Word of Mouth

Airs at 2 pm Monday through Thursday, weeknights at 9 pm, and noon on Sundays.

Word of Mouth is the sound of new ideas, hosted by Virginia Prescott

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Looking for our Song of the Day? Click right here.

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Radio broadcast news from the front during World War II. Vietnam was captured on television. Today, uncensored scenes from Syria's civil war are uploaded onto YouTube by the thousands.  Now, we’re learning what amateur videos reveal about Syria's brutal war.

Then, the intersection between technology and food makes a lot of people wary. Concerns over industrialized food, GMOs and big agriculture’s profit motive have sparked a foodie movement that demands whole, responsibly grown fare. On today’s show, an agricultural economist says high tech methods are crucial when it comes to confronting obesity, environmental degradation, and global hunger.

Dennis Jarvis via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/6q9vFQ

It's called poverty tourism: guided visits to slums and shantytowns for close-up view of locals living in the shadows of landmarks and luxury hotels. Today, the pros and cons of straying off the typical tourist path.

Then, media outlets, pop culture blogs, TV re-cappers and social media are all potential spoilers for others who've yet to see a blockbuster or hit show. Yet global social media thrives on discussion in real time...so what's a person to do? Vulture polled its readers to find out the best approach for spoiler etiquette and we spoke with a TV and movie critic about the results. 

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“Birthday suit”, “in the buff”, “wearing nothing but a smile.” Call it what you will, on today’s show we’ll strip bare the American nudism movement and we’ll explore the progressive-era origins and continuing tensions over what it means to take it all off.

Then, people love dogs - but few pay attention to the most common variety - village dogs. We're speaking with two experts who have spent their lives traveling around the world and studying the truest essence of dog. 

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Radio broadcast news from the front during World War II. Vietnam was captured on television. Today, uncensored scenes from Syria's civil war are uploaded onto YouTube by the thousands.  Now, we’re learning what amateur videos reveal about Syria's brutal war.

Then we’ll talk to an author who decided to do what no one has done in more than a century: cross the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon. Along the way he found not only the forgotten history of our country but also the emerging present.

Brian Boucheron via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/4E4P5U

The intersection between technology and food makes a lot of people wary. Concerns over industrialized food, GMOs and big agriculture’s profit motive have sparked a foodie movement that demands whole, responsibly grown fare. On today’s show, an agricultural economist says high tech methods are crucial when it comes to confronting obesity, environmental degradation, and global hunger.

We'll also talk with humorist Roy Blount Jr. who grew up in a southern home, where butter was considered a food group, and you had to save room for pie!  Plus a look into a new airline that caters to fashion’s elite.     

Happy Mother's Day!

May 6, 2016
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Homegrown terrorism, gun violence, Zika - there's plenty of real stuff to get freaked out about. So can America be 100% safe?  No, says a security analyst and mom, and your kids know it's not - but that's ok. Today, a former homeland security big wig refuses to be ruled by paranoia and offers tips on how to prepare your family for the unknown without becoming a prepper.

Then, we'll catch up with the growing movement to get over the shame and secrecy and acknowledge that women menstruate...including a look into why tampons and pads are taxed as luxury goods in 40 states. 

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Today, we catch up with the growing movement to get over the shame and secrecy and acknowledge that women menstruate...including a look into why tampons and pads are taxed as luxury goods in 40 states.

Plus, working out while pregnant.  Even though the science says elite female athletes can train pretty hard, even in the third trimester, society doesn't always agree.

We Want Your Pitches

May 5, 2016
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We've been working on an idea of an episode all about how books get made - from the first kernel of an idea, to selling the idea to an agent or publisher, to self-publishing to who writes those blurbs on the back of the final copy.

5.04.16: National Parks Are Awesome & The Bookshelf

May 4, 2016
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With spring springing and trees budding, it's time to think about spending some serious time outdoors. With so many choices, we asked a seasoned travel writer where to go. From Acadia to Yosemite, today we’re unpacking some of the practical and philosophical questions to ask when planning a trip to a national park...including how a park system founded a century ago coexists with our changing population, and an exploration of the national park's premise: creating a contained wilderness. 

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Homegrown terrorism, gun violence, Zika - there's plenty of real stuff to get freaked out about. So can America be 100% safe?  No, says a security expert slash mom, and your kids know it's not. But that's ok. Today, a former homeland security big wig refuses to be ruled by paranoia and offers tips on how to prepare your family for the unknown without becoming a prepper.

Plus, the true story of humble scholars-turned-smugglers to save rare books and manuscripts from sure destruction by Al Qaeda.

Word of Mouth Presents: The Song of the Day

May 3, 2016
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Looking for something new to listen to today? Check out our Song of the Day, a new music feature designed to help you broaden your music horizons.

The Song of the Day features unique video or live stream performance content of emerging and established artists produced by a public media station.

Bookmark this page and check it daily to discover something new, hear what's trending, and find what just might become your next favorite earworm.

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On the Titanic, metal gates kept the unwashed from the upper crust - today's cruises offer high-rollers seclusion using key cards and velvet ropes.Today, travel perks in the new Gilded Age.

Then, from Little House on the Prairie, to the pastoral scenes printed on butter packages,  Americans tend to think of the agrarian past as wholesome and simpler . But, the real family farm has not always been pure or pretty.

Plus, Sean Hurley searches for buried treasure with a group of metal detectives.

History Unfolded, Impostor Syndrome, & Fishpocalypse

Apr 29, 2016
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You can't confront the horror that was the Holocaust without facing inescapable questions of America's role. What did the United States know about the Holocaust and how did it respond? Today, the United States Holocaust Museum is asking the public to help uncover how the American press covered the genocide of millions of Jews - and whether or not anyone was listening.

Then, recent public health crises like Ebola and Zika show how fear grabs public and media's attention. But there's another virus potentially be more harmful on a mass scale that's crept under the radar. Today, we'll hear about a virus that's killing off Tilapia by the millions - and what that could mean for our global food supply.

Dennis Jarvis via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7jeDS3

Recent public health crises like Ebola and Zika show how fear grabs public and media's attention. But there's another virus potentially be more harmful on a mass scale that's crept under the radar. Today, we'll hear about a virus that's killing off Tilapia by the millions - and what that could mean for our global food supply.

Then, Vladimir Lenin died in 1924 - but you wouldn't know that by looking at his exquisitely preserved corpse. So what's the secret?

4.27.16: Ira Glass & The Violet Hour

Apr 27, 2016
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His voice has become synonymous with public radio. He's built a storytelling empire on radio, podcasts, television and film. This American Life has won 6 Peabody Awards. But - and this is a question that plagues all of us - is it enough? Act one on our program today: can Ira Glass actually dance?

Then, Katie Roiphe on the fantasy of deathbed resolution. 

Dennis Wilkinson via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/bQFguT

You can't confront the horror that was the Holocaust without facing inescapable questions of America's role. What did the United States know about the Holocaust and how did it respond? Today, the United States Holocaust Museum is asking the public to help uncover how the American press covered the genocide of millions of Jews - and whether or not anyone was listening.

Then, Google and other companies are betting than autonomous vehicles will be safer than they're human led counterparts...but proving it won't be easy.

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It's known on the street as Ecstasy, MDX, or Molly, but MDMA is now being tested as a way to treat the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic PTSD. Today, one of the premier drivers of MDMA research brings his mission to fund clinical trials to New England.

Then, fans of Downton Abbey know that it takes a well-oiled domestic staff to keep a British estate looking pristine. We’re taking deeper look into the history of British servitude...and cleaning.

TV on the Radio & the Penny Poet of Portsmouth

Apr 22, 2016
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Big-budget movies aim to break box office records, not win over critics.  Today, a reporter comes up with a formula to rank the worst-rated, highest grossing movies of all time...and there are a lot of them.

Then, the creators of Naked and Afraid bank on nudity hooking viewers in, but know they can't show the naughty bits during prime time. That's where "the blur man group" comes in.

Plus, we'll speak to a woman who counsels reality TV stars -  a population excessively prone to addiction, depression and suicide - to cope with sudden and fleeting fame.

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William Shakespeare is credited with writing 37 plays and yet, if not for one very rare book, nearly half of those, including Macbeth and Julius Caesar - would have been lost forever.  Today on the show, the First Folio.

Then, with earth day coming up tomorrow, we add another "r" to reduce, reuse, recycle - we talk to the founder of iFixit, a free online repair guide for keeper everything from toasters to iPads out of the landfill. 

Plus, the latest 10-Minute Writer’s Workshop uncovers the process of writing true crime.

4.20.16: TV on the Radio - Part Two

Apr 20, 2016
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Big-budget movies aim to break box office records, not win over critics.  Today, a reporter comes up with a formula to rank the worst-rated, highest grossing movies of all time...and there are a lot of them.

Then, the creators of Naked and Afraid bank on nudity hooking viewers in, but know they can't show the naughty bits during prime time. That's where "the blur man group" comes in.

Plus, we'll speak to a woman who counsels reality TV stars -  a population excessively prone to addiction, depression and suicide - to cope with sudden and fleeting fame.

Guy Sie via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/6gdiLA

The word vitamin has only been around for just over 100 years.  But now vitamins are a $36 billion dollar-a-year industry. Today, the history and science behind a mostly unregulated market.

Plus, can a dress shirt be racist?  An online retailer has come up with an algorithm they say ensures a near-perfect fit... But part of that data set includes ethnicity, prompting questions about the connection between ethnicity and biology.

4.18.16: Small Bombs & the Penny Poet of Portsmouth

Apr 18, 2016
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In the age of global terrorism, some attacks get more attention than others. We got blanket coverage of coordinated bombs in Brussels, but little on explosions in Turkey just nine days before or the devastating suicide bomb in Iraq a week later. Today, the far-reaching effects of "small" bombs - those exploding in Middle Eastern and South Asian cities with alarming regularity that often go ignored.

Then, a writer reflects on her friendship with Robert Dunn, a character seemingly from another age, known as Portsmouth's Penny Poet.

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Human beings spend a lot of time satisfying primal urges, but relatively little talking about or studying them. On today’s show, what we can learn by studying hedonism.

Also, hell can mean a bad day, other people, or a threat to sinners, but it wasn’t always so. We'll talk about how hell has evolved, from a place of flaming torture, to tangible horrors here in the real world.

And, at the height of the Ebola epidemic last fall, the hardest hit areas in West Africa not only struggled with containing the virus, but respectfully burying the dead. We’ll take a look at how funeral rites were handled during history’s worst epidemics.

4.14.16: The Great Outdoors

Apr 14, 2016
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"Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." - Albert Einstein, 1951

Ah, the great outdoors. A place for life, death, and seemingly infinite inspiration. Today is all about the outdoors: capturing its beauty through photography, creating its beauty through manipulation, and rediscovering its beauty in the most unlikely places. Join us for a walk through the wild then share your thoughts on our Facebook and Twitter.

Listen to the full show.


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When we were growing up, eggs were eggs - packed by the dozen in cardboard cartons, consumers weren't all that picky about what they were taking home.  Walk into a grocery store today... And the choices are overwhelming. Today we decode grocery store egg labels.

Plus, a look at an app designed to split restaurant bills by inequality of wages based on gender and race.

4.12.16: Jackson vs. Trump & Birds, Birds, Birds

Apr 12, 2016
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Imagine a political outsider who's thin on policy and big on celebrity.  He's crude. He draws enormous crowds, and his popularity has party leaders panicking.  I'm talking of course about presidential candidate Andrew Jackson. Today, we'll look at some parallels between the elections of 2016 and 1824.

Then, New Englanders are cautiously optimistic about the end of a mild winter - with one devoted group especially keen to see what the spring brings – birdwatchers. 

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Once a staple of medicine, the case study is in decline - replaced in recent years by a treasure trove of patient data.  But what happens when doctors and doctors-in-training rely on statistics over story?  Today on Word of Mouth, a defense of the medical case study.  

Then, crowdfunding has been used to fund countless projects and but now people are turning to it for a whole new purpose - staying out of jail.

Plus, a history of the humble mason jar.  

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For decades, environmentalists have fought to keep plastic, glass, paper and other recyclables out of landfills where they’d sit for thousands of years…so, is recycling truly making a difference in the health of the planet? Today, some data that challenges recycling’s sanctified status.

Then, India’s government says it will clean up the horribly polluted Ganges, the river which supports ten percent of the world’s population. The first step: working with the Hindu belief that the Ganges is holy, self-purifying and the place to be buried. 

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A while ago came the news that the US is in grave danger of a clown shortage. Today we'll get a report from a clown convention and find out why membership is down, but why clowns are still unlikely to completely disappear. 

We'll also talk to a futurist about ectogenesis, or artificial wombs. Often referenced in science fiction, the idea of children being grown outside of a mother's body is inching closer to reality.

Plus, the latest 10-Minute Writer's Workshop with anatomical historian Alice Dreger. 

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Things are important. They help us get places, allow us to sit back and relax, provide entertainment, memories, sustenance, and warmth. I used to vow intense dislike for the word "things" ("It's so vague; what does it mean?!"). But truthfully, things - and the many uses of the word - are important. On today's Word of Mouth, we're exploring a lot of things. Really. 

Plus, word craft for fast times: a writing teacher celebrates the beauty and efficacy of writing short. 

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