Flying an airplane, exploring pirate caves 一 these are just part of another workday adventure for the team that produces GBH’s The Curiosity Desk, now in its second season. This New England Emmy Award-winning YouTube series dives into everyday mysteries hidden in plain sight, often requested by viewers to investigate. This season has taken the team to some very unlikely places. In an exclusive behind-the-scenes interview, team members revealed that some of their escapades have been so intimidating that they have had to conquer their fears before getting started.
Season Two kicked off at the Cape Cod Airfield in Marstons Mills. In the season premiere How do airplanes fly giant banner ads?, the team explored the backstory by hitching a ride in one of the banner planes with Chris Siderwicz, co-owner of The Mills Air Service. For viewers who are familiar with Edgar B. Herwick III’s suave and unflappable host persona, producers noticed a change of character that day.
“Flying was not fun for Edgar,” says Senior Producer Joanie Tobin. “After he got out of the plane, he was a little quiet and distraught–we don’t see that often.”
Senior Producer and Editor Rob Tokanel noticed the same shift in Herwick before taking off. “I didn’t know about his fear of flying until we were getting into the plane,” says Tokanel. “Edgar asked me how I felt about flying. I felt fine, but then he confessed to me that he was nervous being in a tiny plane taking off from a dirt runway.”
After soaring through the sky, the team went underground to answer more questions. Their destination was Dungeon Rock, a cave in Lynn, Mass. dug in the 1800s by two occultists in search of a pirate and his buried treasure. While Herwick now stood on secure ground, the tables turned for Tokanel.
“In the cave, I was fine,” Herwick says. “But Rob was not enjoying being in an enclosed, tiny cave.” When reflecting (on both of these episodes), Tokanel laughs, “It all worked out to be fair, we were even now.”
The team’s dogged pursuit of responses to audience members’ questions is what makes The Curiosity Desk a fan favorite. Braintree fans Deb McMartin, who asked the question about banner planes, was lucky enough to be invited to accompany the team to the airfield to witness the team in action.
In addition to incorporating the audience, Season Two focuses on being physically in the field. “For our audience, going out into the community is more visually engaging for storytelling as compared to shooting in front of a green screen,” Tobin says.
Season Two of The Curiosity Desk is all about trying new things, meeting new faces and getting even more curious about the world. “Our goal is to get the most accurate information and share it in a fun and accessible way,” Herwick says. “I want to take people places they have never been before.”
The Curiosity Desk releases new episodes the first Wednesday of every month on the GBH News YouTube channel. You can also catch episodes on GBH 2 and GBH 44.
Have a curious question you need answered? Send your questions to The Curiosity Desk here!