Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth highlights trends, surprising turns in pop culture, and the news, science, and tech stories you aren't hearing about in the day's headlines. A daily program and podcast produced by New Hampshire Public Radio.

Group learning and collaborative skills are status quo in today's classrooms - which can be tough on introverts, especially when they're the teacher.  On today’s show, the high burnout rate for introverted teachers.

Then, politicians have a long and storied past with music, from Bill Clinton playing saxophone on late night TV to Mike Huckabee playing bass in his band Capital Offense. But perhaps the most perplexing display of musical...uh...prowess: Bernie Sanders' folk album.

Courtesy JimmyTingle.com

From Tina Fey’s "Sarah Palin" to Larry David’s "Bernie Sanders", politicians are red meat for comedians. But for some, impersonating a candidate isn’t enough. On today’s show, Boston comic Jimmy Tingle throws his hat in the ring - again!

Then, politicians have a long and storied past with music, from Bill Clinton playing saxophone on late night TV to Mike Huckabee playing bass in his band Capital Offense. But perhaps the most perplexing display of musical...uh...prowess: Bernie Sanders' folk album.

Also we’ve got another episode of the 10-Minute Writer’s Workshop with bestseller Marianne Williamson.

Bart Everson via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/7pQSQ

Group learning and collaborative skills are status quo in today's classrooms - which can be tough on introverts, especially when they're the teacher.  On today’s show, the high burnout rate for introverted teachers.

Also, remember the days of The Shadow, and The Green Hornet? We'll hear about a live stage show that takes comic book radio drama to a new level.

And "Cash for Your Warhol",  the story of a fake business that became surprisingly real.

2.1.16: Dead Presidents & Killer Heels

Feb 1, 2016
Brady Carlson / bradycarlson.com

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.

Sara Plourde, NHPR

Tom Perrotta is the author behind, among others, Little Children, The Abstinence Teacher, and The Leftovers, now a hit HBO drama which he co-writes. Recently, he provided the foreword to a new Penguin edition of The Scarlet Letter. For this episode of the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop, we made a date with him and settled into a corner of Harvard Book Store to ask him about his writing process.

Mrs. America, Fashion Victims, & Female Action Figures

Jan 29, 2016
Ed T via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/7g7MyS

Most beauty pageants test the mettle of contestants in categories like the evening gown and swimsuit competition, the Mrs. America pageant has a history of judging contestants a bit differently. On today's show we'll look at the long and strange history of the pageant.

Then, when a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, the public cried out against sweatshop conditions and the deadly price of fast fashion - but fashion, it turns out, has been costing people their lives for a very long time.

Also today, #WheresRey? A dubious decision to bet against female action figures leads to an online backlash against toy companies.

Courtesy of Darren Garnick

Whether it's a visit to the Red Arrow in Manchester, the Dairy Twirl in Lebanon, or  Howard's up in Colebrook, you cannot campaign for President in New Hampshire without taking in some local flavors.  On today’s show we’ll look at the Granite State's other political stronghold, the diner primary.

Then, after leaking classified documents, Edward Snowden has become the poster child for citizens’ rights to privacy.  But one group was actively rallying against government surveillance long before Snowden blew the whistle...librarians.

And we’ve got another installment of the 10-Minute Writer’s Workshop, Patti Smith shares her writing tips.

Wayne S. Grazio / https://flic.kr/p/CZHGJz

Approximately one billion parking spots are scattered around the United States. That's about four times as many spaces as cars. Still, drivers waste hours and gallons of gas searching for free spots. On today’s show we imagine a future without parking.

Plus, #WheresRey? A dubious decision to bet against female action figures leads to an online backlash against toy companies.

A Soundtrack for Surrealism Game Night

Jan 26, 2016
Photo by Bridget Toner / http://rogerclarkmiller.com/surrealist-games-night-3/

What's a night of Surrealist games without a soundtrack? When we spoke with Roger Miller about hosting an evening of Surrealist games at 3S Artspace, he mentioned that he usually creates a soundtrack for the evening.

So what does a Surrealist soundtrack consist of?

The Soundtrack is very diverse, like Surrealism itself: Surrealism is not a styel, it's an attitude. Early Roxy Music, early Brian Eno, John Cage, some of my own work, Esquivel, Ethiopiques (60s music from Ethiopia), and many others. 

davidcwong888 via Flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/oQrGBE

When a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, the public cried out against sweatshop conditions and the deadly price of fast fashion - but fashion, it turns out, has been costing people their lives for a very long time.

On today’s show, from poisoned dyes to mercury tainted top-hats, the history of dangerous fashion. Also today, the surrealist origins of the childhood game with the macabre name - Exquisite Corpse.

We'll speak with a member of the punk band, Mission of Burma, who's leading a surrealist games night in Portsmouth, New Hampshire next Thursday.

Andrew Mason via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/rsSm

For Chinese students, getting into an American college is a sign of prestige - but that prestige has incentivized fraudulent essays, faked sat scores, and even cheating during Skype interviews. On today’s show, the global arms race for admissions.

Then, most beauty pageants test the mettle of contestants in categories like the evening gown and swimsuit competition, the Mrs. America pageant has a history of judging contestants a bit differently.

Nicholas Erwin via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/e4DQfR

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 and rise again of “progressive” politics.

Then, from anti-bullying seminars to the DARE to keep kids off drugs program, ushering rambunctious 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.

We’ll also take a look back to see how the ozone hole is doing, and talk to author Megan Abbott about writing. 

City of Boston Archives via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/bnwScM

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

One of the tasks I take on as producer of Word of Mouth is updating the monthly calendar. This typically involves adding major holidays and upcoming events for the show on a big whiteboard, but I have taken it upon myself to add in the more obscure - and often absurd -  holidays that seem 100% made-up.

Did you miss out on “International Skeptics Day” (January 13th) because you were too busy celebrating “Make Your Dream Come True Day”? (The latter is also January 13th, for some reason.)

nshepard via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/rS6ha

When it comes to the players and intrigues of primary politics, Fergus Cullen, has plenty of stories. On today’s show, the former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party dishes on some key moments of primaries past.

Plus, a look back at the first woman from a major party to run for President - Margaret Chase Smith.

And we'll remember an environmental issue that dominated the headlines decades before climate change was on the radar.

Whatever happened to the hole in the ozone, and other stories from a not-so-bygone-era.

Drew Reilly

Described as "David Lynch for teenagers," award-winning crime writer Megan Abbott. Her latest, The Fever, seemed to make every Best of 2014 list, from the Village Voice, to Amazon, to NPR. Her forthcoming novel, You Will Know Me, is out in July 2016.

We spoke to Megan from Manhattan on a busy NYC New Year's Eve, 2015.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Probably the cringe-worthiest moment in television last year goes to talk show host Steve Harvey.

It was his duty, as host of the 2015 Miss Universe Beauty Pageant to crown the winner, which he did. But 1:55 later, Harvey was forced to backtrack - and admit that he had mis-read the cue-card.  

Even without epic bungles like that one, beauty contests can be a messy and divisive business, drudging up questions about sexism, patriarchy, and exploitation. 

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.

1.18.16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Jan 18, 2016
Minnesota Historical Society via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/9aeK91

Think Civil Rights era, and you think the south...home to Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan, and peaceful marchers set upon by police dogs. Selma, Birmingham, Little Rock. Well, how about Boston and Brooklyn?  Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Day with a history of progress and regression in a region that considered itself blind to race. 

Also today, the songs of Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger provided a soundtrack for an era of optimism and anger. If we have indeed entered a new Civil Rights era, what do today's protests songs sound like?

Plus, the untold story of one of Martin Luther King Jr's confidantes, businessman Stanley Levison.

Stephanie Keeney via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/8zRcu7

Gluten-free? Olive or coconut oil for cooking? Mediterranean or paleo? If nutrition is a science, why does the research vary so wildly, and why all the zany correlations between who we are and what we eat? On today’s show, faith, party affiliation and other fictions from food science.

Also today, truth in advertising? Think again. From TV ads, to menus and billboards, we all know food photography looks too good to be edible- today we'll hear the truth behind those perfectly crisped turkeys, immaculately sculpted ice cream cones, and more.  

http://gph.is/18Y0uxF

Gluten-free? Olive or coconut oil for cooking? Mediterranean or paleo? If nutrition is a science, why does the research vary so wildly, and why all the zany correlations between who we are and what we eat? On today’s show, faith, party affiliation and other fictions from food science.

Then, with ringing cell phones and sing alongs, the Filter Theater production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is anything but reverent, and that's the way they like it.

Dave Herholz via Flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/FMVAH

On today’s show we’ve got a detailed profile of the late Aaron Schwartz - the cofounder of Reddit whose actions triggered a federal indictment, and whose death has made him a martyr for the free internet movement.

Also today, truth in advertising? Think again. From TV ads, to menus and billboards, we all know food photography looks too good to be edible- today we'll hear the truth behind those perfectly crisped turkeys, immaculately sculpted ice cream cones, and more.  

Modest Fashion on Instagram

Jan 12, 2016
@bollywoodstylefile via Instagram / http://bit.ly/1Sg8GyQ

Dolce and Gabbana, the Italian fashion house known for underwear-inspired lace and satin dresses and clingy silhouettes, recently unveiled a new line of luxury hijabs and abayas for Muslim women. Smart move if you follow Fortune magazine’s prediction that Muslim consumers will spend an estimated $484 billion on clothing and footwear by 2019. So, is Dolce and Gabbana’s new line a bold move toward inclusion? Or a calculated play for profits?

John Flannery via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/fDHm4S

The term "protest song" conjures up songs from the 1960s...and artists from Nina Simone and Sam Cooke to Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. If we are living in a new civil rights era, what do protests songs sound like in 2016? We have a playlist and analysis.

Then, we all have baggage. The things we inherit from our childhood that clutter our psyches. What happens when that clutter is actually physical -- from generations of hoarding? We'll hear from a woman who rejected her chaotic upbringing in favor of extreme minimalism, and found that less is not always more.

What Protest Songs Sound Like in 2016

Jan 12, 2016
Nicholas Balanon via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/rCWAPk

Nina Simone, along with Sam Cooke, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and countless others made important contributions to the rich canon of protest songs during the civil rights movement. A canon so strong, that the term "protest song" often conjures images of artists from the 1960s.

Tony Webster via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/4NPfdS

You might be surprised to learn that America’s murder rate has been steadily declining for more than two decades. Despite the drop, the number of murder cases being solved has remained flat.

On today’s show, technology, trust, and why cops aren't solving more murders. Plus, a grieving mother turns to art to remember her daughter, and other victims of New Hampshire’s heroin epidemic.

Malina Jones via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/C681ac

In November, Paul Ryan stepped onto the floor of the US Capital sporting a beard, the first bewhiskered Speaker of the House in a century. On today’s show, has the beard boom hit Washington?  

Then, from Bill Clinton to Ben & Jerry--when campaign season hits, political surrogates come out of the woodwork. We'll find out who is stumping for whom, and why it matters.

Plus, after a group of anti-government activists took over an Oregon wildlife refuge last weekend, news outlets are struggling with how to identify them and their goals. We speak with a media reporter who says that in today's partisan, all-in media landscape, news reporters have an obligation to choose words carefully.

The Tangled Business of Facial Hair in Politics

Jan 7, 2016

Fashion styles come and go, but facial hair on men hasn't entered the mainstream since safety razors came on the scene. Sure, some of our elected officials have held on to their whiskers, but Presidential beards and mustaches are a distant memory.

Opus Penguin via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/apu85t

In November, Paul Ryan stepped onto the floor of the US Capital sporting a beard, the first bewhiskered Speaker of the House in a century. On today’s show, has the beard boom hit Washington?  

Then, from Bill Clinton to Ben & Jerry--when campaign season hits, political surrogates come out of the woodwork. We'll find out who is stumping for whom, and why it matters.

We’ll also open the history books for a serious look at a surprisingly well-rewarded skill, with roots reaching back to ancient Sumerians: professional flatulence.

Andy L via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/deqA7J

The life of a 'repo man' is always intense; just imagine the stakes on the high seas. On today’s show, we’ll dive into the murky world of maritime "repo men", hired to recover ships stolen and scrubbed to hide their identity by gun runners, human traffickers, and pirates.

Then, for nearly 50 million U.S. workers, drug tests are a condition of employment. We'll look into the costs and efficacy of random drug testing. 

Pages