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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Word of Mouth
1:48 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Lucid Dream Research Goes Mainstream

Lucid dreaming would allow you to stop the imaginary person chasing you in your dreams...maybe.
Credit Janet Ramsden via flickr Creative Commons

For a long time, the study of dreams was marred in mysticism and pseudo science to warrant academic respect. But in the 1970’s, a man named Stephen LaBerge gained a measure of credibility for his research into the phenomenon called “lucid dreaming”, but he ultimately remained on the fringes of mainstream science.  In more recent years, films like Inception and The Matrix have been increasing public interest into the mysteries of the dream-state. Mirroring this rise in pop culture appeal, lucid dream research is beginning to move out of the fringes and into the scientific mainstream. Dorian Rolston is a freelance writer covering cognitive science, mental health, and the mind. His article on the work of Stephen LaBerge, and new efforts to understand lucid dreaming appeared in the online publication, Matter.

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Word of Mouth
1:48 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

What Happens After We Die?

Credit via sptimmortalityproject.com

Billions of dollars are spent each year to prevent death. We invest in research and treatment of disease; in improving safety; and in educating people to live healthier, longer lives. Yet with all of technological and scientific capability, what do we know of what happens after death? John Martin Fischer is professor of philosophy at University of California at Riverside. He was awarded a 5 million dollar grant to study the afterlife. He’s launched “The Immortality Project." The money will go towards sponsoring conferences and scientific, philosophical, and theological research that advances understanding of immortality and belief in immortality.

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Word of Mouth
10:44 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Patricia Cornwell Lets Her Characters Speak For Themselves

Credit via PatriciaCornwell.com

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with Patricia Cornwell. Her best-selling Kay Scarpetta crime fiction series introduced millions of readers to forensic pathology – and inspired popular TV shows from CSI to Dexter. After her 21st Scarpetta novel, Patricia Cornwell reflects on the process of turning grisly real-world crimes into absorbing fiction.

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Word of Mouth
10:07 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Pirate Joe's, Hollywood Animal Fails, And Abolishing Tips

Credit Tom Magliery via flickr Creative Commons

A montage of new ideas, picked fresh from the Word of Mouth vault:

  • 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.

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Word of Mouth
12:21 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving's Hybrid Of Cultural Traditions

Thanksgiving: Korean Style. Turkey is still the star, but green bean casserole and yams are replaced by namul, fishcakes, and three different kinds of kimchi.
Credit Hane C. Lee via flickr Creative Commons

This year the overlap of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving introduces a whole new element to what's on this year's Thanksgiving menu. While we've heard plenty about how "Thanksgiv-ukkah" could change our Thanksgiving eating habits, for millions of Americans, a hybrid holiday meal is their tradition. Food writer, chef, and public radio personality, Kathy Gunst has been reaching out to friends, chefs, and food writers from across the country who incorporate foods and habits from their original lands in to the great American Thanksgiving meal.

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Word of Mouth
11:55 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Norman Rockwell's Less Than Idyllic Life

Credit via indiebound.org

I was once invited to Thanksgiving dinner by a friend who warned me that her family was “Not a Real Norman Rockwell Kinda Bunch”. We know that image: brightly scrubbed faces hover in smiling anticipation over sparkling china as Ma sets the turkey in front of the family patriarch ready to be carved. That painting is titled Freedom From Want and it’s one of those homespun scenes that only happens in what author Deborah Solomon calls “Rockwell Land” -- a magical reflection of American life as it should be. Solomon’s new biography of the illustrator, beloved by the masses and dismissed as corn ball by the art world, reveals a complicated, neurotic, and repressed man who lived very far from the America he invented.

Deborah Solomon is author of American Mirror: The Life and Times of Norman Rockwell

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Word of Mouth
3:10 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

An Analysis Of Food Shopping Choices, Without The Lecture

Credit kbrookes via flickr Creative Commons

Thanksgiving is no time to be a food killjoy. We’re not going there. Instead, how about considering our food behavior, especially when it comes to shopping for it, serving it, and opening a fridge full of leftovers? You won’t get any lectures from Kusum Ailawadi, who spoke at the recent Ted-X Amoskeag Millyard. She’s professor of marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and has done a lot of research on what goes in people’s grocery carts using the real-life laboratory of the American supermarket. She and her team captured data from thousands of shopping trips across the country over a four year period. She’s sharing some practical knowledge from her findings before we dig in this Thursday.

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Word of Mouth
2:55 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

A Real-Life Tricorder? Affirmative! (Maybe.)

Star Trek's seemingly miraculous 'tricorder' is a device which can measure anything from a patient's vital signs to geological activity with the push of a button. Now, a company called Scanadu has developed a device called the 'Scout,' which they hope can be as useful for the health industry as tricorders were on the Enterprise. We talked with the company's co-founder to learn more. 

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Word of Mouth
2:44 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Jon Huntsman On Civility In Politics, China Policy

From the early days of the 2012 primary, influential liberals referred to Jon Hunstman, U.S. Ambassador to China, and Singapore before that, as “the sane Republican”.  Huntsman’s foreign policy chops and statesmen-like manner were frequently cited during his brief run, often by the candidate himself.  

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Word of Mouth
10:44 am
Tue November 26, 2013

When Did 'Three Square Meals' Become The American Norm?

Credit Diettogo1 via Flickr Creative Commons

Admitting to eating a bowl of cereal for dinner is like disclosing that you are lonely, lazy, or waaay to busy. Similarly, not having the whole family sitting around the table for a hot dinner of protein, a vegetable, and dessert feels like some kind of failure. When did how and what we eat become codified as right, proper, and essentially American?  How did factory work, television and advertising shape the varied diets carried by centuries of immigrants into the breakfast, lunch and dinner most of us eat today?

Abigail Carroll is a food historian and author of Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal, which explores the history of America’s eating from the Colonial era to the present.

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Word of Mouth
5:07 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

What Did The First Thanksgiving Menu Include?

Credit puzzler4879 via flickr Creative Commons

Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and every year around this time, our thoughts and stomachs go out to food. Long before deep fried turkeys, gelatinized cranberry sauce, and boxed stuffing there was the inaugural Thanksgiving feast at the Plymouth plantation. So what was on the table that day? Abigail Carroll might have an idea. She’s a food historian and author who has studied the Colonial and Native American diet extensively. We spoke with her earlier this month about her new book,Three Squares: The Invention of The American Meal.

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Word of Mouth
10:24 am
Mon November 25, 2013

A Tracking App That Tracks Other Tracking Apps

Credit via fastco.com

The ubiquity of smartphones and tablets and a certain level of self-absorption have led to a number of apps and programs that track sleep, diet, heart rate, baby weight, twitter use, mood, sweat, caffeine, memories and bowel movements. Welcome to the age of the quantified self, but with a thousand ways to keep tabs on your own life, how then, do you keep track of all the trackers?

Sarah Kessler is associate editor for Fast Company. She wrote about how developers creating tracking apps that track other tracking apps.

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Word of Mouth
10:18 am
Mon November 25, 2013

New Treatment May Wipe Out Hepatitis-C

Diagram of Hepatitis C.
Credit James A. Perkins via hepcni.net

Although new cases of Hepatitis-C have drastically decreased in the United States since peaking in the 1980’s, the blood-borne disease which primarily attacks and destroys the liver, kills more Americans annually than AIDS.

Andrew Pollack covers business and biotechnology for the New York Times. We read his article “Hepatitis-C, a Silent Killer, Meets Its Match,” in which Pollack describes a new series of treatments about to enter the market that could effectively do the impossible: wipe out Hep C.

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Word of Mouth
1:15 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Word Of Mouth 11.23.2013

Credit Taylor Quimby

Word of Mouth Saturday is like a really good smoothie: It's good for you,  filling, you can enjoy it in the car, and it doesn't leave you with a heaping pile of dishes to clean.  Every week we handpick a selection of ingredients designed to educate and entertain - basically,  a careful mix of audio vegetables and  fruits, blended evenly into a mouth-watering hour of delicious radio.  

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Word of Mouth
1:51 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Class Of 2008: Addie Gann

Credit Courtesy Addie Gann

On September 15th, 2008, the financial services firm Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11.  The subprime mortgage crisis had been percolating for months by then, as had a global economic decline – but the bankruptcy of the nation’s fourth largest investment bank panicked Wall Street, evaporating liquidity markets, sending the economy sharply downward, and sparking the worst global recession since World War II – a crisis from which the world’s economy is still recovering.

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Word of Mouth
1:42 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Radio Essay: Our Old-Media View Of J.F.K

A still from the Zapruder film, which captured the assassination of President Kennedy

We've come to know President John F. Kennedy through a very narrow lens, that of so-called "old media." From vintage newspapers and television reporting that maintained now-anachronistic reverence for the private lives of our leaders to the oft-analyzed Zapruder film, our contemporary relationship with J.F.K. is limited by the time in which he lived. 

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Word of Mouth
1:11 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

How Selling Out On TV Became Indie Rock's Saving Grace

Credit millerfarm via Flickr Creative Commons

The relatively unknown song "Daylight" by Brooklyn-based band Matt and Kim was featured in a 2009 Bacardi commercial, and by the following year went gold, selling over 500 thousand copies and sweeping Matt and Kim into the mainstream. Not so long ago, selling your music to ad agencies was considered the lowest form of selling out, a sure-fire way to lose hard-core fans. Today many musicians see it as the only way to make a living. And fans, for the most part, seem to be turning a blind eye. 

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Word of Mouth
1:01 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

J.F.K.: A Second Son Made Into A President

Credit via Wikipedia Commons

  Fifty years after his death, the presidency, and character and memory of John F. Kennedy has been covered and re-covered and burnished in television specials, articles and at least one extraordinary radio special that you’ll be hearing tomorrow on NHPR. With each retrospective comes the revival of the Kennedy myths…pictures of the sprawling family with their giant smiles, privilege…and no holds barred ambition.

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Word of Mouth
2:27 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

The Most Memorable Ads Of The Past 35 Years

Where IS the beef?
Credit via adweek.com

In 1978, a message about a new word processing system went out to about 400 users of Arpa-net…that’s the U.S. Government sponsored progenitor of the World Wide Web.  It was the first example of what we now know too well as internet spam. In 1978, the mad men era was snuffing out its last cigarette, the seeds of celebrity endorsements were bursting open, and dawn was about to break on digital. That same year, Ad Week launched.  The publication is marking its 35th anniversary with a look at some pivotal, shocking and subtle moments in the advertising industry.  

David Griner is a contributing editor at AdWeek.

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Word of Mouth
1:55 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Class Of 2008: Emily Wienberg

Credit Courtesy Emily Wienberg

On September 15th, 2008, the financial services firm Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11.  The subprime mortgage crisis had been percolating for months by then, as had a global economic decline – but the bankruptcy of the nation’s fourth largest investment bank panicked Wall Street, evaporating liquidity markets, sending the economy sharply downward, and sparking the worst global recession since World War II – a crisis from which the world’s economy is still recovering.

As part of NHPR’s station-wide series “How We Work: Five Years Later,” Word of Mouth presents “The Class of 2008,” conversations with people who graduated from high school or college around the time of the global economic meltdown.

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Word of Mouth
1:50 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

What Would You Prefer, A Bonus Or A Raise? A Study Points To The Better Incentive

Credit dantegeek via Flickr Creative Commons

Do employees work harder when they are paid more?

A new study out of Harvard set out to answer that question and came away with some interesting conclusions. One, that employers should consider not just what they pay workers, but how. Offering cash bonuses increases employee productivity more than raises in  salaries, even if the amount of bump is exactly the same.   

Duncan Gilchrist is Ph.D. student studying business economics at Harvard, and one of the authors of the study. 

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Word of Mouth
1:40 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Caldecott Winner David Wiesner On His Latest Book, 'Mr. Wuffles'

Children’s book writer and illustrator David Wiesner is a three-time winner of the Caldecott Medal for most distinguished children’s picture book. His newest work is about a group of tiny extra-terrestial explorers, whose wee spaceship unwittingly becomes a plaything for a house cat named Mr. Wuffles. 

As with all of Wiesner’s books, Mr.Wuffles is nearly wordless, with dramatic visuals that propel readers from the plausible and everyday into the fantastical world of what could happen… 

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Word of Mouth
7:07 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Shedding Light On The 'Almost Depressed'

Credit Venturist via Flickr Creative Commons

It’s estimated that one in ten Americans show signs of depression, but in a society where mental illness is simultaneously taboo and overexposed, it’s easy to stick to a black-and-white label to describe mental health.

As part of the 'Almost Effect'  series from Harvard Health Publications, two instructors at Harvard teamed up to write a book on that uncomfortable gray area between well-being and chronic depression. It's called Almost Depressed. 

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Word of Mouth
10:57 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Why 'Employee Misclassification' Matters In New Hampshire

In 2010, then- New Hampshire Governor John Lynch signed an executive order creating the Joint Task Force on Employee Misclassification Enforcement.  While it doesn’t sound like the most urgent unit, misclassification is a serious issue, costing employers, business owners and putting un-covered workers at risk. 

As part of NHPR’s week-long series 'How We Work: Five Years Later,' we’re digging into attitudes and policy towards work. Joining us to explain this issue is New Hampshire labor commissioner, Jim Craig, and Martin Jenkins, legal counsel for the D.O.L.

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Word of Mouth
10:30 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Creating Amazing Workplace Culture: Dyn's 'Culture-Con'

Just one of the employee-friendly spaces at Dyn, where the office also has a putting green, Skee-Ball, a ping pong table, and a farm-to-table cafe.
Credit Via Business NH Magazine

This week, we’re talking about work…what we do…and how our attitudes and expectations concerning work have fared under the long shadow of the 2008 financial crisis. Today, we’re taking advantage of some good timing. New Hampshire-based tech company Dyn is holding its third annual 'Culture-Con' tomorrow in its Manchester headquarters.

We talked with two participants in the gathering to talk how companies create workplace cultures that attract and engage and retain workers in meaningful and lasting ways, Dyn's COO, Gray Chynoweth, and Amanda Osmer of Grappone Automotive Group.

Note of disclosure: Grappone is an NHPR underwriter, and Gray Chynoweth serves on NHPR's Community Advisory Board.

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Word of Mouth
10:05 am
Tue November 19, 2013

How To Find Fulfilling Work

Credit MacMillan Publishers

Is there an adult out there who has not, in a moment of fatigue, insomnia, or on a particularly hard day at work, looked around at their life and asked, “Is this it? Is this what I want my life to be?”  Even people who have plenty of money and status and work in their industry of choice may find themselves fantasizing about a job that engages their spirit. A new book from the School of Life series sets out a practical guide to negotiating the myriad choices, overcoming the fear of change, and finding a career that has meaning. Roman Krznaric is a founding member of the school of life. He advises organizations from Oxfam to the UN on using empathy and conversation to create social change. He spoke to us from Oxford, England to talk about his new book How to Find Fulfilling Work.

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Word of Mouth
4:50 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

What Happens To The Trash The U.S. Ships Overseas?

Credit via shanghaiscrap.com

Chances are you came in contact with something made from recycled material today. A can of soda…the carpeting in your office building, or the smart phone that’s an arms length or less away. . They’re part of a swirling cycle of good made from old items and fed back into the production of new stuff. And the more we buy…the more we need to recycle. But where does all of that recycled material ultimately end up? Adam Minter is Shanghai correspondent for Bloomberg World View and a frequent contributor to The Atlantic and other publications. He’s followed the trail of trash and found that most of it ends up in China and India. He’s author of Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion Dollar Trash Trade.

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Word of Mouth
2:21 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Dear Mr. Watterson: A Portrait Of Calvin And Hobbes Fans

Credit dearmrwatterson.com

Twenty-eight years ago today, artist Bill Watterson’s only syndicated comic strip hit newspapers for the first time, introducing readers to a rowdy  six-year old named Calvin, and his often hungry and always kindhearted companion, a stuffed tiger named Hobbes.  The strip quickly grew to become arguably the most popular comic of its era – but after ten years in print, the reclusive Watterson retired his pens and brushes, and retreated from the public eye. Now, almost thirty years later, adoring fans carry a nostalgic torch for the quiet subversion, unbridled joy, and beautifully rendered drawings of Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes.

Dear Mr. Watterson” is a new documentary film by director Joel Allen Schroeder that explores the enduring influence Calvin and Hobbes had on a generation of fans and artists. The movie is now out in select theaters and available on demand.

We also spoke with Tim Hulsizer, creator of the Calvin and Hobbes Fan Website.

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Word of Mouth
1:04 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Class Of 2008: Jessica O'Hare

Credit Courtesy Jessica O'Hare

On September 15th, 2008, the financial services firm Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11.  The subprime mortgage crisis had been percolating for months by then, as had a global economic decline – but the bankruptcy of the nation’s fourth largest investment bank panicked Wall Street, evaporating liquidity markets, sending the economy sharply downward, and sparking the worst global recession since World War II – a crisis from which the world’s economy is still recovering.

As part of NHPR’s station-wide series “How We Work: Five Years Later,” Word of Mouth presents “The Class of 2008,” conversations with people who graduated from high school or college around the time of the global economic meltdown.

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Word of Mouth
11:28 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Would You Prefer: A Cash Bonus Or The Equivalent Amount As A Pay Raise?

For our contribution to the station wide Work Series next week, we have a few segments in store for you. Including an interview with the co-author of a study that looked at what was more likely to increase worker motivation: cash bonuses or salary raises.

We want to know what you think. Which would you prefer? A cash bonus or an equivalent bump in your annual salary? Would a lump sum light your fire more than an increase in your paycheck. Weigh in on the Word of Mouth Listener Line: 603.223.2448

Remember, we reserve the right to use your message on the air. Thanks for listening!

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