If these walls could talk (a plumbing story from Radiolab)

Anna Weggel
Public Insight Network

Sometimes journalists find story ideas in interesting places. Like the bottom of a bathtub.

Radiolab blogger Latif Nasser wrote a piece this week¬†– featuring a source from the Public Insight Network — that came about after a plumber snaked the tub in his small, one-bedroom apartment. While the plumber was at his house working, Nasser found he couldn’t stop himself from asking about the man’s job.

The plumber told him to think of his house as he would a person. It was moment of epiphany. “The structure I call home is also alive in its way,” he wrote, “and constantly pulsating with energy and flow.”

Here’s a snippet from Nasser’s post:

“Think of a house like a person, he told me.

The wooden frame is the skeleton, and the water pump is the heart. The electrical wiring acts as nerves, the plumbing circulates, and the septic and waste lines flush out the system. Most importantly, though, are the pipes: the veins and arteries and capillaries. They’re the lifelines of the body.

So a blockage in one part of the house, this philosophizing pony-tailed plumber told me, is like a blood clot — a seemingly tiny problem that can wreak havoc on the entire system. Everything is connected. Which is why a blockage way off in the caverns between the buildings could affect me.”

Radiolab is looking for interesting takes on other professions like this. You can share your ideas on their post, or email them to radiolab@wnyc.org.


Anna Weggel Analyst
Public Insight Network

Anna Weggel is a Public Insight Analyst, which means she spends her time crafting questions about upcoming story topics to send to sources in the Public Insight Network and then produces web, audio and video content featuring those sources.

Before finding her home at APM in 2008, Anna received her B.A. in journalism, was the editor in chief of The Minnesota Daily, and internship hopped through Mother Jones, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Pioneer Press, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, and the Downtown Journal. Anna's non-work life is held hostage by the stage -- where she performs improv comedy and shows with her lady bluegrass band.