Gabriel Spitzer

Health & Science Reporter / Sound Effect Host / Assistant News Director

Gabriel Spitzer covers health and science at KNKX, and hosts Sound Effect. 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

Hello KNKX and NPR One listener!

 

One unique thing about NPR One: You get to skip the pledge drives!

 

Of course, quality journalism still costs money. So, instead of listening to multiple days of sparkling on-air banter about the value of public radio, I'm asking you to take, oh, 60 seconds or so to read my note, consider what KNKX and NPR programs mean to you, and -- I hope -- translate that into a gift during our Spring Drive.

Robert Hood / Fred Hutch

Maxine Linial is a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and one of the world's leading researchers on an obscure group of microorganisms called simian foamy viruses.

She’s been at the Hutch for 40 years looking through microscopes in the lab and studying swirling cells in petri dishes. However, that changed very suddenly five years ago.

Courtesy of Diane Whalen

As a young girl in Catholic school, Diane Whalen always wanted to be close to God. She set her sights on becoming a nun, until puberty hit and her interest in boys forced her to make a course correction.

It wasn't until Whalen was in her 20s that she started hearing people advocate for women’s ordination into priesthood. The Church never did come around to this idea, but an organization called Roman Catholic Womenpriests began ordaining women outside of the Church institutions. In 2010, Whalen became the first female ordained priest in Washington.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Caros and Ben Fodor didn’t always hate each other’s guts.

“Like, at birth, when he was first adopted, we were close, because he didn’t talk,” Caros said.

The irritation is mutual.

“Caros and I really didn’t get along growing up,” Ben said. “I don’t even know how to describe that guy. He’s kind of an a------, but he’s not like your stereotypical jerk. He’s got his own little way of ruining things.”

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Growing up in Seattle in the 1930s, it was Bonnie Buckingham’s brothers who played the guitar. But Bonnie coveted it, and would take any opportunity to get her hands on the instrument. Soon, she says, “they couldn’t get it away from me.” So began the musical life of the woman who would become known as Bonnie Guitar.

Bonnie showed herself to be a prodigy and, in spite of having hardly any female role models, she busied herself playing local gigs and slowly getting better and better. 

When it comes to music, the idea of band rivalries goes back decades. The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones has been a classic matchup that goes back five decades.

In the Pacific Northwest, the most visible example of a band rivalry started 25 years ago, when Nirvana and Pearl Jam were two of the biggest bands in the country.

provided by the Compline Choir

The Compline service at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church feels very traditional – ancient, even. But the all-male Compline Choir chants its monastic prayers and hymns to a pretty eclectic flock. Elders bent with age mix with people who live on the street, families with small children and young adults in a pretty obvious drug haze.

They’re all there to feel the thrum of sacred music, ringing through this soaring, 90-foot-high cathedral.

ElmerGuevara / Wikimedia Commons

For Claudia Castro Luna, nothing transports her back to her native El Salvador more quickly, and more vividly, than then pupusa. It’s the unofficial national dish of El Salvador, consisting of a think corn tortilla wrapped around a rich filling.

But for Castro Luna, Seattle’s first civic poet, the pupusa contains more than pork, cheese and beans. It contains the history of the country of her birth, and of her journey away from it.

(courtesy Nancy Leson)

Nancy Leson, half of knkx's  Food for Thought duo, has been in the food industry for a long time. But some of her earliest memories of food come from bars -- not as an employee, but as a patron — a six-year-old patron. 

Leson grew up in Philadelphia, in a time and place where children were allowed to belly up to bars and eat Slim Jims and pickled eggs, or order a Coke with loads of  Maraschino cherries. 

The reason Leson wound up in those bars was that that was where she would find her mother. 

Facebook

Sometimes on Facebook you might read what seems like a cry for help from a friend, someone struggling to cope who might need you to intervene.

Or maybe it’s nothing -- just someone quoting song lyrics or something. It’s hard to know, and it’s often easier to just ignore it.

The suicide prevention group Forefront is helping create tools for people who notice red flags in a friend’s post.

These are tools that Stephen Paul Miller didn't have several years ago, when he saw a concerning post on by a friend on Facebook.

Courtesy of David Liston

Private investigative work is dangerous, thrilling, romantic – or at least, that’s the impression you’d get if you just hear about P.I.s from TV and movies. In reality, according to David Liston, it can be so tedious that “there has to be something kind of wrong with you in order to be able to do it.”

Courtesy of David Liston

David Liston finds people who don't want to be found; that's part of the job.  Liston is principal at David Liston Investigations, a private investigation firm based in University Heights. But this case was different. Liston was looking for a man believed to be homeless in the Seattle area in order to give him a message: You stand to inherit millions of dollars. 

Warren Langford

The recent public conversations about gender identity and transgender people have tended to focus on bodies: biological sex versus gender identity, the clothes people wear, what bathrooms they use. But one issue that has gotten less attention is the intersection of gender and voice. Even as trans people work to look like the person they are inside, some find that they still sound like someone else.

used with permission of Jason Padgett / struckbygenius.com

Sound Effect's Gabriel Spitzer talks with Tacoma resident Jason Padgett about the night he was mugged outside a Tacoma karaoke bar, and how that incident changed the trajectory of his life.

Padgett suffered a concussion in the attack, as well as internal injuries. He also developed post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Courtesy of Autumn Rusch

Autumn Rusch was born with holes in her heart – so many, that her cardiologist described it as looking like it had been shot with a BB gun. As she grew up, her condition worsened. She was hospitalized for weeks on end, and her heart would at times reach an unimaginable 300 beats per minute. At the age of 14, she was given a new heart that would prove a great match. She recently celebrated her 20-year anniversary with it.

Gabriel Spitzer

In 2004, the city of Seattle installed five, high-tech, self-cleaning public toilets at a cost of $5 million. The toilets -- which opened at the push of a button disinfected themselves automatically -- were hailed as public service that would need little in extra staff hours to maintain.

It didn't turn out exactly like that.

Andrew Becraft / Flickr

The South has its Civil War battlefields. The Northeast has colonial-era sites. But what do history nerds in the Northwest have? We have Lewis and Clark.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out in 1804 to chart their way across a great divide, the unmapped North American continent.

Nate Stevens

What happens when you confront the gulf between life and death and, somewhat to your surprise, you choose life?

That’s what Nate Stevens faced one day on a stretch of road in Indonesia. Stevens was not the world-traveler type, but the Seattleite made the trip in part to get out of his comfort zone. That included summoning the courage to climb aboard what was the main mode of transportation in the area he was visiting: an electric scooter.

Julie Randolph-Habecker

Julie Randolph-Habecker followed her father's footsteps into the field of science. He was a pathologist, diagnosing patients from behind the microscope. She became a research pathologist, exploring what was behind the disease. However, when her dad fell ill with lung cancer, that meant understanding too much about what was killing him.

Julie remembers looking through a microscope at her father's cancer cells. "Everywhere I looked there were cancer cells. And they all looked bizarre and evil. I knew immediately when I looked at that slide, it was horrible."

pee vee / Flickr

When Jena Lopez’s child started showing signs of having a non-traditional gender identity during the preschool years, she wasn’t sure what to do. Can a 3- or 4-year-old really know that she’s a different gender from her biological sex? And Jena knew the outlook for transgender kids was grim: Research has shown they tend to have high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide.

Courtesy Logan Hofkamp

Many teens, if not most, have fantasies of ditching their mom and dad and just parenting themselves.

In fact, there is a legal way to do that. At age 16, Logan Hofkamp became an "emancipated youth," which is, as he puts it, like "divorcing your parents and becoming your own legal guardian."

He tells us why he's glad he did it, but he also reflects what he may have missed out on. 

Courtesy Nick Morrison

KPLU's Nick Morrison has had many jobs, ranging from disc jockey to adult theater manager to music publication entrepreneur. So it might come as no surprise that he also worked in the family business.

Nick's father was in the potato business in Eastern Washington, and after some time in San Francisco, Nick returned home in need of some work.

He and his father had never really taken the time to get to know each other, and Nick, arriving back home with a pony tail and bell bottoms, was probably not going to improve things.

Courtesy of Leila Mirhaydari

Editor's Note: This story originally ran as part of Sound Effect's inaugural episode which aired Jan. 10, 2015.

Tim Bouwer / Flickr

What does it mean to age? When are we over the hill? And what are the side effects of a longer lifespan?

On our most recent episode of Sound Effect on KPLU, we explored the idea of aging with Dr. Dan Gottschling. 

Pamela Wible

Physicians are in the business of saving lives but they have one of the highest suicide rates of any profession.  An estimated 400 doctors a year take their own lives. Pamela Wible is a physician in Eugene, Oregon and she’s devoted a big part of her career to helping doctors cope with thoughts of suicide.

Flikr

Who do we have to thank for countless wasted hours playing Solitaire on the computer over the last twenty-five or so years? Wes Cherry didn't invent solitaire, but he did invent solitaire for the modern age.

In 1988, he was an intern for Microsoft, and on his own time he wrote code that would become Solitaire for Windows.

These days, he runs a cidery on Vashon Island with his wife and his son. Out at his orchard, he talked about his motivation for creating the game, and some of the inside stories as to why it ended up looking the way that it does. 

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU


Cancer researchers, doctors and survivors gathered Wednesday at hundreds of summits across the country to give guidance to the federal government’s cancer "moonshot.” At the summit in Seattle, hosted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, “Big Data” emerged as a priority.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

 

Editor’s note: KPLU has hired an independent editor to oversee coverage of this story.

The non-profit Friends of 88.5 FM has reached a deal with Pacific Lutheran University to purchase KPLU.

After 50 years of serving Western Washington under PLU, 88.5 is set to become an independent, community-licensed station. 

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