Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth is the sound of new ideas, hosted by Virginia Prescott. Airs at 2 pm Monday through Thursday, weeknights at 9 pm, and noon on Sundays.

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In late August Marvel announced that it would be celebrating Kirby week: in honor of legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby’s 99 th birthday. But Jack Kirby, who died in 1994, wasn’t on good terms with company that distributed his work. Even if you’ve never read a comic in your life - there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Stan Lee, the creator of characters like Spiderman and Iron Man. It’s less likely that you’ve heard of Jack Kirby.

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80s movies like Back to the Future and The Breakfast Club banked on the boredom, buying power and dramatic urges of teenagers - but were they groundbreaking cinema classics? A superfan says John Hughes and his teen flick colleagues got at truths beyond adolescence angst and suburbia. Then, a group calling itself New World Hacking took down the websites for BBC Global in January, 2016 through denial of service – or DDOS attacks. Other hacks have hit the Trump campaign and MasterCard. The hackers say it’s just the beginning. That could affect all of us, thanks to our increasingly connected lifestyles. Our tech dude explains the internet of broken things.

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When asked about what it was like to live with Alzheimer's disease, Donald Burke said, "like standing on melting ice." Today, a husband and wife dig into the metaphor to find meaning. Also today: how is it that humans can send rovers to Mars and 3D print organs, yet still not control rats? For thousands of years, humans have been losing the battle against the vermin that destroy crops, spread disease, and proliferate on an almost unimaginable scale. We're learning about a tech-startup run by a biologist Buddhist who may stumbled into a cruelty-free solution - rodent birth control.

10.19.16: What is DDOS, Willa Cather, & The Bookshelf

Oct 19, 2016
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A group calling itself New World Hacking took down the websites for BBC Global in January, 2016 through denial of service – or DDOS attacks. Other hacks have hit the Trump campaign and MasterCard. The hackers say it’s just the beginning. That could affect all of us, thanks to our increasingly connected lifestyles. Our tech dude explains the internet of broken things. Also, novelist Willa Cather wrote of pioneers on the plains from a farm in Peterborough. More than 65 years after her death, a series of local events and newly published letters reveal the hidden side of a fiercely guarded writer.

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In 1976 presidential candidate Ronald Reagan used "welfare queen" when describing a serial criminal who bilked the government for tens of thousands of dollars in aid - what was true then and still true today: the typical welfare recipient is rural and white. But it stuck as code for urban, black, and working the system. Today, how the myth of the “welfare queen” gets in the way of helping real families. Plus, his byline appeared in thousands of international papers celebrating American free market economics in but "Guy Sims Fitch" did not exist. Unraveling the identity - or identities - of a Cold War-era propaganda program that is still protected by CIA secrecy.

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According to estimates, there are some seventy to eighty million stray and feral cats in the United States - one for every four and half humans. Today, the cat wars - an ecologist faces off against passionate cat lovers in order to make a controversial argument: that the cuddly subjects of so many popular gifs are actually an invasive species that threaten biodiversity and human health. Plus, America's great repository of world knowledge faces an existential predicament. In a world where information is stored in servers and googled at will, can the Library of Congress really keep up?

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When foreign nationals commit a crime in the US, their consulates work to avoid what the majority of UN member states consider to be barbaric: execution. Today, we'll hear what the government south of the border is doing to their nationals off death row. Also today, 80s movies like Back to the Future and The Breakfast Club banked on the boredom, buying power and dramatic urges of teenagers - but were they groundbreaking cinema classics? A superfan says John Hughes and his teen flick colleagues got at truths beyond adolescence angst and suburbia.

Writers on a New England Stage: Justice Stephen Breyer

Oct 12, 2016
David J. Murray / Cleareyephoto.com

Today, NHPR and the Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with Stephen Breyer, recorded live at the Music Hall in Portsmouth. Breyer was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by President Clinton in 1994. He is now 78 and author of several books throughout his distinguished career. Some are academic, others displaying his unbridled enthusiasm for the democratic system and belief that it is the court’s job is to make government work for real people living today.

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There’s a new wrinkle in the universal law: "What goes up, must come down." As attempts to regulate drones grow, a new arms race is afoot to develop technology that can land or destroy non-compliant or wayward drones. And whether it's attending a rally with a parent, or absorbed through TV commercials and yard signs, kids get exposed to the unseemly side of American politics. So, how and when, should parents encourage, shape, or inform civic engagement? A teacher and a blogger weigh in on how to navigate the murky waters of this election cycle.

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Poverty, suicide, and alcohol and drug abuse are disproportionately high among the two million Native Americans in the U.S. -- and at crisis levels on reservations. On today’s show, we'll look into one economic impediment: property rights. Plus, this Columbus Day we take a look at the allure and bias of maps, with a look at cartographers who create fictional maps for fantasy novels like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. We'll discover that a good fantasy map must be rooted in reality.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Radio host, writer and historian Louis "Studs" Terkel was known for intimate oral histories of ordinary people—a collection of previously unheard recordings from his landmark 1974 book Working —revealing how regular Americans viewed their jobs four decades ago, and how that's changed. On today’s show, The Working Tapes. Plus, the real cost of a mug shot. Police station photos of someone arrested for a crime are considered public record by the American justice system. They're also a multi-million dollar source of revenue for internet scammers. We’ll also hear about a podcast that looks at Harry Potter as a sacred text.

From the Archives: History Unfolded & The Bookshelf

Oct 5, 2016
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It's NHPR's Fall Fund Drive! You can help support our show and NHPR by making a contribution here: NHPRFundDrive.org In the meantime, during the fund drive we'll be airing some favorite segments from our archives. Here's what's on today's show:

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It's NHPR's Fall Fund Drive! You can help support our show and NHPR by making a contribution here: NHPRFundDrive.org In the meantime, during the fund drive we'll be airing some favorite segments from our archives. Here's what's on today's show: Erin Blakemore blogs daily for Smithsonian.com and wrote about what happened to the ozone hole. " The Ozone Hole Was Super Scary, So What Happened To It? "...

Selbe Lynn via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/9Zahk4

It's NHPR's Fall Fund Drive! You can help support our show and NHPR by making a contribution here: NHPRFundDrive.org In the meantime, during the fund drive we'll be airing some favorite segments from our archives. Here's what's on today's show:

Working Then and Now & From the Archives

Sep 29, 2016
John Georgiou via flickr Creative Commons

It's NHPR's Fall Fund Drive! You can help support our show and NHPR by making a contribution here: NHPRFundDrive.org In the meantime, during the fund drive we'll be airing some favorite segments from our archives. Plus, today we have a new interview with Joe Richman who talks about his new project for Radio Diaries. Here's what's on today's show: Author and broadcaster Louis "Studs" Terkel was known for his...

Alan Levine via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/amq5UJ

It's NHPR's Fall Fund Drive! You can help support our show and NHPR by making a contribution here: NHPRFundDrive.org In the meantime, during the fund drive we'll be airing some favorite segments from our archives. Here's what's on today's show:

Jeff Holt via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/dFsz6j

It's NHPR's Fall Fund Drive! You can help support our show and NHPR by making a contribution here: NHPRFundDrive.org In the meantime, during the fund drive we'll be airing some favorite segments from our archives. Here's what's on today's show:

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Some 2000 years ago, Roman philosopher and acclaimed public speaker Cicero outlined the ideal orator: a gentle speaker who uses logic, character, and emotion to persuade an audience. So what would Cicero think of tonight's debaters: Clinton and Trump? Today, 2016 rhetoric through the eyes of an ancient. Plus, some police departments respond to charges of racially motivated killings by recruiting more minority officers...except for one demographic that could make a measurable difference: women.

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The road trip is symbolic of freedom in American literature and folklore. A New Hampshire artist adds a bold black woman to the list of adventurers who escaped convention by hitting the road. Today, the remarkable true story of Bessie Stringfield. Plus, the Handsome Family had 20 years of making music under their belt when HBO used their song for the opening of True Detective - suddenly, the husband and wife team were famous. We'll talk to them about capturing spirits, fame, and making music with your spouse.

PeterJ1977 via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/4qm7vn

The road trip is symbolic of freedom in American literature and folklore. A New Hampshire artist adds a bold black woman to the list of adventurers who escaped convention by hitting the road. Today, the remarkable true story of Bessie Stringfield. Plus, the Handsome Family had 20 years of making music under their belt when HBO used their song for the opening of True Detective - suddenly, the husband and wife team were famous. We'll talk to them about capturing spirits, fame, and making music with your spouse.

Bessie Stringfield: The Motorcycle Queen of Miami

Sep 22, 2016
Cover art courtesy of Joel Christian Gill | Author photo courtesy of NHIA

From intrepid explorers to hearty pioneers to Jack Kerouac's drug addled odyssey, the road trip is a staple of American literature and folklore. Stories of crossing the nation are allegories for freedom, expanding opportunities, and often escape. The little known story of an African American woman crossing the country eight times during the 1930s and 40s is remarkable enough. The fact that Bessie Stringfield did it—alone—on a motorcycle is downright astonishing.

Wolfram Burner / https://flic.kr/p/rMqoFD

In 1997, a sea captain discovered a swirling soup of bottles, wrappers, even truck tires in the middle of the northern Pacific estimated to be "twice the size of Texas. News of "the Great Pacific Garbage Patch" awakened public disgust over a mountain of floating trash in the ocean - even if the image wasn't exactly true. Today, a popular myth becomes more valuable than reality . Plus, take hip-hop, some grinding rock, and a pinch of electronica, and you've got Oxymorrons - an unpredictable band that makes musical paradox its brand.

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America's opioid crisis has local, state and federal officials scrambling - which is why the DEA decided to ban Kratom, an Asian plant with an opioid-like effect, as a schedule one drug. But some researchers and users say it could help addicts get kick addictive drugs. Today, crackdown on Kratom - the drug you hadn't heard of until last week. Plus , walk into a pre-school or elementary school today and you won't find peanut butter, but you'll likely see a few sets of twins ...we'll look at twinning patterns throughout human history, and why the proportion of twins in the population continues to ebb and flow.

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Each year, eight-hundred thousand Latinos turn 18 in the United States - add up the 4 years since the last election, and you've got a whole lot of young voters. Today, a new app designed to increase turnout among young Latinos - an crucial block that haven't always shown up to the polls. Plus, the author of The Way Things Work - a quintessential coffee-table book from 1988 made up of detailed illustrations to explain everything from catapults to calculators. The classic book just got an update for the digital age. And conservation by drone - we'll hear about a program designed to save black-footed ferrets from the plague by air-dropping vaccines.

Bikinis to Burkinis, Acting Sick, & Kazoo Magazine

Sep 16, 2016
Kim Piper Werker via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7HeDqq

When a seasoned magazine editor took her daughter to the bookstore, they found scientists and explorers in magazines for boys. For girls: princesses, cover girls in make-up and tips for shinier hair. On today’s show a new magazine for girls has plenty of creative, inspiring ideas, and no lipstick! Also today, aspiring doctors get all they can from med school, for the rest, they turn to actors. We'll find out how playing sick is helping to make better doctors. And the 5-second rule gets the science treatment.

Sean Winters via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/HN51N

When a seasoned magazine editor took her daughter to the bookstore, they found scientists and explorers in magazines for boys. For girls: princesses, cover girls in make-up and tips for shinier hair. On today’s show a new magazine for girls has plenty of creative, inspiring ideas, and no lipstick! Also today, aspiring doctors get all they can from med school, for the rest, they turn to actors. We'll find out how playing sick is helping to make better doctors. And the 5-second rule gets the science treatment.

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Fashion week is on in New York and the Burkini ban is off in one French town - with more likely to follow. A high court found no proof that the full-cover swimsuit favored by some Muslim women does not pose a security threat. Today, the long history of women's bodies - and fashion - as political battleground. Plus, getting locked up is no picnic, especially for crooked executives arrogant enough to think they live by different rules. We'll talk to a consultant who prepares high-rollers for life behind bars.

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Julia Ward Howe is famous for writing the civil war song, “Battle Hymn of the Republic” - but did you know her life was the subject of the first Pulitzer Prize winning biography, back in 1917? We’re learning about the unlikely sisters who took home the first Pulitzer prize 100 years ago. Plus, you've seen one photo of the pyramids at Giza, or the Eiffel Tower, and you've just about seen them all. We'll talk to an artist who photographs the most documented tourist destinations in the world - by not taking photos of them.

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The National Park Service reports that only 7% of annual park visitors are African American. On today’s show, we delve into environmental and cultural history to find out why the story of the American outdoors is so white. Then, in the last census 60 million Americans listed birdwatching as a past time. And who can blame them? Watching birds is like watching tiny adorable flying dinosaurs. But there's birdwatching and then there's birdwatching . We'll take a look inside the fascinating and pricey world of competitive birding.

Trigger Warnings, Born In Between, & Miranda July

Sep 9, 2016
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Demanding trigger warnings? Canceling speakers? Shutting down comedians? College students today make the political correctness of the past seem tame. Today, is oversensitivity ruining education? We’ll also look at the roots of extreme protectiveness in a nation where police officers are stationed at more and more high schools…a story about what happens when school discipline meets law enforcement. And while the trans-gender movement gains ground, we’ll explore the shockingly common occurrence of doctors assigning gender to intersex babies.

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