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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May Day 2013
5:15 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Seattle police working to identify law-breakers in May Day riot

Protesters react as a firework is set off during May Day protests, Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in downtown Seattle.
Ted S. Warren Associated Press

Seattle police said they’re continuing to investigate crimes committed in the course of an unruly May Day demonstration, but that they’re proud of how officers handled themselves.

Capt. Chris Fowler said Seattle police incorporated some important lessons from last year’s May Day protests. They had much longer to plan this year, even treating a small March 15 protest as a “rehearsal.” 

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May Day events
7:00 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

No show of violence as thousands gather for May Day rally, march

A speaker is seen addressing the crowd at Judkins Park.
Justin Steyer

A planned rally and march for workers and immigration reform progressed without interruptions by anarchists Wednesday, easing fears of another violent May Day.

Thousands of people gathered at Judkins Park, behind St. Mary's Church, for the Rally for Workers and Immigrant Rights at 1 p.m. Several unions were present, as were some representatives of the Occupy movement. Many people were displaying the flags of U.S. and Mexico, as well as signs urging comprehensive immigration reform. 

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Labor & Union
6:23 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Unionization push by PLU faculty could have national implications

Disclosure: Pacific Lutheran University holds the license for KPLU. KPLU’s programming staffers are the university’s only unionized employees.

Pacific Lutheran University is trying to fend off attempts by members of its faculty to unionize, and the outcome could have national implications.

The push is coming from “contingent faculty,” the non-tenure track professors, lecturers and instructors who teach about a third of PLU’s course credits. Those people get paid significantly less than regular faculty, and their employment status is much shakier.

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Police Reform
3:33 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Police monitor reports significant, if uneven, progress toward reform

This was the first semiannual report from the watchdog assigned to monitor reforms at the Seattle Police Department.
Tom Harpel Flickr

The court-appointed watch dog monitoring the Seattle Police Department has completed his first report on the department's progress, and the report paints a picture of a police force moving unevenly toward reform.

Merrick Bobb and his team's job is to make sure police follow the plan to end excessive use of force and racially-biased policing.

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Law
5:06 am
Thu April 25, 2013

Seattle officials look to restrict urban pot farms

David Snyder NPS

Seattle's elected officials are moving to make sure sprawling marijuana farms don’t take over the city’s industrial areas, though it’s not clear whether growers would want to locate in the city at all.

Just who actually gets licensed to grow marijuana will be up to the state. But Seattle City Council members say any Seattle grower will likely end up in one of the industrial areas along the Duwamish corridor or Interbay.

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Fourth of July Fireworks
10:54 am
Tue April 23, 2013

Big Seattle 4th of July fireworks show on again

sameerhalai Flickr

Seattle’s July Fourth Fireworks show won’t be going dark this year after all. Just a few weeks ago the summer display was scuttled for lack of funding. But now the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce says local companies are stepping up to revive the show, and put it on solid footing for the near future.

Chamber leaders say most of the donors have promised to keep the money coming for three years or more, ending what Chamber president Maud Daudon called “the springtime ritual of guessing whether there will be a fireworks show or not.”

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Education
5:00 am
Thu April 18, 2013

Seattle school district considers extending elementary school day

Seattle Public Schools is exploring adding a half-hour to the elementary school day.
ecastro Flickr

Seattle Public Schools wants to add a half-hour to the school day for elementary students by as early as the next school year. But the district must first align a number of variables, including funding and union support.

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marathon bombing
12:11 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

Police: Boy, 8, among 3 killed in Boston Marathon blasts

Medical workers aid an injured woman at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following two explosions there, Monday, April 15, 2013 in Boston
Charles Krupa Associated Press

Hear Gabriel Spitzer's interview with Seattle runner Amy Roe.

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.

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Education
5:00 am
Thu April 11, 2013

Coaches help students with attention deficits stay engaged

Katie Beckham works hard to keep up in math class.
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.

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Zombies in the classroom
5:00 am
Wed April 10, 2013

How to survive a zombie apocalypse? Learn geography

Zombie-based learning teaches geography skills against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse.
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.

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Early Education
4:00 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Feds cut off two Seattle-based Head Start programs

United Indians' Head Start program, based at their Daybreak Star building, will end after this June.
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.

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Education
12:01 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Rainier Beach High works to make elite IB program serve all students

Rainier Beach principal Dwane Chappelle talks to sophomores about the IB program.
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.

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starbucks & same-sex marriage
1:07 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Did Starbucks' same-sex marriage stance really hurt its bottom line?

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. 

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Education
3:33 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Seattle’s most troubled high school gets elite academic degree program

Rainier Beach High School is seen in this photo.
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.

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Education
3:38 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

After 26 years, football returns to Tacoma middle schools

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.

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