Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson, better known as the Kitchen Sisters, have been producing radio stories for NPR since 1979. Their groundbreaking national radio collaborations have brought together independent producers, NPR member stations, artists, writers, archivists, historians, and public radio listeners throughout the country to create richly layered, intimate, highly produced radio documentaries that chronicle untold stories of American culture and traditions.
Along with Jay Allison, Nelson and Silva are the creators of the Peabody Award winning "Lost & Found Sound" segments on All Things Considered and the Peabody Award winning NPR series, The Sonic Memorial Project. Currently, they produce "Hidden Kitchens," an ongoing series of radio stories exploring the world of street corner cooking, kitchen rituals, and how communities come together through food, heard on NPR's Morning Edition.
The Kitchen Sisters began their radio lives producing a weekly live radio program in the late 1970s on KUSP-FM in Santa Cruz, Calif. Their radio documentaries have been featured on NPR, the BBC, CBC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Smithsonian, California Public Radio, Pacifica, Sound Print, and others. In addition to producing artistic and educational media, the Kitchen Sisters are involved in educating and training new voices for public media. They teach at the University of California - Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and frequently lecture and provide training at universities, festivals, workshops, radio stations, public forums, and events throughout the country.
Over the past twenty years, Silva has worked as history curator at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz, Calif., and as a freelance curator and exhibit consultant specializing in regional history. She and her husband, designer and artist Charles Prentiss, have produced dozens of exhibitions for museums throughout California including long-term exhibits chronicling the histories of Santa Cruz County, San Jose, Campbell and San Leandro. Some of the special exhibits Silva produced include: "California Indian Basketweavers": a look at historic and contemporary Native American weavers and their work; "The World Famous Tree Circus": the saga of a California roadside attraction; the history of the Chinese in the Monterey Bay Region; "Never a Dull Moment": the story of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the last of California's early 20th century coastal amusement parks, and many more.
In addition to producing radio stories with Silva, Nelson is also a screenwriter, producer, and casting director. She co-wrote and produced the feature film Imaginary Crimes starring Harvey Keitel. Nelson also co-directed and produced "Making Tutti," a PBS documentary on the making of an Italian/doo-wop/gospel/children's musical. She has done casting work with directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Apted, Wim Wenders, Louis Valdez, and Wes Anderson. Silva has also conducted onstage interviews with Salman Rushdie, Michael Ondaatje, Russell Banks, George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Joan Allen, Fred Roos, Ira Glass, Billy Crudup, Andrei Codrescu, Saul Zaentz, and Christine Lahti.