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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Millennials are less religious than their predecessors—so what does that mean for the future of the abortion issue? On today’s show, the growing number of young pro-life activists who are—or call themselves—secular feminists: the new generation of pro-life activists who are separating themselves from the GOP, and the religious right.

Plus, a new 10-Minute Writer's Workshop with Jodi Picoult. Her newest book carries on her tradition of tackling tough subjects with an ensemble of narrators, and this time, it's race. 

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Doctors Without Borders provides emergency medical aid to people the world over, and is funded almost entirely by individuals. So, why did they turn down free pneumonia vaccines from Pfizer? On today’s show we’ll look into the hidden costs of free vaccines.

Plus, futuristic TV shows and movies make facial recognition technology seem like a sure bet, but a new report reveals problems with racial bias, and reliability. And like it or not, it's already being used today.

We’ll also check in with the latest installment of The Bookshelf with author Chelsey Philpot.

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Flagrantly unsubstantiated "facts", misrepresented news, and deliberately false memes whooped up by the partisan fringes have been fast and furious this election... And thanks to Facebook's algorithm, fake news stories continue to trend. Today, if you yell at the Facebook echo chamber to stop, does it only get louder?

Then, in a contentious election season full of bombshells, boasts, and social media driving the outrage, how do newsrooms determine what deserves attention what doesn’t?

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As one of the most densely populated placed on earth, Hong Kong has a very competitive retail market. But deals can be had, if... You're willing to put up with a few ghosts. Today, the haunted house hustle.

Also today, it's been almost 70 years since Shirley Jackson's chilling classic "The Lottery" shocked readers. We'll talk with Jackson's grandson about his graphic adaptation of the story, and with Jackson's biographer about the author's many faces... Comically besieged housewife, channeler of nightmares, witch?

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Parenting blogs are full of forums discussing "no touch" policies at school around the country. Today, much less discussed among the nanny state is the physical punishment that’s still happening in some public schools.

And then, in an effort to save public face, some universities have went all-in on chasing college rankings. While these lists don’t fully represent the college experience, the tangible, advertised results are invaluable to administrators.

Writers on a New England Stage: Jodi Picoult

Oct 26, 2016
David J. Murray / ClearEyePhoto.com

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with Jodi Picoult recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. 

Picoult is a phenomenally successful novelist, with more than 14 million books in print worldwide. Small Great Things is her most recent. Like previous books, it debuted at number one on best-sellers lists.

Picoult devotees will recognize the relatable, everyday characters thrashing through controversial ethical issues seemingly ripped from the headlines. But for her, Small Great Things was different. It’s about racism, white privilege and the inherited inequities of America’s past and present. She says it was one of the hardest books to write. The Washington Post called it her most important

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New Hampshire's largest city has a rich industrial history as mill town. Today, it's a hub for tech and companies and education. Today, a Manchester resident says it's time the re-awakened  queen city got a new guide.

Plus, a comprehensive map of the world’s weirdest places – from Brazil’s Snake Island to an Icelandic elf school, to a giant burning hole in Turkmenistan, Atlas Obscura's new book is sure to make your next vacation a little stranger.

10.24.16: Prison Labor, Messy, & Jack Kirby

Oct 24, 2016
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In September, 24 thousand inmates launched the first-ever national prison strike - a story largely lost to election news. Among the complaints: prison labor is akin to slavery.  Today, we'll look at the cost of labor on the inside.

Plus, the tidying -up trend got people throwing out stuff and organizing their way to serenity. An economist argues that there are upsides to leaving life a little “messy”. 

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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 99th 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:

Liz West via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/dfpp25

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.

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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:

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:

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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