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
1:34 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

This Valentine's Day, Don't Go Into Diamond Debt

Credit tarale via Flickr Creative Commons

Valentine's day is creeping closer…a big day to celebrate abiding love or seal the deal on a new one with a diamond engagement ring. And now for the wet blanket: diamond debt. You know that whole two months salary for an engagement ring calculus? It’s tradition, right? Not really. Diamonds were not associated with romance until the Debeers Diamond Company began marketing them for engagement rings in the 1930s. Debeer’s "Diamonds Are Forever" campaign remains one of the most successful of the 20th century. So, young men still march into jewelry shops prepared to spend…and retailers have plenty of financing available for those who don’t have money up front. Gerri Detweiler, is the director of consumer education for Credit.com, and she recently wrote a blog post about the common credit traps diamond buyers fall into.

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Word of Mouth
9:53 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Good Kids By Benjamin Nugent

In 1994, fifteen year-old classmates Josh and Khadijah catch his father and her mother having an affair. That discovery and the ensuing fallout leads to the pair forming an unlikely bond and making a vow that they’ll never, ever, cheat on anyone. This poignant and at times absurd coming-of-age story is just the starting point of “Good Kids,” a novel that’s getting a lot of buzz for its author, Benjamin Nugent, and has critics comparing his first foray into fiction with the likes of Jennifer Egan and Jonathan Franzen.  


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Word of Mouth
9:49 am
Tue February 5, 2013

The Amazing Randi: An Honest Liar

Credit via randi.org

For the past 40 years, the Amazing James Randi has served as a crusader for skepticism and rational thinking. The magician-turned-professional-skeptic has squared off against alleged psychics and spirit healers, debunking their claims of supernatural powers. Recently, a documentary chronicling his life was successfully backed on Kickstarter. Documentary filmmaker Justin Weinstein is directing the film, and he joins us to talk about the project.


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Word of Mouth
9:41 am
Tue February 5, 2013

People Choose High Calorie Food When Stressed

Credit Edog1382 via flickr Creative Commons

Research from the University of Miami provides an alternative to commonly held beliefs on why we are drawn to high calorie foods and insight into the continued popularity of high fat food since the great recession. Stress, not piggishness, may trigger the choice of the double cheeseburger instead of the grilled chicken salad. We talk to Tony Salerno, a PhD candidate and co-author of the paper “Life-History Strategy, Food Choice, and Caloric Consumption” to get the skinny on the link between stress and food choices.

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Word of Mouth
9:40 am
Mon February 4, 2013

The Media's Most Overused Phrases

Breaking news! Experts say there’s a lot wrong with new media journalism. According to the Daily Beast’s Michael Moynihan, the real crime being committed by online journalists is overused, over-hyped language. He joins us to share his linguistic pet-peeves. Some critics say it's one of the most unbiased and nonpartisan exclusives Word of Mouth has ever featured.

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Word of Mouth
9:26 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Blind Hiker Takes On The Appalachian Trail

Mike Hanson, blind hiker, on the Appalachian Trail
Credit Gary Steffens

Trekking the entirety of the Appalachian Trail is an admirable accomplishment for anyone, and although the number of AT “thru-hikers”, as they’re called, is relatively small,  Minneapolis attorney Michael Hanson is part of an even more exclusive club – he’s one of only two people in recent memory to hike the trail without the benefit of sight.

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Word of Mouth
9:16 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Understanding The Placebo Effect

Credit Pranjal Mahna via flickr Creative Commons

When it comes to measuring the placebo effect, which works better: fake acupuncture or fake pills? Researchers have recently redefined the role of the placebo, from a nuisance variable that needed to be controlled in clinical trials, to bona fide contributor to the improvement of patient outcomes.

Ted Kaptchuk, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard and Director of the  Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter (PiPS) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, joins us to share his findings.

Word of Mouth
9:02 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Immigration Reform's Affect On Asian-Americans

Credit marlonius via flickr Creative Commons

With all the talk of how immigration reform will affect our neighbors to the South, we look at how it might affect immigrants to the United States from the Far East. 

A US based Chinese Journalist even argues that certain aspects of  the reforms might actually be beneficial for Asian immigrants. Mee Moua, Executive Director from the Asian American Justice Center joins us to discuss the issue.

Word of Mouth
1:10 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Social Media On And Off The Gridiron

Increasingly, fans are taking in a second screen NFL experience on social media. The drama of this year’s football season has been echoed, and sometimes fed by the tweets of fans, players, and even players’ wives…leading to more than a few PR scrambles by the league. This is all new territory for the NFL, which only last year began dipping its heavily guarded brand into the fray of social media. Doug Tribou is a producer and reporter for NPR’s Only A Game, and he joins us from WBUR in Boston to talk about football and this season’s biggest social media trends.


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Word of Mouth
1:05 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Dead Celebrities On Social Media

Elvis is in the building!  Or at least on your smartphone.  Despite being laid to rest nearly 35 years ago, the King of Rock n’ Roll still posts on Facebook, and tweets several times a day…here’s a sample: “love me tender, love me sweet, never let me go… hashtag Valentine’s Day deals at Shop Elvis!”  The BBC’s Matt Danzico recently looked into the social media afterlives of departed celebrities – he lets us in on how they do it. 


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Word of Mouth
11:43 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Feminist Boot Camp

When people talk about boot camp, they are most likely referring to grueling workout routine designed to get people into shape, fast. But when Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner offer their boot camp in New York City, it is not military training or abs of steal that they promise, it’s feminism.


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Word of Mouth
11:37 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Feminist Spring

The increasing prominence of women’s issues on a global scale has a number of scholars and activists wondering if we are on the verge of a “Feminist Spring”.  Two years after seething political and social discontent exploded into protests that changed the landscape of the Middle East, mass movements are forming around women’s issues. From the streets of India to Steubenville, Ohio, protestors are marching against sexual violence against women. In Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, women are active members of the ongoing resistance. Here in the US, a record number of women are now in congress and running states as governor, and issues like reproductive health and gun control have activated formerly silent female voters. Sahar Khamis is assistant professor of communication at the University of Maryland. She’s written extensively about female activism in the Arab spring uprisings, and joins us for a read of where those struggles stand today.


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Word of Mouth
2:00 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

A Printmaker Makes His Mark On Issues Of Art And Race

Printing was not the first career choice for Amos Kennedy. He was 40 when he left his lucrative job as a programmer at AT&T to try his hand as being what he calls “a humble negro printer.” From his recently relocated workshop in Detroit, Amos cranks out posters, pamphlets, postcards and books by hand. His work provokes questions about art, race, and social inequality.

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Word of Mouth
1:08 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

States Differ In Defining, Supporting "Gifted" Students

Findings from a recently published national survey suggest that gifted students are getting the shaft. The survey looked at how states define, identify, and accommodate gifted students.

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Word of Mouth
11:53 am
Wed January 30, 2013

E-Cigarettes Suck In Users, Evade Regulation

Credit momentimedia via Flickr Creative Commons

Long gone are the days of Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man. (The last television ad for a cigarette, incidentally, aired on January 1, 1971 at 11:59pm, right up to the second an advertising ban took effect.) The tobacco industry faces strict regulation, but the market for E-cigarettes is still an unregulated, wild, wild west with endorsements ranging from Playboy Playmates to Stephen Dorff.


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