Former Idahoan hopes to be next host of ‘MythBusters’

February 25, 2017 GMT

Whenever Martin Pepper would watch “MythBusters,” he’d say to himself, “I can literally build everything they build.”

Now, Pepper — a former resident of Challis who currently lives in Tucson, Arizona — is getting that chance. He’s one of the last remaining participants on “MythBusters: The Search”, a television program on the Science Channel that is looking for the next hosts for a new iteration of “MythBusters.”

“MythBusters” was broadcast on the Discovery Channel from 2003 to 2016. Over those 13 years, the science-based experiments show that featured eccentric and engaging hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman garnered a worldwide following, earning eight straight Emmy nominations from 2009 to 2016.

After the series finale of “MythBusters,” Savage and Hyneman have explored other avenues, with Savage working as an editor of the technology website Tested.com and Hyneman continuing to work on and develop various projects. The “MythBusters” build team — Tory Belleci, Kari Byron and Grant Imahara — recently debuted a program of their own called “White Rabbit Project” on Netflix.

Though the original members of “MythBusters” have branched off to do their own things, the show’s legacy proved too great for it to simply vanish into television lore. “MythBusters: The Search” hopes to continue the tradition of busting myths, indulging curiosity and blowing things up.

“We’ve got to be the next generation,” Pepper said. “That’s the real challenge for the ones who make it to the end.”

Pepper — who now has a Ph.D. in geology and a master’s degree in biology — grew up as a self-described “nerdy kid.” Most of his free time as a child was spent tinkering in workshops and watching PBS.

As he grew up, though, Pepper discovered his talent as a swimmer. He followed his brother, Seth — who was two years older — to the University of Arizona to swim collegiately. The Peppers became the first brothers to win an NCAA national championship in the same event: the 100-meter butterfly.

Martin’s interest in documentary-style films brought on from his PBS-watching days as a kid paired perfectly with his brother’s filming and video editing skills. The duo would often shoot mock documentary-style films — with Martin playfully hosting his own show and Seth editing them to look like they were broadcast on the Discovery Channel.

Eventually, those lighthearted videos the Pepper brothers put together turned into a massive opportunity for Martin, who — based on his natural camera presence and knowledge — was picked to host an eight-show series on the Science Channel called “How the Earth Works.” Shortly after that, he hosted a two-hour special on History Channel called “Atlantis Found.”

Suddenly, Martin — who’d always dreamt of hosting his own science-based television program — was hooked.

“Toward the end of (“How the Earth Works”), I really started to have fun,” Martin said. “... It was my brother and I doing a lot of goofing off at the beginning, and that’s really what got it all started was his awesome ability to shoot and edit something.”

After hosting those two shows, Martin saw a posting on LinkedIn advertising for participants for “MythBusters: The Search.” The program was looking for people to send a minute-and-a-half long video that summarized their life and experiences.

Martin submitted his video, and when he had the chance to speak to someone who was in charge of choosing the applicants, he put himself out there.

“I said, ’I’m sorry to say, but I critiqued (’MythBusters’) and I find a lot of flaws,’” Martin said. “He goes, ‘Awesome, I love it.’ ... I loved the myths that they busted, and I’ve always thought of other stuff because I’ve always been that pyro kid that has to blow everything up (and) stress test everything to the nth degree. ... I’d watch ‘MythBusters’ and it’d really get my own wheels turning on new ideas and avenues.”

Martin was picked to be on the show. For Seth, it was a perfect fit.

“Martin’s nickname on the swimming team was ‘MacGyver,’” Seth said. “That should explain a lot of it. He really could build anything with the most basic stuff. ... If you look at the reviews, what people are saying about the show so far, the audience gets it. They know that Martin is for real — he’s not trying to be famous — that he is just that curious inventor that’s in all of us as a kid.”

“MythBusters: The Search” began with 10 host hopefuls. Four are left. The show’s finale is Saturday at 7 p.m. on Science Channel, and the next generation of ”MythBusters” will be revealed. The episode will also be available for viewing on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mythbustersthesearch.

Over the course of the show, Martin has been interacting with viewers on Twitter in real time, and he encourages everyone to log on and follow him @MartyMooseIII.

Over the course of the show, Martin has had to prove whether someone could land a plane based solely on instructions and was part of a team where competitors had to devise a way to find a needle in a haystack. To etch his name into the “MythBusters” brand would be something special, and Martin is excited at the prospect of continuing a program that has captured the imaginations of so many.

“To be able to do a ‘MythBusters’ science-based show, it seems like you’re on the ground — you’re a soldier of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics),” Martin said. “You’re out there to try and get people involved. For me, it would be huge to take on that role of making things not only exciting but injecting as much science and learning as possible. ... Every kid that watched ‘MythBusters’ always had that thing, like, ‘Man I could not stop watching it, and I would accidentally learn stuff and I got hooked.’ I’d love to be a part of that — it’s one of the biggest dreams I’ve got.”