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.

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Word of Mouth
8:55 am
Mon September 9, 2013

A Week Without Food: What It's Like To Live On "Soylent."

Credit Courtesy Ars Technica

Imagine a world where eating and preparing food was a thing of the past. Sounds like the stuff of science fiction, right? Well, that world might be closer than we think. A new product, Soylent, claims to provide the body with all the nutrients it needs. The creator of Soylent sees it as not only a solution to the inefficiency of producing and preparing food, but potentially the world’s hunger problems.

Lee Hutchinson is senior reviews editor at Ars Technica. He lived on Soylent for a full week, and blogged about the experience.

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Word of Mouth
8:44 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Would A Mirror In The Chip Aisle Encourage YOU To Buy Veggies Instead?

Credit ratterrel via Flickr Creative Commons

With more than a third of Americans classified as obese, behavioral scientists are experimenting with ways to ‘nudge’ grocery shoppers away from the chips and dip aisle and into the produce section.

Michael Moss is investigative reporter for the New York Times and winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. He wrote about research going on in American Supermarkets. 

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Word of Mouth
2:08 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Word of Mouth 09.07.13

Credit Leo Reynolds via flickr Creative Commons

Welcome to the Word of Mouth Saturday show where we take all our freshest content, pop it in the audio blender and pour out a refreshing glass of public radio awesome. On this week's show:

  • Hogwarts for orphans? Natasha Vargas-Cooper tells us about San Pasqual Academy, a new kind of group home that is trying to create a stable environment for teenage foster kids.
  • A Disney convention for die-hard fans. Move over Comic-con, Disney is trying to create the ultimate fan event. Jordan Zakarin covered this years D23 event in Anaheim for Buzzfeed.
  • Vietnam through the eyes of photographers. Curator Kurt Sundstrom stopped by the studio to tell us about the Currier Museum of Art's new exhibit, "Visual Dispatches from the Vietnam War."

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Word of Mouth
10:49 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Vaud And The Villains Bring Their Singular Sound To The Music Hall

Credit Jessica Verma

Vaud and the Villains is the 19-piece group known for putting on rollicking musical theater and cabaret shows with a "New Orleans in the 1930s" twist. The band is performing this weekend at The Music Hall in Portsmouth.

Joining us is bandleader Andy Comeau, also known as "Vaud Overstreet," as well as his wife, Dawn Lewis, A.K.A "Peaches Mahoney."

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Word of Mouth
10:32 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Has This Public School District Found The Formula For Educating American Kids?

Credit Indiana Public Media via Flickr Creative Commons

Like most touchy issues, few people agree on precisely how to cope with America’s public school system.  Proposed solutions for some failing districts include switching to charter schools, installing fresh leadership, stricter curriculum, and more.  Union City, New Jersey has defied the odds – once on the brink of being shut down, Union City has become a model district simply by going back to the basics, and sticking with them.  David L. Kirp, is a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley and author of eighteen books on education and urban issues. His latest is Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America’s Schools.

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Word of Mouth
9:35 am
Thu September 5, 2013

The End Of Paper Money?

Credit purpleslog via Flickr Creative Commons

In a down economy, most folks are happy to find a crumpled fiver in a jacket pocket, or fish out quarters to pay for parking.  Not David Wolman. David is a contributing editor at Wired magazine, and author of the book The End of Money, for which he attempted to spend a year without touching or passing any paper money.  We spoke David when the book was first released.  It’s being released on paperback in October.

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Word of Mouth
9:28 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Are Foster Kids Better Off Without Families?

Credit loveiswritten via Flickr Creative Commons

Statistically speaking, American foster children face a steep uphill battle. A 2010 study showed nearly 25 percent of foster care children end up homeless at some point after exiting the system, and teen girls in foster care were more likely to become pregnant than to get adopted. One fledgling foster care experiment has done away with the foster family system in favor of a mutually supportive group-home. The San Pasqual Academy is a $14 million dollar nonprofit based in San Diego that houses 180 foster kids. Natasha Vargas-Cooper is a freelance journalist who wrote about San Pasqual for Pacific Standard.

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Word of Mouth
9:16 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Sam Kinison: Comedy Genius Turned Comic Book Star

Sam Kinison, the comedian known for screaming politically incorrect rants with the passion of a preacher, became on of the biggest comedy acts of the 1980's. He died in 1992, just shy of his 40th birthday.

Chris Canibano has helped turn the life of Kinison, whom many regard as a comedic genius, into a comic book called, simply, "Sam Kinison."

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Word of Mouth
9:06 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Vietnam Photographs On Exhibit At The Currier Museum

Grenade Thrower, Hue, Vietnam, 1968 (printed later), gelatin silver print, 20 x 24 in. Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH.
© Don McCullin, courtesy of Hamiltons Gallery, London.

America’s ambivalence about the Vietnam conflict began with the photograph of a monk, engulfed in flames, sinking to the pavement on a Saigon street, and another image, capturing the moment a uniformed officer fires a bullet into the head of a man in a plaid shirt, and still later, a naked girl,  screaming as she runs from a cloud of black smoke.

These iconic pictures are among those collected in “Visual Dispatches from the Vietnam War” on view at the Currier Museum of Art until November 11. The show’s curator, Kurt Sundstrom, talked with us about the show and its groundbreaking images.

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Word of Mouth
8:56 am
Wed September 4, 2013

The Supercali-Weird World Of Disney Superfans

Yes, there are Disney cosplayers, too!
Credit kndynt2099 via Flickr Creative Commons

You don’t have to be a geek to know about the San Diego Comic Con, the annual convention that attracts celebrities, industry big-wigs, and fanboys and girls dressed as their favorite comic book superhero or villain.  

In Annaheim, California this August, thousands of costumed super-fans descended on another massive expo… some decked out as superheroes, but more princesses, pirates, mermaids and mice.

The D23 Expo is a bi-annual celebration of all things Disney.  Jordan Zakarin is Entertainment Reporter for Buzzfeed, where we found his exploration of the peculiar brand of obsession that sets Disney super-fans apart. 

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Word of Mouth
2:04 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Musician Gary Burton: Learning To Listen

Credit Via Photobrew

Gary Burton was thirteen when he first heard jazz. By then, he’d been playing the marimba for seven years, and had toured around his home state of Indiana with his siblings. “The Burton Family” band came apart shortly after Gary heard Benny Goodman’s band playing a song called  "After You’ve Gone."

That song helped launch a career that has spanned the globe, the decades, collaborations with musicians from Chick Corea to Stan Getz to Astor Piazolla, and originated what’s called the "Burton Grip," playing the vibraphone holding two mallets in each hand.

Now 70, Gary Burton is a seven-time Grammy award winner. He’s the former Executive Vice-President at Berklee College of Music and has spent the majority of his life playing and teaching jazz. Burton has a new album, called "Guided Tour," and a new autobiography called, Learning to Listen: The Jazz Journey of Gary Burton.

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Word of Mouth
10:58 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Great (And Famous!) Artists Who Kept Their Day Jobs

Poet T.S. Eliot was also a banker!
Credit Courtesy The Poetry Foundation

Minimalist composer Philip Glass is widely acknowledged as one of the late 20th Century’s most influential music-makers.  He’s worked with artists, musicians and filmmakers from David Bowie to Woody Allen, and famously collaborated with theater director Robert Wilson on the landmark opera “Einstein on the Beach” in 1976. Even after “Einstein,” Glass didn’t quit his day job as a New York cabby and some-time plumber…he was once called to install a dishwasher at the SoHo loft of a very shocked Robert Hughes, who was then the art critic for Time.

Here to talk about some other famous artists who stayed in their workaday jobs even after making their mark as an artist. Clay Wirestone, Arts Editor for the Concord Monitor and contributor to Mental Floss.

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Word of Mouth
8:52 am
Sat August 31, 2013

Word Of Mouth 08.31.13

Credit Tom Magliery, courtesy Flickr Creative Commons

The Saturday show bring you a spectacular mix of the best of Word of Mouth. On this week's show:

  • Abolishing tips:  usually, the debate around gratuity revolves around whether to leave 15 or 20 %.... Head of the Sustainable Restaurant Project at the University of Guelph , Bruce McAdams,  is in favor of getting rid of tips altogether.
  • Balloon Brigade: the career aptitude test video game.  A new startup designs mobile games that could help match fresh grads with job opportunities. 
  • The science behind the buzz: journalist and science writer Joseph Stromberg explains caffeine addiction.
  • Pirate Joe's:  Vancouver grocer Michael Hallat buys hundreds of thousands of dollars of dry goods from Trader Joe's in the United States, then sells them at a markup over the border.  We'll hear about his legal battle with the popular German grocery chain.
  • NASA's super-gun:  how scientists are researching meteorite impacts using a really, really, big gun.
  • Hollywood's animal-fails:  biologist Marlene Zuk argues that movies are making egregious errors when it comes to representing our animal kingdom. 

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Word of Mouth
2:14 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

"Pirate Joe" On Why Trader Joe's Wants To Shut Him Down

In June, the Concord Patch squashed a rumor making the rounds in New Hampshire’s capital: the truth is that gourmet grocer Trader Joe's is not opening a new store on Loudon Road.  The comments section for the article quickly filled up with complaints from residents tired of driving to Nashua for dark chocolate-covered salted almonds, cheap wine and artichoke pesto…one fan even started a petition to lure the popular store to the capital area.

One man has been profiting off Trader Joe's brand loyalty for the past two years. Michael Hallat buys hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of food at Trader Joe’s food in the U.S., and re-sells it across the border at “Pirate Joe’s” in vancouver.  The chain filed a lawsuit against Michael in may, but he has yet to change his strategy – though it hasn’t been easy.

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Word of Mouth
1:52 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Tweeting A Taboo Topic: Death

Credit merlinprincess via Flickr Creative Commons

In July, NPR host Scott Simon started tweeting from the Chicago hospital room where his mother, Patricia, landed after complications from surgery. For the next week, Scott tweets became a real-time record of her decline for his more than 1.2 million followers on twitter. His raw, often bittersweet posts went viral among celebrities, media outlets and strangers drawn by his example of public grief.   

The extraordinary response to Scott’s twitter vigil stirred up conversations about the taboo topic of death in America – and a debate on social media’s place in mourning. Paul Bisceglio edits the online literary magazine The Land That I Live. He wrote about how social media is changing the way we approach death for The Atlantic.

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