The Fearey Group had a chance to sit down with KPLU’s Assistant News Director and Health & Science reporter Gabriel Spitzer. Without further ado, meet Gabriel – lover of the Pacific Northwest, good carbs and public radio.
Please note: this interview has been condensed and edited.
Tell me a little bit about yourself. How did you end up at KPLU?
I started out in journalism as a way to write for a living – that was 15 years ago. I was in San Francisco at the time working for an online magazine, Media Life.
I decided journalism was right for me, but I wasn’t sure what kind, so I headed back to school at Berkeley. Two years later, I was sold on radio. I landed my first job in Alaska working for Alaska Public Radio Network for three years. There were so many great stories and so much freedom to cover just about anything. I met my wife there. Since that day, we’ve worked at the same station.
I took a job at WBEZ in Chicago (Chicago Public Radio), where I eventually became the health and science reporter. I created a show/podcast called Clever Apes. It was a “humanistic” take on science.
Now, here I am at KPLU. I started out as the education reporter and now I focus on health and science.
What is it like living in Seattle versus Chicago?
Nature is woven into life here, and that is very important to my family and me. It is not something you need to make an appointment to do. Chicago is outrageously flat. In fact, when I first visited Seattle, the slightest incline seemed like a mountain.
I would also say there is a general lack of pretention here. We’re a fleece wearing, little formality place.
Did you always know you wanted to be a reporter?
I did not. I always wanted to be a writer – maybe fiction – or a professor. Something literary. I figured out pretty early on that wasn’t for me.
What story are you most proud of?
I did a series in Chicago uncovering the racial disparities in the mortality rate from breast cancer. At the time, breast cancer was killing African American women at twice the rate of white women with the same diagnosis. I met a lot of really interesting women who were living with the disease. The series opened up the whole story of race and class, which is sort of the story of Chicago. The subject was fascinating.
Fill in the blank.
- If you weren’t a reporter, you would… work for a non-profit. Maybe something to do with international development.
- When you’re not at work, you can mostly be found… harassing our children, walking or hiking.
- I have a love/hate relationship with… talking to strangers.
Favorite Seattle restaurant or dive bar?
The Innkeeper on 1st Ave. My wife is from Santa Fe and they have awesome green chile.
What is your PR pet peeve?
People who mistake us for KUOW.
What do you most look for in a story?
A story, an actual narrative… preferably with some humans.
What other news sources do you read/listen to/watch?
I am a total public radio nerd – I listen to it all the time. I also read The Seattle Times, The New York Times, Puget Sound Business Journal, etc.
What do you see as the big media trend?
Things aren’t going to be presented as shows as much anymore. I think more of it will be segmented audio.