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, Zach Nugent, and Logan Shannon. Our Senior Producer is Maureen McMurray. Check out a playlist of music used on the program on Spotify. You can leave us a message on the Word of Mouth Listener Line anytime. We reserve the right to use your message on the air: (603) 223-2448

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Word of Mouth
10:43 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Apollo 13 Comes Safely To New Hampshire

Todd Bookman

“Houston, we have a problem!”

Tom Hanks’ famous line as astronaut and Apollo 13 Flight Commander Jim Lovell has become an emblem of a dramatic slice of American history.  Now, a youth theater in Wilton is bringing Apollo’s big drama to a much smaller stage.

Actors age 8 to 18 will be taking on deep-space, mission-control and an iffy re-entry in Apollo 13, an original musical opening tomorrow night at Andy’s Summer Playhouse. NHPR’s Todd Bookman sat in on rehearsals, and produced this audio postcard.

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Word of Mouth
9:41 am
Thu August 8, 2013

The City Dark

(Photo by Dave Dehetre via Flickr)

PBS is hosting an encore broadcast of the documentary The City Dark. The film, part of the POV series, will be airing on August 12. Last year we spoke with director Ian Cheney about light pollution and the development of the film. Here is our conversation with him after the debut of the documentary last summer.

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Word of Mouth
9:29 am
Thu August 8, 2013

U.K. Welcomes The World's First Lab Grown Burger

Credit sneurgaonkar via Flickr Creative Commons

You may have heard the news earlier this week that taste-testers and scientists in the U.K. sampled the world’s first lab-grown burger.  One food researcher said that the burger tasted “close to meat, but not that juicy”. Another quipped, “what was consistently different was the flavor”. Not a great review for a patty costing somewhere around three hundred and thirty thousand dollars, but you’ve got to start somewhere.  Henry Fountain, science reporter for the New York Times, tells us about the science under the bun.

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Word of Mouth
9:26 am
Thu August 8, 2013

West Coast Conductor Donato Cabrera Makes Music In New Hampshire

Donato Cabrera is the music director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, resident conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, music director of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, and most recently, the director of music for the New Hampshire Music Festival.  The six-week celebration of classical and chamber music performed each summer at the Silver Center at Plymouth State University is coming to a close on Aug. 16.  Back in June, Virginia Prescott spoke with Donato Cabrera about his work and the then upcoming festival.

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Word of Mouth
11:53 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Indie Bookseller Will "Not Complain About Amazon Anymore"

Credit xsas via Flickr Creative Commons

Tom Holbrook is the co-owner and manager of the independent RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth and one of our partners for the writers on a New England Stage series.  Tom recently sent out an email saying “why I’m not going to complain about Amazon anymore” to the more than 2500 members of RiverRun’s e-mail list. Word of Mouth Senior Producer Rebecca Lavoie tracked Tom down to find out what was behind it. We have a copy of Tom's email posted on our Facebook page, Word of Mouth Radio.

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Word of Mouth
11:02 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Astroturfing On Amazon: Why Telecom Lobbyists Are Planting Bad Reviews

Credit MeneerDijk via Flickr Creative Commons

It’s been a pretty big couple of weeks for Amazon.com.  First, President Obama chose one of the company’s fulfillment centers as a backdrop for a speech on raising the minimum wage.  Then, news broke that Amazon’s founder, billionaire Jeff Bezos, had purchased the venerable Washington Post.  Amazon now has one hundred and twenty-six million monthly users.  But they might want to start reading product reviews with a grain of salt.  Cited as the largest single source of internet consumer reviews in 2010, the online giant is susceptible to a deceitful practice called astroturfing.  When Susan Crawford’s book “Captive Audience” about the Telecom Industry was published in January, it attached a number of bad reviews later revealed to be fake…with a political agenda behind them.  Our guest Mike Masnick weeded out these fake reviews and published an expose for Techdirt that reached the front page of Reddit.  Masnick is the founder and CEO of Floor64 and editor of the Techdirt blog, we spoke with him about his findings.

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Word of Mouth
10:20 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Insta-Envy: Why Social Networking Is Depressing

Credit Taylor Quimby

One in thirteen people on earth use Facebook. It’s a staggering number, and evidence of the human desire to connect with others through social media. Research at the Human-Computer Institute at Carnegie Mellon and other places have found that passively following the lives of others on Facebook can have the opposite effects, triggering feelings of depression, envy, and isolation. Jessica Winter is senior editor at Slate, and argues that the hipster-centric photo-filtering social network Instagram, is even worse.

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Word of Mouth
9:48 am
Wed August 7, 2013

The Real Life Walter White?

Credit via buzzfeed.com

Breaking Bad follows a high school science teacher who cooks up meth with a former student, kicking off a fast slide into murder, extortion and unsavory partnerships as a bona fide drug lord. Too crazy to be true…right? Well, maybe not. In 2011, police in California arrested Stephen Kinzey; professor by day, outlaw biker and meth distributor by night. Kinzey has been out on bail since his initial arrest. The preliminary hearing to determine whether or not the case against him is strong enough to go to trial was scheduled for June, it’s since been delayed.

Natasha Vargas-Cooper wrote about the real-life Walter White for BuzzFeed, and took the time to talk with us. She’s also a frequent contributor to The Atlantic, and The New York Times among others.

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Word of Mouth
3:52 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Playing Pac Man In The Library

Credit medium.com

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, younger patrons don’t use libraries only as a place to study, they also go there to “hang out” in place that feels calm. It’s a little less serene at the Chattanooga Public Library.  Justin Hoenke is the teen librarian there...we were a little stunned to find an article Justin wrote called “Why I bought an original 1981 Ms. Pac Man Arcade machine for my library”

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Word of Mouth
12:04 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Salt Smarts: How Iodine Has Increased American I.Q.s

Credit Joe Mud via Flickr Creative Commons

Iodized salt is so common today that you may never have considered the two as separate elements. This wasn’t always the case -- in 1924 iodized salt was first sold commercially in the U.S. to reduce the incidence of goiter – or swelling of the thyroid gland. Within a decade the average I.Q. in the United States had risen three and a half points. In areas that had been iodine deficient, I.Q. levels rose an average of fifteen points. A new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research traces this leap in I.Q. back to iodized salt.  We spoke with Max Nisen, war room reporter for Business Insider, where he wrote about I.Q. increases as a result of iodized salt.

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Word of Mouth
11:56 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Of Dice And Men: Dungeons & Dragons And The People Who Play It

Credit via ofdiceandmen.com

Recounting his relationship with Dungeons and Dragons, David Ewalt writes, “I don’t know if I played D&D because other kids my age thought I was a nerd, or if they thought I was a nerd because I played D&D.”  The progenitor of many of today’s role-playing games has gained a reputation for attracting social outcasts and misfits and as a gateway for teenage boys to consider Satan and suicide. Like millions of kids who played twenty-side die in basements and game rooms across the country, Ewalt grew up…and had less time for a game that could suck up the idle hours of youth. He’s among those picking up the old dice bag for a D&D revival. David Ewalt is now an editor for Forbes, and author of the new book Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons and Dragons and the People Who Play It. It hits stores August 20th.

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Word of Mouth
11:39 am
Tue August 6, 2013

An Inside Account of L.A. Gang Culture

kevindean via Flickr Creative Commons

Jorja Leap is a small person with a long shadow on the streets of Los Angeles. She’s a professor of social welfare at UCLA, and an anthropologist who, for the past seven years has traced the kinship ties, rites, turf wars, and intervention programs operating in the bloodiest trenches of LA. Her book, “Jumped In” is part memoir and part ethnographic narrative of gang culture from a woman who’s earned street cred among gang members, respect from academics and props from law enforcement. We spoke to Jorja last year when the book was first released; it is now out in paperback.

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Word of Mouth
11:14 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Greenwashing The New York City Skyline

The Bank of America Tower in mid-town Manhattan.
Credit Wall Gobetz via flickr Creative Commons

Some big players turned out for the Bank of America tower ribbon cutting ceremony in 2010. Al Gore was there. His investment management company is a tenant of the 55-story building advertised as the most sustainable building in the country. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was there too. Along with developer Douglas Durst, whose company got almost $950,000 in incentives from a state agency for the structure’s innovative, energy saving design. The B.O.A. tower received a platinum LEED rating – the highest score for building energy and efficiency.

New York-based journalist Sam Roudman found data published last fall by the city showing that the B.O.A. tower uses more energy and produces more greenhouse gases than some of the city’s historic buildings. The discrepancy between green ideals and reality raises new questions for more than fifty-thousand LEED certified buildings in the U.S.. Sam’s article “Bank of America’s Toxic Tower” is in the New Republic.

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Word of Mouth
11:12 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Arctic Methane Belch Could Prove Costly

Credit NASA/Kathryn Hansen via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's flickr

Methane is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon – and scientists have discovered there is a potentially disastrous amount of methane trapped under relatively thin ice in the east Siberian arctic shelf. New research measures the global impact the gas could have on global warming… and it’s not very optimistic.  Fred Pearce is environmental consultant for New Scientist.

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Word of Mouth
11:11 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Drugs, Murder, And Music: The Narco-Corrido

Chris Valdes and Ted Griswold
Credit Chris Valdes and Ted Griswold via Kickstarter

Los Tigres del Norte’s 1972 breakthrough hit, “Contrabando y Traicion” – is a song which, despite its cheery tone and instrumentation, tells the dark tale of two lovers trafficking marijuana in the tires of their car…a story that ends in betrayal and murder.   The song is what is called a “narco-corrido”, or drug ballad.  After returning from a two-year stint teaching grade-school in one of the most dangerous parts of Honduras, Ted Griswold and Chris Valdes find themselves wanting to return… they’re raising funds on Kickstarter for a documentary film about Honduras’ most famous underground drug-ballad band, Los Plebes de Olancho.

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