Friday, October 06, 2006

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Nothing says "autumn" quite like pumpkin-harvesting in New England. But giant pumpkins? Lindsey Larson recounts her recent interviews for Intern Edition:

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My Intern Edition story took me to Topsfield, MA last weekend to report on the 188th annual Topsfield Fair. Following a core team of five pumpkin growers over two days, I became well-versed in the particulars of growing the mythical giant pumpkin.

A squash of fantastic proportions, giant pumpkins can gain 30 to 40 pounds per day and require 500 gallons of water per day to support that fattening regimen. Each summer throughout New England, dedicated growers resign themselves to the garden for three whole months in hopes of winning the giant pumpkin weigh-off.

Five members of the Ipswich Bay Giant Pumpkin Growers Association invited me to help pick each others' special harvest. Using a tripod, which was once employed to move gravestones, they carefully lifted each pumpkin and placed it on a palette covered with rugs and couch cushions. The next morning, "convoys" of pumpkin growers arrived at the Topsfield Fair from across New England. They began unloading the pumpkins at 6 a.m. and the weigh-off got underway around nine.

Throughout the events of the morning, I interviewed both young and old to try to determine why they were obsessed with a vegetable that is - they admit it - ugly. With many weighing in at over 1,000 pounds, giant pumpkins maintain a variety of globular shapes and unusual colorings. At 1 o'clock, the judges announced the winner as the weight flashed on the digital screen: 1,347 pounds, a new Topsfield Fair record!

-Lindsey Larson, Radio Expeditions

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ann's Gift

Last weekend, Adeline interviewed Arlington resident Ann Kennedy about her grapheme-color synesthesia. Below is her account of what Ann calls her "gift":

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On Sunday, I took my reporter's kit to Arlington to interview Ann Kennedy, a grapheme-color synesthete. Synesthesia is a medical condition in which a person's senses are crossed rather than separate from each other, so that they may taste colors, feel music, or smell sounds. The experiences aren't limited to the traditional "senses." Every time Ann sees a number or letter of the alphabet, it appears in her mind's eye as a specific, unchanging color. Some doctors see this as a syndrome. Ann sees it as a gift.

To illustrate what her mind sees, she took out a box of colored pencils and a pad of paper. Before I arrived, she had written my name not once but twice - the second time to get the color "right." The "d" in particular had been giving her trouble. The second one, she explained, was much more like "her" d.

Synesthetes on average have four different types of synesthesia, although some may be stronger than others. Ann insists that she's only a mild synesthete.

But as she and I conversed outside, a long, textured birdsong erupted from overhead, and she grinned, locking my eyes: "Silver!"

-Adeline Goss, Executive Producer of Intern Edition

10/4 Intern Edition Meeting

For this week's Intern Edition meeting, we had guest speakers NPR Arts and Information reporter David Folkenflik and John Barth, managing director of PRX. David shared valuable information on interviewing people and how to deal with problems that might pop up. The most important things seemed to be 1) don't talk too much as the interviewer, 2) be prepared before you start an interview, 3) get comfortable with your equipment, 4) don't ask yes and no questions, and 5) really listen to what the person is saying.

Interns gather around to listen to
David's engrossing stories.

John Barth is the director of Public Radio Exchange, a website that is "a web-based marketplace for public radio pieces. Programmers find and air work from other stations, independent producers and international broadcasters. Producers - station-based or independent - license their work directly to stations." (Taken from the website at For more information about PRX, please go to the website. )

John encourages the group to add their
own radio pieces onto PRX's site.

We would like to thank both David and John for taking some time out of their day to speak with us.

Bertina Yu, Washington Desk/IE Blog Editor