Virginia Prescott

Host, Word of Mouth

Prior to joining NHPR, Virginia Prescott was editor and producer for the nationally syndicated programs On Point and Here & Now, produced at WBUR in Boston. Virginia grew up in New Hampshire, but began her radio career at WWOZ Radio in New Orleans. She moved to New York City and worked for the team behind NPR’s Peabody Award-winning Jazz from Lincoln Center series with Ed Bradley. Virginia then joined WNYC to launch the station’s website and oversee all its interactive media sites. Throughout her radio career, Virginia helped set up independent radio stations in developing regions in southern and West Africa. She has also trained journalists in post-conflict zones from Sierra Leone to the former Yugoslavia. She was awarded a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University where she studied how broadcast media could spark dialogue and build community across terrestrial borders.


Word of Mouth Program Page


Word of Mouth
2:12 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Haunted Hillsboro: Trip To Haunted Pond In Francestown

Author Eric Stanway
Virginia Prescott NHPR

It was a sparkling fall day with trees ablaze in Francestown, New Hampshire.

Senior Producer, Maureen McMurray and I, met historian Eric Stanway on the town green in Francestown just as the bells of the white clapboard community church pealed noon. From there we then followed him to a small beach at Haunted Pond; a lovely, shallow pond rimmed with summer cottages, birches and pines -- the picture of serenity despite the number of people who met their ends there. Listen to the spooky story below.

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Word of Mouth
4:11 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Word Of Mouth's Cool Vs. Uncool Quiz With Dan Kois

This taxidermied fox is SHOCKED by the results of this quiz.
Credit Valters Krontals via flickr Creative Commons

After Virginia’s conversation with Slate senior editor Dan Kois about all things cool, we thought it would be helpful to quiz Dan on what is cool and what is not. Without further ado, we present Word of Mouth’s “Cool vs. Uncool Quiz” with our host Virginia Prescott.

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Word of Mouth
1:51 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

What Exactly Is 'Cool,' Anyway?

Credit Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

The search for “cool” has been a quintessential cultural quest for decades: we all want to be cool, but by definition only a select few will ever achieve it, and only for an instant. So what is “cool,” anyway, and why are we so fascinated by the people who make cool? Here to answer that question is Dan Kois. He's Senior Editor at Slate, which is doing a month-long series on the nature of cool. 

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Word of Mouth
1:20 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Listening Beneath The Noise

Sierra Leone is one of many places I traveled to throughout my career of making radio and sound and stories, and one of the topics of a talk I’m giving at Next Stage in Putney, Vermont on Monday, March 31. The talk is called “Listening Beneath the Noise”.  Whether in post-conflict zones in West Africa and the Balkans, working with kids in America’s urban environment, or discovering new ideas here on Word of Mouth, I’ve come to consider listening to be a kind of lifeline.

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Word of Mouth
11:38 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Virginia's Mardi Gras Playlist

New Orleans Mardi Gras tunes get rolled out like Christmas Carols. You may welcome them as harbingers of the rituals and reverie to come, but by the time Fat Tuesday rolls around, you may not be able to stomach another rendition of "They All Ask'd for You."

Even though it’s Carnival time, I summoned enough discipline to choose 10 (with a little stretching that comes with the local custom of Lagniappe, or a little bit extra) of my most tried and true Mardi Gras favorites -- in no particular order. They span a few of the eras, genres and populations that make New Orleans such a beautiful mess. These are the songs I turned to, long before I could watch Second Line parades on the internet or Treme on HBO, when I found myself marooned from Mardi Gras. These may not all be strictly Mardi Gras songs, but listening to them instantly connects me to the chaos of Carnival. 

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Word of Mouth
12:15 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Writers On A New England Stage - B.J. Novak

B.J. Novak reads from his book, "One More Thing"
Photo by David J. Murray

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with B.J. Novak, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth.

Best known for his role as “Ryan the Temp” on The Office, Novak talks with us about his debut collection of short stories One More Thing which he thinks is even more revealing than a memoir.

We’ll also get his take on his rising fame, and the not-so-heavy burden of being a celebrity author.

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Word of Mouth
1:10 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

The Many Voices Of Meryl Streep

Credit Movies in LA via flickr Creative Commons

Ladies and gentleman, the many voices of Meryl Streep.

Over her decades long career of incomparable success, Meryl has given us Irish-American, Italian, Danish, Polish, Australian and, of course, Julia Childs. Each accent is as unique (funny, quirky, intense, etc.) as the characters she creates.

Do you have a favorite Streep accent or character? Share it on Facebook

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Word of Mouth
1:29 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Meet The Artist Who Was Commissioned To Watch 456 Episodes Of 'Law & Order'

Credit The Perps Worst Nightmare via flickr Creative Commons

In an effort to explore our cultural relationship with computer technology, artist Jeff Thompson watched 20 years worth of Law & Order – a total of 456 episodes – and documented when computers were used and how.  The project was commissioned by the arts and technology organization Rhizome.

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Word of Mouth
1:53 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Book Recommendations From The Pros

Credit German Poo-Caamano via flickr Creative Commons

The National Book Critic's Circle Awards are upon us and joining us to discuss the nominees are:

Michele Filgate is events coordinator at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY. She’s also a writer and critic.

Eric Banks is a board member and past president of the NBCC. He’s the former editor of Bookforum and Artforum and the director of the NY Institute for the Humanities.

See below for the complete list of nominees that Michele and Eric discussed during the segment.

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Word of Mouth
1:45 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Writers On A New England Stage: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Virginia Prescott and Justice Sotomayor
Photo(s) by David J. Murray

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Justice Sotomayor sat down with Virginia Prescott to discuss her memoir, My Beloved World. She's not permitted to comment on current cases, which gave Virginia plenty of time to discuss Justice Sotomayor's childhood in the Bronx, what it was like to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium and counseling a Sesame Street character, Abby Cadabby on possible career choices.

Word of Mouth
1:38 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

The Creepiest Stories On The Web

The creepy factor of clowns.
Credit Alyssa L. Miller via flickr Creative Commons

The telling of the scary story is as old as the campfire. Now, they’ve made the jump from summer camp and slumber parties to the web. The internet’s hunger for new, sharable content has sped up production of scary stories and urban legends. A bewildering number of web-forums, messages boards, and specialty websites are dedicated to sharing stories that have been passed around so often that no one knows where they came from, and which maybe, possibly, could be true. The genre is called “creepypasta,” a silly-seeming name for some of the scariest stuff on the web. Our guest Will Wiles, wrote about "creepypasta," a genre he calls the folk literature of the web.

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Word of Mouth
12:01 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Five Billion Years Of Solitude

Most Earthlike Exoplanet started out as a gas giant.
Credit NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

In his Washington Post review of Lee Billings book, Five Billion Years of Solitude, astronomer Mike Brown compressed the age of the earth into a human lifetime.

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Word of Mouth
12:00 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Rethink 2014: The American Dream

Credit Sara Plourde

The statistics are grim. Since the late 1970s, incomes for the top 1% of Americans have quadrupled, while real wages for the bottom half of the workforce have stagnated. Just this week, Oxfam International reported that the 85 richest people on earth, now have the same amount of wealth as the bottom half of the global population. So what does this all mean for the American ideals laid out in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? In his latest book Who Stole the American Dream?  Hedrick Smith chronicles the dismantling of America’s middle class over four decades. Smith is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and the author of many books, including The New Russians, and Rethinking America.

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Word of Mouth
12:49 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Why We love Sad Music, And Other Musical Mysteries Explained (By Brain Science!)

Credit Paul Burnett and Clint McMahon via Flickr Creative Commons

Wherever you live, whatever you’re into, human beings respond to music. Brain researchers have found that listening to music not only makes you feel good – it alters your brain physiologically. To find out more we, talked to Dr. Robert Zatorre,  Neuroscientist at the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University.

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Word of Mouth
12:05 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Entering The 'Promise Land' Of Self-Help

Credit via

Three weeks into the New Year, sticking to that resolution to exercise more or stop eating sugar or drink less may feel a little extreme. So, what do you do? Shrug your shoulders and reach for another cupcake? Log onto Head for the bookstore to find somebody, anybody, who can guide us to be fitter, happier, radiant human beings? From the meditations of Marcus Aurelius to Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac,”  people have been reaching for advice on how to be more fully actualized since long before being self-actualized was a term. The writer Jessica Lamb-Shapiro set out to explore the 11-billion dollar industry of self-improvement books, seminars, and coaching to figure out why people follow them so devoutly--if they work--and what happens when they don’t. She’s written a memoir called, Promise Land: My Journey Through America’s Self-Help Culture.

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