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.

Want to get an email when we publish a new podcast episode? Click to subscribe.

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.”

Benjamin Chun via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/bSXrxr

For students hoping to get into a competitive college or university, high SAT scores are crucial. On today’s show, law professor and civil rights activist argues that the SAT is a more accurate measurement of family wealth, race and ethnicity than merit. 

Then, The Uncommon Core, our series on offbeat college courses, continues with golf course management. We’ll also hear from a husband and wife research team going to great lengths to end the bedbug epidemic– including offering themselves up as food!

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

Michael Lokner via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/7kYSTb

The workplace/office has long been the source of gripes at the dinner table, but it is also a mainstay in Hollywood as an obstacle for movie characters to overcome or endure. The movie Office Space is an obvious example of an office playing an essential supporting role--or even the lead role--in a movie, so we didn't include it in the list. There are plenty more that didn't make the cut. Have a favorite? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Stephen Cole via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/AMuDH

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, we flip the script and hear a defense of office life. 

Print media circling the drain, record and film companies battling piracy, the rise of cheap, reality TV: while some sectors have bounced back from the recession, creative industries seem to remain in peril. A former arts reporter ponders the decline of the creative class and what society loses when artists can’t make a living.

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

2nd Annual State Of The Union Bingo!

Jan 20, 2015
Sara Plourde / NHPR

Back by popular demand, it's the 2nd Annual Word of Mouth SOTU Bingo Card!

Planning on watching the State of the Union address this evening? Why not have a little fun and play State of the Union bingo with us! Simply print one--or the whole set if you're hosting a party--of our fancy bingo cards, and keep your eyes and ears open. We'll also be live-tweeting the speech, if you'd like to join the conversation online. It all kicks off at 9 p.m. sharp!  

Pete Souza / flic.kr/p/9dq2yf

If you’ve felt skeptical during a political speech, fear not! Politifact is fact-checking tonight’s State of the Union address and the Republican response in real time. On today’s show: how to truth squad a speech that has not yet happened, and the challenges of distinguishing fact from fiction in the political realm.

Then, in an age when so much information is kept in the cloud or on hard drives, hoarding is no longer a problem unique to the physical realm; we’ll talk to a self-diagnosed digital hoarder.

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

Logan Shannon / NHPR

New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary may be a year away, but presidential hopefuls are already jockeying for position. Today we’ll talk about why you should forget election fatigue and start paying attention to the race now.

Plus, it turns out that girls are growing up much faster than they used to. Why is this generation of girls going through puberty much earlier than previous ones?

Then, one of the world’s leading theorists on comics tells us how the brain interprets simple cartoons and symbols – much differently than words.

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

1.15.15: The Invisible Primary and Authentic Brands

Jan 15, 2015
cmh2315fl via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/neZUmD

New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary may be a year away, but presidential hopefuls are already jockeying for position. Today,we’ll talk about why you should forget election fatigue and start paying attention to the race now – and we'll talk about signs that a politician is considering a run at the presidency.

And we'll continue our series on offbeat college courses, the Uncommon Core, with Beauty Pageants 101.

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

Maurizio Pesce via Flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/kJ2MCk

Kids grow up so fast…and it turns out that girls are growing up even faster. Why is this generation of girls going through puberty much earlier than previous ones?

And while the international Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas may be over, journalist David Ewalt remains giddy after touring it. He’ll recap some of the best and worst product ideas he saw at the show.

And then we’ll take a look at the sordid history of cheerleading.

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

Costel Slincu via Flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/jNs2ez

It’s going to be another cold week, so it’s time to turn up the thermostat, and pile on the blankets. Or maybe not. On today’s show, we consider the benefits of being cold.

Then, as winter progresses, school superintendents will grapple with whether or not to cancel school – we’ll hear the case for more snow days.

And a chef reinvents classic comfort food.

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

Dinuraj K via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/eYeQHS

Last week’s attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris prompted an outpouring of support from satirists and comedians around the world. On today’s show a candid conversation with the former editor of The Onion on how the fake news magazine considered and created satire.

Then, one of the world’s leading theorists on comics tells us how the brain interprets simple cartoons and symbols -- much differently than words.

And we’ll get a sneak peak of NPR’s new show Invisibilia, which explores unseen phenomena in science and human behavior.

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

The Onion's Former Editor: Satire Is A Careful Craft

Jan 9, 2015
Steve Rhodes via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/epYJk

In the wake of Wednesday's attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, the former editor of America's Fake News Source The Onion, Joe Randazzo wrote an op-ed piece for MSNBC in which he states, "Satire must always accompany any free society. It is an absolute necessity." Virginia spoke to Joe about his experiences while at The Onion and why satire, in its many forms should always have a place at the table.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Wednesday’s attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris prompted an international outpouring of support from satirists and comedians around the world. On today’s show, a candid conversation with the former editor of The Onion on the careful craft of satire.

Plus, the manliest man of Russia. A simple Google search reveals countless images of Vladimir Putin, riding horseback, hunting, and brandishing weapons. We’ll talk to a scholar about how the Russian leader uses machismo and gender stereotypes to build political legitimacy.

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

Sleeper Films Of 2014

Jan 8, 2015
Sara Robertson via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/7TR6o3

The Golden Globes are coming up, the event that will spark moviegoers to re-watch their favorite – now award-winning – films of 2014. But what about the other films of 2014, the ones that didn’t make the cut? We spoke to Amy Diaz about her list of “sleeper” films – films that are not nominated, but that you should pay attention to anyway. From The Babadook to The Obvious Child, Amy gave us some great suggestions about what to watch on a snow day.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond

“I wanted to start teaching this course because I wanted a way to engage students in linguistics without having to actually teach them linguistics.  I wanted a kind of pop-culture back road into linguistics.  Also I’m a huge Star Trek fan.”

Ed Yourdon via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/bcz7De

Last month’s announcement that the U.S. and Cuba will restore diplomatic relations sparked waves of speculation about what the thaw means for diplomacy, trade, and tourism. On today’s show: what normalized relations mean for Cuba’s internet infrastructure.  

And we usher in awards season by going off the red carpet. We’ll celebrate some of the best films of 2014 that were not nominated for a Golden Globe.

Plus, we kick off a new series on offbeat college courses, The Uncommon Core. Today: Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond.

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

Photoshopping Vladimir Putin

Jan 7, 2015

Do a quick search of Vladimir Putin and you'll find a countless array of photoshopped images of the Russian leader riding a bear, a shark, a giraffe, an eagle and, because: puns, a Ritz® cracker.

There are a bevy of tumblr's devoted to photographs of Putin. Some are photoshop and mash-up photos, other are just " normal" photos of Putin, that manage to somehow appear photoshopped.

Uncomfortable Moments with Putin

Jedimentat44 via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/auAnDK

A simple Google image search reveals countless images of a shirtless Vladimir Putin, riding horseback, fishing, and brandishing weapons. On today’s show: how the Russian leader uses machismo and gender stereotypes to build political legitimacy.

Then, among the most popular New Year resolutions, getting in shape ranks close to the top, but less than 10% of weight-loss resolutions last. A philosopher shares his take on how we should think about exercise, in order to maintain a regimen.

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

Miguel O. Strauss via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/89BTbC

Bankrupt orchestras, aging audiences, skyrocketing tuition at conservatories; the death knell for classical music in America is sounding again. On today’s show, a concert cellist offers some tough love for the classical music world.

Then we’ll investigate the condiment that brought down an empire. Among the disturbing parallels between America and the fall of Rome: over reliance on one condiment!

Plus: we’ll sample some of history’s craziest hangover cures. From fried canary to raw eel.

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

Pages