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.

David Hale Smith via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/ecEZWt

From solitary poets to reclusive painters, loneliness is a rich vein for artists. Today, writer Olivia Laing meditates on this essential part of the human condition.

Then - we'll talk to the designer behind one of NASA's viral ad campaigns, a beautiful set of travel posters that put a mid-century spin on the future of space tourism. And, we’ll delve into the history of the iconic NASA logo known as "the meatball" and its doomed successor "the worm.”

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The life of a 'repo man' is always intense; just imagine the stakes on the high seas. On today’s show, we’ll dive into the murky world of maritime "repo men", hired to recover ships stolen and scrubbed to hide their identity by gun runners, human traffickers, and pirates.

Plus, does a crunchier-sounding potato chip taste better? Scientists are exploring how the senses are heightened by working together. 

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Business schools call it Enya-Nomics – after the new-age icon who's defied every record industry trend. Today, how Enya manages to keep selling more records than Beyoncé without touring, tweeting, talking to the press, or even leaving her Irish refuge.

Then, the very active history of sleep music. 

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Mid-life crises are embarrassing and all-too-common...but surely not among the prudent judges of nation's highest court? On today’s show, a former court clerk's new novel imagines a Supreme Court justice going off the rails.

Then, we'll hear about how today's gyms are building personal bathrooms and shower stalls for body shy millennials -- one writer thinks it's absurd for adults to fear getting undressed in front of others.

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Baby Boomers like to thumb their nose at Millennials for being entitled narcissists who refuse to grow up, and Millennials tend to poo-poo the Boomers because they're out of touch old folks. But one group seems to get left out of the conversation entirely. Today, what ever happened to Generation X?

Then, many people would rather just say nothing than take a stab at saying something shallow, boring, or potentially offensive, but small talk does have its merits. So what are they? 

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Picture this: the nation listens spell-bound - to a stand-off on the interstate between state police, the national guard and an organized group...helicopters swirl in the sky. The rebels are angry, they're fortified by heavy machinery, a truckload of explosives and are threatening to break through every blockade the cops set up. 

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Things got so raucous at the 10th Republican primary debate that at one point, the closed captions couldn't keep up and simply read  "unintelligible yelling". Today, a seasoned debate moderator on how to keep onstage arguments civil.

Plus, searches for how to move to Canada spiked 350% on Super Tuesday. We'll find where Americans threatening to leave if Trump wins would go.

And later in the show: are human beings wired to be swindled? We'll explore the psychology of con artists and why people fall for them over and over again.

click-see via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/V62An

From the solitary writer to the reclusive painter, loneliness is a rich vein for artists. Today, Olivia Laing meditates on her own bouts of loneliness, what it has meant to the world's great creative minds and why such an essential human experience cannot be wholly worthless.

Then, a historian on what ads seeking the capture of runaway slaves reveal about the identity, character and lives of runaways. 

Chilli Head via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/5NjCc2

As Super Tuesday results came in last night, Google searches for how to move to Canada spiked 350%. Whether Obama in '08, or Trump in 2016, a surprising number of people threaten "if so and so gets elected, I'm outta here". But where would they go?  Today, when Americans commit  self-imposed political exile.

And there's no farther place to travel than outer space - we'll talk to the designer behind one of NASA's viral ad campaigns, a beautiful set of travel posters that put a fifties spin on space tourism. 

3.01.16: The Art of Moderating & the Confidence Game

Mar 1, 2016
Peter Roberts via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7MUrSR

Last week's debate among republican presidential candidates was so raucous that at one point, the closed captions couldn't keep up and simply read "unintelligible yelling". Today, a seasoned debate moderator sheds light on the tough task of keeping onstage arguments civil, and what makes for a great debate.

Then, are human beings wired to be swindled? Later in the show we'll explore the psychology of con artists and why it's so easy to fall for them.

Stuff You Probably Didn't Know About Leap Day

Feb 29, 2016
Littleanimalgifs.tumblr.com / http://gph.is/1OIj4Z5

For most Americans, leap day comes and goes without much fanfare.  Sure, it’s great for a romantic comedy plot - but how do you celebrate an extra Monday? And how are you supposed to handle the birthday situation?

We looked further into leap day to answer those questions and more.

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When you picture a "prepper" you probably think survivalist - maybe wearing camouflage, with a cache of guns and canned goods for when civilization as we know it goes south. Today, the  "survival mom" just may surprise you.

Plus, we celebrate leap day with a historical look at the Gregorian calendar, and the many efforts to reform it, including a thirteen-month year that almost took off in the 20th century.

Healthcare coverage, interest-free loans, housing allowances. These are just some of the perks Starbucks is offering new employees in some of its new global markets. Today: is this benevolence, or just good business? 

Then, Beyoncé’s song "Formation" has made headlines since its release, but one line in particular has kicked off a conversation about food, race and culture in America.

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While a slew of controversial election laws in recent years have prompted concerns over voter disenfranchisement...  Little attention has been paid to what may be the country's most disenfranchised population: felons. Today, an election law scholar discusses the estimated five point eight million men and women who are banned from the polls.

Plus, the head of an online food magazine takes aim at food writers that he says are skirting journalistic responsibilities, in favor of lighter fare. 

2.22.16: Maycomb Revisited & Oscar Smear Campaigns

Feb 22, 2016
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This weekend, writers and book lovers mourned the passing of Harper Lee, the celebrated author of To Kill a Mockingbird. Today, we'll visit Lee's birthplace, Monroeville, Alabama, a small town that has produced two great American authors.

Then, as Hollywood gears up for the Academy Awards, we'll scratch beneath the award show's glitz and glam for a look at the long and crooked history of Oscar smear campaigns.

The Failure Show

Feb 19, 2016

There are winners and there are losers, victorious success stories, and epic fails - and today show is all about the latter. 

From sports to space, from politics to parenting, we explore our cultural obsession with failure and how we humans process failure. Is it a necessary path to success, or something to avoid at all costs? 

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Before Maz Jobrani was a panelist on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, he was an actor trying to get a break. Today, the Iranian-born comedian talks about being typecast as a terrorist.

And like Maz, many Hollywood hopefuls get their start as extras, making less than minimum wage. We’ll hear about an elite group who have made blending into the background a lucrative career.

2.17.16: Sex in the Sea & the Secret World of Casinos

Feb 17, 2016
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Parents have long used "the birds and the bees" to help explain how babies are made...They'd really have some explaining to do if they looked under the sea.  Today, the mating rituals of lobsters, and other examples of love down below.

Plus, casinos are dizzying places filled with blinking lights, blaring sounds, and outrageous carpet motifs...all designed to bewilder and seduce gamblers to bet high and lose big. We'll get a behind the scenes look at how casinos work from code words to house superstitions.

2.16.16: Super Cop, Robo-Advisors, & Carson the Butler

Feb 16, 2016
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Many of today's police cars are outfitted with high tech cameras that can scan license plates across four lanes of traffic. They're designed to help stop terrorism, but police departments are using them for a more lucrative purpose: nabbing people for unpaid traffic fines. On today’s show, the ultimate traffic cops.

Plus, would you take investment advice from a robot?  With an increasing number of banks offering automated services, we'll get a profile of investors willing to ditch traditional financial advisors for an algorithm.

All that plus a conversation with Jim Carter, better known as Carson the Butler from Downton Abbey

2.15.16: Happy Presidents' Day

Feb 15, 2016
Public Domain

Today America celebrates the forty-three men who have thus far assumed the nation's highest office - but Presidents’ Day was first established in 1885 to celebrate the birthday of only one: George Washington. Turns out, he would have disapproved of all that fanfare.

On today’s show, from mountainside monuments to commemorative  sandwiches, we'll explore the sometimes bewildering ways America remembers its dead presidents.

Also a look at some of the contenders for the Grammy awards airing tonight.

Sex in the Sea, A Musical Conspiracy, & Killer Heels

Feb 12, 2016
Malingering via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/3KR9LY

Valentine's Day is a time for gifts, romance, and...well...intimacy. Today word of mouth celebrates the day with a look at how it's done under the sea, including the tender mating rituals of lobsters.

We'll also find out why maintaining a sex-positive environment is so important to sea life.

Plus, a conversation with the curator of "Killer Heels" a new exhibit at the Currier Museum of Art showcasing the rich history and evolving design of high heels.

Marianne Williamson has written six New York Times best sellers, including The Age Of Miracles and A Return To Love. Known in some circles as Hollywood's favorite self-help guru, we just had to find out what the process for a spiritual author entails - so we asked her for ten minutes.

ebru via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/4LULC

Wendy's, McDonald's and Burger King are competing for customers with deeply discounted menus. But can that strategy rescue a waning fast food market?

On today’s show, fast food is falling into a discount trap. Also today, the best sellers list is heavy with memoirs from celebrities and everyday people. We'll explore why writers want to share their secrets and delve into the art of a great memoir.

Up until July of 2013, Word of Mouth was broadcast live, and therefore subject to the occasional mishaps and misfortunes of live radio–dropped calls, nervous interviewees, and the occasional technical bumble.

During that time, I was the program’s primary director–it was up to me to make quick calls about when to drop a guest, keep an ear out for the pace of the program, and figure out what to do when things weren’t going the way we had planned.

I’ll be the first to tell you that my job is much less stressful now that we tape our segments and edit them before the show airs (and we’ll never have a dropped call again) but I learned a great deal about making radio during that time.

Here are a few of my favorite “failed” interviews from when Word of Mouth was broadcast live, and the lessons they imparted.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

When it comes to the players and intrigues of primary politics, Fergus Cullen, has plenty of stories. On today’s show we celebrate election day with the former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party. He'll dish on some key moments of primaries past, And explain what he thinks makes New Hampshire voters tick.

Plus, we'll remember the campaign of Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman from a major party to run for president, in 1964.

L: Chris R: Camilo Rueda López via flickr Creative Commons / L: https://flic.kr/p/hZL67 | R: https://flic.kr/p/7YY4d7

Most Americans know far more about the names of the royals than how British democracy works, but many Brits are closely following the presidential primary here in the U.S. On today’s show, The Guardian's man in NH gives us a British perspective on America’s election.

Then, between the paltry snow cover and spring-like temperatures, suffice it to say, this has been a very strange New Hampshire winter, and the unseasonable temperatures have put a dent in many winter activities. Among the hardest hit? Ice fishing. We'll get the fisherman's perspective on the winter that hasn't really started.

Group learning and collaborative skills are status quo in today's classrooms - which can be tough on introverts, especially when they're the teacher.  On today’s show, the high burnout rate for introverted teachers.

Then, politicians have a long and storied past with music, from Bill Clinton playing saxophone on late night TV to Mike Huckabee playing bass in his band Capital Offense. But perhaps the most perplexing display of musical...uh...prowess: Bernie Sanders' folk album.

Courtesy JimmyTingle.com

From Tina Fey’s "Sarah Palin" to Larry David’s "Bernie Sanders", politicians are red meat for comedians. But for some, impersonating a candidate isn’t enough. On today’s show, Boston comic Jimmy Tingle throws his hat in the ring - again!

Then, politicians have a long and storied past with music, from Bill Clinton playing saxophone on late night TV to Mike Huckabee playing bass in his band Capital Offense. But perhaps the most perplexing display of musical...uh...prowess: Bernie Sanders' folk album.

Also we’ve got another episode of the 10-Minute Writer’s Workshop with bestseller Marianne Williamson.

Bart Everson via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/7pQSQ

Group learning and collaborative skills are status quo in today's classrooms - which can be tough on introverts, especially when they're the teacher.  On today’s show, the high burnout rate for introverted teachers.

Also, remember the days of The Shadow, and The Green Hornet? We'll hear about a live stage show that takes comic book radio drama to a new level.

And "Cash for Your Warhol",  the story of a fake business that became surprisingly real.

2.1.16: Dead Presidents & Killer Heels

Feb 1, 2016
Brady Carlson / bradycarlson.com

After Iowans caucus tonight, the candidates will be back in New Hampshire, making a case for why they deserve to be president. The job's got plenty of perks, but it also means giving over your life, and your death. On today’s show, from mountainside monuments to commemorative sandwiches, we'll explore how America remembers its dead presidents.

Also today, high heeled shoes: mocked, coveted, and symbolic to feminists and fashionistas. We'll learn about the history of high heel shoes and why they haven’t always been a symbol of feminine status.