Challenge: How can local audio journalism thrive in emerging digital formats, such as segmented audio ("Pandora for news"), voice-enabled devices and podcasts?
Gabriel devoted his time at Stanford to working through a major challenge for producers of local audio journalism: As terrestrial radio recedes in importance, how can we create sustainable, robust coverage of local news and stories in digital formats? He focused especially on an emerging platform: sequential, segmented audio, or the “Pandora for news” model. Gabriel also explored how local journalism might gain a foothold in voice-enabled ecosystems like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, as well as through podcasts.
Gabriel Spitzer grew up in Canton, Ohio, the son of a Reform Jewish rabbi who encouraged him to question and passed on a faith in the power of stories. Spitzer found his way into journalism writing for an online magazine, an experience that whetted his appetite and propelled him to journalism graduate school at the University of California-Berkeley to learn radio reporting. He got his first job at the Alaska Public Radio Network, where he covered everything from politics to sled dog races, and began to understand the impact of local reporting. Next, he joined WBEZ in Chicago as a science reporter. While there, he developed a digital-first audio experiment, “Clever Apes,” about the city’s rich scientific community. Distributed as a podcast and aired during the station’s most popular times of day, it won a Kavli Science Journalism Award from the American Academy for the Advancement of Science. In 2012, Spitzer move to Seattle to work for KPLU, where he most recently hosted and coproduced “Sound Effect,” a weekly program of longer-form interviews with people of the region, organized around a theme. Spitzer and his wife, Ashley Gross, a radio reporter, have two young sons.