World Wide Wade Goes West—Episode I: Gloucester, MA

If you don’t know where you started from, it’s harder to figure out where you’re going. That’s why we chose to kick off this week’s special video travelogue series, World Wide Wade Goes West, in a place that’s as East Coast as they come: the historic seaport of Gloucester, MA.

While Gloucester is famous for its fleets of fishing boats, one of the city’s most unique products has nothing to do with seafood. It’s pipe organs. At the workshop of C.B. Fisk, craftsmen have been hand-building organs since 1961, including the organ at Stanford University’s Memorial Church and another instrument that’s in progress for Harvard University’s identically named Memorial Church.

At Fisk, I got a fascinating tour from Mark Nelson, who helps design and maintain many of Fisk’s instruments and is also the company’s webmaster. For our video (below, and here on YouTube), I asked Nelson what role modern digital technologies play in the venerable craft of organ-building—and in his own life.

For the whole story behind these videos, watch the pilot/preview episode, which we posted a couple of weeks ago. In the episodes coming later this week—which I’m shooting and editing on the way to San Francisco with help from my friend, the photographer, author, and composer Graham Gordon Ramsay—we’ll be checking in with people in places like upstate New York, northern Michigan, suburban Minneapolis, rural South Dakota, and Denver. Watch for new video posts every day here at or subscribe to the World Wide Wade Goes West YouTube channel at

World Wide Wade Goes West is sponsored by Pixability.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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