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 Taylor Quimby, and Logan Shannon. Our Senior Producer is Maureen McMurray

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Graham Kennedy

The music, as it was always played, does have a lot of fire.

Newfoundland's story is one of survival, of hearts and heroes. It's a culture of singers and storytellers, a place that people can learn about through the music. It's also a place that many have never heard of -- though names such as Great Big Sea, Ron Hynes, and Figgy Duff may ring a bell. They're just a few Newfoundlanders bringing their music to the world stage. Matthew Byrne is one of these, a singer and guitarist whose voice, aptly put by fellow musician Alan Doyle, is "friggin' perfect." 

Joel Telling via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/7ewB15

Katrina was one of the deadliest hurricanes in American history, but hardly one of the strongest to hit the Gulf Coast or the city of New Orleans. Today, a look at the geography of poverty and how societal factors turn natural disasters into disproportionate catastrophes. Plus, a primer on gifted kids. Many parents try to nurture their child to bring out the very best, but some may be looking over signs that their child is truly exceptional. And, new research on an old question: do babies make new parents unhappy?

8.19.15: The Case Against C8 & The Power of Two

Aug 19, 2015
Roadsidepictures via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/53XEWe

C8 - it’s a chemical you may or may not have heard of.  And yet…“99.7% of Americans have some amount in their blood. It’s a manmade chemical that didn’t exist a century ago.” Today, an investigative reporter dives into chemical giant DuPont’s role in a tobacco-industry scale cover-up of the dangers of C8.  And, the myth of the lone genius gets knocked down by an exploration of creative duos. We’ll find out why artistic and scientific breakthroughs often come from dynamic collaborations.

Phil Roeder via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/vMxFAe

Earlier this year, an aspiring Czech politician traveled to a piece of disputed land wedged between Serbia and Croatia , stuck a flag in the earth and declared it a new country. Today we explore one man’s dream to create a libertarian utopia on 3-square miles of mosquito-infested marshland. Plus, the story of a lost thrill-seeker from Baltimore who crossed the Middle-East by motorcycle, joined the Libyan revolution, and captured it all on film. Plus, a tale of Cold War corn diplomacy. 

8.17.15: The Fight That Changed TV & The Speechwriter

Aug 17, 2015
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures / http://bit.ly/1MtHysd

The 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago is remembered for protests and violence, but one radical decision that came out of that convention has changed the nature of debate in this country. Today, how the face-offs between liberal Gore Vidal and conservative William F. Buckley turned television debates into a blood sport. We’ll also speak with a speechwriter for Mark Sanford, the South Carolina governor who added “hiking the Appalachian trail” to our lexicon. 

Credit Dr. Seuss Collection in the Mandeville Special Collections Library at UCSD / bit.ly/1DQg5PW

While you’re probably familiar with The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs & Ham, and the dozens of other world-famous Seuss books, there is one chapter of Geisel’s professional history that remains relatively unknown.  Before he was world famous for his children’s books, Dr. Seuss employed his rich imagination and skillful illustrations for another purpose- convincing Americans to go to war.

Such a Groke via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/bXHWh

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 30% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 are living at home with their parents. There are many opinions as to why - but perhaps parental techniques are partly to blame. On today's show: can over-parenting ruin confidence? Then, the value of teaching kids to cook, and how coloring books - for adults, mind you - are on the rise. And finally, we take a look at the more political side of well-beloved Dr. Seuss.

Amadscientist via Wikimedia Commons / http://bit.ly/1IKjA9n

Tomorrow marks the fortieth anniversary of the longest running film in continuous release ever – The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Today, a critic deconstructs how the long-running cult classic introduced the LGBTQ community to the mainstream. We’ll also hear from the organizers of a Rocky Horror convention on the appeal of midnight showings and fishnet stockings in America’s rural and suburban towns. 

Dennis Jarvis via Flickr CC / bit.ly/1PkMiA1

At 5,525 miles, the US and Canadian border is the longest and friendliest in the world, but the long relationship between the two nations is not without conflict. Today, a history of US-Canadian skirmishes and why a war between neighbors isn’t out of the question. Then, with immigration a focal point in the presidential primary circuit, a commentator takes a tongue in cheek look at the rarely talked about immigration crisis that’s playing out north of the border. Plus, researchers in Virginia may be turning a long held belief about early America on its head. 

freddiefraggles via Flickr CC / bit.ly/1ElgSTS

We’ve long heard that print media is going the way of the dodo bird. So, how are public libraries adapting to the changing nature of books? Some are banking on a new kind of print.  Today, 3D printing hits the local library.  Plus, we’ll talk with an AI researcher who will forever be remembered as the inventor of the emoticon. And with short, niche-y topics, young amateur hosts, and millions of viewers, we’ll find out how YouTube cooking shows are challenging the Food Network. 

The Lady and The Fox: Art With Kids

Aug 10, 2015
Laura Taylor via Flickr CC / //flic.kr/p/wd4Ng

  I can't ever remember my elementary school teacher not joining in a class-wide art project. Many art projects had her touch, a purple background and some fancy script, perhaps a blue ribbon threaded through a weaving. Often, she would make her own finger painting alongside ours, and we'd end the day happily smeared with green paint, or coated in pond muck from building a terrarium. 

artubr via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/q3MSiP

Pro sports have been plagued by doping scandals for years. The next sport up for scrutiny? Video games. Today, randomized drug testing comes to electronic gaming. Also, a new publishing niche: coloring books for adults.  We’ll find out why an increasing number of grownups are finding time to color in between the lines.  And a debate on the pros and cons of a controversial literary device – the sometimes clever, often groan-inducing pun.  

The Merge Show

Aug 6, 2015

The English language is awash in portmanteaus, words or sounds that merge together to create something new. Spoon and fork combine to make spork, breakfast and lunch join to create brunch. Merging words, sounds or celebrity names is easy. Other types of mergers? Not so much.  Today’s show is all about what happens when two things become one - and from traffic lanes, to company buy-outs, to organ transplants, we’ll discover that merging is anything but simple.

Stephanie Sicore via Flickr CC / //flic.kr/p/5amX9E

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 30% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 are living at home with their parents. There are many opinions as to why - but perhaps parental techniques are partly to blame. On today's show: can over-parenting ruin confidence? Then, the value of teaching kids to cook. And finally, we take a look at the more political side of well-beloved Dr. Seuss.

8.04.15: Tattoos & Lists of Note

Aug 4, 2015
Megan Tan for NHPR

Grocery lists, to-do lists, guest lists – human beings are compelled to put things into manageable order…and sometimes the result is anything but mundane. Today we look at some of the most memorable lists ever written – from Walt Disney’s un-used dwarf names, to a day in the life of country legend Johnny Cash. Plus, we’ll talk about tattoos in the workplace, and how gender stereotypes play into how people perceive ink.

8.03.15: Drones, Autopsies, & Let's Be Less Stupid

Aug 3, 2015
Ars Electronica via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/chvytS

Drone war proponents say that unmanned aircraft save American lives -- but what's life like for drone operators? On today's show, a look at drone fatigue. Then, brain fitness. Does taking fish oil, and playing brain fitness video games actually help with memory loss? And finally, a forensic turn! Autopsies are pretty cool, but Hollywood may have them all wrong.

Al_HikesAZ via Flickr CC / //flic.kr/p/5eSsvr

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, from clamshell tweezers to electrolysis, we’ll take a look at America’s history of hair removal, and what it reveals about shifting views of racial and social status.

Plus, is technology killing the jewelry industry? We’ll find out why global sales of fine jewelry have been sluggish since the global recession.

7.30.15: The Soul of an Octopus & Music for Animals

Jul 30, 2015
DaugaardDK via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/56wGnH

With a beak like a parrot, venom strong enough to dissolve flesh, and eight writhing tentacles, the octopus is among the most mystifying and alien of creatures.

On today’s show, a naturalist reaches across half a billion years of evolution to find the soul of an octopus. Then, how far can the benefits of music therapy reach? One woman brings us the answer. 

5 Things You Might Not Know About Octopuses

Jul 30, 2015
Morten Brekkevold via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/6zgWPm

The mighty octopus features heavily in science fiction stories, playing the part of creepy creature from the deep, from H.P. Lovecraft’s octopus/dragon/man hybrid Cthulhu to the mass of tentacles described by H.G. Wells in his short story "The Sea Raiders":

The Shame Show

Jul 29, 2015

From Hester Prynne’s Scarlet Letter to stockades in the town square, public shaming has deep roots in America. Today on Word of Mouth: humiliation hits the 21st century.  

Conspiracies, Cults, & Cons

Jul 28, 2015

Pull the shades, put on your skeptics cap, leave your friends behind and climb on board because today’s show is all about conspiracies, cults, and cons. From the magic bullet that killed JFK, to Jim Jones cyanide punch, to the Ponzi scheme, America has had its fair share of conspiracies, cults, and cons. We’re going to take an unexpected look at all three, starting with the conspiratorially minded among us.

The Technicality Show

Jul 27, 2015

We’ve all heard of a guilty person getting acquitted of crime because of a “technicality”.  What happens when a law professor discovers a judicial loophole that could make for the perfect crime? On today’s show, it’s all about the technicalities, the loopholes, artful dodges and escapes. From how to get away with murder, to how to turn the lights off when your religion prohibits it. Plus, the most expensive typo in American legislative history.

7.26.15: Sick Days, Telemedicine, & Kinder Surgeons

Jul 24, 2015
Fotos GOVBA via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/ihi2zk

Showing up for work sick is an American affliction…even for doctors. A survey reveals that 80 percent of health care providers admit to treating patients while ill. And, patients want surgeons who are technically skilled, and good communicators. But when it comes to being a good surgeon, does bedside manner really matter? Plus, diagnosis by Skype – a primer on the growing business of telemedicine.  

Tom Gill via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/LNxeQ

America's first blockbuster: a depiction of the Civil War and early Reconstruction that featured  white actors in blackface, portraying feeble-minded or rapacious slaves, culminating with masked Klansmen galloping in to save the South. On today show, we talk about the film that set of a resurgence of savage Klan activity and has had an enduring influence on American racism and politics. Then, vexillogists, people who study flags. Here's a trick: if you want to design a great flag, start by drawing a one-by-one-and-a-half inch rectangle on a piece of paper. And finally -- what happened to surrender? It's becoming increasingly rare. 

steve lodefink via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/2EkUtq

We are of course smack in the middle of summer, a great time to get out and play lawn games like croquet, cornhole, or bocce – games that have survived in some cases for thousands of years. Today we dig in to those games, along with some alternatives that are on the rise. Then, technology has altered the way we experience the present and past – so we ask, are iPhones really ruining summer camp? And, according to a recent analysis, pop music is getting stupider. But, does music have to be smart to be good? 

Todd Lappin via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/5TtMrL

Tug of War, Capture the Flag, Croquet ... for many, these games are childhood staples: hours of outdoor fun until the fireflies come out and it's time for bed. We talked to Paul Tukey, co-author of the book "Tag, Toss, And Run: 40 Classic Lawn Games" about some of the classics and up-and-coming games. We compiled some random facts about five of our favorite games -- and links to rules, so you can play them!

We've also got a survey at the end of the post, tell us your favorite lawn game.

Rene Jakobson via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/4UoQ63

Just a few years ago, marriage equality seemed dead in the water. Now the players are running a victory lap. Today, we learn how gun control activists are now recruiting ideas and people from the gay marriage movement. Then, one of the most isolated communities in the world is about to become a lot more social when their first airport opens next year, but the change may not be welcome. And, summer vacation season is in full swing with tourists jet setting all over the world. But what happens when the place you’re visiting is in the midst of a global financial crisis? We’ll speak to a man traveling to Greece this week to find out how he’s planning to pack.

Esther Vargas via Flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/h4rhH9

Showing up to work ill is an affliction -- it even plagues doctors. On today's show, we talk about why doctors don't take sick days. But soon, even going to the doctor may become part of the virtual reality lifestyle, as the use of telemedicine increases. Today, we also have an audio postcard from Madison, New Hampshire, from a weekend celebration of E.E. Cummings. Then, screeching fans, long bus rides -- sounds like a boy band on the road. Not exactly. We'll take a look behind the scenes of DigiTour, where stardom is measured not by number of records sold, but by number of followers on Instagram or Vine. And finally, we talk Statute Of Limitation laws to better understand the sexual assault cases against Bill Cosby. 

7.19.15: The Museum Show

Jul 17, 2015
Chris Ford via Flickr CC / //flic.kr/p/8RLhut

Most high stakes crimes require skill, bravado and planning…but few stir the public imagination or require the meticulous efforts of fine art frauds. Word of Mouth goes behind the scenes of the museum world, starting with a story about the extreme lengths art forgers will travel to dupe their marks. Then we take a look at the many dangers art can face….inside the museum. And, museums use digital and forensic technology to solve complicated art mysteries. Sometimes, it’s just old fashioned detective work…we’ll talk to a costume historian and dress detective about her work here in New Hampshire. Join us for a day at the museum.

Where Were You: The Mekons

Jul 16, 2015
Press Photo / http://billions.com/mekons

We're better off crafting our own things in isolation. The best times when the band has really been? When we thought nobody was that interested in us, so I think that's when the really creative moments have come about, when we didn't think there was anything at stake, when we could just do what we wanted. - Jon Langford

Rumor has it, they once asked a bass player to leave because he was too good.