'BPP' Intern Pitches a Story, Live

Laura Silver finishes a pitch she started last week that involved props, congealed liquids, burnt things and NPR's Scott Simon.

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RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Oh, love. So Alison, we've been doing this show for about six months, we just had our six-month birthday.

ALISON STEWART, host:

Yeah.

STEWART: And, you know what that means.

STEWART: Hey, Bill, you're still on the air, by the way. I mean, just so you know. You could stick around with us.

MARTIN: It's really nice to hear Bill.

BILL WOLFF: Great to be back with you.

STEWART: Ian's in the room. Dan's here. Matt's here. Stick around.

MARTIN: Everyone's gathered around because we're going to talk about the art of the story pitch. I mean, in six months of being on the air, we've heard a lot of them. Some of them awesome no-brainers. Of course we're going to do this story. Some of them make us go "ugh." Well, basically Matt Martinez says I'll look into that, yeah, we'll look into that.

MATT MARTINEZ: Oh, my God, you cracked my code!

MARTIN: I'll look into that.

STEWART: And when other pitches go poorly, this is what you might hear.

(Soundbite of crickets)

STEWART: So, the other day, BPP intern Laura Silver started going down that road with a pitch that involved props, actually, discussions of congealed liquids, burnt things, and NPR's Scott Simon.

MARTIN: Yeah, I know, all the ingredients for, hm, chaos? I don't know.

LAURA SILVER: A most-emailed!

MARTIN: We had to stop her midway through and tell her to save it for the air. She is now here on the air. Hi, Laura.

SILVER: Hi.

MARTIN: Pitch it.

SILVER: I'm wearing the apron, by the way.

MARTINEZ: All right, pitch it.

MARTIN: Pitch it!

STEWART: Pitch it!

MARTIN: What's your story, Laura?

SILVER: Here's how it started. I was listening to the radio at home. NPR's Scott Simon was interviewing two guys who wrote a book about museums in Philadelphia, and he mentioned a museum I'd never heard of.

(Soundbite of NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday)

SCOTT SIMON: I remember going to a museum years ago in Boston, I believe, called the Museum of Burnt Toast.

SILVER: And there you have it. Actually, it's called the Museum of Burnt Food. Slight correction. It is in the suburbs of Boston, and there are 30 objects on the shelves of a woman's kitchen. Her name is Deborah Henson-Conant , and I spoke to her. Her take, which I agree with, is that burnt food is not just about the food. It's really a chance at redemption. Because first, as Dan Pashman witnessed the other day...

MARTIN: It's really about redemption!

SILVER: It is. I burned - right here in our very offices, I burnt an empanada in the microwave. I didn't think that was possible. There was steam coming out. It was really embarrassing.

MARTINEZ: Wait, so this is basically, you know, just burnt food? It says burnt food...

STEWART: In a lady's kitchen?

MARTINEZ: In her house?

SILVER: Yeah, but it's more than that.

STEWART: Did she charge admission? Like a ticket?

SILVER: No, you can't visit right now, but it is going to be on display. You can visit online.

STEWART: It's a museum I can't visit right now.

SILVER: No, you can visit in your own kitchen...

MARTIN: Sound like an awesome story...

SILVER: Hey, wait! It's more about the bigger picture, and listen to this. So...

MARTINEZ: Wait, hold on. What is the bigger picture?

SILVER: Look at what I have to face here! Her stepson, for example, burnt some gyoza, you know, those Japanese dumplings? And instead of being all bummed out and feeling inadequate, he came to her and said, hey, look, I have something for the museum. And they called it "This Gyoza Too Far."

WOLFF: I have to really look into this.

MARTINEZ: I know!

SILVER: Another woman had - she went into labor and she left a turkey in her oven at high heat. Three days later, she came back from the hospital with a baby, but the turkey was this charred, perfect, small mass. So, it's about distraction, walking away from something, and what else is important it's an artistic thing.

MARTIN: Mm hm.

WOLFF: Hm.

SILVER: And it's made people like me, and like some of you here, I can only guess, feel better about being bad cooks. Because if you make a perfect meal, only like five, ten people can enjoy it. If you burn something, it's there forever.

STEWART: Ian, what do you think in the pitch world?

IAN CHILLAG: I'm really flummoxed here, I've got to say.

SILVER: Come on, Ian!

CHILLAG: Are we supposed to - are we going to go to the museum? Which we can't go to?

SILVER: It's going to be on display in Boston!

MARTIN: We're going to eat the food that we can't eat?

SILVER: No, in August, it will be on display in Boston. We'll see pictures online, and we'll hear some of these great stories about what happens.

CHILLAG: Couldn't we just burn stuff and look at it?

MARTINEZ: Hey, Bill?

WOLFF: Yeah.

MARTINEZ: What do you think? I think we should probably look into this.

WOLFF: I think you - I'd get right on that. I'd spend the rest of the day looking into that. Move on.

STEWART: I think that Fourth Hour today is on it already.

WOLFF: Come on now.

SILVER: You guys - it's about art, and she's also an artist. She plays the hip-harp...

STEWART: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Save it.

MARTINEZ: We're going to look into it.

WOLFF: Tell you what. I'd look extra hard into that part.

MARTINEZ: It's happening.

STEWART: Laura Silver. Thanks for the pitch.

MARTIN: To be continued folks. This is that hour of the BPP from NPR News. This is like "The Gong Show."

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