Trigger Warnings, Born In Between, & Miranda July

Sep 9, 2016
Thomas Hawk via Flickr CC /

Demanding trigger warnings? Canceling speakers? Shutting down comedians? College students today make the political correctness of the past seem tame. Today, is oversensitivity ruining education? We’ll also look at the roots of extreme protectiveness in a nation where police officers are stationed at more and more high schools…a story about what happens when school discipline meets law enforcement. And while the trans-gender movement gains ground, we’ll explore the shockingly common occurrence of doctors assigning gender to intersex babies. 

Writers on a New England Stage: Daniel Silva

Aug 1, 2016
David J. Murray /

Daniel Silva was a journalist based in the Middle East before he published his first novel in 1996. That story, The Unlikely Spy hit the New York Times best-sellers list and introduced the world to Gabriel Allons -- a Mossad assassin turned art restorer. Now 16 novels into the series, Allons is known as "The Jewish James Bond" and has joined the pantheon of legendary fictional spies that includes George Smiley, Jack Ryan, and Jason Bourne.

7.28.16: No Man's Sky, Star Trek Fan Films, & 10MWW

Jul 28, 2016
Jane Dominguez via Flickr CC /

On today's show: a look into the strict guidelines CBS and Paramount have set for those Star Trek fan films, a game reviewer gives us a sneak peek at a revolutionary new game called No Man's Sky which puts players into an unfathomably large universe, and the latest installment of the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop with acclaimed author Judy Blume. 

Richard Russo photo by Elena Seibert

This event is Thursday, May 26th at 7:00pm at the Capital Center for the Arts. Check back for the radio version which will air at a later date on Word of Mouth. 

Richard Russo won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel Empire Falls, but many people know him best as author of Nobody's Fool, which was adapted into a movie with Paul Newman playing Donald "Sully" Sullivan, who spends much of his time in a dive bar in the fading factory town of North Bath, NY.

Shane Burkhardt via Flickr CC /

For decades, environmentalists have fought to keep plastic, glass, paper and other recyclables out of landfills where they’d sit for thousands of years…so, is recycling truly making a difference in the health of the planet? Today, some data that challenges recycling’s sanctified status.

Then, India’s government says it will clean up the horribly polluted Ganges, the river which supports ten percent of the world’s population. The first step: working with the Hindu belief that the Ganges is holy, self-purifying and the place to be buried. 

David Hale Smith via Flickr CC /

From solitary poets to reclusive painters, loneliness is a rich vein for artists. Today, writer Olivia Laing meditates on this essential part of the human condition.

Then - we'll talk to the designer behind one of NASA's viral ad campaigns, a beautiful set of travel posters that put a mid-century spin on the future of space tourism. And, we’ll delve into the history of the iconic NASA logo known as "the meatball" and its doomed successor "the worm.” via Flickr CC /

Mid-life crises are embarrassing and all-too-common...but surely not among the prudent judges of nation's highest court? On today’s show, a former court clerk's new novel imagines a Supreme Court justice going off the rails.

Then, we'll hear about how today's gyms are building personal bathrooms and shower stalls for body shy millennials -- one writer thinks it's absurd for adults to fear getting undressed in front of others.

click-see via Flickr CC /

From the solitary writer to the reclusive painter, loneliness is a rich vein for artists. Today, Olivia Laing meditates on her own bouts of loneliness, what it has meant to the world's great creative minds and why such an essential human experience cannot be wholly worthless.

Then, a historian on what ads seeking the capture of runaway slaves reveal about the identity, character and lives of runaways. 

2.1.16: Dead Presidents & Killer Heels

Feb 1, 2016
Brady Carlson /

After Iowans caucus tonight, the candidates will be back in New Hampshire, making a case for why they deserve to be president. The job's got plenty of perks, but it also means giving over your life, and your death. On today’s show, from mountainside monuments to commemorative sandwiches, we'll explore how America remembers its dead presidents.

Also today, high heeled shoes: mocked, coveted, and symbolic to feminists and fashionistas. We'll learn about the history of high heel shoes and why they haven’t always been a symbol of feminine status.

City of Boston Archives via flickr Creative Commons /

Labels get thrown around willy-nilly during primary season...among them? Progressive.  However candidates Clinton & Sanders use the term, its history is not so straightforward. 

On today’s show, the rise and fall of progressive politics. Then, from anti-bullying seminars to the dare to keep kids off drugs program, ushering a gaggle of students into an auditorium or gymnasium for an all school assembly is a time honored tradition. But sometimes the educational value of the message is questionable.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

From Barry Bonds to Lance Armstrong, professional sports are rife with cheating scandals.  On today’s show, we’ll leave the big leagues for a look at amateur cheaters and find out how a website for running enthusiasts became a hub for vigilantes determined to keep the sport honest.

Then, they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what if the beholder is a robot? Later in the show: an online beauty pageant where contestants are judged not by a panel of their peers, but by an algorithm.

Leo Newball Jr. via flickr Creative Commons /

No matter how polished, prepped, and put together he or she may be, every presidential candidate copes with an Achilles heel. On today’s show, we'll find out how Marco Rubio capitalized on reaching for the water bottle...again and again and again. Then, need a gift idea for the book lover in your life? We'll go beyond the best seller list for a sampling of the best overlooked books of 2015, including a collection of short stories from Kelly Link.

John W. Iwanski via Flickr CC /

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. In times of mourning, we emphasize the cyclical nature of life and death - and yet, American burial practices are mostly designed to halt the natural process of decomposition. Today on Word of Mouth, a look at the historical forces that pushed America towards embalming and containment, and the growing "green burial" movement. Plus, how American judges are grappling with a difficult to interpret form of evidence that's starting to be introduced in the courtroom - the emoji.

Season Of The Witch: How The Occult Saved Rock & Roll

Oct 26, 2015

In 1966, the top of the music charts had a decidedly split personality. Hits like Last Train to Clarksville by The Monkees and Winchester Cathedral by The New Vaudeville Gang, were sharing the airwaves with The Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows and The Rolling Stones Paint it Black

Eric Leslie via Flickr CC /

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? Plus, a conversation about magic, the occult, and rock n’ roll – from Robert Johnson’s mythical deal with the devil, to the coded messages in Led Zeppelin songs, we’ll talk about the dark spiritual rebellion that gave rock its musical edge. And, a conversation with one rock star who traded success for autonomy, and a career making kids music.

Aasif Mandvi: No Land's Man

Sep 9, 2015

Aasif Mandvi talked to Virginia about his new collection of essays, No Land’s Man and about the time he got a call from The Daily Show to come in for an audition.

9.08.15: A Neurodiversity Primer & Miranda July

Sep 8, 2015
Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr CC /

The CDC estimates that about 1 in 68 children have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. Today, the author of a new book on the science of autism gives us a primer on the neurodiversity movement. Then, Miranda July may be known for her quirky role in the 2005 film Me and You and Everyone We Know but the actress and artist has since written a debut novel which borrows heavily from her personal life. 

Such a Groke via Flickr CC /

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 30% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 are living at home with their parents. There are many opinions as to why - but perhaps parental techniques are partly to blame. On today's show: can over-parenting ruin confidence? Then, the value of teaching kids to cook, and how coloring books - for adults, mind you - are on the rise. And finally, we take a look at the more political side of well-beloved Dr. Seuss.

Al_HikesAZ via Flickr CC / //

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

Then, from clamshell tweezers to electrolysis, we’ll take a look at America’s history of hair removal, and what it reveals about shifting views of racial and social status.

Plus, is technology killing the jewelry industry? We’ll find out why global sales of fine jewelry have been sluggish since the global recession.

The Bookshelf: Brendan DuBois' New Lewis Cole Novel

Jun 26, 2015
Peter Biello / NHPR

The Bookshelf is NHPR's new series on authors and books with ties to the Granite State. All Things Considered host Peter Biello interviews authors, covers literary events and publishing trends, and gets recommendations from each guest on what books listeners might want to add to their own bookshelves.

If you have an author or book you think we should profile on The Bookshelf, send us an email - the address is

Penn State via flickr Creative Commons /

Millennials are often painted as entitled, selfie-snapping narcissists, but do they deserve the “kids these days” label?  On today’s show we’ll attempt to transcend the generation gap with a strong defense of the youngsters.

Then, we celebrate graduation season with author George Saunders, whose 2013  commencement address at Syracuse University contained a simple message: “be kinder”. The speech went viral, became a short film, and a book. He’ll explain why it rippled out far beyond that group of graduates.  

Karen Dalziel via flickr Creative Commons /

Ever heard of Philip Glass the plumber?  Kurt Vonnegut the car salesman?  On today’s show we pay homage to artists who didn’t quit their day jobs, even after hitting the big time, like poet/banker T.S. Eliot.

We'll also talk with pioneering jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton, he’s won seven Grammy awards and played alongside music legends from Stan Getz to B.B. King. Despite these accomplishments, he knows he won’t be remembered for a great solo, instead he’ll always be the guy that played with four sticks.

Last month the New Hampshire Senate nearly made cursive a mandatory part of public school curriculum. But does the argument for keeping longhand in the classroom have more to do with nostalgia than it does educational outcomes? On today’s show  we go inside the emotional, and surprisingly partisan debate over cursive.

Megan Lynnette via flickr Creative Commons /

Today’s classrooms may come outfitted with iPads and gadgets, but the textbook industry has weathered the digital storm surprisingly well. On today’s show we’ll look at an unexpected threat to the textbook industry:  the rollout of the Common Core standards.

Then, between jam packed schedules and lengthy to-do lists, it’s little wonder that so many people claim they hate surprises. But what can we gain from embracing the unexpected?  A self-described 'surprisologist' makes the case for being caught off guard.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

You may know Maz Jobrani as a panelist on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! but his early acting career included roles in television and film, often playing parts fashioned from Middle Eastern stereotypes. 

Listen to Virginia's full interview with Maz below.

Kevo Thomson via flickr Creative Commons /

We may not know who will bring home Oscars tonight, but two things are certain: a-list actresses will walk the red carpet, and they will be asked the standard question: “Who are you wearing?”

On today’s show, why some Hollywood actresses are bucking against the red carpet parade.

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.

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.

Doug Kline via flickr Creative Commons /

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.

Why Sweden Isn't Quite As Perfect As We Thought

Feb 4, 2015
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.

Don McCullough via flickr Creative Commons /

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.