NHPR Blogs

NHPR's blogs include:

The Sidebar, NHPR's news blog 

News Primers, The stories behind the headlines. 

Ad Audit, Examining political messages and money.

Foodstuffs, New Hampshire's food and food culture.

Next Gen NHPR, NHPR's intern blog.

From The Archives, Looking back at our coverage of news and culture. 

Inside NHPR, featuring news and events from the station. 

The Audio Orchard, Playlists and performances of hand-picked music.

Live From Studio D, Musicians perform in NHPR's studio for Word of Mouth.

As NHPR’s archive intern this summer, my primary responsibility has been to listen back to some of the station’s oldest audio. I take copious notes about the stories I hear – and when I find one especially interesting, it gets shared on our blog.

Every four years, New Hampshire welcomes the national political spotlight in the months leading up to the presidential primary. As the hosts of the first primary in the country, Granite State voters have the opportunity to make their voices heard on the campaign trail, at town hall events, and most importantly, at the ballot box.

But it wasn’t always this way.

The conversation around early childhood education in New Hampshire today is often focused on the availability of half-day versus full-day kindergarten programs.

Governor Maggie Hassan weighed in when she spoke to NHPR in May:

"Full-day kindergarten would be a very important next step in making sure our young people have the kind of education that really prepares them for the 21st century global economy."

However, kindergarten here was not guaranteed until a 2007 law mandating public programs state-wide – making New Hampshire the last state in the nation to fully adopt public kindergarten.

In 1989, NHPR humanities reporter Robbie Honig profiled The Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press. This small shop in the village of Ashuelot was opened by two poets from Boston who shared a passion for letterpress printing.

“We started with making type for ourselves, for our own poetry books," said Golgonooza co-founder Julia Ferrari. "But also, making a living by making books for other people too. We didn’t want to just go out and have to work somewhere else and then come back and do our art. We felt that if we could possibly do our art at the same time, we would be learning how to get better at what we did.”

By 1989, the shop was producing artisanal books that fetched up to thousands of dollars apiece.

Keep reading after the story for my conversation with Julia. But first, from the archives this week, here’s Honig's report from the Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press in 1989.

Thomas Fearon

We’ve been listening back to a 1989 report on the state of mental health care in New Hampshire. Last week, reporter Kathy McLaughlin explored the living conditions in the old New Hampshire Hospital buildings, which could be crowded and grim.

Today, we share part two of that report. NHPR’s Martin Murray spoke with Paul Gorman, superintendent of New Hampshire Hospital, who explained how the hospital’s new, community-oriented facility sought to treat patients.

The state of New Hampshire has been officially providing care for its mentally ill citizens for over 170 years. In that time, there have been dramatic changes in the living conditions for patients – and the state’s approach to treatment.

In 1989, New Hampshire Hospital built a state of the art facility that sought to provide individualized care for patients with the most severe symptoms.

To mark that occasion, NHPR produced a two-part report on the history and future of New Hampshire Hospital. In part one today, you’ll hear reporter Kathy McLaughlin chronicle the living conditions in the old hospital buildings. Barred windows, dim lighting, and crowded sleeping wards fostered a rather gloomy environment.

From the archives this week, the inside history of New Hampshire Hospital, from reporter Kathy McLaughlin.

portraits of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson
Rembrandt Peale, courtesy White House Historical Association/Thomas Sully, courtesy US Senate

New Hampshire Democrats are set to take up a question several other state parties have considered in recent weeks: should the party rename its annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner?

Spokesperson Lizzy Price says state party chair Ray Buckley brought the question to the party's executive committee, which referred it to another panel. That committee, Price says, will "discuss the issue and offer any recommendations back to the executive committee."

Politicians are always looking to get their name in the newspaper -- provided that it actually is their name.

A Laconia Daily Sun headline was at least half correct in reporting which GOP presidential candidate has plans to be in Tilton Saturday.

It is, of course, Rand Paul who will be in the state this weekend, rather than his father, three-time presidential hopeful and former Texas congressman Ron Paul. 

Novelist E.L. Doctorow eschewed the label "historical fiction," though his novels undeniably used America's past to set the stage for the present. While the settings of his book were American history (pre-World War 1 era, the Civil War, the Red Scare) and the characters that populated his books often touted familiar names, his writing style steered well-wide of you high school history text book. His numerous awards stand testament to the relevance of his work.

The condition of New Hampshire’s Great Bay Estuary has been one of the biggest environmental priorities in New Hampshire for decades -- and NHPR has been covering the story extensively.

We were there in 2010, when the Environmental Protection Agency designated Great Bay as officially impaired – meaning it could mandate upgrades to wastewater treatment plants that discharge into the estuary.

Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

The headquarters of the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter on Quincy Street has three stories and 14,000 square feet aimed at feeding people in need. But executive director Lisa Christie thought there was one part of the property that could do even more for the organization’s mission.

American author Erskine Caldwell was born in Georgia in 1903. His most famous novel, 1932’s Tobacco Road, boldly addressed the South’s inequalities during the Great Depression.

“He was writing about racial relations when one did not write about racial relations," said Phillip Cronenwett of Dartmouth College in 1989. "He was writing about the difference between the rural wealthy and the rural poor when one did not talk about that sort of thing.”

This week, we’re taking a fresh look at Caldwell, whose writing depicted what he saw as the realities of society – however unpleasant those realities might be.

ABC Quilts was founded in 1988, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, with the mission to lend comfort to babies born with AIDS. Now, its volunteers also make and deliver handmade quilts to abandoned babies and those affected by their mother’s drug or alcohol abuse.

Ellen Ahlgren of Northwood, New Hampshire began ABC Quilts, delivering six baby quilts to Boston City Hospital, each carrying the inscription “with love and comfort to you.” Soon after, ABC Quilts began to grow rapidly, and has since delivered more than half a million quilts worldwide.

From the archives this week, the story of Ellen Ahlgren and ABC Quilts, from reporter Leslie Bennett. 

Chris Jensen for NHPR

NHPR's Chris Jensen recently profiled the North Country's Frances Glessner Lee, whom many refer to as "The Mother of CSI."

Lee recreated tiny crime scenes that resembled meticulous, macabre dollhouses. She called them "nutshells," as in finding truth "in a nutshell."

Of Lee's twenty original nutshells, eighteen are in still in use as teaching tools and aren't available to the public. One was destroyed. But the final one is on display in Bethlehem, N.H.

Predicting the future of technology is never easy. The incredible capabilities of the smartphone in my pocket today were nearly inconceivable in 1989.

That’s when NHPR’s Leslie Bennett made this fateful comment:

“It seems like telephones have gotten as complicated as they’re ever going to get. I may regret saying that.” 

Ouch – sorry, Leslie. She was speaking from Datatech ’89, a business technology trade show in Manchester. The vendors she spoke with shared their visions for office technology in the ‘90s and beyond:

“These fax machines can talk back and forth to each other. And we do have some that are live, actually hooked up to live telephone lines … We can talk to Japan if we want to, or Russia, or anywhere else.” 

That’s right … fax machines were a hot item in 1989. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? What exciting gadget from today will be a fossil tomorrow?

From The Archives this week, we revisit Leslie Bennett’s story from Datatech ’89.

NHPR / Brady Carlson

Small Plates is a roundup of New Hampshire food news.

Jacob Carozza /NHPR

In New Hampshire, it’s not easy to find a package of JG Coconut Mushrooms, or a jar of clotted cream, or a can of mushy peas.

“Any dinner you would have with a pie you have mushy peas on the side,” says Stephanie Pressinger, president of The British Aisles in Greenland.

“Someone who hasn’t been to England or doesn’t know the culture would say, ‘Why would you want mushed peas?’”

From the archives this week, former NHPR arts producer Phillip Bragdon caught up​ with Karl Drerup after he won the Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award in 1989.

When Karl Drerup and his wife Gertrude first came to their little house in Thornton in 1946, it was the end of a very long journey – one that started in 1930 when Drerup left his native Germany to study in Italy. After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, a return to Germany was impossible. Gertrude was Jewish, and Karl had designed anti-government posters. The Drerups took refuge first for several years in the Canary Islands, and finally settled in New York City in 1937.

Small Plates is a roundup of New Hampshire food news.

Here is the most dramatic, exciting news I could find about Market Basket in June 2015: the grocery chain is going to open a new store in Rochester next spring.

Most New Englanders have likely heard of the Salem Witch Trials – a particularly notorious episode in colonial Massachusetts that resulted in the executions of 20 people for suspected witchcraft in 1692 and 1693. Less widely known is that over three decades earlier, Portsmouth, N.H. had its own witch hunt chapter. From the archives this week, we dig into reporter Robbie Honig's June 1988 story.

  Small Plates is a roundup of New Hampshire food news.

In 2002, an historic marker was erected on the site to commemorate the event.

Presidential candidates have always sought New Hampshire audiences. But once in office, the chief executive hasn't often returned. Twenty years ago in 1995, President Bill Clinton became the first sitting president to visit N.H. since Calvin Coolidge swung through in the 1920s. 

  Small Plates is a roundup of New Hampshire food news.

With all of this warm weather, it definitely feels like summer. But it isn’t yet.  And for local farmers, it’s still too early to produce local crops. And that means restaurant owners using locally sourced food are still looking for new solutions to get through the trickiest time of year: the long, cold winters. But now Farm to Table Restaurants are getting farmers to consider new methods for supplying produce in the lean months.

Avital Pinnick / Flicker CC

During Passover, it's best to stock up on matzah early, especially in a state like New Hampshire.

"Jews don't move to New Hampshire for the Jewish community, we move here for other reasons," says rabbi Robin Nafshi of the Temple Beth Jacob in Concord, "the Jewish population of New Hampshire is fairly small."

There was a Stop and Shop in Bedford that used to accommodate kosher shoppers, "It was unbelievable, there was almost two aisles of food for passover," says Katy Gibny from Goffstown. But that store has closed, which has turned Gibni's family to "hunter gatherers."

Brandon Anderson via Flickr CC

In recent decades, the nation’s overall homicide rate has dropped. 2013 - the most recent year for which statistics are available - had the lowest homicide rate, 4.5 deaths per 100,000 people, since 1957.

But as NPR reported earlier this week, about one-third of murder cases go unsolved.

Steve Richardson via Flickr CC

Looking for something  Grade A to do this weekend? After an especially long winter, New Hampshire residents can finally taste the sweet stuff that's become an annual rite of spring: local maple syrup produced in a roadside shack.

NHPR Staff

Do you like the music you hear between segments on Word of Mouth? You can listen to it again on Spotify. Check out and add Word of Mouth's playlist, which we update each week with the latest music we're using on the program.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/cc_chapman/4878972642/in/photostream/" target="blank">CC Chapman</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

The New England Patriots are getting ready for the Superbowl on Sunday, they’ll be playing the Seattle Seahawks for the championship. Eleven years ago they were in a similar position, gearing up for the match against the Carolina Panthers.

From the Archives this week we found this 2004 interview from NHPR’s The Front Porch. Host John Walters spoke with then (and current) State Senator from Manchester, Lou D’Allessandro. John spoke with D’Allessandro about his football career at UNH as well as his 1961 tryout for a new football franchise in Boston.

This week saw the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s "Citizens United" decision. And with the anniversary of “Granny D” day (1/25/12) tomorrow, it seems an appropriate time to take stock.