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
11:54 am
Thu December 19, 2013

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band Presents "Creole Christmas"

Credit Shannon Brinkman / preservationhalljazzband.com

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, one of New Orlean’s most legendary bands, will be rousing the crowds at The Music Hall in Portsmouth this Saturday with its “Creole Christmas” show… a joyful mix of Christmas tunes, jazz standards, and original music that busts out of the nutcracker and King Wenceslas mold. 

Ben Jaffe is creative director and sousaphone player for the band and joined us from the road.

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Word of Mouth
2:04 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

The Best Overlooked Books Of 2013

Credit Dan Klimke via flickr Creative Commons

Well, the holidays are upon us and there’s nothing quite like a well-told story for seeking refuge from the chaos or a little too much quality time with family. A lot of big-name authors had terrific new titles out this year, but we have a fondness for books that don’t get full page ads or window displays – call it the literary equivalent of the island of misfit toys – great books waiting for a good home; you just have to know that they are there. 

With us today are two seasoned purveyors of overlooked books. Michele Filgate is a writer and critic as well as the events coordinator at community bookstore in Brooklyn. Liberty Hardy is events coordinator at Riverrun bookstore in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She’s also contributing editor for Book Riot.

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Word of Mouth
2:00 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

The Dark Side Of Community Gardens

Credit sarah-ji via flickr Creative Commons

Today the ground is covered with snow, but imagine if you will, a verdant community garden in late July, brimming with flowers and vegetables, happy neighbors kneeling cheek-to-cheek, shovel to shovel, baskets overflowing with greens and the late afternoon sun bathing the scene in gold. We interrupt that idyll to bring you “Thievery, Fraud, Fistfights and Weed: The Other Side of Community Gardens.”   That’s the title of Jesse Hirsch’s article for Modern Farmer, where he’s a staff writer.

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Word of Mouth
1:58 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Sociologist To Dudes: Man Up And Make Some Friends

J.D. and Turk from Scrubs represent the epitome of 'bromance.'
Credit fanpop.com

The holidays are a time for gathering with friends and family. For dudes; not so much. A study published by the American Sociological Review found that white, heterosexual men have the fewest friends of any American demographic – which may be why the 'bro-mance' movies like I Love You, Man hit so close to home. Lisa Wade is professor of sociology at Occidental College and principal writer for Sociological Images. She wrote about the American man’s friend crisis for Salon.

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Word of Mouth
1:53 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

What Does Quality Mean In the Age Of Hi-Def?

Will TVs get even larger than this 75" Samsung? It's hard to imagine.
Credit SamsungTomorrow via flickr Creative Commons

Whether scoping out plasma-screen HDTV’s, or picking up a PlayStation 4, consumers upgrading their entertainment systems this Christmas are generally looking for products promising a better picture, superior sound, or next-generation graphics.  We’ve come a very long way since the VHS and Atari 2600.  So far, in fact, that one may wonder how much better the visuals, sound and graphics on entertainment systems can get – and would the casual user even be able to tell the difference?  

Joining the conversation about where entertainment technology can go from here is Jamin Warren – founder and editor-in-chief at Killscreen, a videogame arts and culture magazine, Slate music columnist Carl Wilson, and, David Ewalt, contributing editor at Forbes.

Word of Mouth
1:48 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Paper Is Dead! Long Live Paper!

Credit pawpaw67 via flickr Creative Commons

The digital age has rendered letter writing, paperboys, and checkbooks as old-fashioned as the rotary phone. While the proliferation of e-books, e-mail, and online newspapers appear to be hastening the death of the printed page, Nicholas Basbanes argues that we are far from becoming a paperless society. Nicholas is an impassioned bibliophile and author of On Paper: The Everything of its Two-Thousand-Year History.

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Word of Mouth
12:55 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

What's Your Favorite Ornament?

Our Digital Director's favorite ornament!
Rebecca Lavoie

It’s kind of the season for objects and artifacts of sentimental value. Consider the Christmas ornament: we trundle them out every year and unpack our memories. Whether it’s the tacky bulb from your childhood Christmas tree, your grandmother’s crèche or your child’s first handmade snowflake, we’d like to see yours. Post a picture--and even a story--of your most treasured holiday ornament on our Facebook page, wordofmouthradio, or tweet it to us @wordofmouth. You can also email your photos to our producers!

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Word of Mouth
12:53 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Wedding Photographer Explores What Happens After 'I Do'

The Valcourts
Matt Mendelsohn

There’s a lot of pressure on a wedding photographer, after all the expense and attention to planning the day, the photographer is charged with capturing all of it -- the fleeting expressions, the flattering angles and happy guests – images that reinforce the undisputable rightness of a couple’s decision to unite. But it’s just the beginning of a union. Only when the guests have gone home and the camera’s been put away does marriage begin in earnest.

Matt Mendelsohn is a writer and professional photographer of more than 450 weddings since 1999.  Matt explores the meaning of marriage by reconnecting with five couples whose weddings he photographed years before, to find out whether they’re relationships have grown, evolved, or ended.

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Word of Mouth
12:49 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Recently Released Research Reveals A Trying Tongue Twister

What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?
Credit sfroehlich1121 via flickr Creative Commons

Ok, here it goes…

Sally sells seashells by the seashore.

Sally sells seashells by the seashore.

Sally sells seashells by the seashore.

From Sally and her shells, to Peter and his pickled peppers, tongue twisters have a long history of tripping up even the most professional of broadcasters. But these fun phrases offer more than simple entertainment. A team of MIT scientists recently released research on what tongue twisters reveal about human speech patterns and brain processes. Joining us is a member of that team, Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel, principal research scientist with MIT’s speech communication group.

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Word of Mouth
12:49 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

A Short History Of Sports Hoaxes

'The Great Imposter' Barry Bremen dressed as a Dallas Cowboy's cheerleader.
Credit via dallasnews.com

As part of its “30 for 30” series, ESPN recently released a short documentary detailing the escapades of perhaps the most prolific sports prankster of all-time, Barry Bremen. Between 1979 and 1986, Bremen was responsible for over twenty hoaxes in professional sports. In the documentary, Bremen along with a few former Kansas City Kings, remember the warm-up layup line at the NBA all-star game.

In recognition of Barry’s impressive history of ‘impostering,’ Bryan Curtis, staff writer for Grantland, compiled a list of memorable practical jokes played in the world of sports.

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Word of Mouth
4:13 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Word Of Mouth 12.14.13

Credit Logan Shannon / NHPR

We at Word of Mouth would like to remind you that while you may be feeling the pressure and stress of another jam packed December, you should definitely make time to relax with an hour long block of our prodigious Saturday show. Make a cup of hot cocoa, put down the remote, and curl up next to the dog/cat/heater/fireplace/snuggie and let the sweet calming sounds of public radio fill your ear sockets.

On this week's show:

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Word of Mouth
12:34 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Is Preventing Suicide A Better Gun Control Argument?

Credit courtesy of Tim Schreier, flickr creative commons

Since Newtown, debates over gun violence have focused largely on how to keep guns out of the hands of people who kill other people. The truth is that - by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 - suicide is the leading cause of death by gun violence.

It’s a toll not often discussed, but one that some law enforcement and public health officials say is worsened by easy access to guns.  We spoke to Leon Neyfakh this past January when he wrote about the topic in the Ideas section of The Boston Globe.

Word of Mouth
12:32 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

The World's First Skiers...Ever

Blasting through powder on wooden, horsehide-bottomed skis with a single pole for balance, an Altay skier shows off the skills and equipment his distant ancestors perfected.
©Jonas Bendiksen/National Geographic

As the first snows fall, weekend warriors from all over New England will pack up the car, strap the skis to the roof and hit the slopes for a fairly expensive getaway. But in some places, skiing is a strategy for staying alive. Mark Jenkins, a contributing writer for National Geographic traveled to the northern most fringe of western China where skiing was invented many millennia ago. He spoke with the people who carry on the earliest skiing traditions, using the same resources and methods as their ancestors.

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Word of Mouth
12:30 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Princesses Behaving Badly

Credit lindarodriguezmcrobbie.com/

As long as there have been stories of princesses, there have been little girls to love them. The Disney princess phenomenon seeds young imaginations with shiny pink costumes, and gossip magazines continue the fantasy with pages devoted to Kate Middleton, and before her, Princesses Grace and Diana – the latter proving that becoming royalty is no guarantee of living happily ever after. Beyond these two dimensional characters are scores of real princesses  -- sometimes tragic, often extraordinary human beings who left scant record of their lives. Mental Floss columnist Linda Rodriguez McRobbie scoured through history for stories of women who fought, stole, schemed and survived, and pulls them together in her new book, Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories From History – Without The Fairy-Tale Endings.

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Word of Mouth
12:29 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

NH Magician Performs As 19th Century Illusionist

Courtesy of Andrew Pinard

Andrew Pinard’s website features video from the kinds of performances you might expect from a contemporary working magician: entertaining audiences at conventions, business meetings and a group of teens at a post-graduation party.

On Saturday, Andrew will take on another guise, and another century. He’ll be performing as the 19th century magician Jonathan Harrington at Canterbury Shaker Village, and he’s here to give us a preview, and a little bit of information on just who this Harrington is.

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