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Behind-the-Scenes with Mike Plummer Posted: Thursday, December 10th, 2015 WFSU Producer Mike Plummer sits down with WFSU’s Suzanne Smith to talk about how his own curiosity plays a role in story selection. He also talks about some of his favorite stories for Local Routes and other WFSU programs.
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Mike Plummer is one of our Local Routes producers. One of his hallmarks is that his stories stem from his own curiosity about something. Something curious, unexpected or out of the ordinary makes him wonder if there’s a story behind it. He keeps his eyes open for those storytelling opportunities.

The stories he’s enjoyed the most so far have been the ones about people and the ways they make their livings. The boiled peanut story was fun. The clam farming story was more fun in a more interesting way – Mike didn’t know much about clam farming, but wanted to find out.

“There’s a lot more to it than I thought. I mean, there’s a lot more than was even said (in the interview) because there are so many moving parts to it,” says Mike. “That story started probably years ago when those poles started sticking out of the water and I would drive along 98 and I started to wonder, ‘what are those poles?’ And eventually, you ask somebody and they tell you what those poles are… and that’s how it became a story.”

A lot of the time, Mike finds his stories while actually doing another story. He’s talking to someone about his piece and when they understand what he’s doing, sometimes they’ll suggest other subjects or people to talk to that they think he might find interesting. Sometimes, one story leads to another.

“Back with Dimensions, the old show, the Carrabelle Bottle House lead to Fred Amon, the Owl Carver,” notes Mike. The Carrabelle Bottle House story was about a man who was creating artwork out of glass bottles in his back yard. The Owl Carver is a gentleman who was carving with a chainsaw on tree stumps in his yard. “He’s just a guy down the road. So that one just came out of nowhere. It’s a free one.”

Plummer is also working on a story about model trains and the people who collect them. Initially, he was looking at the nostalgia aspect of it. There are freight trains around, but the nostalgia for trains is more about passenger trains.

“I have an image of the Lionel train running around the Christmas tree and little kids. Whether or not you still see that, I was kind of curious. Also, when we had Thomas the Tank Engine in here, I was really surprised at the response we had from the kids,” says Mike. (WFSU-TV had an event in the studio over the summer. It’s estimated that there may have been about 1,000 kids in attendance.)

Noting Thomas’ popularity, Mike said “There might be something here with trains…”

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