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 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.

Courtesy of Graham Owen / Film Flies

This story originally aired on September 30, 2017.

When Hollywood needs a housefly, they call Graham Owen. The head of the company Film Flies is a specialist when it comes to creating fake insects (and spiders and centipedes) used in movies, print ads and commercials. 

 

Owen has watched his creations appear in a Spider-Man movie, alight on the lip of Adam Sandler and even the star in a Breaking Bad episode. Each bug is meticulously recreated, leading to specimens so realistic that they have fooled real bugs into trying to mate with them.  

Tim Durkan

This story originally aired on Jan. 14, 2017

“The streets start really showing their personality after dark,” said Seattle photographer Tim Durkan, on one of the coldest nights of 2016.

He’s talking about the neighborhood where he lives, and where he grew up: Capitol Hill.

Courtesy of Forrest Fenn

This story originally aired March 26, 2016.  

Many children dream of buried treasure and fantastical adventures in search of gold and jewels. Some adventurous adults are following through on those dreams, scouring the western United States for the treasure of Forrest Fenn. 

Dell Yearling Books

This story originally aired on April 16, 2016.

For some people, home is not a place of safety and comfort. When writer Anastasia Selby was growing up around the Seattle suburbs and Olympia, home was a dangerous place of neglect and abuse. As a young girl facing some tragic circumstances, Selby often ran away from home.

Selby drew the strength to do that from what might seem like an unlikely place: the novels of acclaimed author, Judy Blume.

Courtesy Gracelynn Shibayama

This story originally aired on September 27, 2017.

College is really expensive. People take out loans, they work a million odd jobs, and if you’re lucky, you have parents who set up a college fund. When Gracelynn Shibayama was 17 years old, she had a college fund. But then, she got an email from her parents.    

Courtesy of Wil Miller

This story originally aired on September 27, 2017.

In the late 1990s, WIl MIller was working as a King County prosecutor in Seattle. And for the first time, he was exploring the gay nightlife. Spending his evenings in the city’s gay bars introduced him to his future lover and, through him, to crystal meth.

“If you're a gay man in the 90s and you're a little overweight and you’re a little self-conscious, it really seemed to solve all of my problems,” Miller said. “It played into every one of my weaknesses.”

Courtesy of UW Medicine

 

At Harborview Medical Center, it is not uncommon for people to work there for decades. Over time, these individuals whose passion for work is as unwavering as a religious devotion, shape how this massive institution runs. These are Harborview’s “lifers.”

 

Dr. Eileen Bulger, Harborview’s Chief of Trauma, trained under one of these individuals. His name is Dr. Michael Copass.

 

Courtesy of Harborview Medical Center

This week we spend the hour with stories from Harborview Medical Center, the Level 1 Trauma Center covering four states and nearly 100,000 square miles. We hear the story of a tragic house fire in Alaska that gave rise to a world-class medevac system. We visit a clinic serving refugees, and a club where staff and patients blow off steam by laughing at nothing. We get to know psychiatric patients getting counsel from people who have been in their shoes, and meet a doctor whose life changed when he was called to help a pregnant woman gored by a yak.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

It’s midday on a Tuesday, and people are scattered around the green lawn of Harborview Park, having lunch. Amid their quiet murmurs and the drone of traffic on nearby I-5, comes a thundering sound: laughter.

About a dozen people stand in a rough circle near the park’s center, red in the face, doubled over laughing.

Welcome to Harborview’s laughter club. For nearly two decades this is where doctors, patients, staff and members of the community have come together twice a month to laugh at nothing. It’s a way for people connected to this hospital to blow off steam.

courtesy of Judd Walson

 

Students of Professor Judd Walson often ask him for advice on their career paths and how he became a global health specialist. But Walson didn’t always know he wanted to be a doctor and says his career path was anything but straightforward.

In fact, as a young boy he was a talented magician getting paid to perform around the country and even overseas in Sweden. When he graduated High School, he didn’t know what he wanted to do and so he left for Europe to become a street performer.

 

Courtesy of Michael Henrichsen

This story originally aired on September 9, 2017.

Michael ​Henrichsen’s parents met at a Duran Duran concert. He’s named after the lead singer of INXS. He practically has 1980s and 90s pop music in his DNA. So maybe it’s no surprise that, after hearing a Debbie Gibson song in a piano bar, the 30-year old Henrichsen got a little obsessed.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on September 9, 2017.

Last June, Ana Ramirez headed to a meeting of the Western Washington University student government. She had just been elected as Vice President for Governmental Affairs and, as it turned out, the meeting was about her.

Ramirez, now a 19-year-old sophomore, is an undocumented immigrant, brought into the United States from Mexico when she was six months old. She had just learned from university administrators that she wouldn’t be allowed to assume the position she had campaigned for and won.

Credit Chris Cozzone

This story originally aired on September 9, 2017.

Tricia Arcaro Turton’s career started with a big fat “no.” She says she was never one to be discouraged just because someone tells her she can’t do something. And at a young age, she was told that she couldn’t be a 

boxer. She decided to write off the sport all together.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

This story originally aired on September 9, 2017. 

When Meg Martin first moved to Olympia, Washington from Montana in 2007, she was recovering from a drug addiction and looking to start a new life. In Olympia, she threw herself into outreach work. She volunteered for a program that uses bicycles to deliver clean needles to people on the street who use injection drugs.

 

courtesy of Paula Becker

 

Paula Becker grew up reading the "Mrs. Piggle Wiggle" children's books, and loved the whimsical stories of her uncanny ability to cure children of bad character traits. The author of the books, Betty MacDonald, lived in Washington. Many years later, when Becker moved to the Evergreen state, she asked her local librarian what had become of the best-selling author.

 

Every Tuesday night, St. Paul’s Episcopal church in Seattle opens its doors and invites people living with mental illness and homelessness to come in and create. In the unique art space they can paint, knit, play music or find their own creative pursuits.

 

The Karen Korn Project was founded by Pastor Kae Eaton and Patricia Swain, in honor of Swain’s daughter Karen. Karen died from suicide in November of 2014, after struggling with mental illness and homelessness herself.

 

Seattle Public Library

 

Real estate. It’s a hot topic in the Northwest right now. A white-hot market like Seattle’s creates winners and losers, depending on which side of the transaction you happen to be on. These days, you’d probably rather be a seller than a buyer.

 

But back in 1985, when Merlin Rainwater and her husband bought their place, the roles were reversed. They were able to score a little bungalow on the East slope of Capitol Hill for just $50,000.

 

Courtesy of Mark Goetcheus

 

The day that changed Michael Freeman’s life came about 22 years ago.

“I was crushed by an eight-ton truck in a loading dock across the pelvis. They took me out to Madigan and did emergency surgery,” Freeman said.

In the course of his treatment he was given a common blood-thinning medication, to which he turned out to be severely allergic. The complications would eventually cost him one of his legs. He was sent to Harborview in Seattle for two months to recover.

Zappy Technology Solutions / Flickr

 

Wolfe wanted children. But when he went to a sperm donor clinic, he didn’t expect that he’d end up with seventeen.

 

After an extensive judging process, Wolfe wasn’t sure if he’d even be selected.

 

“This was more like trying out for NASA,” Wolfe said. “They did extensive blood work. They looked at my family history going back multiple generations. They looked at any kind of genetic abnormalities. They had me on a treadmill jumping around.”

 

 

Kwesi Salih is serving more than 50 years in prison for the murder of a woman who was in a car that Salih and his friend tried to carjack.

 

“I didn’t think how my actions could take another person’s life. You know, I live with that every day of my life now,” said Salih who spoke over the phone from Stafford Creek Correctional Center in Aberdeen, Washington.

 

University of Washington

Ana Mari Cauce says her relationship with her big brother was pretty typical when they were growing up. 

"Every scar on his body was probably given to him by me," Cauce says, "He had a scar over his mouth where I kicked hime in the mouth -- not on puprose! He was in the front seat, I was in the back seat. He did some kind of name-calling and so I went to kick the back of teh seat, he turned around I caught his tooth."

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

The rising cost of Seattle real estate isn’t just affecting housing: it’s also bearing down on houses of worship.

The tide of rising rents and gentrification has pushed a string of churches out of Seattle neighborhoods such as the Central District and West Seattle. And that’s had an interesting side effect in nearby Skyway, wedged between Seattle and Renton.

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