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

Gabriel Spitzer

This story originally aired on December 16, 2017.

Any parent of more than one child will tell you that they have no favorites. They will tell you that the well from which love is drawn has no bottom. 

This is what Donald Vass would say about books.

"I sense a type of universal voice coming from all of these books. And often when I open a book and my eyes will land upon a set of words or a sentence, a passage that will speak to me. And sometimes, that will speak to me at a moment when I very much need it," says Vass.

Gabriel Spitzer

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."

Credit Gabriel Spitzer

This story originally aired on November 4, 2017.

The population of Concrete, Washington in 1938 was about 1,000 people. But one October evening that year, while a famous radio broadcast was frightening a good portion of the population across the country, things in Concrete got even stranger.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

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.

“So ‘96 was the first women’s gymnastics team to ever win a gold medal for team [competition]. And it was just a massive accomplishment for gymnastics,” Elise said. “I think we were expected in 2000 to win gold, and that anything less wasn’t good enough.”

Wikimedia Commons

 


 

The standard thing to do when a child is treated for brain cancer is to put some of the tumor cells under a microscope, and see what kind of cancer it is.

But new research led by Dr. Jim Olson of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s compared that type of diagnosis with results of genetic testing of the same tumors and found that 71 percent were actually another type altogether.

 

Kimberly Clark Sharp lives in Seattle but she grew up in Kansas. And when she was 22, she had an experience with her father at the DMV that would change her life. It was not something she was prepared for.

“We were leaving the building. I collapsed into and through his arms, and hit the sidewalk,” Kim said.

A nearby nurse, a good samaritan and the fire department all worked to resuscitate her. Nothing was working. Kim describes hearing someone say, “I’m not getting a pulse!”

Agnes Bodor

 

As a kid, Agnes Bodor had a few unusual interests.

“I was really crazy about books about illnesses, you know, images of skin rashes and things like that,” Agnes said.

One day she spotted a small microscope in a store window, and longed to have it. That was unrealistic, considering that her family was poor and living under the Communist government in Hungary. But one day, a family friend with no children of his own stopped by Agnes’s house, and presented her with a small box.

Courtesy of Kate Noble

 

Kate Noble says she knew at a young age that her family was dysfunctional.

 

“Many layers of conflict. Maternal, psychiatric dysfunction, absentee father,” Noble recalled.

 

Help came to Noble in the form of a dream. She was three and a half years old.

 

Growing up in Taiwan, Dean Huang always knew he wanted to study abroad, especially after visiting cousins that had immigrated to Boston. “It’s just that Taiwan is really small, and I feel like I can maximize my potential and challenge myself to receive a different education.”

 

This Danish tooth-maker became a dream therapist, at the urging of his Jewish Unitarian minister wife. As one does.

OK, better back up. For Flemming Behrend, his career as a dental technician was something that he loved. He hand-made artificial and prosthetic teeth, shaping porcelin and pigments into lifelike choppers. He appreciated the art of it, and the satisfaction that came from delighting his patients. 

Tommy Tang / Tommy Tang Films

Where does gelatin meet feminism, in a wrestling ring? Jello Underground, an all-female run jello wrestling tournament. It's part performance, part competition, part declaration of female power and sex positivity.

Craig Egan

 

Craig Egan, who lives in Tacoma, stumbled into an obsession kind of by accident. It happened on FaceBook.

 

“A friend of mine posted some graph that had an anti-vax slant to it. At that point I had no idea that this was a thing,” Craig remembers.

 

Almin Zrno

 

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.

To understand how he got from one version of Gino to Gino 2.0, you have to go back to 1992.

To say Joe Petosa Jr. and his family are into accordions would not be doing them justice. The Petosa Accordion company goes back almost 100 years, when Carlo Petosa started hand crafting accordions in his Seattle basement. That tradition was passed down to Carlos’s son, Joe Petosa, then to his grandson, Joe Jr., and now onto his great grandson, Joe the third. The custom instruments they make are sought after all over the world.

Courtesy of Simone Alicea

 

Meet a mother and a daughter working through how blood and language have shaped their relationship.

Simone Alicea is a reporter and editor here at KNKX. Her mom Veronica Alicea-Galvan is a King County Superior Court judge. They came together in a Storycorps booth in Chicago to talk about something specific: the bilingual court that Judge Alicea-Galvan used to run in Des Moines, Washington.

But the conversation strayed pretty quickly into this intimate space, where both women learned things about the other they hadn’t known before.

Master Sgt. Kimberly A. Yearyean-Siers / U.S. Air Force

This story originally aired on December 9, 2017.  

Jeffrey Heckman, from Snohomish, WA, will be the first to tell you life is unpredictable.

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.

Courtesy Simone Alicea

This story originally aired on December 9, 2017.   

Meet a mother and a daughter working through how blood and language have shaped their relationship.

Simone Alicea is a reporter and editor here at KNKX. Her mom Veronica Alicea-Galvan is a King County Superior Court judge. They came together in a Storycorps booth in Chicago to talk about something specific: the bilingual court that Judge Alicea-Galvan used to run in Des Moines, Washington.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

 

Singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson writes intimate music that connects with her fans in a very personal way. Olympia's independent K Records wrote that "her recordings make it feel as though you have a friend there whispering in your ear. And you do because Kimya is your friend."

However, Dawson's intimacy can sometimes get her into trouble. She finds herself opening her heart too much and taking in too many friends. At our live event in May, Dawson shared one of her songs and explored how she sometimes loses herself in her need to be a friend to everyone.

Chelon Lone Photography

 This story originally aired on May 7, 2016. 

Being involved in a startup can be exhausting, expensive, stressful and risky. As a result, the people involved in such ventures can often be found taking their work, and themselves, pretty seriously.

Bridget Quigg is a Seattle writer who has worked in the tech world for a decade.  She recently completed the run of her one-woman show "Techlandia," which skewers startup culture — with love. 

(Credit Gabriel Spitzer)

This story originally aired on May 28, 2016.

Kristi Hamilton had hit rock bottom. After the passing of her mother, repossession of her house, and a long stretch of severe drug and alcohol abuse, she found herself homeless. She found herself sleeping anywhere she could — a friend's house, her car, shelters, or behind a grocery store. But between a renewed faith and winning what is the equivalent of a lottery ticket if you are homeless, Hamilton pulled herself out of the darkness, and returned to a life filled with sobriety and a roof over her head.

In 1931 in the small southeast Washington town of Asotin, a 12 year old boy named Herbert Nicholls Jr. shot and killed the town sheriff. 

Nicholls was starving and abused, and had run away from home and broken into the local store to steal some food. The sheriff came in to find him, and Nicholls fired the gun with the intent to scare him away. The bullet hit the sheriff in the head, killing him instantly. 

Nancy Bartley wrote the biography on Nicholls, titled The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff: The Redemption of Herbert Nicholls Jr.

Courtesy of Silvana Clark

"When I was 11, my mother had me quite well trained for a certain job. But then she fired me from this job. She fired me because I was not cooperating with her shoplifting escapades." 

So begins Silvana Clark's story of rebellion. 

Clark is a writer and speaker based in Bellingham. When she was a kid, one of her main jobs was to accompany her mother to the supermarket, and position herself just so at the far end of the cart. 

Courtesy of Shawn Wenzel

My first job in broadcasting came in 1992, in Canton, Ohio, when someone decided that I should be the guy to read the morning announcements at GlenOak High School.

You know the announcements -- they play over the school’s PA system and update the student body on vital news, such as where to buy raffle tickets or what the cafeteria is serving for dessert.

Each day I’d tick down the list of announcements, and then sign off: “Those are the announcements, I’m Gabriel Spitzer, have a great day.”

In 1931 in the small southeast Washington town of Asotin, a 12 year old boy named Herbert Nicholls Jr. shot and killed the town sheriff. 

Nicholls was starving and abused, and had run away from home and broken into the local store to steal some food. The sheriff came in to find him, and Nicholls fired the gun with the intent to scare him away. Unfortunately, the bullet hit the sheriff in the head, killing him instantly. 

THIERRY EHRMANN VIA FLICKR

 

It all started when CeCe Moore decided to make a family tree as a wedding gift for her niece. At that point she’d had a whole career in entertainment, working as a model and television and musical theatre actress. But once she started digging into her family history, CeCe quickly realized that she couldn’t put it down.

“It just started as a hobby, but once I saw the potential of it, I kind of dropped everything else I was doing,” she said.

Dr. Sarah Myhre is a research associate at the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington. As a paleoceanographer, she studies ancient climate fluctuations by analyzing core samples of the ocean floor.

She's become a prominant voice sounding the alarm on climate change. But it was one of her non-scientific publications that brought on a recent wave of attention, not all of it welcome.

"I get harassed all the time on the internet. I get weird emails, I get hate mail. And the majority of that is in line with what other women scientists also receive," she said.

Courtesy of Sam Blackman

Patient advocates say when you're getting medical care, it's important to be a squeaky wheel. And that goes double when you're the parent of a sick child, who may not be able to advocate for him- or herself. 

While that may be wise, it doesn't necessarily endear one to the doctor -- especially if he's been working an 18-hour shift and is trying to get some sleep. 

Sam Blackman is a cancer researcher and a former pediatric oncologist in Seattle. He shared this story of two assertive parents, and what they taught him about being a doctor. 

Maxwell Hendrix

In the small hours of April 2, 2001, a 92-foot trawler called the Arctic Rose was swallowed up by the Bering Sea. The Seattle-based crew of 15 went down with it, and it was called the deadliest fishing accident in 50 years.

There was no mayday call, no survivors and no obvious reason for this terrible tragedy.

A Coast Guard investigation came up with its most likely scenario: that the crew had mistakenly left a watertight door open, allowing waves to swamp the boat.

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

The plan for Nathan Myhrvold was to go into academia. He had his Ph.D in physics, and had even done some work with Stephen Hawking.

But then he got pulled into this side project. The project turned into a company, the company got acquired by a little Redmond concern called Microsoft, and before long Nathan became the company’s Chief Technology Officer.

But Myhrvold kept his passion for science … and while he was at Microsoft -- in his abundant free time --- he started writing papers about dinosaurs.

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