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News Tribune welcomes new arts and entertainment reporter

Jay Gabler previously worked as a digital producer for The Current at Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul.

Jay Gabler
Jay Gabler
Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — The News Tribune welcomed a new arts and entertainment reporter, Jay Gabler, to the newsroom this week.

Gabler joins the News Tribune after working for Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul as a digital producer for The Current since 2013. He wrote stories and conducted interviews for The Current's website and broadcast on-air for The Current's weekly "Rock and Roll Book Club."

One of Gabler's most memorable experiences in his career so far was covering Prince at MPR, especially in the hours and days after his death in April 2016. At The Current, Gabler helped tell Prince's story by writing his obituary, covering the First Avenue vigil and dance party and playing his full discography on air, not just his biggest hits.

"Because we were so invested in telling the story of Prince's life and music, even during his lifetime, we had a marathon of Prince's music," he said.

Jay Gabler stands beside Prince's piano and guitar at Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Jay Gabler, who joined the Duluth News Tribune this week as the new arts and entertainment reporter, stands beside Prince's guitar and purple piano in Paisley Park.
Contributed / Jay Gabler

Gabler also got to meet Prince before his death during a consultation with local media at Paisley Park in Chanhassen.

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Gabler studied early childhood education, human development, psychology and sociology at Boston and Harvard universities, and completed his doctorate in sociology from Harvard University in 2007.

"Every day I use and appreciate the knowledge I gained with that program, but as a professional credential it has not been particularly relevant for the jobs that I've done since finishing graduate school and moving back to Minnesota," Gabler said.

Instead, he decided to leave academia and explore his love for writing about the arts that he discovered in high school. Gabler began freelancing in the Twin Cities and writing for the Twin Cities Daily Planet before joining MPR. He also regularly freelanced for City Pages, and was the last theater critic for the Twin Cities publication before it ceased publication in 2020.

"We are very excited to have Jay join the News Tribune newsroom as our next arts and entertainment reporter," said Rick Lubbers, executive editor of the Duluth News Tribune. "He brings a wealth of experience covering the A&E scene in the Twin Cities, and that will benefit our readers as he begins digging into the Northland's A&E landscape."

Gabler grew up in St. Paul, aside from a five-year stint living in Duluth during his childhood.

Four children, including DNT reporter Jay Gabler, sit on an anchor in Canal Park
Duluth News Tribune arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler, center, spent five years living in Duluth as a child with his three siblings between living in St. Paul.
Contributed / Jay Gabler

"It was a really influential period of my life," Gabler said. "It's really the core years of my childhood, so I've always felt really connected to Duluth and I've always had it in the back of my mind that it would be great to get back up here someday."

Gabler said he looks forward to getting to know the Northland as the News Tribune's arts and entertainment reporter, and especially looks forward to diving more deeply into the local arts scene that he's been able to experience for a weekend or two each year when he visited Duluth.

"I realized it was the job I'd always wanted without consciously thinking that I could ever have this job," he said. "It just seemed right."

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Gabler's hobbies closely mirror his work, with most of his time spent appreciating the arts. He enjoys the theater, reading books he will likely review after, and spending time with his fiancee socializing with friends and family. He also looks forward to exploring the Northland, including spending time at his family's cabin on Madeline Island.

"I think what I'm most looking forward to are the stories I don't know yet," Gabler said. "To meeting the people I haven't met and to getting to venues that I haven't been to because I've only spent a weekend at a time in Duluth for all these decades. So now, to actually be living here, I have the opportunity every day to discover a new place."

While he already has a list of leads for stories, he is excited to hear from readers about what they want to see covered on the arts and entertainment beat. Jay Gabler can be reached at jgabler@duluthnews.com .

Laura Butterbrodt covers health and business for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
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