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

Israel Joyner
Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 


 

Israel Joyner grew up in a family of five boys, which he describes as basically like a herd of crazed cats.

“Imagine they zoom down the hallway clawing every single wall, with colored pencil, holes, whatever they can do. That was my house,” Israel says.

 

PARKER MILES BLOHM / KNKX

Xolie Morra Cogley is a musician in Seattle, and leader of the band Xolie Morra and the Strange Kind.

“I’ve always been into music since I was very little," Cogley says. "And so music, I think, really helped to move me in a more social direction, because I didn’t really do a lot of talking when I was little. But I developed a communication skill using music that helped me fit into certain groups. So I didn’t have to have conversations. I was just playing music.”

Courtesy of Ilan Speizer

 


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.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX


Conrad Reynoldson isn’t looking to go far. Specifically, he’d like to cross the residential stretch of NE 44th Street right next to his office. It’s about 15 feet.

Reynoldson lives with Muscular Dystrophy and navigates the world in a power chair, which makes that quick crossing a lot more complicated.

 

Despite Seattle’s reputation as a progressive place, it has a complicated history to reckon with. One chapter of the city’s story is branded with a racist caricature — which pervaded the region beyond the restaurant the image represented: the Coon Chicken Inn.

Sister Judy Byron (in blue, at left) having a dialogue with board members of Merck Pharmeceuticals in New York at the Interfaith Center.
courtesy of Judy Byron

When Judy Byron became a nun, she thought she'd spend her life wearing a habit and teaching school. And she did do that, for a while. But then an opportunity came along to make an impact in a different way.

Sister Judy became a shareholder. A shareholder in pursuit of justice.

COURTESY OF HARBORVIEW MEDICAL CENTER

This story originally aired on June 30, 2018. 

V ia Yelp

 

Some kids go straight to college after high school. But Marisa Comeau-Kerege went to Senegal.

She knew she wanted to do a gap year, she spoke a little French, and this francophone country in West Africa seemed like a great fit. So she signed up for a service program and began to prepare. She expected a bit of culture shock, but once she got there she realized how unprepared she really was. Everything was new, all the time, she says. And there were times when she felt very homesick. 

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

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.

A younger Mary Anne Moorman.
Courtesy of Moorman

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.

Courtesy of Geoffrey Redick

 

version of this essay was originally published by Fatherly, an online parenting magazine. Geoffrey Redick is a producer for All Things Considered, who joined KNKX in April 2018 after a decade working part time as a producer and full time as a stay-at-home dad.

In this podcast episode, Geoffrey shares his essay and discusses it with another working dad, Sound Effect host Gabriel Spitzer. 

Courtesy of Melba Ayco

 


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

 

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.

Woodland Park Zoo

This story originally aired on February 17, 2018.

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

This story originally aired on February 17, 2018.

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.

Tom Paulson

This story originally aired on February 17, 2018.

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.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 


Seattle writer Paulette Perhach often finds herself confronted with the question, “Am I crazy for doing this?”

What she means is, does it make sense, as an artist, to continue to live in a city where the cost of housing has nearly doubled in the past six years or so?

In 2017, Ryan Fenster was having a tough year. He'd been accepted into grad school, but the funding had fallen through. Then, after weeks of feeling weak and ill, the doctor told him that he had Type I diabetes.

And then, Jeopardy! called.

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.

Courtesy of Nick Morrison

This story originally aired on January 13, 2018.  

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.

Courtesy of the FBI

This story originally aired on January 13, 2018.  

On August 7th, 2006, at 5:13 pm, a group of four men wearing ski masks, body armor, sweatshirts, and carrying assault rifles and pistols burst into a Bank of America branch in Tacoma, Washington. Waiting outside the bank, in the getaway car, was Alex Blum, a "good kid" who had just achieved his lifelong dream of becoming an Army Ranger.

Hacker/Flickr

This story originally aired on January 13, 2018.  

In the late 90s and early 2000s, a lot of people were still figuring out this whole internet business.

As is often the case, way out ahead of the learning curve were the cyber-criminals, and law enforcement had some catching up to do.

The FBI often relied on the knowledge of private security professionals. So in 2000, they contacted a Seattle expert named Ray Pompon, and recruited him to go undercover as part of a sting operation. Pompon shared his story with host Gabriel Spitzer.

Courtesy of Sarah Berns

 

Sarah Berns grew up on the East Coast of the United States in a family that valued academics and literature, and her parents expected that she would pursue some kind of cerebral, upper-middle-class career, just like her brothers.

Instead, Berns chose to move west and become a wildland firefighter.

 


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.

 

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

Jack Gunter’s airplane paintings are on the second floor of his studio gallery on Camano Island.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

 This story originally published Nov. 26, 2016. Bonnie Guitar died early Sunday, Jan. 13. She was 95. 

Growing up in Seattle in the 1930s, it was Bonnie Buckingham’s brothers who played the guitar. But Bonnie coveted it, and would take any opportunity to get her hands on the instrument. Soon, she says, “they couldn’t get it away from me.” So began the musical life of the woman who would become known as Bonnie Guitar.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

Jack Gunter’s airplane paintings are on the second floor of his studio gallery on Camano Island.

“Here’s one where there’s a 747 going straight down and going to crash into Helen’s Kitchen,” Jack says, gesturing at a large canvas. Nearby, a jumbo jet is menacing a group of senior citizens. Another shows a plane looming over grazing cows.

Christian Sidor, a paleontologist, works with 220-million-year-old bones at the Burke Museum in Seattle.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Christian Sidor is a paleontologist at the Burke Museum in Seattle. In front of him are some 220-million-year-old bones.

They belong to an animal called a Shuvosaurus. This is probably the most complete skeletons of one of these things in the entire world. But it’s still missing a bunch of stuff. Which, in paleontology, is pretty much par for the course.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

 

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?

Jack Gunter

 

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.

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