Gabriel Spitzer

Health & Science Reporter / Assistant News Director

Gabriel Spitzer covers health and science at KPLU, after a year covering youth and education. He joined KPLU 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 KPLU 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.”

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Education
5:24 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Washington colleges top lists for most Peace Corps volunteers

Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet congratulates the presidents of the University of Washington and Western Washington University.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Maybe it’s something in the water: Washington schools top the lists of large, medium and small colleges producing the most Peace Corps volunteers. It’s the first time one state has dominated all three categories of the Peace Corps’ list.

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Education
5:12 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Homeless students on the rise in Washington

Keeping homeless kids in school means you have to make sure they can get there.
freefotouk Flickr

Some 27, 390 homeless students went to public school in Washington last year — up more than 5 percent over the year before, according to new numbers released by the state superintendent’s office. In the past, increases like that have been explained by school districts getting better at counting. But spokesman Nathan Olson said this time, based on what he’s heard from district officials, it looks like there just really are more homeless students.

“The data collection is fine now. People know about this, the homeless liaisons that every district has know about this, it’s not an issue. The issue really is the economy right now,” Olson said.

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Gun Control
4:52 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Public health at forefront of King County's gun initiative

A King County public health effort might put pressure on gun retailers.
Divine Harvester Flickr

The debate over gun control may be focused on the nation’s capital, but one local official says King County will soon take measures of its own.

About 125 people die each year of gun violence in King County. Executive Dow Constantine says the way a county government can chip away at that number is through a public health approach. He announced in his state of the county address that he is directing the health department to collect new data on gun deaths and injuries.

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Health
5:01 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Natural living: 5 myths about nature vs. technology

Is the "other white meat" actually healthy pork?

Technology has made us healthier in a lot of ways. It’s beaten back old threats from smallpox to stillbirth to scarlet fever. But many think the march of progress has gone too far, and we need to get back to nature. 

Author Nathanael Johnson says most of us are in the middle – suspicious of technology run amok, but unwilling to trade the condo for a mud hut. He investigates whether the natural approach is really better for us in his book, “All Natural.” 

Nathanael also laid out five common myths about nature versus technology. Get the gist below, or click below and listen to the full conversation:

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Education
9:58 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Seattle test boycotters rally national support

Teachers are trying to generate a show of support for their boycott of teh MAP tests.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

A group of Seattle teachers is trying to rally national support behind its boycott of a required test, even as they face reprisals from the school district. Teachers protesting the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP tests, asked their supporters to besiege district headquarters with phone calls and emails. They say the tests waste class time and give misleading information, and they object to MAP scores being used in their own professional evaluations.

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Education
5:01 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Billions in school funding on February ballots

Arbor Hts. Principal Christy Collins shows her schools restrooms, where the water is unsafe to drink. The school will be overhauled if Seattle's capital levy passes.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Washington voters have begun receiving ballots for a special election on February 12th, with billions of dollars for schools at stake.

Seattle Public Schools is asking voters to approve more than $1.2 billion in construction and operating funds, much of which would go toward overhauling or replacing old buildings, like the 1950s-vintage Arbor Heights Elementary in West Seattle. Principal Christy Collins recently showed off a chilly special education classroom there.

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Education
6:01 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Standoff escalates over test boycott

Teachers and their backers rallied outside district headquarters before a school board meeting.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

The standoff over a series of tests mandated by Seattle Public Schools heated up Wednesday, as another high school joined a growing boycott of the tests and district leaders threatened protesters with suspension.

Teachers say the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP tests, assess material not covered in class, give poor results and swallow up teaching time. Four schools have rebelled against the tests, with Chief Sealth High the latest to join. Superintendent Jose Banda made clear Wednesday what the consequences of that boycott could be: up to 10 days' suspension without pay.

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Education
6:01 am
Tue January 22, 2013

Critics say alternative learning program raises red flags

The Alternative Learning Experience program helps students like fifth grader Gabriel Johnson get the non-traditional education he needs, but some districts have drawn scrutiny over how they administer it.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Not every student thrives in a traditional classroom, but changing technology and new research on learning mean Washington kids have more alternatives than ever. They can homeschool part-time or go to class online, even if it means enrolling in a district clear across the state. But that’s allowed a whole raft of questionable practices, and set up a dilemma for policymakers.

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Business
5:01 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Easy Street bows out, but are local record stores really dying?

Easy Street will close its Queen Anne location after 12 years.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

This is the last week for a fixture in Seattle’s independent music culture, as Easy Street Records’ lower Queen Anne store prepares to shut its doors Friday. But the move may not signal, as some fear, a death spiral for local independent music stores.

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Education
5:29 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Garfield High School teachers in revolt over MAP test

Garfield teachers are near-unanimous in their rejction of the MAP tests.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

The staff of a prominent Seattle high school is in full revolt over a district-mandated standardized test. Teachers at Garfield High School say the Measure of Academic Progress, or MAP test, is nothing short of a waste of time. They say it’s not aligned with state standards, it sucks up classroom time and resources, and gives shaky results. So, they voted almost unanimously to refuse to administer the test.

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Snow Day
5:00 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Seattleites to truck in snow for snowball fight record attempt

roceanpatel Flickr

A group of Seattle professionals are gearing up this week to try and break the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest snowball fight, and they’re doing it in a place where, typically, there is no snow: Seattle Center.

So how exactly do you get 162,000 pounds of snow into the shadow of the Space Needle? Organizer Neil Bergquist says, you just go to the mountains and get it.

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Libraries
5:08 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Seattle libraries start Sunday hours

Seattle voters approved a levy to fund Sunday service at all library locations.
Erin Hennessey KPLU

Starting January 6, every branch of the Seattle Public Library will be open on Sundays. Library officials said it’s the first time in at least 100 years.

The extra hours come courtesy of Seattle voters, who approved a 7-year, $122 million property tax levy in August. The new money reverses years if cutbacks, and will allow every library location to open its doors from 1:00 to 5:00 Sunday afternoons. Library programs director Stephanie Chase said it’s gratifying to be adding services for a change instead of scaling them back.

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Science
3:52 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Babies learn language before birth, say Tacoma and Seattle researchers

Babies can hear in the womb, and scientists now say they can make some sense of language.
TheGiantVermin Flickr

A team led by Professor Christine Moon of Pacific Lutheran University, tested newborn babies in Tacoma and Stockholm, Sweden. Moon said they played recordings of a distinctly American English vowel sound and a Swedish one, and tested the babies responses by measuring the one thing a day-old baby is really good at: sucking on a pacifier. Their sucking patterns reveal that babies show a familiarity with the vowel sounds of their mother tongue even at birth, suggesting they’ve been listening carefully in utero.

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Gun Control
10:28 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Seattle-area clergy demand action on guns

Rev. Leslie Braxton and other clergy call for action to prevent gun violence.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Seattle-area clergy from many faiths are presenting a united front against gun violence, demanding specific measures from elected leaders. Representing churches and synagogues, seminaries, mosques and Sikh temples, the religious leaders say it’s time to move beyond simply mourning the slaughter of 26 people in Newtown Connecticut. They say now it’s time for action.

Evoking a string of mass killings, including one in Seattle last spring, the clergy made the case for changing laws and changing attitudes. Imam Abdullah Polovina is with the Islamic Center of Shoreline.

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Connecticut Shooting
6:00 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Kids may take days or weeks to process news of Conn. shooting

Sometimes kids don’t react right away to a trauma, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need help, says a Seattle child psychiatrist in the wake of Friday’s mass shooting in Connecticut. Dr. Robert Hilt, a psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says we all process tragic events in different ways, and kids who learned about last week’s shooting might not say much for days or even weeks.

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