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

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Photo by: pareeerica


Space! The final frontier, an immense void populated by our imaginations and as far as we know, not much else.  Since the NASA shuttle program topped headlines for one last nostalgic time this summer, there have been few newsworthy developments in  space exploration… until now. Here to share some big news is freelance science journalist Lee Billings, who’s working on a book about the inter-galactic search for earth-like planets.


The Life and Times of a Post College

Dec 12, 2011
Photo by, mind on fire


The Life and Times of a Post College

The First Week of Interning at NHPR’s Word of Mouth

By Ryan Edward Brown


A conversation with NPR's All Things Considered host Guy Raz, recorded live at the Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction, VT.  

(Photo by David Murray of <a href="http://books.simonandschuster.com/Jack-Kennedy/Chris-Matthews/9781451635089" target="_blank">Clear Eye Photo</a>)

Chris Matthews is best known for his opinionated and combative style on his MSNBC program, "Hardball with Chris Matthews." What's lesser known is that he's a former print journalist, was a long-time aide to Tip O'Neill, and that he grew up in an Irish Catholic family...of Republicans. All this played no small part in sewing the seeds of his admiration for a man he'd later write two books about, John F. Kennedy. 


Our guest embodies two very different worlds – the ivory tower, and the fitness center. By day, Lianne McTavish is a professor of art history at the University of Alberta Canada, she lectures on the seventeenth-century history of the body, and its representation in medieval art. After class, she heads to the gym for weightlifting and toning. Her enthusiasm for fitness got her thinking about working out as a woman and led her to create a new identity as – “feminist figure girl” – and enter the world of competitive bodybuilding.


Photo by: techweet

Jon Greenberg is executive editor here at NHPR and representing today for the Politifact New Hampshire’ Partnership, a joint effort that also includes the Nashua Telegraph and the Valley News. You can hear their truth-o-meter tests of candidate statements right here on Word of Mouth. 

(Photo by Pedro Netto via Flickr Creative Commons)

Today marks the 31st anniversary of the day that John Lennon was shot and killed on the sidewalk in front of his home in New York City. Reams of words have been written about that senseless, irrevocable act. But writer and critic Tim Riley prefers the parts of John Lennon’s story that are not so well known. 

Photo by: Paper Girl


A story to restore your faith in music superstars this holiday season. Elvis Costello is rallying his fans to save money by *not* buying a shiny new gift box set of his music called “the return of the spectacular spinning songbook”. The title comes from a trademark of Costello’s live shows with his band, the Attractions…he invites audience members to get to go up on stage and spin a massive, game-show style wheel of song titles from his back-catalog…whatever comes up, Elvis & the Attractions play.

For more than twenty-five years, readers have puzzled over the mysterious Harris Burdick. Here’s the legend: a man walks into a publishing house and drops off a set of 14 drawings…each with a tantalizing caption. He promises to return the next day with stories to accompany them, but is never seen again. The illustrations are eerie and unsettling…birds fly off wallpaper, a seated nun hovers placidly mid-air in a cathedral, a giant cruise ship plows through a venetian canal.  Since then, thousands of school children have written stories sparked by these illustrations.

Photo by Khalid Almasoud, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Car makers have a long standing tradition of keeping their forthcoming models under tight wraps, sometimes going to extreme lengths to disguise new cars even as they’re being road tested. But of course, wherever there’s a secret to be uncovered, there are spies trying to get a look under the hood… Photographers who will do just about anything to capture a clear picture of a car before it’s being manufactured.

Photo credit by Randy Cox


Sales have been brisk for guns this holiday season. Black Friday 2011 surpassed the single day record for FBI background check requests on gun customers by 32%. Today, a background check of sorts on the Freedom Group, which has swiftly become one of the world’s leading manufacturers and sellers of guns. Natasha Singer a reporter in the Sunday business section of the New York Times, investigated the shadowy Wall Street investment company that has quietly acquired some of America’s most venerable gun and ammo manufacturers.




Photo by: healthserviceglasses

Produced by Avishay Artsy

The writer Douglas Adams wrote the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series In one of those books, the hero, Arthur Dent, is stranded on a planet populated by primitive people. Dent thinks to himself: I could show them the wristwatch! The internal combustion engine! The toaster! I’ll be crowned their emperor. The trouble is that without other humans around, he has no idea how to make any of those things. All he can make is a sandwich.  After which he’s elevated to the high office of “sandwich maker.”

Photo by Randy Pertiet, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Hard times and new technology are making for a resurgence in old-school range robbery. But these are not the rope twirling thieves of yore – today’s black hats are using GPS tracking, four-wheelers, and apparently, some inside knowledge of the industry to wrangle cattle. Freelance writer Laura Zuckerman talks about the upward trend of cattle rustling in the American West.


Laura's article from Reuters

Photo by Tomasz Krawczak, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

The holiday season, we’re often reminded, is a time for people to come together…except, when it isn’t.   This year’s ‘War on Christmas’ skirmish revolves around the Christmas tree.

Photo by ttnrob, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

The international conference on aids and sexually transmitted disease in Africa, or “ICASA” is convening this week in Ethiopia. Over the past few decades, activists and educators worldwide have endeavored to dispel rumors and misinformation about aids and people with aids. Today, more HIV positive people can disclose their status without shame and stigma. But there’s a downside to those advances. Relaxed attitudes toward HIV may be contributing to a trend of complacency toward the disease, even here in the United States.

Photo by Tom Maglieri, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons


 “Clean coal,” refers to technologies that reduce heavy metal, carbon and other emissions from the burning of coal. The development of technologies that could, potentially, filter greenhouse gases and store CO2 permanently is moving ahead. “Carbon Sequestration” is an important step in testing the potential of clean coal technology. We spoke with Maggie Koerth-Baker, Science Editor for Boing-Boing; she visited a carbon sequestration demonstration in Alabama.


7:30 pm | The Music Hall, Portsmouth, NH

Ticket Information

(Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/simplerich/2187363093/" target="_blank">Simple Rich</a> via Flickr Creative Commons)

“Clean Coal,” refers to technologies that reduce heavy metal, carbon and other emissions from the burning of coal. The development of technologies that could, potentially, filter greenhouse gasses and store CO2 permanently is moving ahead. This week, a large demonstration of clean coal technology is being staged in Illinois, testing the viability of so-called “carbon sequestration,” an important step in testing the potential of clean coal technology. 

(Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/marsdd/2986989396/" target="_blank">mars discovery district</a> via Flickr Creative Commons)

Word of Mouth keeps its eye out for stories that are interesting, counterintuitive, many of which come from the world of science. It’s part of our mission to find the under-reported, simmering, surprising ideas that make us go “what?”

(Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/angelaypablo/860181962/" target="_blank">aranarth</a> via Flickr Creative Commons)

There's a gathering of developers and code writers taking place globally...and they're invading Manchester to create apps for doing good. 


Random Hacks of Kindness

Manchester gathering info

Small Dog Electronics

(Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/morgnar/4784565610/" target="_blank">Mor Gnar</a> via Flickr Creative Commons)

Our very own Taylor Quimby runs down some of the weirder products inspired by the Twilight franchise.


Bella's Engagement Ring

Twilight "Manllows"

Twilight (and other really weird) Condoms

(Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kuriousoranj/4911960636/" target="_blank">Grace Fell</a> via Flickr Creative Commons)

A bold experiment in "Cleaner Coal." Are sciences being driven by sexy press coverage? Random Hacks of Kindness. And our own producer runs down some of the weirder stuff Twilight fans can buy. 

(Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/arwing3/3991116008/" target="_blank">That One Doood</a> via Flickr Creative Commons)

At the dawn of the MP3 era, music-lovers digitized their CD collections, racking up thousands of hours of songs on their home computers, while clearing out their shelves. The thrill was soon followed by the realization that most of us owned far more music than we had time to listen to.

(Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wolkenkratzer/3451977163/sizes/l/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Wolkenkratzer</a> via Flickr Creative Commons)

NHPR's Chris Jensen reports on the Molar Express, a non-profit program engineered to delivery basic dental care to North Country kids. 

Word of Mouth's Awesomator Brady Carlson is back with his latest super cool round-up from the world of the web.


Pepper Spray Cop is a Meme...

10 things Siri will help you get instead of an abortion...

(Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tea_time/2758275087/" target="_blank">Teresia</a> via Flickr Creative Commons)

An intellectual property scholar explains the battle between the music industry and a new site that offers to re-sell your dusty old MP3's.

Whitening Wars: Dentists say allowing hygienists to operate their own practices would cause decay to their industry. 

Plus, Awesomator Brady Carlson does some internet spelunking and lives to tell the tale 

A washed-up mixed martial arts champ’s comeback tells a bigger story about the meteoric rise of a sport once derided as human cockfighting. A mortician/blogger answers questions you’ve never dared to ask. And a campaign that’s been resurrected, despite being run like a Mel Brooks parody. 

Plus, a competition for ultra-smart kids who prefer to solve big problems with an iconic building toy.

(Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/5843848811/" target="_blank">Gage Skidmore</a> via Flickr Creative Commons)

On Sunday, the Manchester Union Leader endorsed former house speaker Newt Gingrich as Republican candidate for President and enlivened the Sunday talk shows. Salon’s news editor Steve Kornacki  compares the surprise of "newtmentum" to another theatrical scheme…Zero Mostel, playing Max Bialystock to Gene Wilder’s timid Leo Bloom in the 1968 Mel Brooks film, The ProducersKornacki says tha

(Photo courtesy <a href="www.mattpolly.com" target="_blank">Matt Polly</a>)

Who doesn’t love an underdog? A Rocky in the ring? With the audience for boxing eroding, the new ring is an octagonal cage. In popularity and profits, mixed martial arts, or MMA, has knocked out boxing in the past decade.  The Ultimate Fighting Championship, MMA’s flagship event, was sold for two million dollars in 2001. Today, it’s worth an estimated one billion. Our guest today is a definitive UFC underdog.  He’s a writer who dove George Plimpton-style into the grueling world of MMA and landed in the octagon.