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 Silvana Clark

"When I was 11, my mother had me quite well trained for a certain job. But then she fired me from this job. She fired me because I was not cooperating with her shoplifting escapades." 

So begins Silvana Clark's story of rebellion. 

Clark is a writer and speaker based in Bellingham. When she was a kid, one of her main jobs was to accompany her mother to the supermarket, and position herself just so at the far end of the cart. 

Courtesy of Shawn Wenzel

My first job in broadcasting came in 1992, in Canton, Ohio, when someone decided that I should be the guy to read the morning announcements at GlenOak High School.

You know the announcements -- they play over the school’s PA system and update the student body on vital news, such as where to buy raffle tickets or what the cafeteria is serving for dessert.

Each day I’d tick down the list of announcements, and then sign off: “Those are the announcements, I’m Gabriel Spitzer, have a great day.”

In 1931 in the small southeast Washington town of Asotin, a 12 year old boy named Herbert Nicholls Jr. shot and killed the town sheriff. 

Nicholls was starving and abused, and had run away from home and broken into the local store to steal some food. The sheriff came in to find him, and Nicholls fired the gun with the intent to scare him away. Unfortunately, the bullet hit the sheriff in the head, killing him instantly. 

THIERRY EHRMANN VIA FLICKR

 

It all started when CeCe Moore decided to make a family tree as a wedding gift for her niece. At that point she’d had a whole career in entertainment, working as a model and television and musical theatre actress. But once she started digging into her family history, CeCe quickly realized that she couldn’t put it down.

“It just started as a hobby, but once I saw the potential of it, I kind of dropped everything else I was doing,” she said.

Dr. Sarah Myhre is a research associate at the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington. As a paleoceanographer, she studies ancient climate fluctuations by analyzing core samples of the ocean floor.

She's become a prominant voice sounding the alarm on climate change. But it was one of her non-scientific publications that brought on a recent wave of attention, not all of it welcome.

"I get harassed all the time on the internet. I get weird emails, I get hate mail. And the majority of that is in line with what other women scientists also receive," she said.

Courtesy of Sam Blackman

Patient advocates say when you're getting medical care, it's important to be a squeaky wheel. And that goes double when you're the parent of a sick child, who may not be able to advocate for him- or herself. 

While that may be wise, it doesn't necessarily endear one to the doctor -- especially if he's been working an 18-hour shift and is trying to get some sleep. 

Sam Blackman is a cancer researcher and a former pediatric oncologist in Seattle. He shared this story of two assertive parents, and what they taught him about being a doctor. 

Maxwell Hendrix

In the small hours of April 2, 2001, a 92-foot trawler called the Arctic Rose was swallowed up by the Bering Sea. The Seattle-based crew of 15 went down with it, and it was called the deadliest fishing accident in 50 years.

There was no mayday call, no survivors and no obvious reason for this terrible tragedy.

A Coast Guard investigation came up with its most likely scenario: that the crew had mistakenly left a watertight door open, allowing waves to swamp the boat.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

The plan for Nathan Myhrvold was to go into academia. He had his Ph.D in physics, and had even done some work with Stephen Hawking.

But then he got pulled into this side project. The project turned into a company, the company got acquired by a little Redmond concern called Microsoft, and before long Nathan became the company’s Chief Technology Officer.

But Myhrvold kept his passion for science … and while he was at Microsoft -- in his abundant free time --- he started writing papers about dinosaurs.

Sara Jamshidi grew up in Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. She remembers when her mother could wear sunglasses and mini-skirts on hot summer days, before the new fundamentalist government made laws about what women could and could not wear.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

Wes Browning has held an impressive array of jobs at Real Change, the newspaper distributed mainly by homeless vendors: He’s been a columnist, an artist, circulation specialist, public speaker, and so on.

He’s also been homeless three times and struggled with his mental health, so he understands the paper’s vendors better than most.

But go back in time in Browning’s resume, and you find an even wider range of jobs: taxi driver, teacher, theoretical mathematician.

Courtesy of Mark Rose

Growing up on Mercer Island, Mark Rose was captivated by rock n’ roll. And like most kids, he wanted to be a part of it. But unlike most kids, Mark did end up in the music business. He didn’t make it as a musician, but instead worked on the business side of things.

But because of his close association with the musicians, he ended up living a lifestyle very much befitting a rockstar: drugs, alcohol, incessant partying. And like a lot of rock n’ roll stories, Mark’s had a burn-out ending that left him picking up the pieces of his life.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

Iain Heath had just caught a break. As an early employee of the data visualization at Tableau, he stood to make a bundle when the company went public in 2013.

And for the first time, Heath realized he could quit his day job to pursue his passions.

He says he asked his boss whether he was planning on leaving, too. His answer: No.

“[He said] ‘I don’t know what I would do with myself.’ I realized that a lot of people, their job defines who they are,” says Heath. “I had a list of things to do.”

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

If your primary mode of transportation is riding the bus, it's likely you've seen some nice bus stops, some OK ones, probably a couple of bad ones. The website Streetsblog USA holds an annual contest where readers from around the country nominate terrible bus stops, and then vote on them. The bus stop with the most votes gets crowned The Sorriest Bus Stop In America. 

And congratulations, Seattle: The 2017 title is yours. 

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on December 2, 2017.

Todd Stabelfeldt drives a pretty dope ride.

Those are his words -- describing his super-high-tech, “murdered-out … completely black-on-black” vehicle.

It’s no ordinary ride: Stabelfeldt has quadriplegia, and his “whip” is a tricked-out wheelchair, an F5 Permobil equipped with a tongue-operated interface for navigating and controlling devices.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on December 2, 2017.

If you think your daliy commute is bad, please meet Daniel Bone. He maneuvers a large cement truck to the many different construction sites in the Seattle area.

A few years ago, Bone's commute from an idyllic five-acre farm in Yelm, Washington, was daunting, but doable. 

"I'm 62 miles out from our home in Yelm, to where I work in Seattle. In the mornings I could drive it, an hour and ten minutes, comfortably. Coffee in hand. Well rested," Bone said.

Ben Amstutz / Flickr

This story originally aired on December 2, 2017.

Elk meat, eagle feathers, bear gallbladder. These are just a few of the items sold by wildlife traffickers in the Pacific Northwest.

 

How bad is this black market? Washington state Fish & Wildlife detective Todd Vandivert wanted to find out.

He and partner Sergeant Jennifer Maurstad went undercover as small business owners, risking their lives to bring in some of the largest animal traffickers in the region.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on December 2, 2017.

Chief Marshal Elisa Sansalone says she finds calm in the chaos of the Municipal Court of Seattle.

That’s important for someone who leads a team tasked with transporting defendants to and from court about 15,000 times a year.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

When it comes to scientific arguments nowadays, there’s a good chance sooner or later someone will be compared to people who believe the earth is flat.

Most would consider that an insult, but not Mark Sargent. The Whidbey Island resident spends much of his time promoting the belief that the earth is not round or spherical but actually, definitely flat.

Credit Gabriel Spitzer

This story originally aired on November 18, 2017.

All Things Considered host Ed Ronco and Morning Edition producer Ariel Van Cleave came to learn their respective instruments after things didn't work out with their first choice.

Ed started with the trumpet, but the combination of the smaller mouthpiece and a mouth full of braced turned out to be a painful experience. So he moved to the baritone horn, which had a larger mouthpiece, and never looked back.

Meet A Leader Of The Flat Earth Movement

Aug 25, 2018
Credit Gabriel Spitzer

 

This story originally aired on November 18, 2017.

When it comes to scientific arguments nowadays, there’s a good chance sooner or later someone will be compared to people who believe the earth is flat.

Most would consider that an insult, but not Mark Sargent. The Whidbey Island resident spends much of his time promoting the belief that the earth is not round or spherical but actually, definitely flat.

Greg Beckelhymer

In the Fall of 2016, Greg Beckelhymer died after a year-long struggle with metastatic kidney cancer. He was 47 years old.

In this story, his widow, Seattle-based writer Michelle Goodman and her sister, Naomi Goodman, talk about how acute grief is often accompanied by strong denial.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on October 28, 2017.

Near the coast of Washington state, on the banks of the Copalis River, lies a ghost forest -- a stand of gray, dead trees in the middle of a healthy forest.

How did it get there?

Could the key lie in another mystery, a mysterious tsunami recorded by samurai in 18th-century Japan? 

Linking these seemingly unconnected phenomena became a goal for ambitious scientists using everything at their disposal, from computer models to chainsaws.

Courtesy of Rachel Kessler

This story originally aired on October 28, 2017.

Seattle Writer Rachel Kessler started this discussion by reading a passage from an essay she wrote  that was recently anthologized in a book Ghosts of Seattle Past.

Ed Ronco / KNKX

Washington State is, of course, named after founding father George Washington. But there’s another George Washington, also a founding father, who settled in a little corner of the territory with his wife Mary Jane nearly 150 years ago. There he founded a town called Centerville, later changed to Centralia.

What makes Washington an unusual pioneer-type is that he was African-American, born in Virginia to a white woman and a black slave.

Courtesy Caprice Hollins

This story originally aired on October 7, 2017.

So, there’s this online test. The faces of people of different races flash up on your screen along with words, like good, bad, sweet and bitter. And you have to immediately click on one of the words when you see the face. It tests our implicit racial biases in a way that’s really hard to fool.

The results can be enlightening. Or horrifying, because it turns out almost all of us have implicit bias.

Joe Mabel / Wikimedia

This story originally aired on October 7, 2017.

Washington State is, of course, named after founding father George Washington. But there’s another George Washington, also a founding father, who settled in a little corner of the territory with his wife Mary Jane nearly 150 years ago. There he founded a town called Centerville, later changed to Centralia.

What makes Washington an unusual pioneer-type is that he was African-American, born in Virginia to a white woman and a black slave.

NIAID / Flickr

This story originally aired on September 30, 2017.

Seattle Attorney Bill Marler is often thought of as a bug. An agitator. An annoyance to the beef and poultry industries, and even the companies that grow leafy greens. He’s the guy you call if you are unfortunate enough to fall victim to E. coli, salmonella, listeria or any other bacteria that somehow works their way into mass food production and into your stomach.

Credit NIAID/Flickr

This story originally aired on September 30, 2017.

Seattle Attorney Bill Marler is often thought of as a bug…an agitator…an annoyance to the beef and poultry industries, and even the companies that grow leafy greens. He’s the guy you call if you are unfortunate enough to fall victim to E. coli, salmonella, listeria, or any other bacteria that somehow works its way into mass food production and into your stomach.

Worldoflucky / Wikimedia Commons

This story originally aired on September 30, 2017.

    

On June 10, 1999, Bellingham residents began reporting the strong smell of gasoline. Then, within minutes, 911 operators were flooded with reports of a massive explosion.  A fuel pipeline had burst, dumping nearly 300,000 gallons of gasoline into nearby creeks.  

And then it ignited.  

Black smoke rose 30,000 feet in the air and flames shot out for over a mile. It’s considered a miracle there were only three deaths.  

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on September 30, 2017.

There’s Ms Nimbus, Queen of the Air, and Drake, King of the High Dive. There’s the high-wire artistry of the fabulous Dmitry and Annette.

And then, of course, there’s Marcel, the world’s only “mime flea.”

These are just a few of the cast members of a unique Seattle attraction: Professor Payne’s Phantasmagorical Flea Circus.

Pages