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

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes or find us on Stitcher.

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Miranda July: The First Bad Man

Feb 19, 2015

Miranda July. Maybe you know her from her quirky and charming 2005 film “Me And You And Everyone We Know,” which won the special jury prize at Sundance – but since then she’s made a second film, a book of short stories, a messaging app, and has performed all over the world, and now she’s written a novel.

July’s debut novel The First Bad Man continues her skill at revealing uncomfortable moments and unexpected truths … in a very funny way.

Rachel via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/dXsYyp

The Oscars are Hollywood’s top award for recognizing achievement in film – and of course, fashion. On today’s show: why some actresses are bucking against the red carpet parade.

Then, for most of us, the prospect of winning a million dollars is a daydream, but for Justin Peters, it was just two right answers away. He’ll explain how losing Who Wants to Be a Millionaire changed his life for the better.

Plus, a conversation with artist, writer and filmmaker Miranda July.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Oscar Image: Davidlohr Bueso via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/6W4DBr

Of course the Oscar ceremony is already too long, they even have a whole separate awards ceremony for the awards most people outside of the film industry don't understand, but we still think the Oscars are missing a few key awards. Enter the 1st Annual Wommie Awards! We asked Amy Diaz from The Hippo to help us create a ballot chock full of amazing talent that aren't getting the recognition we think they deserve. 

Check out the nominees below and then cast your vote by 

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Video Games & History

Mark Stevens via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/oWwRHM

According to a report from the National Park Service only 7% of annual park visitors are African American. On today’s show, we delve into environmental history and cultural studies to find out why the story of the American outdoors is so white.

Then, environmentalists have taken many tacks to get people to be “greener”: the doomsday approach, education, shame. Now new research suggests another way to increase green behaviors: a salary. Why paying people an hourly wage decreases environmentally-friendly behaviors.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

2.16.14: Presidents' Day

Feb 16, 2015
WorldIslandInfo.com, Wystan, & U.S. Embassy New Delhi via Flickr Creative Commons

Word of Mouth celebrates Presidents’ Day with presidential portraits from Writers on a New England Stage. We’ll talk to three authors who took a deeper look into the complexities and motivations of American leaders throughout history.

 

clotho98 via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/7xS1rf

Scents can evoke memories, arouse appetite, and even alter moods. On today’s show we’ll sniff out the science of smell.

Then, internet trolling can be a hobby for angry people with a sadistic bent, but now crowd funding is supporting a new brand of professional troll. We’ll take a look into the lucrative business of posting hate.

Plus, for the latest installment of our series Good Gig we’ll talk to a music editor who’s compiled the 101 strangest records on Spotify.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

NHPR Staff

Do you like the music you hear between segments on Word of Mouth? You can listen to it again on Spotify. Check out and add Word of Mouth's playlist, which we update each week with the latest music we're using on the program.

Judy van der Velden via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/b3PGUM

Diamonds are forever. Or so we thought. Turns out that global sales of diamonds and fine jewelry have been sluggish since the global recession. On today’s show,  from iPhones to better production of costume bling, is technology killing the jewelry industry?

Then, Selma, Gone Girl, and Interstellar are among this year’s Oscar snubs. We’ll approach the academy’s cold-shoulder from a different angle, and reveal entire categories notably absent from the awards.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Dave via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/4rTLFX

Valentine’s Day is this weekend and couples in love are expected to spend in the billions, but spending by singles may have even greater revenue potential. On today’s show, a look at China’s anti-Valentine’s holiday: Singles' Day and how it became the largest online shopping day in the world.

Then, from clamshell razors to electrolysis, humans have gone to great lengths to achieve a smooth, clean shave. We’ll take a look at the history of hair removal, and what it reveals about shifting views of racial and social status in the U.S. 

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Doug Kline via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/7JD5La

As long as transplants have been medically possible, there have been horror stories about the black market organ trade. On today’s show, an anthropologist sheds the trappings of academia to take on, and even indict, illegal organ brokers.  

Then, Breaking Bad’s spin off Better Call Saul premiered last night to rave reviews from The New York Times and Rolling Stone.

We’ll speak with the man behind the character of sleaze bag lawyer Saul Goodman, actor and comedian Bob Odenkirk.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

From Mr. Show To Better Call Saul: Bob Odenkirk

Feb 9, 2015
Sharon Alagna

  Before Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Bob Odenkirk was a cult favorite on Mr. Show, a show he co-created with comedian David Cross. And before that he wrote for Saturday Night LiveDennis Miller, and Ben Stiller. His comedic style definitely veers towards the absurd which is evident in one of the shows he produced for Comedy Central: Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! 

Flickr-Anselmo Sousa

The media often portray Sweden as a modernist utopia where blond-haired trend makers export upbeat pop music, hip furniture and meat balls, and parents enjoy unparalleled family leave. On today’s show we debunk the myth of the Scandinavian utopia. Then, we’ll talk about the clear difference between ordinary obsession and the disease known as obsessive-compulsive disorder. And Bill Littlefield talks about his favorite sportswriters, and reads from his new collection of athletics-inspired poetry.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.


Sara Plourde / NHPR

The American Vacation

“Vacations were an important part of the social life of the upper class in the United States throughout the 19th century.   They even had a circuit of vacations that followed the sun in some ways – they went south for the winter, came back north to Newport and other places like that. In fact, they became what  Thorstein Veblen critiqued as ‘the leisure class.’  It’s not until the turn of the 20th century that the middle class begins to see vacations as something that’s possible for them.” 

judy h via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/dhJGn7

“The world is a richer place when we encourage artistic expression in everybody, not just in very well-known, public figures, but in our everyday lives.”

From old sea songs to back-porch tunes, America’s folk music is as diverse as those who play it. Playing in theaters in Somerville, Massachusetts and back seats of Black Cabs in London, John Reilly and Friends have brought bluegrass music to the world in a whole different way. We spoke to John C. Reilly, actor and musician, and felt the need to spread his band’s music far and wide!

Thomas Hawk via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/9FeTsh

From hospitals to auto-plants, robotics has been embraced by many fields, making work environments safer and more efficient. On today’s show we look to the fast food industry and ask the question: would people eat burgers made by a robot?

And, he may be best known as a film actor, but John C. Reilly can add another role to his resume: folk singer. Later in the show we’ll talk to Reilly about his latest adventures in music.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Why Sweden Isn't Quite As Perfect As We Thought

Feb 4, 2015
flic.kr/p/jgF1kn
Mariusz Kluzniak / Flickr

Maybe we should just move to Sweden.” It’s a common refrain in some households, this desire to move to a country that we paint as utopian. Well, after talking to Michael Booth about his book The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, taking a cue from Michael, we came up with five reasons you may not like Sweden as much as you thought.

Good Gig: Night Meteorologist On Mount Washington

Feb 4, 2015
Courtesy Mount Washington Weather Observatory

Being the night meteorologist at the top of Mount Washington might not sound like a Good Gig for some people, but for Ryan Knapp, it's the perfect place to experience weather first hand. So what kind of person would be happy working at a place known for having the worst weather in the world?

Boiling water to snow in just seconds!  

Don McCullough via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/pGTbyX

The media often portrays Sweden as a modernist utopia – where blond-haired trend makers export upbeat pop music, hip furniture and meat balls, and parents enjoy unparalleled family leave. On today’s show: debunking the myth of the Scandinavian utopia.

And we uncover a growing trend among the DIY set: Ikea hacking, where people use Ikea’s raw materials to create their own customized furniture.

And our series Good Gig continues with a meteorologist based on the beautiful, but often inhospitable, summit of Mount Washington.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Yosuke Muroya via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/arnWtA

Empathy, the ability to share in the emotions of another, has been on the decline since the 1980’s, with the steepest drop occurring in the past ten years. So what’s the big deal? On today’s show, we’ll discuss how to become a more empathetic human being. 

Plus, in just a few weeks, canines from around the world will face off in the best of breed categories at the Westminster dog show. But are pure bred dogs a cause for celebration? Or outrage?

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Paul Burnett and Clint McMahon via Flickr Creative Commons

Wherever you live, whatever you’re into, human beings respond to music. Brain researchers have found that listening to music not only makes you feel good – it alters your brain physiologically. To find out more we, talked to Dr. Robert Zatorre,  Neuroscientist at the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University.

Alice via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/9Qcvg9

Have you ever heard someone say, “I can be a little bit OCD”? On today’s show: the clear difference between ordinary obsession and the disease known as obsessive-compulsive disorder.And we’ll stay in the cerebral realm for a look at music’s affect on the human brain, and its power to evoke feelings of sadness, serenity, and awe.  

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Male-only swimming pools, too few bathrooms, inappropriate sexual comments. On today’s Word of Mouth, the secret --- and not so honorable -- history of including women in the U.S. Senate

Then, in his State of the Union Address, President Obama proposed paid maternity and sick leave. We’ll take an unfiltered look at the state of family leave in America.

Plus, we celebrate Superbowl Sunday with the curious history of one of the sports’ key beverages: Gatorade.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Zombies In Popular Media

“I like the philosophical questions the best, so the zombie movies that really challenge us to think about how we react to other people and what it means to be part of community are really useful. In that regard, I like Invasion of the Body Snatchers quite a bit. We’ll also use a Showtime movie from 2006 called Zombie Honeymoon, which is really great. The production values aren’t fantastic, but the movie has a lot of meat to chew on, so to speak.”

Felipe Tofani via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/qrT32G

In a rare move, Fox News apologized for referring to areas in Europe as Muslim-only “no-go zones.” On today’s show: the origins of the “no-go-zone” myth, and why it persists.

Then, we tackle a very different kind of origin story—the curious experiments that launched the most successful non-carbonated beverage in the U.S.: Gatorade.

And we continue our series on offbeat college courses: The Uncommon Core. Today: "Zombies in Popular Media".

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Good Gig: Spotify Browse Editor Rob Fitzpatrick

Jan 28, 2015

Initially we contacted Rob Fitzpatrick to talk about the series he's been writing for The Guardian, "101 Strangest Records on Spotify", but when we found out what he does for a living, we realized we had a real Good Gig on our hands. The job title "Browse Editor" for Spotify was not one we'd heard of before, but now we all want that job! Getting paid to listen to music seems like the best kind of job.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

In a series of comic books, Joel Christian Gill shines a light on unsung African American figures from history. On today’s show, he tells us why he’s launched a campaign against Black History Month, and makes the case that #28DaysAreNotEnough.

Then, an outbreak of measles traced to Disneyland has outraged parents and cast anti-vaccine advocates as dangers to the public. We’ll hear about a propaganda tool that targeted anti-vaxxers in 18th Century France: fashionable hats!

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Brady-Handy Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)

Male-only swimming pools, too few bathrooms, inappropriate sexual comments: On today’s show the secret--and not so honorable--history of women in the U.S. Senate.

Then, common wisdom tells us that half of marriages end in divorce. Turns out, the oft-quoted number is wrong. We’ll debunk the pervasive divorce rate myth. And, we’ll take an unfiltered look at the state of family and maternity leave in America.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

From 9 to 5 to The Office, we’ve got plenty of examples of cookie-cutter cubicles where workers toil away in soul-crushing boredom and fatigue. On today’s show: in defense of office life.

Then, My So Called Life, Freaks and Geeks, Arrested Development: all celebrated shows that fans argue were canceled too soon. A TV critic urges us to take pleasure in shows that have been given the axe prematurely.

And a critical take on Amazon’s deal to premiere Woody Allen’s first ever TV series, and why it may not be such a coup for the company. 

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Introduction to Turfgrass Management,  Golf Course Design and Construction , Turfgrass management and Irrigation, & Golf Course Management

“There is a split between students that like to play golf and students interested in horticulture, but I think that sometimes there’s a blend of both.  I think that it is important to be able to play golf, to understand the rules and the concerns of the players.”

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