Virginia Prescott

Host, Word of Mouth

Virginia Prescott invites listeners to take a break from breaking news and explore a world of under-reported stories on New Hampshire Public Radio as the host of Word of Mouth, a daily radio program and podcast. Prior to joining NHPR, she was editor, producer, and director for NPR programs On Point and Here & Now, and directed interactive media for New York Public Radio.

Throughout her radio career, Virginia has worked to build sustainable independent radio in the developing world and has trained journalists in post-conflict zones from Sierra Leone to the Balkans. She has been honored for her contributions with a Gracie award for her work on Word of Mouth, a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University, and was a member of the Peabody Award-winning production team for Jazz from Lincoln Center with Ed Bradley. Virginia loves working in public radio, but regrets that so many good outfits go unnoticed.

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Sara Plourde

Consider the Giant Panda. Cute, fuzzy, and available for your 24/7 viewing pleasure on the National Zoo’s ‘Panda Cam’. It’s in the top five most popular species for conservation. But what about the endangered species that make your skin crawl, like the St. Lucia Racer Snake, or the Lord Howe Island Stick-Insect? Our guest is Christine Dell'Amore, environment writer and editor for National Geographic News. She asks the uncomfortable question of how do we decide which species to save as part of Nat Geo’s online series called “Last of the Last.”

Recycled Percussion

In 2009 the New Hampshire based “junk rock” band Recycled Percussion successfully made it to the final round of NBC’s show “America’s Got Talent”. For their final performance the four piece band pounded away on assorted junk as water rained down on them and strobe lights flashed in rhythm. After coming in third place in the competition out of 100,ooo acts, Recycled Percussion landed a headlining show in Las Vegas where they’re still going strong. This Thursday the band will finish up a string of homecoming shows at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Our guest is founding member of Recycled Percussion and Legacy X Justin Spencer.

Last March, the election of Pope Francis was announced with a billow of white smoke. Nine months later, the media remain in a papal haze.  Time Magazine named Pope Francis its person of the year. Francis also topped Esquire's list of 2013's best-dressed men, and Buzzfeed jumped on the papal bandwagon with its list of "The 19 Best Pope Francis Moments of 2013".

wikipedia.org

Throughout the world, hundreds of caves have been discovered containing artifacts and paintings from pre-historic times. The art work found in these caves has provided a glimpse into pre-historic culture, but our guest, anthropological archeologist Margaret Conkey says they only tell part of the story of early man. For her project “Between the Caves” she has pushed archeological research beyond the caves, into the landscapes where Paleolithic people lived and thrived.  

Tom Purves via Flickr Creative Commons

The polar vortex?  Frost-quakes?  Winter Storm "Hercules"?  Winter weather forecasts have had a decidedly apocalyptic ring to them as of late. And yes, it did get pretty darn frigid last week... but how cold was the polar vortex compared to previous cold snaps?  We asked Jason Samenow, Weather Editor for the Washington Post to help us understand the sensationalism inherent in winter weather forecasting.

Taylor Quimby

Word of Mouth's Saturday broadcast is a lot like a well-hosted Golden Globes party, or Sunday afternoon football gathering (except it's on Saturday).  Whether you're just snacking on some fresh veggies, or filling up on buffalo wings, Word of Mouth has a spread everyone can appreciate.  Plus, you're bound to hear something worth sharing at the office - because we have a reputation for inviting the most compelling guests from around the neighborhood.  So bust open a bag of [snack food here] and crack open a [cold beverage of your choice] and check out today's lineup:

DanielSTL via Flickr Creative Commons

It’s about that time in January when you’ve just about had it with “THE BEST ____ OF 2013!” lists… a sure sign that it’s time for awards season. As far as the industry is concerned, the Oscar race begins with the Golden Globe Awards this Sunday night. The ceremony takes place right about the time thousands of members of the Academy of Motions Picture Arts and Sciences are filling out their Oscar ballots - which is exactly what makes the approximately 90 obscure journalists who are members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association so influential. They alone determine who goes home with a Golden Globe Award…and they are wined, dined and stroked by studios and stars accordingly.

We’re going to talk about predictions and snubs with a pair of our own influencers today…Amy Diaz, editor of the Hippo Press, and NH filmmaker Adam Jones, a voting member of the Director’s Guild of America.

Tony Verna

Watching football this weekend? Well, If you happen to step out of the living room to grab some guacamole and miss a pivotal play, don’t worry – you can bet  the network will play it again (and again) in instant replay.  But it wasn’t always so…  This is the story of how a young and rash CBS producer named Tony Verna invented instant replay in 1963 against tough odds, and revolutionized how we watch sports forever.  It’s told by freelance writer Anna Clark, who wrote about Tony Verna for pacific standard.

Sara Plourde

Characterized by partisan gridlock, grandstanding and an unwillingness to compromise, the 113th Congress is well on its way to becoming the least productive legislature in American history. Elected officials increasingly hail from the ideological fringes of their respective parties, leaving little room for moderation, dialogue or consensus around even routine issues.  The march to the partisan battlelines -- some argue -- starts long before a candidate is sworn in. It begins during the primary, when extreme views draw audiences and media attention away from the moderate middle. Today, we’re prodding one of New Hampshire’s sacred cows by asking whether it’s time to dramatically reforming the way we do primaries.

Sara Plourde

Teenagers are the most tech-savviest among us with their heads glued to their screens, posting stylized selfies on Instagram and compulsively checking Facebook. Or are they? Our guest Cliff Watson challenged our conceptions about the digitally-driven lives of teens. “Teens aren’t abandoning ‘social,’ he writes in an article for Medium, “they’re just using the word correctly.”

Sara Plourde

Last month the satirical newspaper The Onion issued its final print edition under the typically deadpan headline: “Onion Print Revenues Up 5000%”. Traditional news publications, which have cutback on reporters and budgets, or ceased printing altogether, have found little to laugh about. Today, long-form news stories do not even begin to compete with adorable cat and baby videos, but before we all drink hemlock or stare at the gloomy list of publications on Newspaper Death Watch, there could be a a light at the end of the tunnel. Today, we continue our series “Rethink 2014” with a new approach to long-form journalism with Steve Kandell, long-form editor at Buzzfeed.

mandiberg via flickr Creative Commons

Every day, the internet is inundated with more information, and more data to be to be categorized, organized, scrubbed, and filed away in a timely manner. Millions of miniscule tasks need to be performed each day to keep things running smoothly. Computers can do some of this mind-numbing work; other tasks are done piecemeal by hundreds of thousands of people for almost no money; Amazon Mechanical Turk is a marketplace for this kind of work. Ellen Cushing is staff writer for The East Bay Express, she wrote about the work called “micro-tasking,” which pays a pittance, drawing comparisons to working in a sweatshop.

Credit dhendrix73 via Flickr Creative Commons

There’s something keenly American about riding the rails. We meet kind-hearted hoboes in Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” hear the restless spirit in Woody Guthrie songs and cheer on Chaplin’s little tramp striking out for the Yukon.

Sara Plourde

We’re beginning this new year with “Re-think 2014”, conversations and stories that challenge our assumptions, habits and ways of doing things.

We’re kicking off “Re-think 2014” with Fred Pearce, environment consultant for New Scientist magazine.  His article, “How Beer Money Helped Save a Nation’s Water Supply” appeared in Conservation Magazine. It’s an example of a conglomerate upending the business-as-usual model of pursuing profits no matter the environmental and human costs. In this case – helping to protect an essential natural resource for its own manufacturing, and the people of Columbia.

NASA

China’s lunar rover, Jade Rabbit, landed on the moon to study the satellite’s terrain, geology, and lava flows. What else might it find? Dirty laundry, golf balls, bags of human waste, and an American flag.  There are loads of items left on the moon by NASA’s Apollo missions -- still perfectly preserved because the moon lacks a destructive atmosphere. With a handful of countries announcing plans for future lunar missions, a number of scientists are arguing that moon trash is an archeological treasure that should be preserved and studied by future generations. But with no laws or lunar governing body to protect, say, the first footprint on the moon, some worry that America’s lunar heritage could be destroyed by a new generation of explorers rushing to reach the moon.

Taylor Quimby

Wow.  It's the first Word of Mouth Saturday show of 2014.  It's like one final holiday gift, opened whilst downing the last of the leftover champagne and simultaneously making a resolution to listen to more public radio.  Our Saturday show is the perfect mix of looking back, looking forward, and living in the now.  Cheers!

  • The Food Trends of 2013 and 2014:  From the uber-hyped cronut, to Paula Deen's public meltdown, to the apocalyptic Sriracha shortage, AP Food Editor J.M. Hirsch recalls the flavor of 2013, and makes his culinary predictions for what's to come in the new year.
  • How Should We Live?  Author/philosopher Roman Krznaric peers into the near and ancient past for examples of how people through the ages approached love, work, family, time, money, death, creativity, and more.
Instagram user carlymanning10

Cast your mind back to high school.  The social hierarchies, the rivalries, the cliques?  Were the cheerleaders at your school at the at top of the pyramid? It should come as no surprise that popular kids still ‘own’ high school. Some are also getting famous online, in the halls of social media. enter the world of the “cheer famous." Joining us is Allie Jones, she writes about politics and fashion at “The Wire”. She wrote about the “The Private Lives of the Cheer-lebrities of Instagram”. Her article has since spawned the kind of drama that reads like a hollywood cheerleading movie script.

Sony

50 years ago, inspired by the 1964 World’s Fair, Isaac Asimov wrote an article for the New York Times envisioning what the world might look like in 2014. Among his predictions: “By 2014, electroluminescent panels will be in common use. ceilings and walls will glow softly, and in a variety of colors that will change at the touch of a push button.  Gadgetry will continue to relieve mankind of tedious jobs. Breakfasts will be "ordered" the night before to be ready by a specified hour the next morning. Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone. The screen can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books.” While we may not have “automeals,” many of Asimov’s predictions were remarkably prescient. Now that we have time on our side, let’s discuss the technology forecast for 2014. Tech analyst and writer Tim Bajarin joins us.

Starkey International Institute of Household Management

The number of U.S. billionaires doubled in the past decade, and those hedge fund managers, CEOs and celebrities need trained staff to manage their many estates. That’s the goal of Starkey International Institute of Household Management in Denver. For about $20,000, students can learn how to oversee and care for today’s great estates.  Joining us is freelance writer John P. Davidson. He attended the Butler Boot Camp at Starkey and wrote about it for the January issue of Harper’s magazine.

NHPR

As we look back at 2013, we’re struck by the number of mishaps made by politicians, celebrities, athletes and companies…followed of course, by the oh-so-heartfelt public apology. Word of Mouth's senior producer Maureen McMurray and producer Taylor Quimby join Virginia Prescott to talk about the year of saying sorry…or in some cases, the year of the non-apology.

Enthusiasm for the fictional British detective is hardly new. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes in an 1893 issue of Strand magazine, 20,000 readers canceled their subscriptions. Doyle succumbed and revived the character in dozens more stories before his own death in 1930. While the appeal of Sherlock Holmes coincided with the rise of popular science in the late Victorian era, today’s Sherlock-mania may be connected to a more 21st century concept: mindfulness.

Phil Nolan via Flickr Creative Commons

New Year’s Eve is a day of indulgence, the last chance to gorge on delicious treats and beverages before cleaning the slate. What’s on your menu tonight? Does it involve kale or Siracha, or a Cronut? According to our guest J.M. Hirsch, food editor at the Associated Press, those were among the hottest foods of 2013.

bhautik joshi via Flickr Creative Commons

New Year’s Eve is a day of reflection and celebration and each December we mark the passage of time by inviting NHPR’s own Brady Carlson on the show to share his list of the year’s biggest web trends. Last year his list included: Kony 2012, Kickstarter, and Gangnam Style. Seems so long ago, doesn’t it? Brady joins us again to reflect on the web trends and memes of 2013, and what they reveal about our collective state this year.

Sodium Fox

The Golden Globe and SAG Awards nominations are out, launching  awards season into full effect. Among those getting the most nods are director Steve McQueen’s “12 years a slave”, and David O'Russell’s “American Hustle”.  We’re not going to tread through the all-too-familiar “best of 2013” territory today. We’re forging a new path through the worst films of the year. Joining us is Bill Goodykoontz, chief film critic for Gannett and The Arizona Republic who wrote "A Year in Review: 10 Worst Movies of 2013"

The holidays bring gifts of all shapes, sizes, and…well…usefulness. Whether it’s a tacky tchotchke, an ill-fitting sweater, or something you already own, we’ve all experienced it…the moment you excitedly open that pretty gift box, look inside and think…uh-oh.

Photo(s) by David J. Murray / ClearEyePhoto.com

NHPR

and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with Doris Kearns Goodwin, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. The Pulitzer prize-winning historian and biographer of several American presidents shifts to the progressive era with, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt William Howard Taft & The Golden Age Of Journalism.  The book follows two presidents who became friends and later bitter rivals, as well as a chronicle of the dawn of investigative journalism in America.

This broadcast was made possible with support from TransCanada.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Saturday the 21st is the shortest day of the year, also known as the winter solstice. Celebrate the impending uptick in sunshine that starts on the 22nd by listening to a cozy Saturday edition of Word of Mouth. On this week's show:

  • The American male is suffering from a friend crisis: Lisa Wade is professor of sociology at Occidental College and principal writer for Sociological Images. She wrote about it for Salon.
  • Volunteering: EMS Workers. We looked at a few off the beaten path volunteer opportunities in the Granite State over the past week. Reporter Emily Corwin and Senior Producer Maureen McMurray bring us the story of an amazing group of volunteers on the seacoast.
  • What's with the dearth of new holiday songs? Despite the sleigh load of holiday albums released every winter, there hasn’t been an original holiday single with the staying power of Mariah Carey’s hit for nineteen years. So, has our culture stopped welcoming new holiday songs? Has our Christmas carol quota been met?  Chris Klimek, is here to weigh in, his article for Slate:  “All I Want For Christmas Is A New Christmas Song,” pretty much says it all.

Affendaddy via flickr Creative Commons

Maybe it’s the repetition, or maybe the obligatory cheeriness, but there’s something about hearing holiday songs that you don’t like that rankles much more deeply than other assaults on the senses.  We asked listeners to share their favorite seasonal tunes on our Facebook page, along with the ones they hate.

mariahcarey.com

The song, “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey was released in 1994, and has become a Christmas standard, consistently topping the billboard holiday charts. Despite the sleigh load of holiday albums released every winter, there hasn’t been an original holiday single with the staying power of Mariah Carey’s hit for nineteen years.

So, has our culture stopped welcoming new holiday songs? Has our Christmas carol quota been met?  Chris Klimek, is here to weigh in, his article for Slate:  “All I Want For Christmas Is A New Christmas Song,” pretty much says it all.

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