Gabriel Spitzer

Health & Science Reporter / 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.”

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Election 2013
12:00 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Behind 'Political Grandstanding,' Shared Views on Street Safety

Sea_Turtle Flickr

The race for mayor of Seattle has put public safety downtown front and center, and at first it might seem to be following a familiar storyline: a polarized fight between the get-tough camp and the services-oriented approach. 

"There are hotspots, and we’ve been very, very slow to act,” said challenger Ed Murray, advocating the hiring of 100 new police officers. 

"You know, that's political grandstanding," said Mayor Mike McGinn, arguing we "can't arrest our way out of the problem."

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Death Toll of Iraq War
3:42 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Seattle Researchers: Death Toll for Iraq War Likely Near Half Million

Justin Steyer

Seattle researchers led an effort that has produced a new estimate of war-related deaths in Iraq, finding 461,000 Iraqis have died. The study is the first of its kind to cover the entire span of the Iraq War, from 2003 to 2011.

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Low-Power FM
8:16 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Microradio Boom: Local Groups Vie for Low-Power FM Licenses

A map of organizations seeking low-power community radio licenses.
Courtesy of Sabrina Roach Brown Paper Tickets

Your radio dial could be getting a bit more crowded in the next few years depending on where you live.

At least 13 Seattle-area nonprofits are expected to apply for eight low-power FM radio licenses. They include a southeast Seattle community development group, two universities and a group that organizes in immigrant communities (see below for the full list). Each station would broadcast at about 100 watts—enough to cover at least a 3.5-mile radius.

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Sounds of song
9:45 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Hear What a Familiar Tune Sounds Like with a Hearing Implant

Cochlear implants are a lifesaver for many deaf people, but they can't recognize changes in pitch.
National Institutes of Health

Cochlear implant, a bionic inner ear that allows deaf or hearing-impaired people to hear speech—albeit in kind of a robot voice, can be a lifesaver for people without hearing. But when it comes to music, this very practical device can’t carry a tune to save its life.

Here’s what a familiar tune by Simon and Garfunkel sounds like to someone with a conventional cochlear implant:

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Science
5:01 am
Mon October 14, 2013

UW Engineer's Design Could Help Deaf People Enjoy Music

Cochlear implants are a lifesaver for many deaf people, but they can't recognize changes in pitch.
National Institutes of Health

Engineers at the University of Washington have developed a way for some deaf people to enjoy music. The findings could help people with cochlear implants, a bionic inner ear that allows deaf or hearing-impaired people to hear speech, albeit in kind of a robot voice.

Cochlear implants can be a lifesaver for people without hearing, but when it comes to music, this very practical device can’t carry a tune to save its life.

The implants simply aren’t sensitive to pitch and what’s called timbre—the qualities of a sound that make, say, a guitar sound different from a harp.

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Affordable Care Act
4:05 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Suit Alleges Children's Hospital Left Out of Health Exchange Plans

jennyonthespot Flickr

Seattle Children’s Hospital has filed a suit against the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner, alleging it was largely cut out of the state’s new health insurance exchange.

There are eight insurance companies on Washington HealthPlanFinder, the marketplace that opened this week for individuals shopping for coverage. Six of them don’t include Seattle Children’s Hospital in their networks.

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Shipwreck
3:54 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

99-Year-Old Tugboat Sinks Off of Bainbridge, Leaking Fuel

The Chickamaugan or "Sea Chicken" was the first diesel-powered tug on the West Coast, and possibly in America.
IMLS DCC Puget Sound Maritimne Historical Society

A historic tugboat has sunk off Bainbridge Island, spilling fuel into the waters of Eagle Harbor. The tug Chickamauga is 99 years old, and it’s thought to be the first diesel-powered tugboat on the West Coast, according to the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.

Bainbridge Firefighters got a call that it was sinking at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, and quickly deployed booms and other containment equipment.

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Affordable Care Act
11:55 am
Tue October 1, 2013

State Health Exchange Website Hits Snag on First Day

Nelly Kinsella demonstrates the Washington Healthplanfinder website, where consumers will be able to shop for health insurance, following a news conference Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

Washington’s new health insurance exchange made a brief appearance Tuesday morning before going dark for much of the day. 

The site was supposed to come online at 7:30. Exchange officials say they quickly began receiving complaints that the site was loading slowly for some users, and not loading at all for others. Spokesman Michael Marchand says by 8:30, officials decided to pull the site offline to make repairs.

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Affordable Care Act
3:28 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Despite D.C. 'Shenanigans,' Wash. to Launch Health Exchange

Nelly Kinsella demonstrates the Washington Healthplanfinder website, where consumers will be able to shop for health insurance, following a news conference Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Even as Congress squabbles over the fate of health care reform, Washington’s insurance marketplace opens its virtual doors Tuesday morning.

As Gov. Jay Inslee put it, "Despite the shenanigans in D.C., we're ready to [launch our health care exchange].”

Officials running the exchange said their federal grants have already been appropriated and they expect to be fully funded through next year.

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Vaccine Refusal
11:33 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Team Develops Early Warning Tool for Vaccine Skepticism

Seattle researchers say their survey helps predict which kids will be behind schedule on immunizations.
USACE Europe District Flickr

Seattle researchers have developed a kind of early-warning device for identifying parents suspicious of childhood vaccines. With an especially high rate of parents opting out of vaccines for their kids in Washington, pediatrician Doug Opel has been trying to figure out how to intervene early on.

Opel practices at Seattle Children’s Hospital and at its research institute. He is also an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He and others developed a survey of parents’ attitudes about vaccination. In a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics, they found that the survey does a pretty good job of predicting which kids would be under-vaccinated by the time they’re 19 month sold.

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Bertha, The Boring Machine
4:18 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Boring Bertha Back to Eating Dirt after Month Delay

WSDOT

The drill known as Bertha is back to eating dirt after a slow start, then a delay, then a delay caused by the delay.

The massive machine boring the Highway 99 tunnel beneath Seattle had been sitting still while two labor unions duked it out over a handful of jobs.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week he’d brokered a deal in the dispute, and said the digging would resume after a few days.

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Affordable Care Act
4:38 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Volunteers Plaster King County with Obamacare Sales Pitch

Stu Jennings got the manager of Malo's Auto Body in White Center to post a flier about Wahington HealhtPlanFinder.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

On the same day House Republicans voted to defund the Affordable Care Act, King County is making a big push to implement it. Volunteers went door-to-door and business-to-business across the county Friday.

Public health officials are trying to get uninsured King County residents to buy insurance on the state’s new exchange. Many of them have never had coverage before.

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Affordable Care Act
5:00 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Defund Obamacare? Sen. Murray: 'It's Not Gonna Happen'

AP

Washington’s senior senator says she won’t let Republicans sacrifice the new health care law in order to pass a budget. The Republican-controlled House is pushing a plan that would do just that.

Sen. Patty Murray took to the Senate floor Wednesday to tell them, “It’s not gonna happen.”

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Education
5:00 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Union Vote Begins for Some PLU Faculty Members

Pacific Lutheran University

Disclosure: Pacific Lutheran University holds the license for KPLU, where on-air staff are affiliated with SAG-AFTRA.

Faculty members at Pacific Lutheran University begin voting Thursday on whether to unionize. It’s the result of a monthslong fight that has pitted PLU’s lecturers, adjunct professors and other non-tenure track instructors against the administration.

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Sports
4:22 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Seahawks Fans Will 'Most Likely' Go Home with Hearing Damage

Centurylink Field has long claimed to be the league's loudest.
U. S. Embassy Panama Flickr

The Seattle Seahawks will take on San Francisco in the season’s home opener Sunday night, and a fan group wants the crowd to get loud—loud enough to set a world record.

The crowd’s roar is powerful enough to disorient opponents and, famously, register on a nearby seismic monitor. So just imagine what it must sound like from smack in the middle of it.

“It’s really hard to describe the feeling,” said Joe Tafoya, the former Seahawks defensive end who’s helping organize the record attempt.

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