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.”

Pages

Marijuana Business
4:08 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Seattle investor declares the advent of ‘Big Marijuana’

Former President Vicente Fox of Mexico is supporting efforts to create a national retail brand for marijuana.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

A Seattle investment group has declared the advent of “Big Marijuana,” but big questions remain about just how their multimillion dollar nationwide pot business would work.

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Space Exploration
3:24 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Bellevue-based asteroid miners plan public space telescope

The "space selfie:" donors can get a picture of their face in space (seen here in an artist's rendering).
Planetary Resoruces

A company devoted to space exploration is planning to make an orbiting telescope available to students, scientists, and space enthusiasts.

Bellevue-based asteroid mining company Planetary Resources hopes to eventually extract rare minerals from asteroids. But first the company must prospect, which will involve a fleet of space-based telescopes. Now the company has announced it will deploy an extra telescope for public use, paid for by a crowdfunding campaign on the website Kickstarter.

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Education
5:01 am
Tue May 28, 2013

Students remember slain teacher by sending him to the stratosphere

Last fall, sixth-graders in Spanaway, Wash. were forced to confront a tragedy no student should have to go through when their beloved teacher Rob Meline died. To make matters worse, Meline's death was the kind that makes the evening news.

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Education
2:26 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Seattle instructors to help parents stem kids' summer brain drain

Summer break typically sets students back by about a month in their studies.
pastorbuhro Flickr

Summer vacation may be fun, but research shows it wipes out about a month’s worth of learning. This weekend, Seattle schools officials will offer strategies to reduce summer learning loss.

Since kids are understandably wary of anything that makes summer break feel like school, the key is to make it fun, said Seattle Public Schools’ Bernardo Ruiz.

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MAP test boycott
5:36 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Seattle Public Schools will let high schools scrap the MAP

Teachers and their backers rallied outside district headquarters before a school board meeting in January 2013.
Gabriel Spitzer

Seattle public high schools will be able to opt out of the controversial Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP tests, starting next year.

The policy change comes after teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School staged a boycott of the MAP tests in January, blasting the tests for giving unreliable data and for sucking up classroom resources. A half-dozen more Seattle schools have since signed on, and the protest has drawn national and international attention.  

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Education
5:00 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Wash. universities look to 'redshirt' freshman engineers for one year

University of Washington's electrical engineering building is seen in this photo.
Curtis Cronn Flickr

Some freshmen engineering students at Washington’s largest universities will get an extra year to find their footing, thanks to a new “academic redshirting” program.  

The idea of redshirting comes from college sports, and here’s how it works: When Huskies quarterback Keith Price joined up as a freshman in 2009, he didn’t take the field. Instead he got a year of practice and workouts to acclimate before starting his four years of eligibility.

Now the University of Washington, along with Washington State University, want to apply that to academics.

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NBA in Seattle
12:23 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

With NBA's final decision looming, Hansen ups bid

Chris Hansen is seen in this photo.
sonicsarena.com

With Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson already celebrating his city’s victory in the bid to keep the Kings in town, Chris Hansen and his Seattle-based investment group upped the ante on Friday.

Hansen said his group has raised the proposed purchase price for the franchise by $75 million, bringing the total to $625 million “in an effort to further demonstrate the extent of our commitment to bring basketball back.” The group also guaranteed to the league that the franchise would be a revenue sharing payer, Hansen said.

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May Day 2013
10:15 am
Tue May 7, 2013

Five May Day protesters charged with felonies

Police block off a stretch of Olive Way, the scene of May Day's first arrests.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Prosecutors have charged five May Day protestors with felonies following last week’s confrontation with police in downtown Seattle.

The standoff between anti-capitalist marchers and Seattle police escalated quickly around dusk on May 1, and before long, bottles and rocks were flying toward police, pepper spray and blast balls toward protesters.

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May Day history
12:10 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

How May Day began in 1886 with workers, immigrants, anarchists

The Haymarket Affair in Chicago solidified May Day as an international day of action for labor, anti-capitalism and immigrants' rights.
Wikimedia Commons

Full interview on May Day history.

Last week’s tumultuous May Day protests got many of us wondering: What is May 1 all about, anyway?

It’s been a workers’ holiday in Europe for years, but when did it become a big deal in the U.S.?

SUNY Empire State College history professor Jacob Remes says last week’s hubbub—from the union involvement to the spotlight on immigration, to the anarchist presence and police response—all fit right in to May Day’s radical history.

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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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