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.”

Pages

A Volcano's Scream
10:51 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Before an Eruption, Scientists Record a Volcano's Primal Scream

Mt. Redoubt erupted violently in 2009, after letting out a primal "scream."
Max Kaufman Alaska Volcano Observatory/University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute

Most volcanoes rumble before they erupt, but Washington and Alaska researchers say a big recent eruption was preceded not by a rumble, but a scream.

Alaska’s Mount Redoubt blew its top several times in 2009. Leading up to many of the explosions were a series of little earthquakes—not uncommon for an active volcano. But these quakes began to accelerate, one after another, like a drumbeat building to a climax.

Read more
Education
12:37 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

One year in, Seattle schools chief says he's won over skeptics

Superintendent Jose Banda has just begun his second year at Seattle Public Schools.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Seattle’s superintendent of schools was hired in hopes that he could avoid some of the turmoil and scandal of recent years. Jose Banda just wrapped up his first year in charge, and can claim some high-profile accomplishments. But some of the melodrama still lingers, with the school board sharply divided over its own role, and that of the superintendent.

Taking stock of his first year at the helm of Seattle Public Schools, Banda told KPLU a divided board has a definite effect on how he does his job.

Read more
Weather with Cliff Mass
12:08 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Mass: Deadly conditions of Yarnell Hill fire were 'foreseeable'

An aerial tanker drops fire retardant on a wildfires threatening homes near Yarnell, Ariz., Monday, July 1, 2013.
Associated Press

Weather plays a central role in most wildland fires, and we got a grim reminder of that earlier this week with the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona that took the lives of 19 firefighters. KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass dug into the meteorological data surrounding that fire and came away disturbed. He says the conditions that caused that fire to blow up and reverse course, right on top of the firefighters, were quite predictable.

Read more
American held in North Korea
10:17 am
Wed July 3, 2013

North Korean group releases video interview of held Lynnwood man

This image grab shows Kenneth Bae.

A North Korean media outlet has released footage of an interview with Kenneth Bae, the Lynnwood man sentenced to 15 years hard labor for what the regime called hostile acts against the state.

In the undated footage released via CNN, Bae said he is mainly working in farm fields, but only for eight hours a day. Bae stated his handlers are “considerate, so I’m not working too hard."

Read more
Education
12:03 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

New learning standards could cause nosedive in Wash. test scores

Test scores could plunge once the Common Core standards come in.
biologycorner Flickr

Seattle families should expect steep drops in student test scores as public schools adopt new national learning standards, according to a report to be presented Wednesday evening to the Seattle School Board.

Starting next year, students in Washington, 44 other states, and the District of Columbia will be held to new, tougher standards known as Common Core. That could cause some sticker shock once test scores start rolling in a year later.

Read more
Politics
4:54 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Seattle will shut down Nickelsville, spend $500K to house residents

The Seattle City Council has voted unanimously to shut down the homeless encampment known as Nickelsville, and to set aside $500,000 to help residents transition.

The encampment has been dug in for two years at a site in West Seattle, and the council vote means this summer will be its last. The money will go to providing to provide housing and services to the more than 100 campers who live there.

Read more
Military Spending
4:03 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

National Guard to spend millions on new Tacoma facility

The new readiness center will replace the antiquated Armory, seen here.
Gexydaf Flickr

The Army is planning to spend $26 million on a new National Guard facility in Tacoma. The readiness center would bring the Guard back to the city after leaving its historic Armory two years ago.

Congressman Derek Kilmer, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, joined Reps. Adam Smith and Denny Heck in pushing the Army to fund the new center. He said the Tacoma project is a high priority, even in an atmosphere of military budget cuts.

Read more
Food
3:59 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

How skinny is that latte? Starbucks rolls out calorie counts nationwide

Starbucks will display calorie counts in its bakery cases and menu boards across the country starting June 25.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Starbucks will begin posting calorie counts on its menu boards and bakery cases nationwide next week—something it’s already required to do in King County.

Read more
Science
5:01 am
Mon June 17, 2013

'Sort of' alive: Researchers probe how kids think about robots

Marcus likes his robo-pal Pleo, but wouldn't trade in his leopard gecko.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

One way young kids learn to organize the world is by dividing it into living and non-living things. But now that robots vacuum our floors and smart phones talk back to us, do children think of technology as alive? A team of Washington researchers is exploring how kids interact with robots, and what that might reveal about both their brains and ours.

Read more
Politics
10:02 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Council gets a warning about dismantling homeless camp

Nickelsville residents and their supporters protest lack of shelter and housing options with a "die-in" at City Hall.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Homeless residents of a large Seattle tent city warn that closing down their camp will have dire consequences, while city council members left the door open to keep the camp dwellers together.

About 125 residents make their home at the West Seattle site known as Nickelsville. Advocates told members of a city council committee Wednesday that many of those tent dwellers will die on the streets if the city moves forward with threatened evictions September 1st.

Read more
Politics
4:58 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Plan to carve city council into districts likely headed for ballot

Supporters deliver their petition signatures to the Seattle city clerk's office.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Seattle voters will likely get a chance to consider a new way to elect the city council. Supporters of a district-elections amendment delivered 10 boxes of petitions to the city clerk, containing 46,633 signatures – more than enough to grab a place on the November ballot.

Read more
Homeless Encampments
5:51 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Seattle City Council wants to disband Nickelsville tent city

Nickelsville residents speak up at a City Council committee meeting.
Gabriel Spitzer Flickr

Seattle officials want to break up the two-year old homeless encampment called Nickelsville, but residents there say that would just cause a new tent city to spring up somewhere else.

Seven city council members sent a letter to Mayor Mike McGinn Monday calling for Nickelsville to shut down by Sept. 1. The camp, made up of more than 100 homeless people, is about to begin its third summer parked near the Duwamish River in southeastern West Seattle.

Read more
Higher Education
5:30 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Labor board sides with PLU faculty in unionization push

Gexydaf Flickr

Disclosure: Pacific Lutheran University holds the license for KPLU. The station’s on-air staffers form the university’s only unionized unit.

In a decision with national implications, labor relations officials have ruled that certain faculty at Pacific Lutheran University should be allowed to form a union. This case is a test of some new provisions in labor law, and is being followed by other universities around the country.

Read more
Law
5:32 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Olympia couple snared in dragnet of timeshare scams

Timeshares are at the center of a nationwide crackdown on scammers.
GGtimeshares Flickr

The state’s attorney general says an Olympia couple ripped off thousands of people, including about 1,500 in Washington, in a series of timeshare and travel scams. He’s suing the couple as part of a nationwide crackdown.

Read more
law
5:00 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Police urge caution—not panic—after rash of kidnapping attempts

zeraien Flickr

It’s the stuff of bad movies: a masked man snatches a toddler, tucks him under his arm and runs off. And yet the King County Sheriff’s office says that’s exactly what happened Sunday in White Center.

It was one of four attempted kidnappings reported in the area over just a few days. All the kids were returned safely, and the incidents appear to be unconnected. But the rash of seeming abduction attempts have Seattle-area police and parents on edge. But just how much should people worry? 

Read more

Pages