Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth airs at 2 pm Monday through Thursday, weeknights at 9 pm, and noon on Sunday.

Word of Mouth is the sound of new ideas, hosted by Virginia Prescott, and produced by Molly Donahue, Logan Shannon, and Megan Tan. Our Senior Producer is Taylor Quimby, and our Executive Producer is Maureen McMurray

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes or find us on Stitcher.

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The term "protest song" conjures up songs from the 1960s...and artists from Nina Simone and Sam Cooke to Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. If we are living in a new civil rights era, what do protests songs sound like in 2016? We have a playlist and analysis.

Then, we all have baggage. The things we inherit from our childhood that clutter our psyches. What happens when that clutter is actually physical -- from generations of hoarding? We'll hear from a woman who rejected her chaotic upbringing in favor of extreme minimalism, and found that less is not always more.

What Protest Songs Sound Like in 2016

Jan 12, 2016
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Nina Simone, along with Sam Cooke, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and countless others made important contributions to the rich canon of protest songs during the civil rights movement. A canon so strong, that the term "protest song" often conjures images of artists from the 1960s.

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You might be surprised to learn that America’s murder rate has been steadily declining for more than two decades. Despite the drop, the number of murder cases being solved has remained flat.

On today’s show, technology, trust, and why cops aren't solving more murders. Plus, a grieving mother turns to art to remember her daughter, and other victims of New Hampshire’s heroin epidemic.

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In November, Paul Ryan stepped onto the floor of the US Capital sporting a beard, the first bewhiskered Speaker of the House in a century. On today’s show, has the beard boom hit Washington?  

Then, from Bill Clinton to Ben & Jerry--when campaign season hits, political surrogates come out of the woodwork. We'll find out who is stumping for whom, and why it matters.

Plus, after a group of anti-government activists took over an Oregon wildlife refuge last weekend, news outlets are struggling with how to identify them and their goals. We speak with a media reporter who says that in today's partisan, all-in media landscape, news reporters have an obligation to choose words carefully.

The Tangled Business of Facial Hair in Politics

Jan 7, 2016

Fashion styles come and go, but facial hair on men hasn't entered the mainstream since safety razors came on the scene. Sure, some of our elected officials have held on to their whiskers, but Presidential beards and mustaches are a distant memory.

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In November, Paul Ryan stepped onto the floor of the US Capital sporting a beard, the first bewhiskered Speaker of the House in a century. On today’s show, has the beard boom hit Washington?  

Then, from Bill Clinton to Ben & Jerry--when campaign season hits, political surrogates come out of the woodwork. We'll find out who is stumping for whom, and why it matters.

We’ll also open the history books for a serious look at a surprisingly well-rewarded skill, with roots reaching back to ancient Sumerians: professional flatulence.

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The life of a 'repo man' is always intense; just imagine the stakes on the high seas. On today’s show, we’ll dive into the murky world of maritime "repo men", hired to recover ships stolen and scrubbed to hide their identity by gun runners, human traffickers, and pirates.

Then, for nearly 50 million U.S. workers, drug tests are a condition of employment. We'll look into the costs and efficacy of random drug testing. 

Public Radio Tulsa

In this 10-Minute Writer's Workshop web extra, author Kate Christensen - novelist, memoirist, foodie. We caught up with her, at the farm in northern New Hampshire she calls home, after the publication of her latest book, How to Cook a Moose.

 

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After a group of anti-government activists took over an Oregon wildlife refuge last weekend, news outlets are struggling with how to identify them and their goals. On today’s show, a media reporter says in today's partisan, all-in media landscape, news reporters have an obligation to choose words carefully.

Then, 2015 was a banner year for science, from Pluto’s photo shoot, to the Ebola vaccine. So what's next? We'll hear about some of the big ideas in store for 2016, including the future of the gene editing tool: CRISPR.

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Mid-life crises are embarrassing and all-too-common...but surely not among the prudent judges of nation's highest court? On today’s show, a former court clerk's new novel imagines a Supreme Court justice going off the rails.

Then, as millions vow to exercise in the new year, we'll hear about how today's gyms are building personal bathrooms and shower stalls for body shy millennials -- one writer thinks it's absurd for adults to fear getting undressed in front of others.

Producers' Picks: Best Audio of 2015

Dec 31, 2015
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The turn of the new year is a time to reflect on personal milestones and to celebrate achievements in books, movies, TV, music, and journalism. In short, it's a time for best of lists...and Word of Mouth is offering its own picks of the most notable podcast episodes we heard in 2015.

12.30.15: "Heroin: Cape Cod, USA" & What to Talk About

Dec 30, 2015
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Does this scenario sound familiar? You’re in an elevator and your boss steps in. You scan your brain for something clever to say and come up with…bupkis. On today’s show we'll get some tips on how to get a good conversation started with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Then, conversations between the deaf and hard of hearing rely on near constant eye contact, which turns walking and talking into an elaborate dance of avoiding obstacles to maintain sightlines. Later in the show, we'll hear about a University with buildings and spaces designed for how deaf people communicate.

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When the cold winds blow and the snow falls, there’s no more romantic and carefree way to travel than a train. Today air and interstate travel have turned these engines of American mobility into expensive relics. On today’s show, we’ll pen a love letter to riding the rails.

And the old world charm continues with the particular intimacy of handwritten letters. From the Queen’s scone recipe, to life-saving encouragement from a punk rock icon, we’ll talk to a collector of correspondence deserving a wider audience.

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More than 75 million people use Instagram each day. Sure, there are celebrity selfies and cute kitty pictures, but it's also an unprecedented glimpse into the lives of others on a global scale. On today’s show, a Dartmouth journalism professor considers Instagram as journalism -- documenting lives from the ground up. 

Also today, what's the point of being internet famous if you can't pay the bills? We’ll talk to a YouTube star about the sad economics of internet celebrity.

12.27.15: The Holiday Cocoon Show

Dec 25, 2015
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Last winter researchers set off for Norway’s northern reaches where the sun barely rises above the horizon to find out how residents cope with the cold and darkness and discovered something remarkable. Today, we reveal the Norwegian secret to enjoying a harsh winter.

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This week, SpaceX overcame a huge hurdle for commercial space flight--by landing a reusable rocket less than an hour after launching it into space. But technical barriers are one thing; how will a blossoming space tourism industry deal with the physical and psychological issues presented by space flight?

Plus from birth dates as ATM pins to pet names as security questions; a look at the surprisingly deep stories behind our digital passwords.

And a preview of our new podcast - The Ten-Minute Writers Workshop. Bestselling author  Alexander McCall Smith talks about the worst distraction and best advice for aspiring writers.   

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The family that owns the craft chain Hobby Lobby is opening a Museum of the Bible just blocks from the National Mall. It will be the first time their vast collection of biblical artifacts will be open to the public, but where exactly did these artifacts come from? On today’s show, a look into the provenance of the bible museum.

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Last winter researchers set off for Norway’s northern reaches where the sun barely rises above the horizon to find out how residents cope with the cold and darkness and discovered something remarkable. On this Solstice day, we reveal the Norwegian secret to enjoying a harsh winter. Plus, how Granite Staters feel about the lack of snow this holiday season. Then, for some parents, Christmas raises a conundrum – how to navigate the magical world of Santa. 

It's Official: This is the Best Holiday Song EVER

Dec 21, 2015

After a contentious battle, our first ever, December Madness Holiday Song Showdown winner has been crowned: White Christmas by Bing Crosby. Poor She & Him didn't stand a chance against Bing; it was a landslide victory.

Maybe it's because the weather outside hasn't been too frightful and Jack Frost hasn't been doing much nipping at our noses here on the East Coast. Or maybe when it comes down to it, a classic song sung by a classic crooner is what we really want to hear come December. 

A big thank you to everyone who participated, and to everyone who shared their picks for the holiday song they can't live without. We've compiled a list of most of those songs below  so you can create your very own, Word of Mouth crowd sourced holiday playlist. (We left out Pump up the Jam and Stairway to Heaven because we're pretty sure we were being punked with those choices.)

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Among the challenges for people transitioning genders: learning a new voice.

On today’s show, a number of vocal coaches are now working with clients who are self-conscious about their speaking voices. The butterfly music transgender chorus is teaching them to sing.

Then, for all its cheer, December brings with it a number of potentially awkward or befuddling situations. We'll get advice from Slate's Dear Prudence who has some solid ideas for how to handle the holidays. 

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No matter how polished, prepped, and put together he or she may be, every presidential candidate copes with an Achilles heel. On today’s show, we'll find out how Marco Rubio capitalized on reaching for the water bottle...again and again and again. Then, need a gift idea for the book lover in your life? We'll go beyond the best seller list for a sampling of the best overlooked books of 2015, including a collection of short stories from Kelly Link.

Scoring Dreamscapes: The History of Sleep Music

Dec 17, 2015
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If you're a fan of HBO programming, you've probably heard the work of composer Max Richter - he's responsible for scoring one of its dark dramas, The Leftovers. But recently, Richter released something a little more subdued: an eight-hour album called Sleep, which he calls a “lullaby for a frenetic world”. Ambitious though it may be, Richter is hardly the first composer to send people nodding off, or to try and score a dreamscape. 

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Today's college students are reliable consumers, with annual budgets for furniture, clothes and gadgets. Much of which ends up in a dumpster. On today’s show, how a group of UNH students kept mounds of trash out of the landfill and turned it into cash...a model now being copied on campuses across the US. Then, business schools call it Enya-Nomics – after the new-age icon who's defied every record industry trend – selling more records than Beyoncé without touring, tweeting, talking to the press, or even leaving her Irish refuge.

Andrew Councill / New York Times

Recently, author and famed political satirist Christopher Buckley - son of William F. and the man behind Thank You for Smoking -  spoke with us about his latest novel, The Relic Master. We asked him to give us an inside look at his writing process. The conversation is part of a series we call the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop.

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Personal branding is a part of all political campaigns, but female candidates face different considerations. On today’s show, a look at what the evolution of Hillary Clinton’s name signifies for women in politics, and why she took on Bill's surname in the first place.

Then from Newton and the apple to the solitary genius of Darwin, the scientific world is rife with myths and legends. Among the most pervasive, that Galileo’s imprisonment was long and excruciating.  We’ll find out more about the origins of these stories, why they persist, and how they shape our view of science.

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No matter how polished, prepped, and put together he or she may be, every presidential candidate copes with an Achilles heel. On today’s show, we'll find out how Marco Rubio capitalized on reaching for the water bottle...again and again and again. Then, need a gift idea for the book lover in your life? We'll go beyond the best seller list for a sampling of the best overlooked books of 2015, including a collection of short stories from Kelly Link.

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The annual tsunami of best-of book lists is upon us - a time for critics to tell us what we should have been reading, watching and listening to in 2015. Here at Word of Mouth, we tend to root for the underdog...so we are proud to present a sort-of Island of Misfit Toys equivalent of the year's best. 

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After Fidel Castro nationalized Cuba’s farms and businesses, thousands fled, leaving factories, farms and assets that now add up to eight-billion in claims from Exxon to Walt Disney. On today's show, the complicated task of settling decades old suits and how these kinds of Cold War hangovers could affect US/Cuba reconciliation.   

Then, we shift into holiday gear. Cookbooks are a wonderful gift for the foodies in your life, but sifting through the thousands of new selections can be daunting. We'll hear about 2015's best from AP food editor J.M. Hirsch.

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Cookbooks are a wonderful gift for the aspiring foodies in your life. But how do you choose one you'll actually use from the paleo, gluten-free, Mediterranean-rich, tea-infused, grind-your-own pasta flour variety that were published by thousands in 2015?

Associated Press Food Editor and bestselling cookbook author J.M. Hirsch sifted through the pile for the most useful, interesting and inspiring food books of the year - he joined us to share his top picks.

Lots of concerned parents are bucking the digital age and forbidding their kids any screen time. On today’s show a tech researcher tells us that's not only unrealistic, but possibly damaging. Then, in times of mourning, we emphasize the cyclical nature of life and death - and yet, American burial practices are mostly designed to halt the natural process of decomposition.  We'll look at the historical forces that pushed America towards embalming and containment.

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