Word of Mouth

Saturdays at 11 am, Tuesdays at 8 pm

Word of Mouth explores the nooks and crannies of New Hampshire and is hosted by Virginia Prescott. Airs Saturdays at 11 am and replays Tuesdays at 8 pm.

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Curious about things you've seen, heard, or experienced in our state? Send us your "Only In New Hampshire" questions here!

If you're looking for a slice in New Hampshire, you can find a House of Pizza in just about every town in the state. These pies are pan baked, with a hard crust that works like a retaining wall for an even layer of sauce and cheese. This is Greek pizza. And if New Hampshire's got a signature 'za, this is it.

But why are all of these Greek pizza joints called "House of Pizza"? And how did Greek pizza come to corner the market in the Granite State?

Big Brother and the Tax Man

Feb 9, 2018

New Hampshire is one of 9 states without a state income tax, and one of just two states without a broad-based sales tax either. 

Democrat or Republican, almost every serious candidate for governor takes the Pledge: a promise that they won't even consider a broad-based state income or sales tax.

When listener Mary Douglas moved to New Hampshire in 2005, she couldn't make sense of the state's strong anti-tax sentiment. For our "Only in NH" series, she asked us: why doesn't New Hampshire have a state income tax?

Chris Jensen

When the state of New Hampshire submitted a bid to Amazon , throwing Londonderry into the ring as home for the company’s second headquarters, they summed up their case like this: "All the benefits of Boston… without all the headaches."

Of course, that logic doesn't really apply if you live in New Hampshire's northernmost towns, where the closest city of size is Sherbrooke, Quebec.  In this episode, as part of NHPR's series "The Balance", we look at arts, culture and economy north of the notches.  

Plus, New Hampshire filmmaker and visual artist Amy Jenkins on her film Instructions on Parting, which premiers at MOMA later this month. 

For many, the mention of contra dance conjures images of tradition and wholesomeness -- a thoroughly American, and old-fashioned, past time. But in New Hampshire, contra dance has shifted over the decades. From turn-of-the-century stiffness to hippy ease to Millennial intensity, contra accommodates whatever community chooses to adopt it.

AP

The obituary, so stark and visceral, captured the public’s attention.

It was for 24-year-old Molly Alice Parks. She died in 2015 of a heroin overdose in the bathroom of her Manchester workplace.

The obit’s final line: “If you have any loved ones who are fighting addiction, Molly’s family asks that you do everything possible to be supportive, and guide them to rehabilitation before it is too late.”

But what if you don’t? What if you’re lucky enough not to have a loved one battling this addiction?

Death Resulting

Jan 21, 2018

New Hampshire is one of the hardest hit states in the current overdose epidemic, leaving communities grasping for answers. Meanwhile, some local courts and prosecutors have dusted off an antiquated state statute called "Death Resulting" to target drug dealers. But how are courts discerning between dealers and people with active substance use disorders? On today's show, we'll hear a complicated and tragic story that may shed some light moving forward. 

*This story was produced with support from the Third Coast Radio Residency at Ragdale

Stalking The Wild Frost Heave

Jan 12, 2018
Taylor Quimby

Every spring, many New Hampshire roads come to resemble obstacle courses as frost heaves emerge with the thaw. On this week’s installment of Only in N.H., we answer a listener question: “How and when did the term 'frost heaves' originate? Is the phenomenon unique to New Hampshire?” The answer brings us from 17th century Swedish geological manuscripts to Martian ice formations and, finally, on a winding journey down the country roads through New Hampshire’s hills.

Word of Mouth

On a rainy night in December, author Bill McKibben joined Virginia Prescott in front of a live audience for the "In the Spotlight" series at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire, presented in partnership with Gibson's Bookstore.

In this episode, McKibben reads from his newest book, and speaks with Virginia about the importance of humor in activism, hope and despair in the face of climate change, and how to deal with the depression that's tied to covering an overwhelming global threat.

Why Are Liquor Laws In New Hampshire So Weird?

Dec 29, 2017

Whether you buy, drink, or do business in the Granite State, liquor plays a significant role in the culture and the economy.  Today, Word of Mouth tackles a complicated (and very broad)  question sent in by a listener: "Why are liquor laws in New Hampshire SO WEIRD???"  So here goes: in this episode, we'll try and get to the bottom of a Prohibition era law that requires bars to sell food,  take a trip to a local distillery to find out more about what it means to produce "scratch-made" liquor, and look at how liquor revenue is used. Plus, three attempts to make a signature NH beverage.  Go slow! This episode is high-proof.

As the farm-to-table movement caught on nation-wide, a cohort of farmers, chefs, and organizers put in the legwork to make local food possible here in New Hampshire. 

This week on Word of Mouth, we trace the history of local food in the state, and we address a listener's question: How can you distinguish real, authentic local food from the dizzying display of marketing gimmicks? 

We also hang out with a local arts collective on the seacoast, and we sit down with National Book Award-winning poet Frank Bidart. 

Years ago, in the very early days of Youtube, a video was posted that mesmerized audiences and inspired thousands of imitators across the country. But there's someone in New Hampshire who says he's been doing it just as long: syncing sound and light in an all-consuming holiday spectacular on his front lawn.

On this episode, we find out what it takes to produce the kind of Christmas display that stops traffic.

Also: what exactly happens to your leaves after you rake them up and send them off?

Taylor Quimby

In this episode, a look back at the most controversial stories from our "Only in NH" series, where you ask the questions and we find the answers. We'll hear about the origin of the famous "Chicken Farmer I Still Love You" rock, get an update on the health effects of inhaling wood-stove smoke, and investigate whether New Hampshire's lack of seat-belt law results in more accidents. Plus, your feedback on what we got right (and wrong) reporting each of these stories!

This week on Word of Mouth, two stories about New Hampshire's past, and what it means for the future. First, what did New Hampshire's landscape look like before the intensive logging and development of the past few centuries, and what does that tell us about our history?

Next, a New Hampshire court case in the 1970s wound its way to the Supreme Court--and what seemed at the time to be a narrow freedom of speech case is still influencing laws today. 

Jen Steele, via Flickr CC http://bit.ly/2zPAB3x

Holidays don't simply spring into existence - they're conceptualized, created, lobbied for, and passed into law by state and federal lawmakers. On this show, we're looking at the New Hampshire author Sarah Hale, who helped craft the modern traditions of Thanksgiving.  Also, a holiday that's still under construction: Indigenous People's Day.  

In the past few months, the Manchester VA Medical Center met with scandal, disaster, and a full helping of public outcry. Today on Word of Mouth, NHPR's Peter Biello looks back on the summer's news and tells the story of one woman's effort to improve hospital facilities for survivors of military sexual trauma. 

Bodo Schrader was just a baby when his mother was taken to Auschwitz, and four when the concentration camp where he was being held was liberated.  

While many Holocaust survivor stories are first-person narratives told from memory, time and trauma have prevented Bodo from accessing the details of his own history.

For the past two years, Bodo's daughter Margot has taken on the tasks of researching his past. Today on Word of Mouth, Bodo and Margot talk about their shared journey.

For generations, the little red house at the end of Via Tranquilla has been home to a legend. The kind that makes your heart pound and your hair raise. A ghost story... a murder mystery... a curse. 

On this episode, the keepers of this myth share the grisly story of Via Tranquilla. And then, the truth comes out. 

For the better part of two decades, New Hampshire has been home to dozens of Indonesian families who immigrated to the United States fleeing religious persecution. Some of them were denied their applications for religious asylum, and they've spent years checking in with authorities and receiving temporary means to stay in the country. Now, under President Donald Trump, they've been told their time is up. 

This week on Word of Mouth, producer Ben Henry follows one family's journey from Indonesia to New Hampshire to the brink of deportation. 

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and Sy Montgomery's 30-plus year friendship began with a ferret bite. Since then, the pair of New Hampshire-based naturalists and science writers have traveled together from Costa Rica to Tanzania.  

Their new book is called Tamed and Untamed, a collection of essays from their long-time Boston Globe column of the same name.  On this episode, Sy and Liz share scientific findings and personal viewpoints that argue the line between human and animal is blurrier than you might think. 

Also in this episode: Where to look for moose in New Hampshire, and singer-songwriter Liz Longley

Andi Noble

In this episode, a look back at some of the best stories from our "Only In NH" series, where you ask the questions and we find the answers.  We'll search for the last living inhabitants of a White Mountain ghost town, try and stay up as late as possible on the NH seacoast, and try and understand why the Old Man of the Mountain is still on everything from license plates to gift shop key chains, a full 14 years after collapsing into a pile of rubble. Plus, your feedback on what we got right (and wrong) reporting each of these stories! 

Joyce Maynard longed for a great romance. A passionate partner -- and one who wouldn't interfere with the fierce independence she'd cultivated over decades as a writer.

She found that romance, later in life, but her marriage ended up teaching her the true meaning of partnership and self-sacrifice. Virginia Prescott speaks with Maynard about her newest book, "The Best of Us," where she chronicles her marriage to Jim Barringer, and their fight against the cancer that took his life.

The Granite State is graying and has been for decades - so what does that mean for the state's younger population? Today, we're taking to the streets to investigate one listener's question: Why does Portsmouth shut down at 9:00pm?

Then, we talk to Stay, Work, Play New Hampshire - whose goal is attracting more 20 and 30 somethings to the state, and we'll learn about the built-in advantages of living in a state the size of New Hampshire.

And we'll hear from singer and cellist Ben Sollee ahead of his performance in Concord at the Cap Center.

All over New Hampshire, towns are divided into even smaller communities; Barnstead contains Center Barnstead, Barnstead Parade, and South Barnstead. There’s Conway, North Conway and Center Conway. Chocorua, South Tamworth, Wonalancet, and Whittier - are all part of the town of Tamworth.

This prompted a listener to our Only in New Hampshire series to write in and ask ,why are so many towns split up this way?

NHPR’s Molly Donahue found the answer to that question with a visit to Grafton.

Listen to the story:

Village Names, Unincorporated Towns, & Civics 101

Sep 8, 2017

Every New Hampshire town has a past - though not always remembered with pride.    This week on the show, we explore the stuff you might not see on a postcard. Like how unincorporated places function...no town government? No rules? Plus, we’ll talk to Howard Mansfield about opening our eyes to the extraordinary revelations that live side by side with ordinary village life. Join us as we dig into the habits, histories, hidden gems of small town life.

mwms1916 via Flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/T2RUKY

As part of our continuing series Only in NH, in which listeners ask questions about the state and their communities, we sometimes hear from people much closer to our newsroom.

In this case, we got a question from NHPR's own Digital Director, Rebecca Lavoie. (And we should note, Rebecca's also a true crime author, so that may have influenced her curiosity!) 

She asked:

For generations, the Old Man of the Mountain gazed out from Franconia Notch, but fourteen years after its collapse, a listener asks if maybe it's time to move on? On this week's show, we investigate all the ways the granite profile that was, is still deeply rooted in the state's identity. 

Plus we'll report on what you had to say when it comes to a possible replacement, should the fateful day ever come when the state decides to change its official emblem.

Word of Mouth Presents: Intelligence Squared

Aug 29, 2017

We've heard from a number of Word of Mouth fans wondering why we haven't been producing a lot of new shows. The answer is that we're going local -- we're pulling out of our weekday afternoon spot and re-launching as a weekly/weekend show that answers questions, shares the stories, and explores the place we call home. Our new, New Hampshire centric show kicks off on Saturday, September 2nd at 11am - right after Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, so don't miss it.  In the meantime, we're still playing you some of our favorite shows you don't usually get to hear - and this week we’re sharing some episode from Intelligence Squared U.S.

New Hampshire Department of Transportation

In our continuing Only in New Hampshire series, we answer your questions and explore your state. Today, producer Hannah McCarthy find an explanation for what may be the state's most perplexing intersection.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Have you ever come to a familiar stretch of road, only to find that it's been transformed into something...alien? Something few people seem to understand? And makes fools of drivers everywhere? Well, you're not the only one who's frustrated.

This week on Word of Mouth, we're taking a spin around the intersection that people love to hate: roundabouts, which are replacing traffic lights and stop signs across the country. So, why are engineers so enamored of these things people love to hate? Or are they just misunderstood?

We'll also learn about the hidden ecosystem that is thriving on the not-so-deserted island of a local roundabout.

Via NH DOT Facebook page

As part of our continuing series Only in New Hampshire, we're answering questions posed by Granite Staters about their communities. Producer Hannah McCarthy answered this one:

Samer asks: "Why is there no exit 21 on I-93 North?"

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