Hannah McCarthy

Couch Fellow

Hannah McCarthy is the Couch Fellow at NHPR. She will spend a year working as a reporter in the newsroom, and as a producer on "Word of Mouth," and "Outside/In." Hannah received her M.A. in journalism from New York University, where she studied longform non-fiction writing and audio production. While in New York, Hannah worked as a reporter for Bedford + Bowery and interned at WNYC's "Death, Sex and Money" podcast.

Brian Mitchell’s pretty busy this time of year. He’s got a full time job as a grocer in Windsor, Vermont, and his nights are spent monitoring the 50,000 music-synchronized lights that cover his property.

The day I caught him on the phone, he’d already been working on it for months.

"About April or May I’ll start dabbling with it again, and if I have any projects in mind I’ll start working on those. So it’s a full-year hobby. And then all the programming of the songs, which takes a lot of time."

via Giphy / https://giphy.com/gifs/leaves-PcZ5BONQbgZO0

We may have traded our rakes for snow shovels here in New Hampshire, but before that snow began piling up, many residents spent hours (or days) raking and bagging leaves to cart off to the transfer station, or to leave curbside for the city to pick up.

But what happened to all those leaves? That's the basis of this week's story for Only in New Hampshire, the series in which we tackle questions posed by listeners about their communities.


Years ago, in the very early days of Youtube, a video was posted that mesmerized audiences and inspired thousands of imitators across the country. But there's someone in New Hampshire who says he's been doing it just as long: syncing sound and light in an all-consuming holiday spectacular on his front lawn.

On this episode, we find out what it takes to produce the kind of Christmas display that stops traffic.

Also: what exactly happens to your leaves after you rake them up and send them off?

For generations, the little red house at the end of Via Tranquilla has been home to a legend. The kind that makes your heart pound and your hair raise. A ghost story... a murder mystery... a curse. 

On this episode, the keepers of this myth share the grisly story of Via Tranquilla. And then, the truth comes out. 

Joyce Maynard longed for a great romance. A passionate partner -- and one who wouldn't interfere with the fierce independence she'd cultivated over decades as a writer.

She found that romance, later in life, but her marriage ended up teaching her the true meaning of partnership and self-sacrifice. Virginia Prescott speaks with Maynard about her newest book, "The Best of Us," where she chronicles her marriage to Jim Barringer, and their fight against the cancer that took his life.

mwms1916 via Flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/T2RUKY

As part of our continuing series Only in NH, in which listeners ask questions about the state and their communities, we sometimes hear from people much closer to our newsroom.

In this case, we got a question from NHPR's own Digital Director, Rebecca Lavoie. (And we should note, Rebecca's also a true crime author, so that may have influenced her curiosity!) 

She asked:

New Hampshire Department of Transportation

In our continuing Only in New Hampshire series, we answer your questions and explore your state. Today, producer Hannah McCarthy find an explanation for what may be the state's most perplexing intersection.

Via NH DOT Facebook page

As part of our continuing series Only in New Hampshire, we're answering questions posed by Granite Staters about their communities. Producer Hannah McCarthy answered this one:

Samer asks: "Why is there no exit 21 on I-93 North?"

NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

Ever walk past a private driveway with no end in sight and wonder... what's down there? Or glimpse a building through some trees and wish you could get up close?

Well, one listener wrote in about a place that she'd never seen... only heard of in passing. A place tucked into the trees in the Great North Woods. A New Hampshire institution. And chances are, you've never seen it either. 

NHPR/Sara Plourde

The woods of New Hampshire are scattered with signs of civilization: crumbling foundations, railroad spikes, scraps of unidentifiable metal.

Find enough of these in one place, and you're probably looking at a ghost town - a place people once called home, and have long-since abandoned. 

Hannah McCarthy for NHPR

As head baker at King Arthur Flour, Martin Phillip makes hundreds of loaves of bread a week. But just over a decade ago, Martin was working in the frenzied world of investment banking in New York City. Virginia and producer Hannah McCarthy visited Martin to get the story behind his rise to head baker.

Senator Kevin Avard

The New Hampshire State House has an open-door policy. The building is part museum – and visitors are welcome to take in the living history. But some of the most interesting places are kept under lock and key.

University of New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire President Mark Huddleston announced Wednesday that he will be retiring next year. 

When he leaves the University in 2018, Mark Huddleston will have been the longest-serving President in the school’s history. Tim Riley, the chair of the University System’s Board of Trustees, says Huddleston will leave big shoes to fill.

NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

New Hampshire’s deteriorating roads and bridges - and how to invest in them - are major questions for lawmakers this year. But whatever the funding, one critical piece of the state’s infrastructure – private dams – likely won’t see a penny.  

Despite a push from all sides, New Hampshire’s child protection agency is still struggling to correct staffing issues and case backlogs.

The state’s Division for Children, Youth and Families is overdue on nearly 3,000 open abuse and neglect investigations. And according to media reports, DCYF presented disappointing progress to lawmakers Wednesday.

Wikimedia Commons

Keene joined ten other towns in the state Thursday by passing an anti-discrimination protection for transgender city employees. 

Keene City Council voted unanimously to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of factors in their city employee anti-discrimination policy.

Councilwoman Bettina Chadbourne was one of the co-signers on the resolution request. She says it was clear to her and her fellow council members that the transgender population was particularly vulnerable.

The American Lung Association released its annual State of the Air report Wednesday, and New Hampshire is doing better than it has in two decades. 

Air quality in state has improved overall since last year’s report card. Jeff Underhill, a Chief Scientist with the state Environmental Services Air Resources Division, says that’s due to a handful of factors, including cleaner cars and pollution controls for power plants.

NHPR Staff

The House held a hearing Wednesday on a bill that would cut business taxes in the state.

The state projects that it will lose about eighty million dollars in revenue by 2021 if the tax cut passes, assuming the economy follows current trends.

But supporters argue that the cut would have positive impacts on local businesses. Bruce Berke, the New Hampshire Director of the National Federation of Independent Business, says that cutting taxes will lead to growth.

flickr/bcgrote

House lawmakers met Tuesday to review a bill that seeks to provide $36 million for road and bridge repair in the state. 

There are six highway districts in New Hampshire – but not all are created equal. That was the argument from the Department of Transportation as they argued for a formula change in the way highway repair money is handed out.

How many retirees represent Merrimack County in the Legislature? What percentage of state reps are under the age of 35? And how does the State House's male/female ratio vary by political party?

The makeup of the New Hampshire House of Representatives has a major impact on daily life in the state. After all, these are the people who make the laws that govern us.

Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

New Hampshire has the largest state legislature in the country - by a lot. The 400 members of the House of Representatives are supposed to be “citizen legislators” - people who are just like the constituents they represent. They earn $100 a year, making them essentially volunteers, albeit volunteers with major responsibility and time commitment...and volunteers who don’t always show up.

Just ask Rep. Jim Belanger, chairman of the House Municipal and County Government Committee.

Wikimedia Commons

Officials with the state parks department presented plans for a new Franconia Notch trail Thursday. 

The trail would begin near an existing viewing plaza, dedicated to the iconic, now-fallen, rock formation known as the Old Man of the Mountain.

www.infrastructurereportcard.org

The American Society of Civil Engineers has released their 2017 report card on New Hampshire’s infrastructure -- and the state is far from the honor roll.

Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

Among the dozens of agencies and groups watching the state budget process this spring are the two organizations representing public higher education in New Hampshire: the University System, and the Community College System. In recent years, the two have fared differently when it comes to state support.

Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

Some in New Hampshire’s struggling dairy industry have had to adapt to survive. One old farm, though, has found a way to keep the family business going.  

Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

New Hampshire lawmakers met Friday to discuss policy changes to better protect at-risk kids. The effort comes on the heels of an outside review that faulted the state’s child protection agency. 

The Child Protection Act applies to cases when there’s clear evidence of child abuse or neglect, but a special legislative commission hopes to introduce a middle step between unfounded and founded reports of abuse. John DeJoie, with Child and Family Services, was part of a group that suggested another option for state health officials.

Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

The New Hampshire House voted Thursday to distribute $2 million dollars to dairy farmers hurt by last year’s drought.

woodleywonderworks via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/5p1N5a

A New Hampshire House subcommittee voted Wednesday to eliminate $18 million dollars in kindergarten funding from Gov. Chris Sununu’s state budget proposal. 

FILE

In a tie vote on Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee put the brakes on a bill that would make it harder to get food stamps in New Hampshire. 

The state senate voted Thursday against a bill that would have allowed people to register online to vote. 

A Senate committee had already voted against the bill- which only seemed to strengthen the conviction of Senator Lou D’Allesandro as he argued for using federal funds to establish an online voter registration system.

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