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, Zach Nugent, and Logan Shannon. Our Senior Producer is Maureen McMurray. Check out a playlist of music used on the program on Spotify. You can leave us a message on the Word of Mouth Listener Line anytime. We reserve the right to use your message on the air: (603) 223-2448

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Word of Mouth
12:17 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Pimp My Cane

Credit Rusty Clark via flickr Creative Commons

We may associate canes with old age and physical decline, but 150 years ago the cane held a much more dashing and flamboyant place among the fashionable elite. Wildly decorated and splendidly diverse, canes were associated with prestige, power, and youth, and were extremely trendy. The demand for canes made of allspice wood nearly drove the West Indian trees into extinction. Here to discuss the 19th century version of twenty-two inch rims is Wayne Curtis, a freelance journalist who has written for The Atlantic, Preservation, and Down East magazines. We found his recent article, “Pimp My Walk” on The Smart Set blog.

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Word of Mouth
12:04 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Trying A Terrorist: Emotional Closure Might Be Difficult

Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston.
Credit jspad via flickr Creative Commons

With Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in custody, the relief many Bostonians felt at his capture turns to anger.  While prosecutors have only begun to build their case against the 19-year old marathon bombing suspect, the public has strong expectations of how Tsarnaev’s trial should proceed and how he should be punished.

Leon Neyfakh writes for the ideas section of the Boston Globe, he spoke to criminologists, legal scholars and academics who warn that the trial will likely fall short of the public’s wish for emotional closure, and justice.

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Word of Mouth
10:27 am
Thu May 2, 2013

When "Mad Men" Met Wonder Bread

Credit via indiebound.org

For most of the twentieth century, Americans got between a quarter and a half of their daily calories from uniform loaves of factory baked white bread. It was a symbol of an industrial food revolution that inspired national pride; a dough so emblematic of a successful democracy that the book White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf was written not by a baker, but a professor of politics; the author, Aaron Bobrow-Strain, teaches politics at Whitman College in Washington. He also wrote about his own attempt to prepare the perfectly rectangular cloud-like loaf in The Believer magazine.  We spoke to Aaron when his book was first published about the deeply symbolic place of white bread in American identity; the book is now out in paperback.

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Word of Mouth
10:36 am
Wed May 1, 2013

The New, NEW Atheism

In the wake of 9/11, the faith of many people was shaken to the core… with the help of authors like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, a movement many referred to as “New Atheism” emerged – pointing a finger at religion as a source of global violence and zealotry.  Now, more than a decade later, the rhetoric seems to have softened.  Our guest today argues that secular humanism is shifting into a new era, paving the way for a brand new conversation about religion and the faithless.

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Word of Mouth
10:30 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Best-Selling Trend: The Funny Female Memoir

Credit drinksmachine via Flickr Creative Commons

Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO hit series Girls, recently signed 3.5 million dollar book contact for a memoir. When published, Dunham’s book will share shelf space with bestsellers like Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened:  A Mostly True Memoir and Heather McDonald’s My Inapropriate Life: Some Material Not Suitable For Small Children, Nuns Or Mature Adults.  Part humor, part memoir, books in this category are almost always written by women and openly explore sex, drinking and even mental illness in a brazen and unrepentant manner.  And readers, especially those that are not offended easily, are snapping them up. 

Jean Railla, a writer and cultural observer is here to tell us more.  

Related: Gawker's viral blog about Lena Dunham's book deal.

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Word of Mouth
10:17 am
Wed May 1, 2013

The Life Of An Ex- Conspiracy Theorist

Credit theqspeaks via Flickr Creative Commons

Mere hours after the Boston Marathon bombings, the internet lit up with conspiracy theories…Infowars and Alex Jones weighed in…so did Glenn Beck, who said he had proof that it was an inside job by the government. It’s kind of tough to back off from such a bold statement…and as evidence to the contrary mounted, those claiming to know the truth tend to get even more riled up and attack the poor saps who disagree with them. They get especially mad when one of their own disagrees. 

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Word of Mouth
2:15 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet, Sharon Olds

Credit via indiebound.org

Throughout her career the poet Sharon Olds has been asked if her poems were true or autobiographical. There are poems about mothering and domesticity and eroticism filled with personal details and described with remarkable directness and insight. Sharon Olds has rejected the auto-biographical characterization and resisted talking about her life while her children were young, and her parents were alive. She even kept the disillusion of her 32 year marriage from the public; waiting more than a decade to publish Stag's Leap, a collection of poems that is being praised as the best book of her career, and earlier this month won the Pullitzer Prize for poetry.

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Word of Mouth
10:05 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Life After The Presidency

President Barack Obama talks with with former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and former First Lady Barbara Bush at the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Tex., April 25, 2013. First Lady Michelle Obama talks with an unidentified person in the background. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.
Credit US Embassy Panama via flickr Creative Commons

Last week, after a long hiatus from the news cycle, a familiar voice graced the airwaves…President George W. Bush speaking at the opening of his Presidential Library and museum in Texas. The event put Bush on the podium, and back in the limelight after years of relative seclusion.  The library’s opening also made for an unusual photo op– all five current and previous living presidents – Jimmy Carter, Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, Bush Jr. and Barack Obama – sharing a stage, shoulder to shoulder.  Ex-presidents have  taken on a number of roles after leaving the oval office throughout American history… here to talk more about life after the oval office is political junkie and NPR political editor Ken Rudin, who you can hear Wednesdays on Talk of the Nation.

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Word of Mouth
9:53 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Game Theory According To Jane Austen

Credit Illustration by Sonny Liew

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s most celebrated novel, in which Ms. Bennet discovers her true love in a man she first sees as an adversary. Pride and Prejudice has spurred countless adaptations, films, and even a zombie parody…but now Austen is getting new attention not for her romantic prose, but for her strategic thinking. Joining us is Jennifer Schuessler with the New York Times, who recently covered the publication of the book, Jane Austen, Game Theorist, written by UCLA political scientist Michael Chwe.

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Word of Mouth
3:35 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

St. Anselm Celebrates Shakespeare With Sonnets

Organizer Prof. Gary Bouchard has used the same cardboard cut-out of Shakespeare since the event's inception. It resides in his office for the other 364 days of the year.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  For the past 25 years, New Hampshire’s Saint Anselm College has hosted a celebration of William Shakespeare’s birthday with period music, theatrical renditions, and public readings of all 154 of the bard's famously melancholic and romantic sonnets. Ryan Lessard brings us this audio postcard.

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Word of Mouth
11:09 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Homeschoolers Anonymous

Credit Tara R. via flickr Creative Commons

According to the Department of Education, the number of kids being homeschooled nearly doubled between 1999 and 2007. A large a majority of parents who choose this route, say they do it for religious or moral reasons. Now, the first generation to age out of the Christian homeschooling movement that first took root in the 1980’s are speaking out about their experiences. On the website Homeschoolers Anonymous, former homeschoolers blog about traumas suffered upon them by radical homeschooling. Michelle Goldberg, senior contributing writer for Newsweek and the Daily Beast, wrote about the topic earlier this month.

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Word of Mouth
10:43 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Police Scanner Transparency

An ICOM R-7000 Scanner Light. These days all that's needed to listen to police scanners is an internet connection.
Credit Whiskeygonebad via flickr Creative Commons

When shots were fired before midnight on April 18th, curious, concerned people tracked the dramatic killing of one Boston marathon bombing suspect, and the tense manhunt for his younger brother throughout the night. Many watched and listened through online streaming and social media, others followed the intense action on Boston police scanners; some 180,000 people were tuned in to the scanner feeds during peak traffic. And then, it stopped…

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Word of Mouth
10:31 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Hunting For Elements

Credit euthman via flickr Creative Commons

Over seventy years ago, mankind completed an ambitious map unlike any other - the periodic table of the elements – which contained and organized all the known elements at the time. Like other maps, the period table has changed as the geography of its contents - especially since 1941, when researchers at the University of California, Berkeley produced the first man-made element… plutonium.  Many more elements have been added to the list, and efforts to create and research new ones continues –here to discuss this difficult scientific quest is Rob Dunn, biologist and writer in the Department of Biology at North Carolina State University. He recently wrote about element hunting for National Geographic.

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Word of Mouth
4:29 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

A Day In The Life Of An NHPR Intern

Credit Logan Shannon

What’s a typical day like for the Word of Mouth intern at NHPR? I’m so glad you asked. (And even if you didn’t ask, I’m sure my mom and dad will be interested, so it's cool.)

8:30:09

Having really accurate clocks all over the place can make a person like me who hates being late and is mildly obsessed with numbers a little anxious. For example: I try really hard to walk into the Word of Mouth pod at exactly 8:30:00. Sadly, it has yet to happen. I’m either too early, or in this case, a wee bit late.

8:52:38

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