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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Business
5:01 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Easy Street bows out, but are local record stores really dying?

Easy Street will close its Queen Anne location after 12 years.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

This is the last week for a fixture in Seattle’s independent music culture, as Easy Street Records’ lower Queen Anne store prepares to shut its doors Friday. But the move may not signal, as some fear, a death spiral for local independent music stores.

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Education
5:29 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Garfield High School teachers in revolt over MAP test

Garfield teachers are near-unanimous in their rejction of the MAP tests.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

The staff of a prominent Seattle high school is in full revolt over a district-mandated standardized test. Teachers at Garfield High School say the Measure of Academic Progress, or MAP test, is nothing short of a waste of time. They say it’s not aligned with state standards, it sucks up classroom time and resources, and gives shaky results. So, they voted almost unanimously to refuse to administer the test.

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Snow Day
5:00 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Seattleites to truck in snow for snowball fight record attempt

roceanpatel Flickr

A group of Seattle professionals are gearing up this week to try and break the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest snowball fight, and they’re doing it in a place where, typically, there is no snow: Seattle Center.

So how exactly do you get 162,000 pounds of snow into the shadow of the Space Needle? Organizer Neil Bergquist says, you just go to the mountains and get it.

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Libraries
5:08 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Seattle libraries start Sunday hours

Seattle voters approved a levy to fund Sunday service at all library locations.
Erin Hennessey KPLU

Starting January 6, every branch of the Seattle Public Library will be open on Sundays. Library officials said it’s the first time in at least 100 years.

The extra hours come courtesy of Seattle voters, who approved a 7-year, $122 million property tax levy in August. The new money reverses years if cutbacks, and will allow every library location to open its doors from 1:00 to 5:00 Sunday afternoons. Library programs director Stephanie Chase said it’s gratifying to be adding services for a change instead of scaling them back.

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Science
3:52 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Babies learn language before birth, say Tacoma and Seattle researchers

Babies can hear in the womb, and scientists now say they can make some sense of language.
TheGiantVermin Flickr

A team led by Professor Christine Moon of Pacific Lutheran University, tested newborn babies in Tacoma and Stockholm, Sweden. Moon said they played recordings of a distinctly American English vowel sound and a Swedish one, and tested the babies responses by measuring the one thing a day-old baby is really good at: sucking on a pacifier. Their sucking patterns reveal that babies show a familiarity with the vowel sounds of their mother tongue even at birth, suggesting they’ve been listening carefully in utero.

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Gun Control
10:28 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Seattle-area clergy demand action on guns

Rev. Leslie Braxton and other clergy call for action to prevent gun violence.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Seattle-area clergy from many faiths are presenting a united front against gun violence, demanding specific measures from elected leaders. Representing churches and synagogues, seminaries, mosques and Sikh temples, the religious leaders say it’s time to move beyond simply mourning the slaughter of 26 people in Newtown Connecticut. They say now it’s time for action.

Evoking a string of mass killings, including one in Seattle last spring, the clergy made the case for changing laws and changing attitudes. Imam Abdullah Polovina is with the Islamic Center of Shoreline.

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Connecticut Shooting
6:00 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Kids may take days or weeks to process news of Conn. shooting

Sometimes kids don’t react right away to a trauma, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need help, says a Seattle child psychiatrist in the wake of Friday’s mass shooting in Connecticut. Dr. Robert Hilt, a psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says we all process tragic events in different ways, and kids who learned about last week’s shooting might not say much for days or even weeks.

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Connecticut shooting
3:26 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

Some Wash. schools boost security after Conn. shooting

School personnel and law enforcement around Seattle are stepping up school security in light to this Friday’s shooting in Connecticut. School officials say they know of no threats, but in an abundance of caution they’ve been taking some extra measures.

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Education
9:18 am
Wed December 12, 2012

Seattle schools cope with crowding

Seattle Public Schools is set to add 20-38 portable classrooms like this one, located at Ingraham High School, next school year.
Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Public Schools is set to stop busing students to schools outside their neighborhood next year, but that move might cost more money than it saves. The situation dates back to Seattle's move to a system of neighborhood schools instead of district wide school choice. The district continued to give some kids rides to their old schools during the transition. 

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Education
5:07 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

King County school districts bag $40M federal grant

A pack of King County school districts has won of slice of the federal government’s Race to The Top fund, worth $40 million dollars over four years. Seven districts applied for the grant together, as the Road Map District Consortium. They said they’ll use the money to beef up preschool programs, enrich science and math learning in the primary grades, and offer training and testing subsidies to high schools.

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Marijuana Legalization
3:30 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

On eve of legalization, clouds still hang over pot law

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes says replacing an illegal market with a legal one will take time.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

At the stroke of midnight, adult marijuana users will no longer be lawbreakers in Washington. But lots of legal questions remain about how marijuana commerce will work, where it’s legal to use and how the federal government will respond.

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Education
6:00 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Should the Washington PTA be partnering with McDonald's?

McDonald's, seen here from atop the Space Needle, is linking up with the Washington state PTA.
Han Shot First Flickr

When you think healthy eating for kids, you might not picture a Happy Meal. But local McDonald’s franchises and the Washington PTA are teaming up to encourage kids to make healthy diet choices. That’s touched off controversy among some parents.

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Education
9:52 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Washington's pot law stops at the edge of campus

Colleges and universities must continue to ban marijuana, or risk losing federal funding.
dblackadder Flickr

In just a few days, smoking marijuana won’t be much different from drinking a glass of wine, as far as state law is concerned. But in what may be the place most associated with pot-smoking – the dorm room – it will still be banned.

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Same-Sex Marriage
6:00 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Washington counties brace for same-sex marriage rush

King County Administration Building where same-sex couples seeking a marriage license can go at midnight Thursday.

Same-sex couples can start applying for marriage licenses in Washington at midnight on Thursday, and county officials say they’ll be ready.

The King County auditor’s office will open bright and early: Couples will be able to start queuing up at 10:00 the night before. County Executive Dow Constantine will preside over a special licensing ceremony for a handful of couples right after the stroke of midnight, and the office will keep operating right through 6:30 that night.

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Education
6:00 am
Mon November 26, 2012

Seattle's science experiment: A STEM school for the early grades

Students learn engineering principles by building towers out of straws and twist-ties.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Many jobs of the future will be in fields that go by the shorthand “STEM”: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. But these are precisely the subjects where many American students are falling short. Educators are responding by creating STEM-focused schools, and in Seattle officials are breaking ground by pushing that emphasis back into younger classes, all the way to kindergarten.

Principal Shannon McKinney is in charge of figuring out how to build one of the first STEM elementary schools in the Northwest. K-5 STEM at Boren, as it’s awkwardly named, is in West Seattle, but any elementary student in the district can apply for a spot here.

As the school wraps up its first semester, McKinney and her team are still working out what a STEM education for Seattle’s youngest learners should look like.

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