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.


Word of Mouth Program Page

Ways To Connect

David J. Murray,

David McCullough is widely known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning writing on great leaders and American politics, in books such as Truman and John Adams. In his newest work he turns his focus to Americans abroad in Nineteenth Century Paris.

In this edition of Writers on a New England Stage, McCullough reads from his newest book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, a chronicle spanning generation, and sits down for a conversation about his work, his influences, and America's age-old fascination with The City of Light.

David J. Murray,

Neil Gaiman is often credited for expanding the audience for comics beyond white, teenage boys with his Sandman series. But he is also a true multi-media phenom, a filmmaker, (now) recording artist, screenwriter for the likes of Dr. Who, and prolific author, including the multi-award winning, groundbreaking novel American Gods.

Ann Patchett's new novel, State of Wonder, is topping all the big reading lists right now. She reads from the book, tells a terrifying true story about her close encounter with an anaconda, and has a blisteringly funny conversation with Virginia.


This month’s installment of our 11 for '11 series of big picture conversations on the issues of our times. Today, it’s energy, specifially oil. Oil is trading at 112-dollars a barrel, up from 86-dollars a year ago. Michael Klare says the era of easy oil is behind us. He’s made news for his concept of “extreme energy” – the pursuit of fossil fuels in increasingly difficult environments using expensive and sometimes dangerous methods.

mikebaird / Flickr/Creative Commons

Today we have this month's 11 for '11 segment, focusing on how the increasingly dangerous pursuit of oil affects the market price. Plus, alcoholism in Russia, and a journalist shares stories from inside the Balkan Underground, a crafty, cynical, and fearless network that has heisted hundreds of millions of dollars worth of jewels in 26 countries.

David J. Murray,

Joyce Carol Oates reads from her new book, A Widow's Story, and talks about her writing life and the experience of crafting this book with Virginia Prescott.

A new book by George Mason University Economics Chair Tyler Cowen has inspired spirited debate among beltway and economics circles. Published only as an e-book, The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better argues that America's economic growth plateaued in the 1970s. Median wages have stagnated since, he says, because we have eaten all the low hanging fruit that enabled innovation to flourish and average income to grow across the board.

<a href="">Compass Points Media</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

Today is the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Weeks Act, which permitted the federal government to purchase private land, protecting forests and watersheds in the Eastern United States. The act has been called one of the most successful pieces of conservation legislation in the nation’s history. It safeguards habitats for hundreds of species, and recreation space for millions, including miles of the Appalachian Trail. The trail meanders through twelve states and thousands of acres of federally conserved land.

In January, the global food price index rose for the seventh month in a row, reaching the higest level since record keeping began in 1990. Raj Patel is an activist and academic whose book, Stuffed and Starved, predicted the food crisis that caused riots on four continents back in 2008. More recently, his book, The Value of Nothing, argues that we as citizens should rethink our assumptions about rational markets and the very meaning of democracy.

How has technology changed the ways that we interact with one another? Sherry Turkle's Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other is the third in a trilogy exploring this question. Social networking, e-mail and texting, Turkle says, provide the façade of socialization but ultimately leave their users dissatisfied and disconnected. It may be time to reflect and reconsider the role we really want technology to play in our lives.


How has technology changed the ways that we interact with one another? Sherry Turkle's Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other is the third in a trilogy exploring this question. Social networking, e-mail and texting, Turkle says, provide the façade of socialization but ultimately leave their users dissatisfied and disconnected. It may be time to reflect and reconsider the role we really want technology to play in our lives.


Joseph Ellis, Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian, reads from his new book, First Family. He also talks about why the likes of Abigail and John Adams will never come again.


The bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman, and Krakatoa visited the Music Hall in Portsmouth to talk about his new book, Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Disasters, Titanic Storms and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories. It’s a biography of the ocean, from its origins 195 million years ago, through centuries of discovery, trade, war, and harvest to what he calls “the forgotten ocean” of today.


<a href="">David J. Murray</a>

Today on Word of Mouth, a conversation with Margaret Atwood, recorded live at the Music Hall in Portsmouth as part of the “Writers on a New England Stage” series.  Virginia spoke with the award winning author of the dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale. They talked about pessimism, hope for the future, and learning survival skills in Canada. 

Abby Grills

May 20, 2010

To wrap up “Eating In”, this week’s series on food, we invited our program director Abby Goldstein, quite the foodie, to talk about her grilling lesson this week with cookbook writer Kathy Gunst.

Kathy Gunst is a cooking teacher and author and co-author of thirteen cookbooks. Her latest is “Stonewall Kitchen Grilling”.

All week we’ve been investigating where our food comes from. If we’re eating right, that leads back to a farmer.

Today the average age of the American farmer is 57 years-old. In the last 5 years, 35 percent of farmers turned 75 years or older. Last year, the country lost 10 percent of its dairy farmers. On top of the troubling demographics, kids growing up in rural America are less likely to join the agriculture business.

DavidPitkin via Flickr/CreativeCommons

Food is something we share over a table, but in the virtual world, food bloggers are sharing recipes, reviews and culinary tips across the web.

NHPR’s Webmaster and Word of Mouth Internet Sherpa Brady Carlson has been checking out New Hampshire’s crop of food blogs and is here to share some of his favorites.

An Awesome Choice of Food Blogs:

Tucker Cummings: A Brave New Breakfast

jimforest via Flickr/CreativeCommons

We begin today with school lunches. In between algebra and U.S. history, public school students often have 20 minutes or so to scarf down less-than-satisying meals. The sugary junk food on sale in cafeterias is one reason that one in three children born in 2000 is on track to develop Type ll Diabetes.

NCReedplayer via Flickr/CreativeCommons

Conversations about eating well often fail to account for limited family food budgets – especially in a recession. That’s why Jason Hirsch, food editor for the Associated Press, presented this challenge to two chefs and a magazine editor: prepare a week’s worth of meals for a family of four, using the sum of $68.88.

That’s the national average a family of four receives every week under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the updated name for the food stamp program. More than 38 million Americans, or one in eight, now depend to some extent on food stamps.

pupski via Flickr/CreativeCommons

This week we've talked about food policy, supply, safety, and to people who advocate that we all connect the food we eat to where it comes from. We've also talked about the self-righteousness that foodists tend to project. Talking the talk about food is big business; walking the walk is another story.

Michael Perry is a musician and author of several books. He grew up on a small dairy farm in Wisconsin worked by his devout, fundamentalist parents. He left to make his way as a nurse, a writer and musician.

madelinetosh via Flickr/CreativeCommons

Yesterday we set the timer on NHPR's food series Eating In and spoke to Berlin Reed, the vegan-turned-ethical butcher about knowing where our meat comes from. I asked him what happens in places like New England, where we have lots of sustainably-raised livestock, but no places to process them. Well, we’re learning a lot from eating in as well, and today we heard Reporter Elaine Grant’s piece on a new, federally inspected slaughterhouse in Westminster, Vermont that opened three weeks ago So, there is now a place for prospective livestock farmers to close the circle locally.

Dirty Bunny via Flickr/CreativeCommons

Here's something you would not want to have for dinner: Methacillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA.

Yesterday a report released online by the Journal Pediatrics found a 10-fold increase in MRSA diagnoses among children over 10 years and a three-fold increase in the use of one drug, which indicates that the epidemic that particulary threatens children is becoming much more serious.

Pirate Johnny Flickr/CreativeCommons

Lessley Anderson, senior editor at came to the studio today and assured us that while publishers of newspapers, novels, and magazines haven’t fared so well in the marketplace of free content, not all print genres are doomed.

It's been a lot of fun around NHPR as we prepped for "Eating In," our weeklong food series. People talk about food with a kind of excitement you don't always hear when discussing things like public policy. Yes, we all know the narrative: food brings us together. It puts us all at the table. It serves up a metaphor of nurturance. Its smells and flavors and rituals trigger memories and provide continuity in our lives.

Berlin Reed spent most of his life avoiding meat. He became a vegetarian at age 12, and a vegan at 20.

At first he was just trying to irk his mom. Over time, Reed’s reasons deepened to indictments of animal cruelty and environmental destruction by the meat industry. Then, out of desperation, Reed took a job at a meat counter in Brooklyn. Within weeks of starting the job, Reed was not only up to his elbows cutting carcasses, but dining on them too.

Shelley & Dave via Flickr/CreativeCommons

As the days grow longer, gardeners are thinking about what to plant and how much of it, with an eye to frost advisories and heavy rains. According to a National Gardening Association Survey, 41 million Americans grew fruits and vegetables last year - about 13 percent more than the year before. Increasingly, those gardens are not just at home, but at the office. From the uber techies at Google to more traditional outfits like Pepsico and Toyota, corporate-sponsored organic vegetable gardens are sprouting up like garlic shoots.

rogersmj via Flickr/CreativeCommons

The Granite State is known for its crisp apples, plump blueberries and abundant maple syrup. Here’s another local ambrosia to add to your table, a bottle of New Hampshire-harvested, fermented and bottled wine.

Wine was first officially produced here in the late 1960s. Today there are 24 wineries in the Granite State. Many vineyards export their bottles out of state, but all promote the movement to drink locally.

Today on Word of Mouth, a conversation with Jodi Picoult, live from the "Writers on a New England Stage" series. The prolific novelist’s 17th book, House Rules, recently debuted at the #1 spot on the New York Times bestsellers list for hardcover fiction. We spoke to her about her work and her life as a mother of three here in Hanover, New Hampshire. But first, we hear Jodi Picoult reading from her new book.

<a href="">Rich Orris</a>

Tracy Kidder tells true stories. He is one of the masters of the narrative non-fiction genre. He’s won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for works which combine fine writing with solid reporting, often from places we would never choose to go.

All this week, Word of Mouth is bringing you highlights from NHPR’s Fresh Greens: Teens and the Environment special. So far we’ve heard about a high school environment club and a young activist’s response to green street teams.

Today, we’re bringing you something a little different: a rap about climate change. Terrascope Youth Radio – a group of urban teens in Boston – sent three of its members to the streets to find out what happens when global warming meets hip-hop.