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

Credit Carl Badgley

Former Seattleite Carl Badgley has some experience with emergencies, having been an army medic and a 9-1-1 operator. But, in search of a simpler, slightly less intense lifestyle, he had moved to be near the beautiful tropical waters off of Kona, Hawaii.

Courtesy Mike Lewis

 

When the print edition of the Seattle Post Intelligencer came to an end in 2009, the reporters who worked for the paper scattered off to other careers. Some picked up other gigs covering news, others went into public relations. Veteran reporter Mike Lewis bought a bar.

 

Specifically, he bought his bar, a dive called The Streamline Tavern, where he and other reporters used to adjourn to after quitting time at the paper.

 

Courtesy of Erica C Barnett

All of Erica’s heroes liked to drink. Hunter S. Thompson, Molly Ivins … to be an edgy journalist, it seemed like alcohol was part of the job description.

For Erica C. Barnett, alcohol did soon become a thread weaving through her work for magazines and alternative weeklies.

Courtesy of Mike Lewis

Years ago, not long after Mike Lewis lost his father, he made a pilgrimage to his dad's favorite bar--a place called The Ranch in Modesto, CA. When he got there, he found something he didn't expect: a stool that had been roped off. 

Mike asked about it, and was told it was in honor of Jack Lewis, "a guy who hung out in here who was really well liked." When Mike identified himself as Jack Lewis' son, he heard an outpouring of stories about the kind of man his dad was, and about everything he gave to the people around him.

Samvado Gunnar Kossatz

Les Zaitz was a reporter for the Oregonian in the early 1980s, when he began covering a  group of people, known as the Sinyasins who were followers of the enigmatic Indian guru, Baghwan Shree Rajneesh.

They arrived in the Northwest with visions of creating a whole new city in the middle of the Oregon desert. They called themselves a religion. Many others have called them a cult.

The story Zaitz was covering soon transformed from a curiosity to an epic drama, complete with massive fraud, betrayal and plots to commit murder. Even Zaitz himself was told he was a marked man.

Parker Miles Blohm / knkx

John Roderick was born in the Seattle area, but spent much of his youth living in Anchorage, Alaska.

“Growing up in Alaska, you’re an American, you know you're an American. But you’re also thousands of  miles away from America. So we fetishized America," said Roderick, who these days fronts the indie band, The Long Winters.

After high school, Roderick decided that the way to see America, and absorb the wisdom and freedom of the open road, was to stick out his thumb and hitchhike across the country.

Jennifer Wing / KNKX

Sometimes, you just want to smash. 

Who hasn’t fantasized about taking out their frustrations with, say, a baseball bat or a sledge hammer? 

Of course, this sort of thing is frowned upon in polite society. But there are places around the country where you can pay money to release the beast within, with some degree of safety and without having to clean up the mess: “rage rooms.”  

Erica Dudrow

Note: This story deals with sexual assault and may not be appropriate for some listeners and readers. 

Erica Dudrow lives in Bellingham, and she says she was never much of a party person. But in 2014 she was dating a guy who liked to hit the bars, and she did her best to keep up. 

One Friday evening they were getting ready to go out, having drinks and indulging in a bit of the rave drug, “Molly.” She hadn’t realized just how intoxicated she was until, on her way to the bar, she began to black out. 

Courtesy of Patrick Haggerty

In 1973, in the midst of the Stonewall era, a Seattle band called Lavender Country released an eponymous album. The album delivered radical politics with a country twang, and became known as the world's first openly gay country album.

In this interview, Patrick Haggerty tells Gabriel Spitzer  how the album lived, and died, and lived again. He also explains why the album might never have existed if it weren't for his father--a "hayseed" of a dairy farmer who gave his son permission to be exactly who he was.

Courtesy of L'Oréal

This story originally aired on November 7, 2015. 

Dr. Sarah Ballard was one of the very first guests we ever had on Sound Effect. In Newness, Sound Effect's very first episode, Ballard told us about what it feels like to discover a new planet.

Ballard has not only discovered four new planets, she also discovered a new way to discover planets.

Wikimedia Commons

Bisphenol-A, a chemical in plastics, thermal-paper receipts and the lining of tin cans, has been fingered as the culprit for a bunch of health problems.

 

In our bodies, BPA acts like a hormone -- and in animals, at least, it seems to disrupt all sorts of important functions.

 

Courtesy of Chad Goller-Sojourner

Good intentions often have unexpected outcomes, something Chad Goller-Sojourner knows from personal experience.

 

He’s a Seattle based playwright , and also a counselor to white parents who’ve adopted children of color. Chad is black, and when he was 13 months old he himself was adopted by white parents, along with two other kids of color.  This was back in the 1970s, when there was a lot less awareness of mixed families.

 

HistoryLink.org

At the turn of the 20th century, when West Seattle was a city all its own, the community had a problem: They wanted to attract development, but they also wanted to keep out big-city vice, such as alcohol and gambling.

Their solution? An amusement park on a boardwalk, with roller coasters, side shows, and other kinds of wholesome family fun. As HistoryLink.org's Alan Stein tells Gabriel Spitzer, the decision had some unintended consequences.

UW Center for Philosophy for Children

There are times in life when the answers aren't black and white. 

Your friend is getting married, and asks you to be best man--but you don't approve of his fiancee. Should you speak up about your reservations? Should you be quiet and agree to be best man? 

You suspect that wearing makeup might help your advancement at work, but you also suspect that sexism is at play. Should you put on that lipstick?

Some employers reject job applicants because they smoke. Is that right?

Courtesy of Elliot Cossum

 

Elliot Cossum struggles, like many of us, with work-life balance. The difference is he works in an unusual profession.

 

It started for Cossum in Iraq, in one of Saddam Hussein’s captured palaces, where Cossum was serving in the U.S. Army. His job was to man the phone lines there (including the line that reached directly to the Oval Office). He would frequently hear explosions and artillery blasts outside, and once in a while the palace itself would come under attack.

 

Xiao Zhou

Queen Mae Butters has worked side by side with death for about 30 years. She’s a hospice nurse, meaning she cares for people at the end of their lives and helps them transition from life to death. That may sound like sad work -- and it is, says Butters. But it’s so much more than that.

 

“At the beginning of my career I really felt like death was the thing we were against, and we were all trying to keep death from happening. And now … I don’t see death as the enemy at all. I see it as one of our longest friends,” she says.

 

Zemekiss Photography / Courtesy of the Geekenders

 

The performance artform of burlesque has been enjoying a renaissance in recent years. Ranging from the basic “parade and peel” to elaborately themed shows, burlesque is a big tent with plenty of room for creative subgenres.

 

This past September, Steve Fournier expected to go out with his friends to see one of his favorite Rock bands, Loverboy, in concert. What he didn’t expect is for lead singer, Mike Reno, to get the flu and only be able to perform a couple songs. Reno’s wife started talking to the crowd to find someone in the audience to take his place.

Fournier’s friends started pointing at him telling her to pull him up on stage.

Credit Kevin Kniestedt

Lauren “Big Lo” Sandretzky has rarely missed a professional sports game in Seattle in 30 years, and has been called Seattle’s biggest sports fan. He even has his own super fan action figure. But his passion for sports and the players goes beyond just wins and loses. It’s gotten him through some pretty difficult times in his life.

He lost his grandfather and mother, two very special people to him, when he was very young.

 

Woodland Park Zoo

Prior to the summer of 1940, Woodland Park Zoo’s monkeys lived isolated in cages in the Monkey House. Then the zoo decided to do something progressive: relocate the monkeys to a more “natural” setting, on a human-made island in the middle of a shallow moat. What followed was a war for dominance that captivated Seattle for weeks.

 

The daily newspapers, keen for some comic relief amid the grim news out of war-torn Europe, offered breathless coverage of the Monkey War.

 

Joe McNally

George Divoky is a scientist in Seattle, at least most of the year. But don’t expect to find him around here during the summertime.

He’ll be on a small, flat little island in the Arctic Ocean, off the Alaska coast, called Cooper Island. Back in 1975, Divoky was doing survey work there, when he came across a colony of arctic birds called Mandt’s Black Guillemots. They’re little pigeon-sized birds with bright red legs, and they’re one of the few seabird species that depend year-round on sea ice.

Tom Paulson

  Ollie was a gray and white tomcat, a bit of a tough guy, but with a soft side. He’d often curl up on Tom Paulson’s chest at night. Tom is more of a dog person, but he and Ollie bonded -- maybe because Ollie was “not weird and scary like a lot of cats. [He] had more of a dog personality.”

 

But pets are mortal, and one day Tom got a call at work from his wife with the news: Ollie was dead. Please come home and deal with him. So Tom headed home, and collected the cat.

 

Todd Huffman / Flickr/Creative Commons

What may be most remarkable about Turina James' story is not that she got hooked on heroin as a teenager, but the fact that she managed to get off of it. She did so with little support from family, and after a traumatic childhood that included sexual violence, homelessness and unplanned pregnancy. 

James grew up in Yakima, where she says she was kicked out of her house and on the streets by age 12. By 15 she was pregnant, and soon moved in with an older man who was not her child's father. He had children of his own, and, she would soon learn, a drug habit.

University of Washington

To understand why opioids exert such a powerful pull on human beings, you want to look first to our brains’ natural “happy juice”: endorphins.

 

So says Charles Chavkin, a professor in the University of Washington’s Pharmacology Department.

 

Chavkin explains that there is a whole series of neural receptors designed specifically to detect endorphins.

 

Gabriel Spitzer

You could make a pretty good case that the epicenter of the opioid crisis in all of North America is British Columbia.

 

Just five years ago overdose deaths there had been holding steady at under 300 a year -- about the same as car crashes. Then it spiked -- last year 1,422 people in British Columbia died of a drug overdose.

 

Courtesy Daniel Brown

This story originally aired on September 2, 2017.

For many in the Seattle area, Royal Brougham might be little more than a regal sounding street near Safeco Field. But Royal Brougham was actually one of the longest tenured reporters in U.S. newspaper history, working 68 years, primarily as a sports columnist and editor, for the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on September 2, 2017.

In the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle, tucked among the bungalows sits an ornate yellow and red building. On one side flies the American flag, and on the other flies what’s called the Dharma Flag.

How a Homeless Man Helped this Writer Overcome His Fear of the Woods

Jan 20, 2018
Bryant Carlin

Olympic National Park, with its temperate rainforests and stunning views, exerts a natural pull on many Pacific Northwesterners. But it repelled Seattle writer Rosette Royale. To Royale, the park seemed like a damp, mucky, inhospitable place. "I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to haul a 50-pound pack into the wilderness and camp there for days," he said. "It didn't make sense."

Then he met Bryant Carlin.

Courtesy of Christina Hayes

 

Thanksgiving dinner at the house where Christina Hayes grew up, in the Tri Cities in Eastern Washington, has all the normal things.

Her parents, who met in bible college, are there, along with extended family. There’s turkey and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie: By all appearances they are a completely typical American family holiday.

“We’re playing, we’re laughing, we’re joking, we’re prepping food. We are like the Hallmark family,” Hayes said.

Courtesy of Nick Morrison

Back in the 1970s, before Nick Morrison was a KNKX staffer, some friends asked him if he would help them smuggle a few bricks of marijuana across the border from Mexico. He said, sure.

What came next? In the beginning, normal drug smuggling stuff. A rambler with secret compartments, a jungle, a mango orchard, an operation that seemed to be going great. But in the end? A single terrifying moment that made Morrison regret his decision - and change his ways.

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