Sean Hurley

North Country Reporter

Sean Hurley lives in Thornton with his wife Lois and his son Sam.  An award-winning playwright and radio journalist, his fictional “Atoms, Motion & the Void” podcast has aired nationally on NPR and Sirius & XM Satellite radio.  When he isn't writing stories or performing on stage, he likes to run in the White Mountains.

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North Country
4:15 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

The Composer Next Door

Rik Pfenninger in his home studio.
Sean Hurley

USA Today recently published a list of the fastest growing professions in the United States.  Music Composer came in at #3.  Everything, in this digital age, needs music.  With advances in technology, today's orchestras are more often found on hard drives in basements than symphony hall. NHPR's Sean Hurley has this profile of music professor and film composer Rik Pfenninger of Holderness.

It's 3:30 AM in Holderness and Plymouth State University Professor of Saxophone Rik Pfenninger is practicing in the soundproofed basement of his house. 

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Word of Mouth
10:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Scrooge Visits Christmasville, USA

Luminaries, Wassail Weekend, Woodstock, VT
Sean Hurley for NHPR

What happens when a veritable Grinch is confronted by unbridled Christmas spirit? Last year we sent favorite contributor Sean Hurley to visit a town Time Magazine dubbed one of America's "most Christmassy":

Is there a better place to celebrate Christmas than Vermont, where the air has a fragrance of pine needles and the ground is (most likely) dusted with snow? For the past 25 years, Woodstock has hosted Wassail Weekend, a pre-Christmas festival that is rooted in 19th century Norse culture and traditions. While the city itself is a sight to see during the holiday season, Wassail Weekend brings a distinctive parade of more than 50 horses and riders adorned in holiday costumes and period dress, as well as wagon and sleigh rides, a wassail feast and tours of the city's most notable historic buildings ... It's everything you imagine Christmas to be, but so much more. -Time Magazine

He was, perhaps, a bit of a Scrooge about it.

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North Country
6:00 am
Sun December 15, 2013

Ray Burton Remembered At Memorial Service

Ray Burton Portrait by Craig Pursley
Bruce Lyndes Plymouth State University

Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who died November 12th, was remembered yesterday at  a Memorial Service held at Plymouth State University.  Dignitaries large and small gathered together with Burton's friends and family to remember the longtime political face of the North Country.  NHPR's Sean Hurley attended the event and sends us this report.

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North Country
6:00 am
Thu November 28, 2013

We Wear The Winter As the Winter Wears Us

Winter Begins
Lois Hurley

Most of us here in New Hampshire saw our first snowflakes of the year this week.  It's a gentle reminder that winter is on its way.  On this holiday that for many of us kicks off a frenzied season of shopping and parties, NHPR's Sean Hurley pauses to reflect on what it means as winter rolls in.

Winter comes in like a winter coat. Down from the storage closet to hang in the dark front hall to wait by the door. 

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Word of Mouth
12:20 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Re-Creating A 19th Century Thanksgiving

Dinner begins.
Sean Hurley NHPR

On September 28, 1863, Sarah Josepha Hale of Newport, New Hampshire, wrote a letter to President Lincoln.  The author of Mary Had A Little Lamb and one of America’s first female novelists wrote, "The subject is to have the day of our annual thanksgiving made a national holiday."  Lincoln, a great observer of the wisdom of others, quickly agreed and in 1863 Thanksgiving became our third national holiday alongside Washington’s birthday and Independence Day. 

NHPR’s Sean Hurley set out to discover what Thanksgiving was really like during Sarah Josepha Hale's time. His tack: participating in a 19th century re-creation at the Remick Country Doctor Museum.

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NH News
4:36 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Alice Fogel Named Next Poet Laureate of NH

Alice Fogel
Keene State College

Acworth poet Alice Fogel has been named New Hampshire’s next poet laureate.

The Executive Council approved Governor Maggie Hassan’s nomination at a meeting Wednesday.

Alice Fogel was selected from a group of 17 poets nominated for the distinction.

Kyle Potvin of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, one of the groups that coordinated the nomination process, says Fogel’s literary reputation made her an ideal candidate.

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North Country
3:30 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Discovery At Frost Place

Maudelle Driskell holds the discovered crate top.
Sean Hurley

When poet Robert Frost returned to New Hampshire from England in 1915 he moved his family into a small farmhouse in Franconia.  Since 1976, when the town of Franconia purchased the property, The Frost Place has provided a glimpse at the poet's life from a hundred years ago.  His old chair sits near his old desk near his old wallpaper.

Frost Place Director Maudelle Driskell says volunteer Dee Macoun was emptying the contents of a small closet during a routine clean up when she noticed something unusual about the large slab of wood supporting a shelf. 

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NH News
3:15 am
Thu October 31, 2013

N.H. Reacts to Red Sox World Series Win

Before the Last Pitch at Lucky Dog
Sean Hurley

It was 1918 when the Red Sox last did it.   And they did it again last night, winning the World Series in front of a hometown crowd, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1.  Here in New Hampshire, the reaction was swift and loud, as Sean Hurley reports. 

Jeff Chapel from Thornton watches the game at his hometown bar, the Woodpecker Pub. It's only the 6th inning, but he's ready for his World Series pilgrimage.

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North Country
6:00 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Lighting The Way For Abigail Hernandez

Firefighter Brian Ames and his family
Sean Hurley

Abigail Hernandez has now been missing for 19 days.  Although thousands of acres have been combed and hundreds of tips have been followed, both the FBI and local police still don't know what happened between 3 and 4 in the afternoon on October 9th when Abby disappeared.  Despite this, the Hernandez family and the local community remain hopeful. On Saturday night nearly 500 people attended a flashlight vigil in Schouler Park in downtown North Conway meant to light the way home for Abby.  Sean Hurley was there and has this report. 

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NH News
3:40 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

NH Poet Laureate W. E. Butts Remembered

Walter at home in 2009
Sean Hurley

New Hampshire will soon have a new poet laureate. W.E. "Walter" Butts held that post until he died earlier this year.

Butts lived with his wife, the poet S Stephanie, in a small house on a quiet side street in Manchester.  

We shared all our work together, you know like I would write a poem and bring it up to him and he would write a poem and bring it to me.  We were always critiquing each other's work, supporting each other's work.

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Word of Mouth
2:03 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Diary Of A Space Zucchini: An Astronaut Imagines His Vegetable's Voice

Don Pettit

NASA’s Don Pettit has been back from his last mission aboard the International Space Station for over a year, but his blog “Letters to Earth” remains one of the most fascinating and profound windows into the creative and emotional life of an astronaut.  While in space he penned and published poetry, An Astronaut’s Guide to Space Etiquette, and the series, “Diary of a Space Zucchini”, which detailed life on the ISS from the unusual perspective of a se

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North Country
6:18 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Local Composer Wins The American Prize

Jonathan Santore at the piano
Sean Hurley

In 2006, Plymouth resident and PSU Music Professor Jonathan Santore was named New Hampshire Composer of the year.  Just last month, he was awarded The American Prize in Choral Composition for 2013. As he tells NHPR's Sean Hurley, he's come a long way since playing trumpet for his high school marching band in Tennessee. 

French composer Erik Satie once remarked, "Before I write a piece, I walk around it several times, accompanied by myself,"  It's a creative prelude that Plymouth composer Jonathan Santore finds absolutely necessary.

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Word of Mouth
1:25 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Crow Hunting In New Hampshire

Pete Lester begins the Crow Hunting seminar
Sean Hurley

They eat your crops, they scold you from the treetops, they prey on songbirds.  Experts consider the crow, which can use tools and recognize human faces, one of the smartest birds.  And while many people don’t know it, crows are also hunted in NH.

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North Country
8:11 pm
Sun September 8, 2013

Muster in the Mountains

Al Cameron, trapper and maker of campfire hams.
Sean Hurley

Ringing with cannon fire and musket shots, the fields at the base of Mount Washington became a colonial encampment for dozens of reenactors at this weekend's "Muster in the Mountains".  As NHPR's Sean Hurley reports, French and Indian War militia men camped beside Revolutionary War "sutlers" and all of them hung out with the trappers and mountain men in this time traveling rendez-vous for 18th and 19th century roleplayers.

John Maxon, in French and Indian war era period garb describes the anachronistic scene playing out in the field behind him.

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Word of Mouth
9:45 am
Tue August 27, 2013

Richard Blanco: The Inaugural Poet Reads At The Frost Farm In Derry

Credit Sam T via flickr Creative Commons

Robert Frost recited "The Gift Outright" at John F. Kennedy's swearing in in 1961 and became the first ever Inaugural Poet.  Since then,  there have been only 4 others asked to honor the occasion with a poem.  With “One Today” Richard Blanco (pronounced Blonko) became the first immigrant, the first Latino, the first openly gay person - as well as the youngest - to write a poem for the transfer of power.  Fitting then that Blanco should be invited to read at Frost Farm in Derry, home of the nation’s first Inaugural Poet.

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