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The Story Pitch We Caught And Released: The 'Assfish'


OK. At this point in the show, I'm going to pull the curtain back a little bit on how we do what we do. Every Wednesday morning, we have an editorial meeting - when our producers and editors throw out their story ideas. The ideas we like, we pursue and then we turn them into interviews. And the ideas we don't like...


MARTIN: Well, those just die. The thing is, though, sometimes the person who has pitched said idea is really into it. So we thought we'd carve out a little space in the show to get that producer or editor a second chance to talk about the pitch that failed. First up, editor Ed McNulty. He's here in the studio with me. Hi, Ed.


MARTIN: What's your pitch?

MCNULTY: It's about the assfish...

MARTIN: The assfish?

MCNULTY: ...which I want to say real early is ass as in donkey.

MARTIN: That makes it way better. All right.

MCNULTY: I saw it in National Geographic. It's a story that has gone - because it's a Canadian story - politely viral. In the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, British Columbia, they've just put on display an assfish.

MARTIN: What does it look like?

MCNULTY: It's a deep-sea creature, kind of like a fish and kind of like an eel together - looks like a tadpole. It is soft and flabby.

MARTIN: Uh-huh.

MCNULTY: And this particular assfish is called the bony-eared assfish.

MARTIN: Why did this story jump out at you and make you think this - this is for WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY?

MCNULTY: Well, it's an interesting deep-sea creature.

MARTIN: (Laughter),

MCNULTY: The name actually comes from confusion about the scientific name Acanthonus armatus.

MARTIN: Uh-huh.

MCNULTY: And acanthos is Greek for prickly, so that's where the bony-eared part comes from. But the onus part of that word can either mean hake, which is, like, a relative of cod or donkey in Greek.

MARTIN: So were you interested in the linguistic origins of this fish and its name, or did you just want the excuse to say assfish on the radio?

MCNULTY: I think the story has everything.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

MCNULTY: I think the story has ichthyology. We could talk about Carl Linnaeus and scientific nomenclature.

MARTIN: We could.

MCNULTY: Canada.

MARTIN: Uh-huh.

MCNULTY: So, I mean, what does it lack?

MARTIN: Well, Ed, thank you so much for sharing your enthusiastic pitch. I think we're all better for it. At least you got to say assfish on the radio.

MCNULTY: No, you did.

MARTIN: Ah, boom. Ed McNulty, editor, assfish lover. Thanks, Ed. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.