Gabriel Spitzer | KNKX

Gabriel Spitzer

Sound Effect Host and 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 Seattle Band Map

This story originally aired on November 9, 2019.  

Rachel Ratner is in a band called Wimps. She’s also a software engineer and a brand new mother — and the creator of the Seattle Band Map

Monica Martinez

 

This story originally aired on November 16, 2019.  

 

The sheer physicality of aging and dying are things we try not to think about, so it’s especially striking when these subjects turn up in unexpected places — say, your indie rock playlist. 

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on February 14, 2020.

Ivanonva Smith spent the first chunk of her life in an institutional orphanage in Soviet-controlled Latvia. She doesn’t remember having any friends or toys, or anything to do. 

“I would just stare at a light and watch the little floaters, those little floaters you get in your eyes, and that was my entertainment,” she said. 

Bonnie and Gerry Gibson named their nonprofit after their son, Greg "Gibby" Gibson.
Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on February 14, 2020.

Bonnie Gibson says her son Greg’s musical talent emerged very early on. 

“I could just see from a young age that he had unusual rhythm. Which, now, I go, did I really want those drums in my basement?” she said. “But it was cute and fun to see a little kid kind of find himself.”

Greg did find himself in music. By high school, he was already involved in the business side, booking bands.  

Leila Marie Ali

 

This story originally aried on February 8, 2020. 

Leila Marie Ali was always the thriftiest one in her family. 

Her dad is generous to a fault, always quick to dispense bills to a person on the street or send a chunk of his taxi driver earnings to relatives back in Somalia and Yemen. 

“I remember thinking, this man is taking care of what felt to me like an entire village in two countries, and not taking care of us as well as he could be,” Leila says.  

The nucleus is blue.
Courtesy of Dr. J. Lee Nelson and Coline Gentil

This story originally aired on January 25, 2020.

Not all of the cells in your body actually belong to you. Some cells might be from your mother, passed to you from when you were in utero. If you had children, their cells passed into your body the same way.

Researchers say that this can sometimes even be true for women who have a miscarriage in the second trimester or later, or who decided to terminate a pregnancy. 

Jack Archibald

 

This story originally aired on January 25, 2020.

 

The Rev. Chumleigh wasn’t exactly a regular at meetings of the Camano Island Chamber of Commerce. 

He’s a vaudeville entertainer who, at various times, has been known to walk tightropes, eat fire and get shot out of cannons. He’s also an irascible political lefty — in short, an odd fit for the business group. 

Personal Collection of Sidney Rittenberg, via Stourwater Pictures

 

This story originally aired on January 25, 2020.

 

Sidney Rittenberg was a singular figure — an American who was a close associate of Mao Zedong, who held high-ranking positions in the Chinese Communist Party, who was on the inside during some of the most important events of the 20th century. 

 

And Gregory Youtz was meeting him for lunch. 

 

This story orginally aired on February 24, 2018.

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 Gabriel Spitzer

This story originally aired on December 9, 2017.   

Lois Langrebe has taught Lushootseed for over two decades, a dying language of the Tulalip tribes that she’s struggling to keep from going extinct.

It’s an important role that she never expected to fill while growing up.

A child of adoption, Lois was raised by a white family, knowing little about her origins or the culture of Native Americans. For years she struggled with her identity and finding a place that truly felt like home.

Almin Zrno

 

This story originally aired Oct. 13, 2018.  

In the early 1990s, Gino Jevdjevic was living the typical life of a Yugoslavian popstar.

He signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans. He wore his hair in a ponytail and crooned schmaltzy melodies.

These days, Gino has a shaved head, a multitude of tattoos and a long, grey-streaked beard. He lives in Seattle, and his music is closer to metal or “Gypsy Punk” than it is to pop.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on April 28, 2018.  

If you close your eyes and picture Sasquatch, there’s a good chance you’ll conjure up a very specific image: a big, hairy humanoid, mid-stride, arms swinging, head turned to glance back over its right shoulder.

In that iconic picture, the thing Bigfoot was turning back to look at was Bob Gimlin.

Stephen Brashear / AP

This story originally aired April 2, 2016.  

Last December, St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams punter Johnny Hekker, an Edmonds resident who grew up in Bothell,  did not make many new friends in the Pacific Northwest. He punted the ball to the Seahawks, and after the play was over, he came up behind Seattle defensive end Cliff Avril and drilled him to the ground.

Courtesy of Grace Sullivan

 

This story originally aired on November 9, 2019.  

If you went back in time and told 14-year-old Grace Sullivan that she’d grow up to study biology, she probably wouldn’t know what you were talking about. 

 

That’s because 14-year-old Grace didn’t know about cells, or atoms, or what a negative number was. Instead, her schooling covered what her parents considered relevant: quilting, knitting, grinding wheat, canning — and most of all, bible study. 

 

Courtesy of Erica C. Barnett

For the past 19 years, journalist Erica C. Barnett has been covering local politics in the Seattle area. For much of that time, she was struggling with alcoholism.

Addiction, she says, turned out to be the one problem she couldn’t talk her way out of. In her new book “Quitter: A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse and Recovery,” she takes readers on her circuitous journey to sobriety.

Courtesy of Sam Blackman

This story originally aired on October 26, 2019.

When Sam Blackman first met his adopted baby daughter in 2007, the pediatrician and first-time father says he did the one thing he knew instinctively how to do: examine her from head to toe. 

 

“I put my ear up to her chest and listened to her heartbeat, listening for murmurs,” he says. “But in the end all I could find was a beautiful healthy child. Our child.”

 

Adrian Florez / KNKX

 

Tammy Edwards survived COVID-19. It was miserable, but she made it. She had hoped that once the virus ran its course, she could then get back to her life and her work as a nurse in Tacoma. 

Federal guidelines suggest a typical person sick with COVID should get better after a week or two. Tammy Edwards is three months past that point, and she is still recovering. 

Lexi Walls / Veesler Lab, UW

One of the nation’s first human clinical trials testing a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is producing encouraging results, according to the Seattle-based scientists leading the study. 

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente Washington started the phase-one trial on March 16. In this early phase of developing a vaccine, researchers want to ensure mainly that it does not pose serious health risks, and that it does boost immunity. 

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

This story originally aired on October 19, 2019.

Grace Jo was 6 years old when her mom scooped up her and her older sister, and set out to cross the Tumen River into China. 

 

“We walked three nights and four days,” Jo said, recalling the trek along rocky mountain trails. “A lot of tree branches were hurting our skin. A lot of wild animal sounds we could hear at night, and we had to hide from people.”

 

At the river’s edge, the water level went up to her mother’s hips. 

 

“My mom managed, and all three of us able to cross river and come to China.” 

 

But escaping North Korea and finding freedom are two different things. Five years later, Jo and her family were captured, and deported back to North Korea. 

 

  The fact that she’s alive, not imprisoned or executed, is kind of miraculous. She — and hundreds of other North Korean refugees — owe their lives to a Seattle-area man named John Yoon. 

 

Robert F. Bukaty / The Associated Press

 

As we move into the heart of our Pacific Northwest summer, families with children are facing a dilemma: what to do with kids, cooped up for months, and itching to see friends. 

COVID-19 cases are rising in Washington, but experts say it doesn’t mean kids need to stay on lockdown. 

This map from AIDSVu shows the rates of people living with HIV per 100,000 residents.
AIDSVu

 

The Seattle area is leading the way on controlling a viral epidemic, besides COVID-19. A new analysis of 39 cities shows the region’s health system has been effective at treating people with HIV and AIDS. 

Seattle came out ahead of all the cities analyzed on a key measure: how many people infected with HIV are virally suppressed.

Courtesy of Jourdan Imani Keith

One of the heartbreaking things about the past few weeks for Jourdan Imani Keith is how many of her poems, ones that touch on anguish, outrage and sadness — feel so current right now.

Keith is Seattle’s Civic Poet, and she sighs deeply as she reflects on it.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

 

Toxic exposures to cleaning products are up sharply since the pandemic began, according to the Washington Poison Center.

In the first half of the 2020, poisonings due to misuse of cleaners such as bleach or rubbing alcohol are up 54 percent over the same period last year. There are similar jumps in cases involving children who’ve ingested hand sanitizer, as well as cannabis.

Courtesy of Ilan Speizer

 

This story originally aired on March 30, 2019.

The American Blues is a genre born of suffering — of oppression, heartbreak and hard work. It originated in African-American communities of the Deep South, but it all sounds very familiar to Jewish Seattleite Ilan Speizer.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Imagine getting out of prison after almost two decades, and being released into … this.

That’s what was on Jennifer Tilford’s mind as she stood in the parking lot at Cedar Creek Corrections Center, waiting for the man she’s been married to for three years, but has never been alone with.

Life for both of them is about to change radically.

“There is no normal and there's not going to be the same normal ever again,” Jennifer said. “Not only because Jason's coming home, but because of the whole virus.”

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Since the COVID-19 pandemic landed in Washington, the economic fallout has driven more than a million people in the state to apply for unemployment insurance. 

Those payments have become the safety net for workers during the worst recession in many decades. The federal government beefed it up significantly in the CARES Act — a recognition of how urgent the situation is for tens of millions of Americans. 

But now, after weeks and, in some cases, months out of work, large numbers of unemployed Washingtonians still have not gotten paid. 

Adrian Florez / KNKX

A lot of us this year have gotten used to relying on computer models for projections of how many new COVID-19 cases we can expect, or when the economy might start to rebound. But those models can’t tell us how we’re going to feel, or how lockdown and grief and social breakdown will change the way we see and experience the world. 

Well, turns out there’s a model for that, too. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Crowds gathered Sunday for a major march in Seattle’s most racially diverse area. Protesters assembled at Othello Park in the city’s Rainier Beach neighborhood to demand an end to police violence and systemic racism, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. KNKX asked people at the "We Want To Live" march and rally what it feels like to be part of this moment. 

Our hero, suiting up for the water.
Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

This story originally aired on June 29, 2019.

It’s 1985 — think New Coke and “We Are the World” — and little 8-year-old Gabe is shivering on the tile floor next to Jewish Community Center swimming pool in Canton, Ohio. I’d just wrapped up my “Advanced Beginners” swim class, and was lined up with the other kids awaiting our Red Cross cards. That card would be my ticket to the next class: Intermediate. 

Marchers gather outside Seattle City Hall on Wednesday afternoon.
Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

Thousands marched peacefully from Seattle’s Capitol Hill to City Hall on Wednesday, chanting demands to “defund the police.” The demonstrators gathered at Cal Anderson Park, the site of repeated clashes with police over the past several nights, and made their way through the neighborhood toward downtown Seattle.

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