District and West Seattle. And that’s had an interesting side effect in nearby Skyway, wedged between Seattle and Renton.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

In 1996, when Ginny Ruffner moved into an old brick building in the heart of Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, her new backyard looked like typical big city blight: overgrown crabgrass and weeds, trash, a brick wall.

“My view here was pretty urban, so I made my view. I augmented it, added to it,” said Ruffner.

Oysterville, Washington is about 15 miles up the peninsula from Long Beach. It used to be a hub for oyster farming. It’s a tiny town, with an even tinier church. But this church has a very long history in Washington, as a little seaside haven.

Sydney Stevens is the great granddaughter of R.H. Espy, who helped create this town. He also built the church, now called the Historic Church of Oysterville.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

The Islamic Center of Eastside is Bellevue’s only mosque. It was at this Sacred Space that Muslims from more than 40 different countries prayed five times a day.

That is, until it was the target of arson -- not once, but twice.

In the Islamic faith, the mosque is not only a house of prayer, but the central place for Muslims to gather, according to Omer Lone, a mosque elder at the Center.

"The mosque plays the role of the community center," he said. "It's the university and the town hall."

Robin Loznak

A few years ago, a group of teenagers in Washington state took on one of our most perplexing problems with a novel strategy: They sued the state government for failing to safeguard the climate for future generations.

The tactic was new, the plaintiffs were young, and yet, they won. A superior court judge ruled in their favor in 2016.

But then nothing much happened.

Now they’re trying again, this time suing the federal government.

Silvana Clark

Silvana Clark was sitting at home, feeding her 6-month old daughter in the wee hours of the morning. Everything felt peaceful and perfect, like a Hallmark commercial.

 

Suddenly, she felt a whoosh over her head. Turning on a lamp, she was horrified to see a bat sitting in the nursery on a lacy, white curtain.

 

"There’s a bat in the baby’s room. Get it out! Get it out!” she screamed.

 

The Last Straw: Sound Effect, Episode 143

Apr 28, 2018
National Photo Agency of Israel

This week, stories of breaking points, realizations, and bitter ends. We meet one man who is taking out his disappointment with the departure of Seattle's basketball team in an unusual way.

Courtesy Ben Weber

Actor Ben Weber has been in movies like Kissing Jessica Stein and television shows like Sex and the City. Most recently he was in a television mini-series called Manhunt: Unabomber. But he also got some attention a few years ago for a video he did starring Ben Weber as Angry Ben Weber.

Weber grew up in Seattle and was a Seattle Supersonics fan from day one. After moving to New York, and eventually to Los Angeles, the Sonics remained his team, up until the point where they were sold by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz. 

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

If you close your eyes and picture Sasquatch, there’s a good chance you’ll conjure up a very specific image: a big, hairy humanoid, mid-stride, arms swinging, head turned to glance back over its right shoulder.

In that iconic picture, the thing Bigfoot was turning back to look at was Bob Gimlin.

Gimlin, along with Roger Patterson, gathered their famous film footage in northern California in 1967. Fifty years later people still pore over it, debating its authenticity and speculating on how it may have been faked.

Credit Carl Badgley

Former Seattleite Carl Badgley has some experience with emergencies, having been an army medic and a 9-1-1 operator. But, in search of a simpler, slightly less intense lifestyle, he had moved to be near the beautiful tropical waters off of Kona, Hawaii.

Courtesy Mike Lewis

 

When the print edition of the Seattle Post Intelligencer came to an end in 2009, the reporters who worked for the paper scattered off to other careers. Some picked up other gigs covering news, others went into public relations. Veteran reporter Mike Lewis bought a bar.

 

Specifically, he bought his bar, a dive called The Streamline Tavern, where he and other reporters used to adjourn to after quitting time at the paper.

 

Courtesy of Erica C Barnett

All of Erica’s heroes liked to drink. Hunter S. Thompson, Molly Ivins … to be an edgy journalist, it seemed like alcohol was part of the job description.

For Erica C. Barnett, alcohol did soon become a thread weaving through her work for magazines and alternative weeklies.

Courtesy of Mike Lewis

Years ago, not long after Mike Lewis lost his father, he made a pilgrimage to his dad's favorite bar--a place called The Ranch in Modesto, CA. When he got there, he found something he didn't expect: a stool that had been roped off. 

Mike asked about it, and was told it was in honor of Jack Lewis, "a guy who hung out in here who was really well liked." When Mike identified himself as Jack Lewis' son, he heard an outpouring of stories about the kind of man his dad was, and about everything he gave to the people around him.

Samvado Gunnar Kossatz

Les Zaitz was a reporter for the Oregonian in the early 1980s, when he began covering a  group of people, known as the Sinyasins who were followers of the enigmatic Indian guru, Baghwan Shree Rajneesh.

They arrived in the Northwest with visions of creating a whole new city in the middle of the Oregon desert. They called themselves a religion. Many others have called them a cult.

The story Zaitz was covering soon transformed from a curiosity to an epic drama, complete with massive fraud, betrayal and plots to commit murder. Even Zaitz himself was told he was a marked man.

Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

John Roderick was born in the Seattle area, but spent much of his youth living in Anchorage, Alaska.

“Growing up in Alaska, you’re an American, you know you're an American. But you’re also thousands of  miles away from America. So we fetishized America," said Roderick, who these days fronts the indie band, The Long Winters.

After high school, Roderick decided that the way to see America, and absorb the wisdom and freedom of the open road, was to stick out his thumb and hitchhike across the country.

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