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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7.11.16: Debunking Internet Myths & Jay Craven

Jul 11, 2016
Tech in Asia via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/uPCXkc

If you're on Facebook, chances are tragic shootings and a hotly contested political climate have turned your social media feed into a forum for emotions, a place for sharing support, airing opinions and spreading lots and lots of misinformation.  On today’s show, how Buzzfeed aims to combat internet  hoaxes and fake news through their own tried and true method - an online quiz.

And this summer's hottest filming location - Nantucket?  We'll speak with New England director Jay Craven about shooting a historical film off the cape on a shoestring budget and college students as crew.

Shawn Carpenter via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/89a25N

Concepts of gender are shifting in workplaces, schools and public bathrooms across America. But how about on the track, or court or pool where athletes compete as male or female?  Today, how new Olympics guidelines define gender, and a fair fight.

And later in the show, an upset among the dignified crosswords puzzles set! We'll find out why the New York Times puzzle makers are being called tone-deaf. 

Simone via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/33FKF8

Calls for gun control follow a familiar path: a horrific shooting shakes the public's sense of security.  Concerned citizens mobilize and demand action from their elected leaders, then, the president calling for action. The pattern was set long before Sandy Hook or San Bernadino...try 1934. Today, we'll learn about the year when fear of gangsters drove gun control legislation.

Plus, the movie critic once reigned over the arts pages of newspapers and magazines...with the power to make or break a film. Today, the once lowly TV critics have all the juice.

Sheila Sund via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/ivvkpQ

These days just about every coffee shop, bookstore, and restaurant touts offers free wi-fi to its customers - but at what cost? Today, we'll find out the hidden dangers of public wi-fi.

Later, the road to become a professional wine sommelier is tough – it’s filled with endless taste-tests, and requires an expansive understanding of geography, and an incredibly sensitive palate. But how exactly does one become a water sommelier? We'll meet America's only one and talk about his restaurant, which features a 44-page water menu.

7.4.16: Happy Independence Day

Jul 4, 2016
Victoria Pickering via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/oh4jvW

It's the 4th of July, time to celebrate America's independence with family, fireworks, and food. On today's show, J.M. Hirsch, the former AP Food Editor and current Editorial Director of Milk Street Kitchen shares goes beyond the burgers and dogs and fires up some original outdoor cooking ideas. 

Then we'll head to the Hollywood Bowl to talk to the pyro-musical team that scores and designs Los Angeles' annual fireworks display.

To catch a thief, you have to think like one. To prevent a crime, you have to case a joint like a potential infiltrator and find the weak spots. On today’s show, a design critic gives us a burglar’s eye view of the built environment.

Plus, canceling a wedding isn't just emotionally traumatic - it can be a financial disaster. Now, websites are popping up to help unhappy couples sell their canceled weddings & give thrifty couples a chance to get hitched on the cheap.

Karin Dalziel via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/cBYCEh

Identifying potential terrorists is crucial to thwarting future attacks. The challenge is discerning real threats from bravado. Today on the show, how do security analysts survey thoughts?

Then, we’ll learn about two young men who embarked on a bold crime spree, stealing thousands of dollars worth of gold and weapons right in front of their victims…the hitch? It all went down in a video game.

Chris Ball via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/fgCbCo

Last year, President Obama toured a federal prison in Oklahoma - an unprecedented move for a sitting president and a clear sign of the administration's focus on criminal justice reform. Among its proposed reforms is a call to "ban the box" – which would move or remove questions about a job applicant's criminal history. Today, should the box also be banned from college applications?

Then, hip hop has been key to the runaway success of Hamilton...suddenly people are rapping about American history. Now, an educator and lyricist is applying that formula to the classroom. 

Andy Leppard via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/p6YGQ

DNA evidence broke ground by taking the uncertainty out of criminal convictions. But what was once a slam dunk to judge, jury and the public is increasingly under scrutiny. Today, unraveling genetic evidence.

Plus, Marshall, Texas is not what you'd call an innovation hub, yet a quarter of the nation's patent cases are filed there. A reporter looks into why patent holders and trolls choose this sleepy town and its one powerful judge to settle their suits - fast.

Bookish: A Celebration of Books

Jun 27, 2016

We're trying something a little different today on the show. In nine short chapters, we present the life cycle of a book -- the cliff notes version. You'll hear tales, tips and anecdotes on all sorts of odd parts of the process - from pitching a publisher to crafting the perfect blurb, and everywhere in between.

So whether you're an aspiring writer, an avid reader, a constant procrastinator, or an audiobooks aficionado - there's a little something for everybody.  

How To Pitch A Book Agent

Jun 27, 2016
Photo: Jessica Lund/National Library of Sweden / via flickr Creative Commons

Perhaps you’ve had the idea for a novel or memoir floating around in your head for years. Maybe your first draft is already finished! Now, it’s time for the most intimidating part - pitching your idea to an agent or publisher. In anticipation of our book show, we asked listeners to submit their 150-word book pitches and in turn, we sent them to Michelle Brower, a literary agent with Zachary Shuster Harmsworth.

In Conversation With Richard Russo

Jun 24, 2016
Camille Gévaudan via Wikimedia Commonc CC

Today, a conversation with Richard Russo, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls and Nobody's Fool, which was adapted into a film starring Paul Newman as Donald "Sully" Sullivan -  a quick-witted under-achiever eking out a living in a decaying factory town.

6.23.16: How We Can Be More Nordic & Citizen Khan

Jun 23, 2016
Valerio Fuoglio via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/dcPCcv

Bernie Sanders’ proposals for free education and healthcare were flatly rejected by those who said "we are not Denmark". A new book argues that the policies and protections in Nordic countries don't work because of shared benevolence, but because they benefit everyone's selfish interests. Today, a Finnish expat gives the US a pep talk.

Then, Zarif Khan migrated to America in the early 20th century and became prosperous and beloved in his Wyoming town...though the law prevented his citizenship.

Elias Levy via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/orHiFR

There are a lot of adjectives used to describe great white sharks:  Giant. Fearsome. Deadly.  But author and naturalist Sy Montgomery has seen sharks up close and might choose another word - like sublime. Today, the ocean's most mysterious and misunderstood predator gets a closer look.

Then, maybe you heard about the guy visiting Yellowstone who put a cold, abandoned baby buffalo in his car and drove it to a ranger station.  Attempts to reunite the little guy with its herd failed and it was euthanized - inciting an online riot over how humans interact with wild animals. 

Holly via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/9njS1o

With a divisive candidate at the top of the ticket, some republicans up for re-election in 2016 are looking to pivot their campaigns towards local issues. But can these low-level contenders avoid being tarred by the brush of presidential politics?

On today’s show, how Democrats and outside groups plan to play the trump card against local GOP candidates.

Also today, crowd sourced ratings of movies, TV and music allow everybody to chime in, but from movie critics boycotting the new Ghostbusters movie, to dismissing Taylor Swift songs as shallow, the whiff of sexism is all over online reviews...or is it?

Listen to the full show:

In Conversation With Russell Banks

Jun 20, 2016

Russell Banks is one of contemporary fiction's most acclaimed writers. With six short story collection and more than a dozen novels to his credit, Banks has portrayed the hard scrabble lives of people hemmed in by class, race and geography. 

Virginia sat down with Russell Banks in front of a live audience at the Shapiro Library and Learning Commons at Southern New Hampshire University. The event commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the SNHU's Master of Fine Arts in Fiction and Non-Fiction program. 

Happy Father's Day

Jun 17, 2016

Writers On A New England Stage: Grace Helbig

Jun 16, 2016
Sara Plourde / NHPR

On today's show, it's Writers on a New England Stage with Grace Helbig, recorded live at the Music Hall in Portsmouth. Helbig is everything you’d expect in an internet superstar: funny, extremely photogenic, self-deprecating, and little known to people over 30. 

Writers On A New England Stage: Alexander McCall Smith

Jun 15, 2016
Sara Plourde

Today on Word of Mouth it's Writers on a New England Stage with Alexander McCall Smith, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth.  Best known as the author of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, McCall Smith made his living for many years as an esteemed lawyer, medical law professor, and international authority on medical ethics and bioethics. 


A bona fide podcasting star, Aaron Mahnke has turned his love of the darker side of history into the spooky smash hit, Lore, which he researches and authors.

He's also the author of four thrillers (Grave Suspicion being his latest), a veteran of self-publishing, and handy with an 80s film reference.

Listen to the interview below.

Writers On A New England Stage: Patti Smith

Jun 14, 2016
(C) Hear and There Photography, CC BY 4.0 / http://on.fb.me/1QGOtR4

On today's show, it's Writers on a New England Stage with Patti Smith, recorded live at the Music Hall in Portsmouth. A poet, musician, and photographer, Smith is often called “the godmother of punk”. She co-wrote the radio hit "Because the Night" with Bruce Springsteen, but soon afterward she stepped off stage to move to Detroit and raise her family. It was with the publication of Just Kids in 2010 that she transformed from downtown cult figure to National Book Award-winning writer. 

American Dueling Grounds, Chuck Klosterman, & SpaceX

Jun 10, 2016
Nat Welch / https://flic.kr/p/dZ3KLR

Dueling was once a common part of the American experience. Today, we’ll learn more about this history and some popular dueling spots that that public can still visit today.

And what if we're wrong about everything? Pop culture critic Chuck Klosterman takes on the difficult task of predicting how our present will be viewed hundreds of years from now. We'll talk about the next great American novelist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and the improbable factor that kept Hamilton on the ten dollar bill.

Eric Constantineau via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/aqAzXP

Dueling was once a common part of the American experience. Today, we’ll learn more about this history and some popular dueling spots that that public can still visit today.

Then, Legos encourage kids and adults alike to build and create new worlds and aside from the rage you might feel when you step on one of those little bricks barefoot, Legos remain a relatively peaceful toy. Despite that reputation, Legos have gotten more violent over the years - and there’s decades of evidence to prove it. 

Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, University via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/sc9pR8

In July, nutrition fact labels  will see their first major overhaul in twenty years. Among the changes, a jumbo version of the calorie number - three times bigger than the rest of the listed information. Today, if we focus too much on calories, do we miss the bigger problem?

And what if we're wrong about everything? Pop culture critic Chuck Klosterman takes on the difficult task of predicting how our present will be viewed hundreds of years from now. We'll talk about the next great American novelist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and the improbable factor that kept Hamilton on the ten dollar bill.

RICARDO PABLO via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/qTaa3F

Psychiatrists have noticed an increase in patients who believe they are subjects of a reality TV show. Today, we learn about “the Truman Show delusion,” and the provocative hypothesis linking psychosis not only to brain chemistry and genetics, but culture and environment.

Then, studies on television viewing habits can be confusing: it shortens lifespans, improves sex-lives, decreases motor skills, and builds empathy. But what if it were your job to be glued to the tube?

Phillip LeConte via flickr Creative COmmons / https://flic.kr/p/9ECTMu

Cell phones, commercials, social media - wherever you are, whatever you're doing - something else is trying to get your attention.

On today’s show an author and motorcycle mechanic on why not everything can be engaging. And how overcoming boredom and mastering focus are essential skills in the age of distractibility.

Then, a segment composed almost entirely of our own distractions here at Word of Mouth - for our monthly installment of Overheard - a curated collection of online ephemera that's just about guaranteed to get you to Google while you listen.

Overheard - June Edition

Jun 6, 2016

We spend a lot of time researching stories, looking for segment ideas, and listening to hours of audio. In part because it's our job, but also because we like it! For the June Edition of Overheard, we welcome the newest member of our team Jimmy Gutierrez and we all share the best--and weirdest--audio stuff we've discovered recently. 

Little Marcy made her way into Jimmy's album collection recently and now he has done us all a kindness by sharing it for his first Overheard. 

Justin Ennis via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/juNFgM

It feels like summer. Time to head to the coast, the lake, or local pool. The urge to jump into water may feel instinctive on a hot day, but swimming is a learned behavior for humans. Today, an historian says that by learning to swim a little, humans have learned to drown a lot.

Plus, Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Richard Russo joins me for the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop. He talks about shedding pretentiousness, learning humility, and why the hapless citizens in the decaying mill town of his youth keep coming up in novels like Nobody's Fool and Empire Falls.

matthew chamberlain via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/68u1pz

Canadian officials are allowing some residents back to the scorched remains of Fort McMurray in Alberta. The colossal fire that began there in early May is still burning, and destroyed more than 2000 homes. Today, predictions that the next major fire disaster could be much closer to home.

Plus, canceling a wedding isn’t just emotionally traumatic - it can be a financial disaster. Now, websites are popping up to help unhappy couples sell their canceled weddings to thrifty couples looking to get hitched on the cheap.

Ulf Bodin via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/qwhVkN

Public concern about concussions has mostly centered around football and other male-dominated sports. But another population experiences concussions at an even higher rate...female athletes. Today, some alarming research on the frequency, diagnosis and treatment of concussions in women and girls.

Then, we may be on the verge of the next major milestone in long-distance running: the sub two-hour marathon - that's if one scientist has his way. So, can new technology, training and even genetic selection make people run long distances even faster?