Joel Christian Gill

Whether it’s a catchy theme song, or a single image - think Mary Tyler Moore tossing her cap into the air – some TV credit sequences are etched in our minds. Today we listen for the greatest TV opening sequences of all time. Plus, a look at a graphic novel that reveals the untold stories of African-American history…including that of Richard Potter, for whom the New Hampshire town of Potter Place is named. Then, tis the season for mosquitoes, black flies, and ticks. How are you preventing pesky bites? We sample the rainbow of bug repellant…from witch hazel to DEET.

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Word of Mouth presents a special rebroadcast of Writers on a New England Stage with Bill Bryson, presented by NHPR and The Music Hall and recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. He joined Virginia Prescott on stage last October to talk about his book “One Summer: 1927.” It is now available in paperback.

Michael Salerno via flickr Creative Commons

Going up? Today on Word of Mouth, we're lifting you to new cultural heights with a look into the history of two architectural advancements in history - the elevator and escalator. We'll hold the door for you when we stop on a story about a family of mannequins. Last stop, a discussion about why we should all stop singing that pervasive birthday song.

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ninahale via Flickr Creative Commons

The old adage goes, “money can’t buy you happiness”, but maybe you’re just not spending it right. From paying for experiences to spending on others, we'll look at the science of smarter, happier spending. Plus, parents prepare! The end of the school year is nigh. For those looking for ways to get kids off their screens and outside this summer, fear not, we have just the activities in mind. Then, the surprisingly fascinating history of the scarecrow.

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Scott Lynch/ Gothamist

The gift shop at The National September 11 Memorial Museum has sparked controversy for such keepsakes as: a plush FDNY rescue dog and “survivor tree” earrings. While many find the items tasteless, the impulse to commemorate is as old as the country itself. NHPR's Brady Carlson takes us on a historical tour of tone-deaf keepsakes, from toy hand grenades to Confederate flag throw pillows. Plus, we'll speak to the founder of Letters of Note about the beauty and power of handwritten correspondence. 

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The Bride Wore Black

May 22, 2014

All Dressed in White - it's the title of author Carol Wallace's look into the history of the American wedding, but it hasn't always held true for brides. On the frontier - a culture centered around migrant work & making do - a woman may only have a single good dress, designed for a decidedly different purpose.


We're sitting down with Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam to talk about his new book, "American Crucifixion," examining the life of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church.


  • Alex Beam – columnist for the Boston Globe and author of several books, most recently “American Crucifixion.”


WalterPro4755 via Flickr Creative Commons

In 1986 there were an estimated 50,000 Civil War re-enactors in the U.S. Since 2000 their ranks have been cut in half. Today on Word of Mouth: the decline of Civil War reenactments, and what drives someone to take on the identity of a 19th century solider. Plus, after millennia of selective breeding, there are now over 3000 known varieties of apple. But, are our beloved Galas and Honeycrisps in peril? Why the extinction of wild apple species in central Asia could spell disaster for their descendants. And, when it comes to rice, why brown may not be the healthier.

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Ervins Strauhmanis via Flickr Creative Commons

It gets bandied about countless times by economists, politicians, and newscasters, but what exactly is GDP? Today on Word of Mouth, the surprisingly fascinating process of measuring Gross Domestic Product, and what this live or die by economic indicator overlooks. Plus, prehistoric humans are commonly depicted as grunting, club-wielding brutes. Now, evidence that Neanderthal parents didn’t just rear children, but loved and cherished them. All that and more on today's show.

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Unknown, via Wikimedia Commons

Over the past 25 years, the percentage of people with no religious affiliation has more than doubled, at the same time, the internet has been widely embraced. Coincidence? Today on Word of Mouth: does the internet spell the fall of religion? Or is it more of a correlation than a cause? Plus, we peruse the new release section of the bookstore and notice a trend, Catastrophe 1914, 1914: History in an Hour, 1914: Fight the Good Fight. A look into the downside of treating years as celebrities.

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We're sitting down with Lynne Olson, author of new book "Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1945." We'll discuss the bitter debate leading up American involvement in World War Two, a critical time in U.S. History.


Kurk Dorsey's "Whales & Nations"

Mar 19, 2014
Univ of Washington Press

The new book "Whales and Nations" by UNH professor Kurkpatrick Dorsey explores the history of international conservation efforts through the lens of the commercial whaling industry. We’ll talk with him about the whaling in the 20th century and why international diplomacy failed to regulate commercial whaling.


Leo Reynolds via flickr Creative Commons

Word of Mouth wishes you a happy Daylight Saving Time! (Can you believe it's this Sunday already?) But why exactly does the practice of changing our clocks even exist? We explore the ins and outs of Daylight Saving (without the extra "s") with a guest who wrote the book on it. Then Zach Nugent talks with Marissa Nadler whose most recent album was released in early February. We take an architectural turn with a look at the invention of revolving doors followed by a hot architectural commodity: wood. Finally, producers Logan Shannon and Sam Evans-Brown bring us a story about a wild winter activity. No, not skiing or boarding, but animal tracking.

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

February 28th marks thirty years since the 1984 New Hampshire presidential primary. The ’84 election is often overlooked today – mostly because the general election saw Republican President Ronald Reagan beat Democrat Walter Mondale in a landslide - and yet, the 1984 primary was fairly influential.

2.24.14: Modern & Monastic Food

Feb 24, 2014
michaelmossbooks.com and Victoria Reay, Holly Hayes & William Jones via flickr Creative Commons

Prepare your palate, because we're bringing you a smorgasbord of stories; today's Word of Mouth is all about food! But taste with caution, sandwiched between stories of slime and frozen meat are stories of monastic meals and heavenly... beer? That's right, beer that was divinely sanctioned. Grab a snack and take a listen. You'll never think of food the same way again.

Listen to our full show and click Read More for individual segments.


Have you hugged a President this week? Steve Wood has. As a card-carrying member of the Association of Lincoln Presenters, Wood assumes the garb, voice and character of the country’s 16th President to educate people about Lincoln’s life and legacy.

Top 10 Lost Ski Sites In New Hampshire

Feb 11, 2014

Do you ski or snowboard? Do you find yourself going to the same crowded slopes all winter long? Do you need a change? If you said yes to any of these questions, then you need to discover (or rediscover) New Hampshire's 175 lost ski areas. The New England Lost Ski Areas Project (NELSAP) founded by Jeremy Davis has dedicated a website to sharing information, pictures, and brochures for those long lost ski spots. Even Concord, NHPR's hometown, has some lost gems at Russel's Pond and Snow Pond. Chances are, there's a hidden ski slope near year.

Here is Jeremy's list of the top 10 lost ski sites in New Hampshire:

oskay, Frank M, Rafik, and dolphinsdock via flickr Creative Commons

Guess what. (What?!). You got the better of Monday. Reward yourself with a healthy dose of Word of Mouth. Today, we're looking at mental illness in our ancient ancestors, the prudish beginnings of the graham cracker (minus the chocolate and marshmallow), Netflix documentaries, and the choreography of Doug Elkins. Dance your heart out, relax with Netflix, and replenish with a s'more. Just steer clear of the ancient hallucination-inducing furies. Listen to the full show and scroll down for more on each segment.

Pond Hockey : The Tradition Continues

Jan 27, 2014
Zach Nugent / NHPR

Pond hockey has been a favorite winter activity for many hearty New Englanders since 1883, when the first hockey game ever played in the United States happened on the ponds at St. Paul’s school right in Concord. This weekend the pond hockey tradition continued at the 4th annual Black Ice Pond Hockey Championship at White Park in Concord.

Zach Nugent / NHPR

Whether told by a campfire, or at a childhood slumber party, everyone loves a spooky story. Today on Word of Mouth we explore our ‘creepy’ appetite. And the macabre continues with the true story of the battle over Richard the III’s remains.  Although he reigned five centuries ago, his burial site has sparked a modern-day war of the roses among Britain’s Richard-files. Also on the show, the Black Ice Pond Hockey tournament celebrates its fourth year at White Park, and producer Zach Nugent sat on the bench to bring us the sights and sounds. Listen to the whole show below or click Read More to listen to individual segments.

Johnhenryf via Flickr Creative Commons

In the words of author Stephen Amidon, “no other figure is the focus of so much passion, controversy, expectation, and disappointment…” regardless of whether it is football or soccer, figure-skating or hockey, watching the world’s top athletes borders on hypnotic… and sometimes stands as proof of our ability to exceed physical human limitations and become something like the gods. That’s the name of long-time sports-lover and novelist Stephen Amidon’s new cultural history of the athlete, detailing sport from the first Olympic Games, to the rise of Lebron James.

Sara Plourde

After years of isolationism, the U.S. rose in the 20th century to become the world’s sole superpower. Today, economic growth is slow, unemployment and income inequality are rising, and political impasses have ground policy initiatives to a halt. America’s status in global manufacturing, education, and innovation is slipping. Many economists project that China is poised to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest economy. It all sounds pretty bleak…but economist Charles Kenny paints a much rosier picture. In his book The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Good for the West he argues that Americans should stop worrying and learn to love the decline.

Craig Michaud via Wikicommons

Republican state representative Gene Charron of Chester has withdrawn a bill that would have changed the name of the Hannah Duston State Historic Memorial Site in Boscawen to the Contoocook Island State Historic Site.


Throughout the world, hundreds of caves have been discovered containing artifacts and paintings from pre-historic times. The art work found in these caves has provided a glimpse into pre-historic culture, but our guest, anthropological archeologist Margaret Conkey says they only tell part of the story of early man. For her project “Between the Caves” she has pushed archeological research beyond the caves, into the landscapes where Paleolithic people lived and thrived.  


China’s lunar rover, Jade Rabbit, landed on the moon to study the satellite’s terrain, geology, and lava flows. What else might it find? Dirty laundry, golf balls, bags of human waste, and an American flag.  There are loads of items left on the moon by NASA’s Apollo missions -- still perfectly preserved because the moon lacks a destructive atmosphere. With a handful of countries announcing plans for future lunar missions, a number of scientists are arguing that moon trash is an archeological treasure that should be preserved and studied by future generations. But with no laws or lunar governing body to protect, say, the first footprint on the moon, some worry that America’s lunar heritage could be destroyed by a new generation of explorers rushing to reach the moon.

How Should We Live?

Dec 30, 2013
Courtesy of romankrznaric.com

As the fizzy, busy holiday season draws to a close, we’re pausing to reflect on how we navigate a world so unlike that of our parents. Today, no job is a job for life... We live longer but will likely retire with less. We now interact with friends more online than in person, value is measured in page views and how we choose to live could have severe consequences for the future of the planet.

So, how to pursue a life that has meaning and richness in today’s world? Roman Krznaric suggests looking to the past. He’s out with a new book called “How Should We Live?” which peers into the near and ancient past for examples of how people through the ages approached love, work, family, time, money, death, creativity, and more.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

In a year-long series called “250 Years In The Making: Stories From 13 New Hampshire Towns," NHPR’s Keith Shields has traveled all across the Granite State, learning the unique stories of these towns and how their tales also reflect the broader narrative of new Hampshire history.


pawpaw67 via flickr Creative Commons

The digital age has rendered letter writing, paperboys, and checkbooks as old-fashioned as the rotary phone. While the proliferation of e-books, e-mail, and online newspapers appear to be hastening the death of the printed page, Nicholas Basbanes argues that we are far from becoming a paperless society. Nicholas is an impassioned bibliophile and author of On Paper: The Everything of its Two-Thousand-Year History.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

In a year-long series called “250 Years In The Making: Stories From 13 New Hampshire Towns," NHPR’s Keith Shields has traveled all across the Granite State, learning the unique stories of these towns and how their tales also reflect the broader narrative of new Hampshire history.