Gabriel Spitzer

Health & Science Reporter / Sound Effect Host / Assistant News Director

Gabriel Spitzer covers health and science at KPLU, after a year covering youth and education. He joined KPLU 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 KPLU 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

Charles Krupa / Associated Press

Two bombs exploded in the packed streets near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing three people—including an 8-year-old boy—and injuring more than 140 in a bloody scene of shattered glass and severed limbs that raised alarms that terrorists might have struck again in the U.S.

A White House official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still unfolding said the attack was being treated as an act of terrorism.  

A senior U.S. intelligence official said two other bombs were found near the end of the 26.2-mile course.

President Barack Obama said the U.S. does not yet know "who did this or why" but vowed that whoever is responsible "will feel the full weight of justice." 

"We will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable," he said. 

WBZ-TV reported late Monday that law enforcement officers were searching an apartment in the Boston suburb of Revere. Massachusetts State Police confirmed that a search warrant related to the investigation into the explosions was served Monday night in Revere but provided no further details.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

As spring fever sets in, teachers are struggling to keep their students focused on the classroom. That can be a challenge even on the best of days for kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Their brains work differently from the students most schools were designed for, and nearly a third end up dropping out or delaying graduation.

David Hunter

Our story begins in an ordinary suburban middle school with a group of unsuspecting students, and one smart-alecky question to the teacher: “Mr. Hunter, did you hear about the zombie that attacked some guy the other day?”

Of course, the other students dismiss it, all except for one. He’s intrigued enough to dig a little deeper.

The student and Mr. Hunter begin plotting reported attacks on a map, and trying to discern a pattern in the outbreak’s spread.

“They’re getting closer to us,” the student concludes.

sea turtle / Flickr

Two Seattle-based Head Start providers are losing their funding, as part of a wider crackdown within the federal preschool program.

Other agencies will take over the contracts, so the move won’t reduce the number of early education slots available to low-income kids in Seattle. But to the providers who are being cut off, it’s devastating.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

An elite academic program developed at a Swiss private school is coming to a beleaguered Seattle high school where officials hope it will boost enrollment and attract high-achieving students. Now they face the challenge of making the program serve the whole school instead of just a privileged few.

Associated Press

Did Starbucks’ stance on same-sex marriage hurt its bottom line?

A shareholder claimed as much during the company’s annual meeting last month, prompting a heated exchange with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. The shareholder, citing a boycott by the National Organization for Marriage of the company, hinted that Starbucks’ stock price had suffered. 

how3ird / Flickr

Rainier Beach High School will become the third Seattle school to offer the International Baccalaureate program, district officials announced.

IB was originally developed to educate the children of diplomats in Europe, but is gaining popularity as a way to help turn around struggling urban schools. And Rainier Beach is one of those, with chronic under-enrollment and the lowest test scores of any comprehensive high school in the district.

Casey Madison / Tacoma Public Schools

Middle school football teams hit the gridiron this week in Tacoma for the first time since the Reagan administration. It’s been 26 years since the school district transitioned from a junior high system, and canceled almost all middle school athletics.

Now some creative fundraising has allowed both boys and girls to don pads and helmets, and go knock the stuffing out of each other.

Curtis Cronn / Flickr

Washington ferry officials blame budget cuts and new rules for Monday’s cancelations, but workers say that kind of disruption could be avoided.

It didn't take much: A crew member called in sick around midnight. A captain took a vacation but still wound up on the schedule. Those routine staffing hiccups resulted in four canceled ferry runs Monday, stranding hundreds of passengers. 

King County has reached a preliminary agreement to permanently protect a big chunk of forestland in the Cascade foothills.

The stretch of White River Forest spans 42,962 acres — about the size of Bainbridge Island and “the largest swath of unprotected forestland remaining in King County,” according to King County Executive Dow Constantine.

University of Denver / Flickr

The CEO of Starbucks defended his support of same-sex marriage at the company’s annual meeting in Seattle. Starbucks came out in favor last year of Washington’s referendum legalizing same-sex marriage. Opponents of that measure vowed to make Starbucks pay, and the National Organization for Marriage launched a boycott of Starbucks.

At the company’s annual meeting Wednesday, shareholder Tom Strobhar suggested that the boycott had indeed bled the company of value.

Seattle’s school district has frozen hiring and spending in anticipation of a budget shortfall next year. But since officials say the change won't affect actual classroom resources or essential personnel, you might say the district has put hiring and spending in the fridge.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Should students earning in-demand degree pay more?

That's the idea behind behind differential tuition, which would allow colleges to raise the price of earning expensive, sought-after degrees like engineering and computer science.

Some local students are rallying against the idea and urging their schools not to boost tuition to match their majors' demand. 

But the schools say differential tuition could help offset deep cutbacks in state funding.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Local leaders from across King County want to tax themselves to pay for bus service, ferries, roads and bridges, but even local measures would need approval from the state.

The coalition, which includes the mayor of Seattle and more than 40 other cities, want to be able to tack on fees to car tab renewals and vehicle transfers, among others. That requires approval from state legislators.

King County Executive Dow Constantine said local governments should be free to invest in their own infrastructure.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Seattle Public Schools is reinstating a high school curriculum on race and social justice after suspending it over a student’s complaint, but the controversy is likely to continue.

Washington voters said yes last November to allowing a limited number of charter schools, and now we know the names of the people who will select most of them. The Washington Charter School Commission is charged with setting criteria for new charter schools, and choosing which ones to authorize (Some school districts will eventually be able to do that, too).

remediate this / Flickr

Thousands of Seattle families had their water shut off last year. A city council member is introducing a measure to help one group of them -- households with young children.

Social service providers told a city council committee what it’s like for parents to lose their water: unable to clean up after changing a diaper, forced to send kids to school unwashed and to borrow buckets to flush the toilet.


Washington companies could have a major role in future trips to the moon, an asteroid or Mars. NASA engineers are in Seattle this week meeting with contractors working on the Orion program, designed to launch astronauts far into space, well beyond where the space shuttle traveled.

The latest census of homeless youth in King County tallied more people than ever before, but community groups say that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The reason a higher number could actually be good news is that it probably means we’re getting better at counting.

State Farm / Flickr

A new report finds more teen drivers are dying around the country, but not in Washington. So while nationwide there’s been a 19 percent increase in 16- and 17-year old drivers dying in the first half of last year, deaths dropped sharply in Washington

Snohomish County

The Snohomish County Executive’s abrupt resignation announcement came as a shock to his fellow public officials. Aaron Reardon has been under the gun for more than a year, dating back to revelations of an extramarital affair.

But audience members were caught off guard when, at the end of an otherwise unremarkable “State of the County” speech, he announced he would step down May 31.

Det. Monty Moss / SPD

Seattle city council members said today they want new laws on the books before police turn on a string of surveillance cameras. The network of 30 or so waterfront cameras is being installed in the name of port security, but citizens say those cameras could also turn around and peek into neighborhoods.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Civil liberties advocates are raising concerns about a network of 30 surveillance cameras installed along Seattle’s shoreline, purchased with a $5 million dollar federal grant. When the measure first came up in city council last year, Seattle Police Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh said it was all about Port security.  

inuii / Flickr

New research out of the University of Washington finds hearing-impaired kids can train their ears and brains to hear better in a noisy classroom. Students with limited hearing have an especially tough time making out what someone is saying if, say, kids in the back are whispering, or a classmate has a cough.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

In a quiet Federal Way garage, a group of students is getting the chance to do something they’d never get away with at school – build and run a thermonuclear reactor. 

The project aims to reimagine what science class might look like, and nudge dozens of kids into careers in science and technology.


President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior is an unusual choice. Sally Jewell is not a politician – she’s CEO of the outdoor gear company, REI. But those who know her say she has savvy, social conscience, and a deep respect for the open spaces she’ll be managing if the Senate confirms her.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Maybe it’s something in the water: Washington schools top the lists of large, medium and small colleges producing the most Peace Corps volunteers. It’s the first time one state has dominated all three categories of the Peace Corps’ list.

freefotouk / Flickr

Some 27, 390 homeless students went to public school in Washington last year — up more than 5 percent over the year before, according to new numbers released by the state superintendent’s office. In the past, increases like that have been explained by school districts getting better at counting. But spokesman Nathan Olson said this time, based on what he’s heard from district officials, it looks like there just really are more homeless students.

“The data collection is fine now. People know about this, the homeless liaisons that every district has know about this, it’s not an issue. The issue really is the economy right now,” Olson said.

Divine Harvester / Flickr

The debate over gun control may be focused on the nation’s capital, but one local official says King County will soon take measures of its own.

About 125 people die each year of gun violence in King County. Executive Dow Constantine says the way a county government can chip away at that number is through a public health approach. He announced in his state of the county address that he is directing the health department to collect new data on gun deaths and injuries.

Technology has made us healthier in a lot of ways. It’s beaten back old threats from smallpox to stillbirth to scarlet fever. But many think the march of progress has gone too far, and we need to get back to nature. 

Author Nathanael Johnson says most of us are in the middle – suspicious of technology run amok, but unwilling to trade the condo for a mud hut. He investigates whether the natural approach is really better for us in his book, “All Natural.” 

Nathanael also laid out five common myths about nature versus technology. Get the gist below, or click below and listen to the full conversation: