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

Science
5:01 am
Mon October 14, 2013

UW Engineer's Design Could Help Deaf People Enjoy Music

Cochlear implants are a lifesaver for many deaf people, but they can't recognize changes in pitch.
National Institutes of Health

Engineers at the University of Washington have developed a way for some deaf people to enjoy music. The findings could help people with cochlear implants, a bionic inner ear that allows deaf or hearing-impaired people to hear speech, albeit in kind of a robot voice.

Cochlear implants can be a lifesaver for people without hearing, but when it comes to music, this very practical device can’t carry a tune to save its life.

The implants simply aren’t sensitive to pitch and what’s called timbre—the qualities of a sound that make, say, a guitar sound different from a harp.

Read more
Affordable Care Act
4:05 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Suit Alleges Children's Hospital Left Out of Health Exchange Plans

jennyonthespot Flickr

Seattle Children’s Hospital has filed a suit against the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner, alleging it was largely cut out of the state’s new health insurance exchange.

There are eight insurance companies on Washington HealthPlanFinder, the marketplace that opened this week for individuals shopping for coverage. Six of them don’t include Seattle Children’s Hospital in their networks.

Read more
Shipwreck
3:54 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

99-Year-Old Tugboat Sinks Off of Bainbridge, Leaking Fuel

The Chickamaugan or "Sea Chicken" was the first diesel-powered tug on the West Coast, and possibly in America.
IMLS DCC Puget Sound Maritimne Historical Society

A historic tugboat has sunk off Bainbridge Island, spilling fuel into the waters of Eagle Harbor. The tug Chickamauga is 99 years old, and it’s thought to be the first diesel-powered tugboat on the West Coast, according to the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.

Bainbridge Firefighters got a call that it was sinking at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, and quickly deployed booms and other containment equipment.

Read more
Affordable Care Act
11:55 am
Tue October 1, 2013

State Health Exchange Website Hits Snag on First Day

Nelly Kinsella demonstrates the Washington Healthplanfinder website, where consumers will be able to shop for health insurance, following a news conference Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

Washington’s new health insurance exchange made a brief appearance Tuesday morning before going dark for much of the day. 

The site was supposed to come online at 7:30. Exchange officials say they quickly began receiving complaints that the site was loading slowly for some users, and not loading at all for others. Spokesman Michael Marchand says by 8:30, officials decided to pull the site offline to make repairs.

Read more
Affordable Care Act
3:28 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Despite D.C. 'Shenanigans,' Wash. to Launch Health Exchange

Nelly Kinsella demonstrates the Washington Healthplanfinder website, where consumers will be able to shop for health insurance, following a news conference Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Even as Congress squabbles over the fate of health care reform, Washington’s insurance marketplace opens its virtual doors Tuesday morning.

As Gov. Jay Inslee put it, "Despite the shenanigans in D.C., we're ready to [launch our health care exchange].”

Officials running the exchange said their federal grants have already been appropriated and they expect to be fully funded through next year.

Read more
Vaccine Refusal
11:33 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Team Develops Early Warning Tool for Vaccine Skepticism

Seattle researchers say their survey helps predict which kids will be behind schedule on immunizations.
USACE Europe District Flickr

Seattle researchers have developed a kind of early-warning device for identifying parents suspicious of childhood vaccines. With an especially high rate of parents opting out of vaccines for their kids in Washington, pediatrician Doug Opel has been trying to figure out how to intervene early on.

Opel practices at Seattle Children’s Hospital and at its research institute. He is also an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He and others developed a survey of parents’ attitudes about vaccination. In a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics, they found that the survey does a pretty good job of predicting which kids would be under-vaccinated by the time they’re 19 month sold.

Read more
Bertha, The Boring Machine
4:18 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Boring Bertha Back to Eating Dirt after Month Delay

WSDOT

The drill known as Bertha is back to eating dirt after a slow start, then a delay, then a delay caused by the delay.

The massive machine boring the Highway 99 tunnel beneath Seattle had been sitting still while two labor unions duked it out over a handful of jobs.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week he’d brokered a deal in the dispute, and said the digging would resume after a few days.

Read more
Affordable Care Act
4:38 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Volunteers Plaster King County with Obamacare Sales Pitch

Stu Jennings got the manager of Malo's Auto Body in White Center to post a flier about Wahington HealhtPlanFinder.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

On the same day House Republicans voted to defund the Affordable Care Act, King County is making a big push to implement it. Volunteers went door-to-door and business-to-business across the county Friday.

Public health officials are trying to get uninsured King County residents to buy insurance on the state’s new exchange. Many of them have never had coverage before.

Read more
Affordable Care Act
5:00 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Defund Obamacare? Sen. Murray: 'It's Not Gonna Happen'

AP

Washington’s senior senator says she won’t let Republicans sacrifice the new health care law in order to pass a budget. The Republican-controlled House is pushing a plan that would do just that.

Sen. Patty Murray took to the Senate floor Wednesday to tell them, “It’s not gonna happen.”

Read more
Education
5:00 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Union Vote Begins for Some PLU Faculty Members

Pacific Lutheran University

Disclosure: Pacific Lutheran University holds the license for KPLU, where on-air staff are affiliated with SAG-AFTRA.

Faculty members at Pacific Lutheran University begin voting Thursday on whether to unionize. It’s the result of a monthslong fight that has pitted PLU’s lecturers, adjunct professors and other non-tenure track instructors against the administration.

Read more
Sports
4:22 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Seahawks Fans Will 'Most Likely' Go Home with Hearing Damage

Centurylink Field has long claimed to be the league's loudest.
U. S. Embassy Panama Flickr

The Seattle Seahawks will take on San Francisco in the season’s home opener Sunday night, and a fan group wants the crowd to get loud—loud enough to set a world record.

The crowd’s roar is powerful enough to disorient opponents and, famously, register on a nearby seismic monitor. So just imagine what it must sound like from smack in the middle of it.

“It’s really hard to describe the feeling,” said Joe Tafoya, the former Seahawks defensive end who’s helping organize the record attempt.

Read more
regulating marijuana
2:43 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Proposed Pot Rules Revised; Buffer Zone to be Measured as Crow Flies

Associated Press

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is tightening up its proposed regulation on where marijuana businesses can be located. Stores, processors, and grow operations will have to be at least 1, 000 feet from schools, parks and daycares—not by common path of travel, but as the crow flies, the board said Friday. 

The board had considered using streets and sidewalks to measure the distance instead of a straight line on the map. But board director Rick Garza says it has become obvious that the federal government did not agree.

Read more
Science
4:12 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Seattle Scientist's Discovery Leads to Promising Brain Cancer Results

Glioblastoma is teh most common kind of brain tumor, and carries a grim prognosis.
jbrandner Wikimedia Commons

A promising but preliminary new study based on a Seattle scientist's discovery has shown dramatic increases in survival for people with brain cancer.

Charles Cobbs, now head of the Ben and Cathy Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment at Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center, figured out a key feature of the most common kind of brain tumor, glioblastoma.

The tumor appears to be connected to a virus that most of us carry, called CVM. It’s harmless in most people, but for some, it seems to promote tumor growth.

Read more
regulating marijuana
2:01 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

On Marijuana, Feds Plan to Address Banking Issue

Associated Press

The Department of Justice has let it be known that it won’t interfere with Washington’s legal marijuana industry. But when pot stores do come to Washington, they won’t be able to deposit their money in a bank or accept credit cards. That’s because the pot business, still illegal under federal law, is off-limits to federally-regulated banks.

King County Sheriff John Urquhart testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington D.C. Tuesday. He says businesses that deal only in cash present problems for police.

Read more
changing of the guards
9:33 am
Tue September 10, 2013

CEO Jeff Raikes Retiring from Gates Foundation

Jeff Raikes speaks at an international water conference in Lincoln, Neb., Monday, May 3, 2010.
Nati Harnik Associated Press

The nation’s largest charitable foundation has a job opening. CEO Jeff Raikes announced Tuesday morning that he’ll be stepping down after five years of running the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Raikes started out as a Nebraska farm boy, and built a long career at Microsoft before transitioning to the Gates Foundation in 2008. He took over an organization ballooning in size, and he said one of his legacies is helping organize the foundation to support its enormous ambitions.

Read more

Pages