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

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Today's episode: The Virus-Eye View. 

We know, more or less, what the new coronavirus looks like … but what do we look like to it? 

In today’s episode, we imagine a little movie filmed from the point of view of the virus itself. We follow it as it enters the body, and get the blow-by-blow as it goes about its dastardly business of locking on to a cell, invading it, taking over its machinery and turning it into a virus factory. 

And we hear about an especially diabolical trick the virus pulls on its way out of a cell, which still gives me the creeps. 

Courtesy of Melba Ayco


This story originally aired on February 23, 2019.

When Melba Ayco was growing up in rural Louisiana, she was a curious child. She had two nicknames: Froggy, because she had large eyes, and “Mel-bad” because sometimes she got into mischief. If she broke something in her home, she never told her mother the truth.


Courtesy of Sam Blackman


This story originally aired on February 23, 2019.   

Sam Blackman’s dad wanted his four sons to find their own path — as long as it was the one he’d chosen for them.



Today’s episode: Getting Creative. 

There’s a bunch of psychological research out there that suggests constraints — having your choices limited — actually promotes creativity. 

And we’re all seeing now how being stuck at home, or losing your job, or having your kids out of school — it sucks, but it can also nudge us to find innovative solutions. 

Today we have a bunch of stories of how people are adapting to this less-than-ideal situation. 

A younger Mary Anne Moorman.
Courtesy of Moorman

This story originally aired on March 2, 2019.  

Mary Anne Moorman has been a management consultant, an activist, a storyteller – even a radio host. She’s also been keeping a secret since she was a little girl.

“Where are you?” a younger Moorman asked. “Everywhere,” the voice replied.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX


This story originally aired March 1, 2019.  

Susan Fee always knew she wanted to move back to Seattle someday. She and her husband both grew up around here, namely Federal Way, but work opportunities had them move to different parts of the Midwest, including Chicago, St. Louis, and Cleveland. Once Susan and her husband became empty-nesters, they were ready to return to Seattle. As they prepared to move, Susan heard rumors that the city had grown frosty in the 25 years since she'd moved away.


Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX


This story originally aired on March 2, 2019. 

Frog had left a note. It was for Toad, and it said he just wanted to be alone today.

So begins the story by Arnold Lobel in the collection, "Days with Frog and Toad." And like many of Lobel’s stories, the deceptively simple narrative hides important lessons about childhood and friendship. In this case, Jana Mohr Lone says, the story teaches us lessons about solitude.

UW Medicine health care workers collect test samples at a drive-through coronavirus testing site in Seattle's Northgate neighborhood.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX


Hospitals in Washington state could exceed their intensive care bed capacity as early as next week, according to projections from a Seattle-based research center. 

New modeling from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projects about a monthlong stretch where demand for ICU beds exceeds the supply. That could begin as soon as April 2. The epidemic is projected to peak on April 19.




When the novel coronavirus made its way to the United States, it landed here, in the Pacific Northwest. Transmission is a podcast about life at the heart of an epidemic. 

Today's episode: Stretched … we consider what happens when our health care system is pushed to the limits. 


When the novel coronavirus made its way to the United States, it landed here, in the Pacific Northwest. Transmission is a podcast about life at the heart of an epidemic. 

Today's episode: Lessons Learned. 

We consider what the past has to teach us about our present moment, starting with a woman who has nearly a century of perspective. She also happens to be on the front lines right now. 


When the novel coronavirus made its way to the United States, it landed here, in the Pacific Northwest. Transmission is a podcast about life at the heart of an epidemic. 

Today’s episode: Houseless. In this episode, Transmission teams up with the Outsiders podcast.  



When the novel coronavirus made its way to the United States, it landed here, in the Pacific Northwest. Transmission is a podcast about life at the heart of an epidemic. 

Today’s episode: Housebound. 


This story originally aired on January 19, 2019.

Paulette de Coriolis grew up in the 1950s, a time of postwar growth, Dwight Eisenhower and booming suburbs. It’s what many people picture when they think of normalcy.


Adrian Florez / KNKX


When the novel coronavirus made its way to American shores, it landed right here in the Pacific Northwest. Now, the Seattle area is the epicenter of America’s COVID-19 outbreak. 

In the first episode of Transmission, a podcast about life in the heart of an epidemic, we hear from a few of the hardy souls still out and about in downtown Seattle. 

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

Willie Keil’s grave sits on a hilltop in the Willapa Valley. The marker is a bit hard to read — the weathered stone shows a date of death as May 19, 1855.

What’s unusual about Willie’s case isn’t when he died, but where: Willie succumbed to disease in Bethel, Missouri, 2,000 miles away, days before his family hit the road west, along the Oregon Trail. 

So how did this 19-year-old wind up buried not in Missouri, but in Southwestern Washington? 

Cheri Cook-Blodget sits on a piece preserved from the movie set of "This Boy's Life."
Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX


Concrete, Washington, was struggling. It was the early 1990s, and timber jobs were scarce in the upper Skagit Valley. The big cement plant had closed decades before. And then, in 1992, in stepped an unexpected player: Hollywood. 


“So all of a sudden Warner Brothers shows up,” says Cheri Cook-Blodget, who at the time was working for Skagit County out of a little storefront on Main Street. “And people up here are not familiar with Hollywood.”


Courtesy Mary McIntyre

This story originally aired on December 8, 2018.   

Mary McIntyre was rasied in Bellevue in a conservative Christian home, and attended a conservative Christian school. There was no shortage of rules and expectations. While Mary loved her family, something was always telling her when she was growing up that this wasn't exactly the life for her.

Matthias Roberts


This story originally aired on December 8, 2018.   

Matthias Roberts came out to his parents at age 15, and at the time both he and they hoped this would be a temporary challenge. Matthias and his family were conservative, Evangelical Christians, and they believed that homosexuality was a sin to be overcome.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Our latest episode of Sound Effect revolves around the theme, "It's Only Money." We'll meet a couple who tried to get rich flipping houses, decades before it was cool. We'll find out how a teenage blunder left Mike Lewis with a debt he could never repay, and how he reapid it anyway. A small town prints its own money, on pieces of wood. A Seattle writer considers a complicated inheritance: what she learned about money from her parents. And a group of friends order a round of drinks ... and fiasco ensues. 

Courtesy Kacie Rahm

This story originally aired on Janary 5, 2019.

When someone eats something that gives them food poisoning, they probably know it when it hits them. It usually comes with stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. The lingering effects can result in a short-term lack of appetite, and perhaps the desire to avoid eating the type of food that made them sick in the first place.

Typically, everything returns to normal after a while. But for Kacie Rahm, her bout with food poisoning had some long-term consequences. In fact, for the better part of a year when she was 11 and 12, she ate hardly anything at all.

Jack Gunter


This story originally aired on Janary 5, 2019.

Northwest artist Jack Gunter uses an ancient painting technique called egg tempera — a mixture of dry pigment and egg yolk. The paint can last for centuries, but it does have one downside. “Six or seven different species of animals will eat my paintings,” he says.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX


This story originally aired on Janary 5, 2019.  

Eating an egg and a banana at the same time can kill you. Some lady found a fried rat in her bucket of chicken. That scone contains the anal secretions of beavers.

Wait — did you “Snopes” that?

Bill Bernat



Bill Bernat jokes that he used to be secretly arrogant — so secretly, that he didn’t even know it himself. 


“I didn't realize how crazy my behavior was at the time,” he said. 


That included things like starting meetings at work with angry outbursts at people who didn’t deserve it. 


Jennifer Wing / KNKX


Getting out of prison is a chance to make a fresh start. But people who’ve paid their debt to society often find there’s another debt hanging over their heads. And that can be a huge hindrance to getting life back on track.


It’s called a legal financial obligation, or LFO. These are fees imposed on criminal defendants. Some help pay for running the court. Some are for restitution to the victim. Some are simply for punishment.


Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX


David Trainer was helping out at an encampment for homeless people when he first met Ivan Dempsey. Ivan had a dog. David had a dog. It was cold: David offered gloves, and Ivan accepted hand warmers. They had a friendly interaction, though nothing out of the ordinary. 


On the way back home, out of nowhere, David had a thought: “What would it be like to have Ivan move in with me?” he said. “I know that’s crazy talk. I don’t know the guy, he’s a stranger.” 


If you know someone who lives in Tacoma, it’s likely they have made one thing clear to you: they love Tacoma, and are very territorial about it.

And make no mistake, Marguerite Martin loves, and probably always will love, Tacoma.

Bremerton Housing Authority


Seattle was the nation’s fastest-growing big city over the past decade, having swelled by over 20 percent. But that pales — proportionately, at least — in comparison with Bremerton in the 1940s. 


Bremerton’s population was 15,134, according to the 1940 census. Five years later it had more than quintupled, to more than 82,000. 


Courtesy of Yeung family


By the time they were 10 and 12, the Yeung sisters had been on national TV, gotten a personal tour of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and had a face-to-face meeting with President Barack Obama. 


This early notoriety followed their forays into space exploration — or at least, space-adjacent. Rebecca, now 14, and Kimberly, now 12, had visited the stratosphere three times with their Loki Lego Launcher, a homemade weather-balloon-borne science probe. 

Gabriel Spitzer

This story originally aired on October 27, 2018.   

When Caroline Garry first noticed she had a problem with perfection, she was in her bedroom closet scrubbing down a pair of white leather Nikes. Caroline was in seventh grade, and like a lot of kids she had gotten attached to a new pair of school shoes. But unlike a lot of kids, Caroline would come home from school every single day and clean them. In hiding. Whether they were dirty or not.

"I just felt this compulsion. I needed to."

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

This story originally aired on October 27, 2018. 

The expectations for Elise Ray Statz were enormous.

These days she is the head coach of the University of Washington women's gymnastics team. But back in 2000, she was captain of the USA Olympic team, and that team’s job was to win gold in Sydney, Australia.