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!

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?"

Episode 50: U.S. Voting Systems

Aug 22, 2017

When you cast your ballot in a national election, you’re participating in a specific kind of voting system. But what about the other methods of choosing your candidate and counting your vote? There are systems that approach voting in very different ways… and ways of determining how fair a voting system really is. Producer Hannah McCarthy and Eric Maskin, Harvard Professor of Economics and Nobel Memorial Prize winner, guide us through majorities, pluralities and the ways we make our choices. 

Adam Moss via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/nC7L4L

The white supremacist movement went public last week in Charlottesville--an ugly wake-up to a growing racist movement. On today’s show, we'll get a racial reality check from a teacher at one of the state's most exclusive private schools.    

Plus, calls to confront America’s racial legacy extend from coast-to-coast and above the Mason-Dixon line. We'll hear about the challenges of being a student of color at the University of New Hampshire--both past and present.

Word of Mouth Presents: Dinner Party Download

Aug 17, 2017

"Look Up and Listen!" is an audio odyssey designed to reacquaint the busy human with the wonders of nature! Hosts Rico and Brendan-- two bonafide city slickers-- will stumble their way through the woods (and ultimately into space, and around the world) gleaning wisdom about the great outdoors from unexpected sources: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Feist, Fleet Foxes, a talking wolf named "Nick Offerman," and more. This hour is best experienced OUTSIDE, so pack a night picnic, lay out a blanket...and look up and listen. ("LUAL!" is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.)

Word of Mouth Presents: Masters of Scale

Aug 15, 2017

Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman explores theories about scale that are bold, new and sometimes contrarian. It’s a series that easily jumps fields, connecting the dots between seemingly disparate stories, all with the aim of illuminating big concepts and simple hacks that can change everything. Much more than an interview program, Masters of Scale is a genre-defining series on how to think boldly and differently about the world.

From Small Mountains to Twin Peaks

Aug 11, 2017
Logan Shannon / New Hampshire Public Radio

Diehard New Hampshire hikers tend to fixate on four-thousand footers, but as any peak bagger who's climbed Owl's Head or Mount Isolation knows, big mountains aren't always the best mountains.

On today’s show, a day out with a heartwarming hiking group that's been shouldering packs since 1979: the Over the Hill Hikers.

We continue with a seemingly simple listener question about the Wapack Range that sends our producer into a geological can of worms for this week's Only in New Hampshire segment.

And, Twin Peaks is back and weirder than ever. We’ll talk to Kristine McKenna, the author who collaborated on a forthcoming memoir and biography of David Lynch, about the filmmaker's life and career. David Lynch is being honored at this year’s Medal Day at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough.

Via the NH Division of Historical Resources

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

"Is it true the NH Division of Historic Resources has a secret list of archaeological site locations to protect them from looting and development?"

The short answer? Yes. (Sort of.)


Photo courtesy of the Over the Hill Hikers

There are loads of hiking groups in New Hampshire—groups for women, families with young kids, birders...a quick search on Facebook will turn up one or more that fits your style. The Over the Hill Hikers club has been climbing New Hampshire’s mountains since 1979. Back then, the group's schedule was mailed out by hand. 

Word of Mouth's Virginia Prescott recently took a hike with the club, and came back with plenty of stories to tell.

Via the NH State Parks Blog

When we started asking for questions from our listeners about the state, we got pages and pages of submissions online; so many we couldn’t answer them all. 

So I combed through and picked one that sounded interesting to me. And that’s how I ended up calling a woman named Jen, and asking one of the stupidest questions I’ve ever asked.

Paul Hutchinson is a Boston University lecturer and co-curator of an exhibit on New Hampshire’s summer camp history.  It's on view at the Museum of the White Mountains in Plymouth until September 13. I went to the museum to see the exhibition and to talk to Paul about the long history our state has as a summer camp getaway. 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spofford_Lake,_Chesterfield,_NH.jpg#/media/File:Spofford_Lake,_Chesterfield,_NH.jpg

Kelly’s dad grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She remembers her father, George, telling stories of growing up in "Irish Harlem", a pretty rough neighborhood squeezed between Spanish Harlem, Black Harlem and Columbia University. George was a straight-up "city kid", but each summer from about the age of 6 or 7, until he was a tween, George escaped to New Hampshire, and a Catholic boy’s camp called Camp Notre Dame on Spofford Lake.   

Summer Camps, Only in NH, & Civics 101

Aug 4, 2017
Photograph courtesy of Camp Pasquaney

New Hampshire is the mainspring for America’s summer camp story. The birthplace of a tradition that has shaped the lives of not only local kids, but kids we'd now call "at risk". Kids who'd never been out of their city or even neighborhood. And a number of celebrities spent their summers tucked away at Squam, Spofford, or Winnipesaukee lakes. People, like Paul Fireman, the founder of Reebok. James Frey, the once disgraced then quasi-redeemed author of A Million Little Pieces. Actors and siblings Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal, Fight Club's Edward Norton; The Breakfast Club's Judd Nelson. Generations of adults forged in the shared experience of camp, the bunk-beds, the letters home, the bug bites and the bad food.

Today on Word of Mouth, we go back to camp. Plus we’ll answer one of your questions from the Only in New Hampshire mail bag, and we’ll go to civics class to learn more about The Speaker of the House. 

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