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.

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When a seasoned magazine editor took her daughter to the bookstore, they found scientists and explorers in magazines for boys. For girls: princesses, cover girls in make-up and tips for shinier hair.

On today’s show a new magazine for girls has plenty of creative, inspiring ideas, and no lipstick! 

Also today, aspiring doctors get all they can from med school, for the rest, they turn to actors. We'll find out how playing sick is helping to make better doctors. And the 5-second rule gets the science treatment.

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Fashion week is on in New York and the Burkini ban is off in one French town - with more likely to follow. A high court found no proof that the full-cover swimsuit favored by some Muslim women does not pose a security threat. Today, the long history of women's bodies - and fashion - as political battleground.

Plus, getting locked up is no picnic, especially for crooked executives arrogant enough to think they live by different rules. We'll talk to a consultant who prepares high-rollers for life behind bars. 

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Julia Ward Howe is famous for writing the civil war song, “Battle Hymn of the Republic” - but did you know her life was the subject of the first Pulitzer Prize winning biography, back in 1917? We’re learning about the unlikely sisters who took home the first Pulitzer prize 100 years ago.

Plus, you've seen one photo of the pyramids at Giza, or the Eiffel Tower, and you've just about seen them all.  We'll talk to an artist who photographs the most documented tourist destinations in the world - by not taking photos of them.  

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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, in the last census 60 million Americans listed birdwatching as a past time. And who can blame them? Watching birds is like watching tiny adorable flying dinosaurs.  But there's birdwatching and then there's birdwatching. We'll take a look inside the fascinating and pricey world of competitive birding.

Trigger Warnings, Born In Between, & Miranda July

Sep 9, 2016
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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. 

Photos by our moms and dads.

You've seen them on Twitter, you've seen them on Facebook, so why do IT people desperately want to kill the .gif? On today’s show, a brief explanation of social media's most celebrated and much maligned file format.

Plus it's back to school week, and that means kids are heading back to class with brand new pencils, notebooks, and Trapper Keepers - but let's face it - none of these things are as important as that carefully selected, first day outfit.

We’ll also hear from a teacher who says it’s not just introverted kids that face hurdles in a busy, noisy classroom, why introverted teachers have a high burn out rate.

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The first Harry Potter book was published in Britain in 1997 – now with a major film franchise already behind us, a theme park, and countless bits of online fan fiction, those first seven  books serve Potter-fanatics as a source for life-lessons, inspiration and comfort - not unlike religious texts. Today, the podcast that reads Potter like the bible. 

Plus, we cover the coverage of the US Open. Some say this is the golden age of tennis - so why do so many Americans need to be convinced to care? A writer argues American tennis coverage needs a reboot.

Karen Kenney

Andre Dubus III's memoir Townie told the story of his violent childhood on the wrong side of the tracks. Writing was his way out, and he's made more than good, with multiple NYT bestsellers, an Oprah’s Book Club pick, and an Oscar-nominated film adaptation (for his novel The House of Sand and Fog). And he gets out there, as a public speaker and writing instructor for graduate programs, seminars and retreats. We caught up with him at New Hampshire Writers’ Project's annual Writers’ Day.

A Kettle of One

Sep 6, 2016
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Each autumn, New Hampshire birders are treated to abundant flocks of broad-winged hawks beginning to migrate south. This September, Word of Mouth’s favorite bird dude Eric Masterson will be biking across five time zones, 40 degrees of latitude and 5000 miles tracking the migration of the raptors. Why? Well, despite the hawks’ impressive numbers, little is known about their migration.

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Social media networks have too few people to monitor and shut down the volume of Islamic State propaganda accounts. Today, a Dartmouth professor has created a tool to flag violent, extremist videos and recruitment tools and keep them off social media feeds...still, some companies fear accusations of censorship.

And, want to guess how America's internet speed stack up to the rest of the world? Not even top 20... That means below Mongolia, Slovenia and dozens of other countries.Today, find out why the leader of the free world lags so far behind in fast -and affordable - access.

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The BBC's list of the top 100 movies since 2000 included a lot of foreign and art house films, with hardly a blockbuster in the bunch. The internet peanut gallery was not pleased. Has anyone even seen these movies besides movie critics, they cried? Today, movie critic Ty Burr talks about the chasm between film buffs and mainstream movie goers.

Then, as we bid a fond farewell to August, it's time to catch up on worthwhile summer movies before the leaves  turn. The Hippo's Amy Diaz runs through a few you and the kids don't want to miss.

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Social media networks have too few people to monitor and shut down the volume of Islamic State propaganda accounts. Today, a Dartmouth professor has created a tool to flag violent, extremist videos and recruitment tools and keep them off social media feeds...still, some companies fear accusations of censorship.

And, an experienced philosophical take on a question that family, fortune and circumstance once made non-negotiable, and is now is the province of self-help books and fortune tellers... How do you choose a partner in a culture where everything is available and laid out like a superstore?

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In states all across the country, the days of pot prohibition are coming to an end. Today, critics say new regulations favor so-called the "Walmart weed" industry and put the squeeze on home growers.

Plus, Derrick Hamilton has never been to law school - but that hasn't stopped him from filing federal complaints against inhumane treatment of inmates, and helping others obtain hearings. He also fought the wrongful that put him in jail for 21 years. We'll talk with a jailhouse lawyer who was set up, but still believes in the power of the law.

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Presidential candidates talk a lot about what they'll do to jump start the economy. But what about local TV stations that rely on campaign ads to pay the bills? They're hurting. Today on the show, it may feel like all campaign, all the time, but not on TV.

And, the Rio Olympics have ended - and green pool and Ryan Lochte-gate aside, it wasn't half the disaster people feared. But now with the Paralympics just around the corner, and only a fraction of tickets sold, disaster might just get another chance.

8.24.16: Best Summer Listens

Aug 24, 2016
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So late August is just about the toughest time to produce a radio show, because just about everybody is on vacation  -  of course, that doesn't matter much for podcasts - these days with so much on-demand audio, our playlists are packed with great new shows, and fresh episodes from our long-time favorites. Since Virginia is off swimming in a lake somewhere, and all of the other newsmakers are off squeezing the last few drops out of summer, today we're going to do a summer playlist of staff podcast picks. 

© 2014 Sharona Jacobs Photography

Kelly Link is one of a handful of writers to manage to be wondrous, fantastical and ominous at the same time. As Kirkus says, her work is “like Kafka hosting Saturday Night Live, mixing humor with existential dread.” Her most recent collection, Get in Trouble, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction.  She and her husband manage Small Beer Press.

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With hefty endorsement deals from Speedo and Under Armour, now-retired Olympian Michael Phelps doesn't need a new job anytime soon.  But aren't you a little bit curious about just how much those twenty-two gold medals worth? Today, the true worth of an Olympic gold medal.

And from the best of sport to the worst of music - From Bob Dylan to Yoko Ono, audiences have long had a fascination with the off-beat or out of tune. So why do we love some bad singers, and love to hate others?

Playing Dead, Women of the Whites, & Half Wild

Aug 19, 2016
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Today on the show, a writer explores the greatest escape plan: pseudocide... We'll hear about the global disappearance industry that plots, facilitates and forges documents for fake deaths - and the investigators who track them down.

And musician and author Robin MacArthur talks about her debut collection of short stories called Half-Wild, weaving tales from an untold side of Vermont, where double-wide trailers sit alongside swanky second homes, and old hippies and homesteaders carve a life out of the wilderness.

8.18.16: Utopia Drive & Overheard: August

Aug 18, 2016
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In the early 1800s, America was new - a wide and blank slate for backwoods prophets, reformers and salvation seekers to create their own versions of paradise. Today, from Shakers to radicals to polygamists, a road trip through some of the nearly 200 utopian communities that emerged in the 19th century.

Then, on Overheard, a podcaster kicks objectivity to the curb at the RNC. Plus a viral meme that proves nobody really understands Olympic sailing. 

8.17.16: The Man With Made-Up Memories & Blood Brother

Aug 17, 2016

Dr . Martin Luther King Jr, Emmit Till, Medgar Evers  -  many sacrificed their lives during America's struggle  for civil rights. So did Jonathan Daniels, a white student from New Hampshire.Today, the authors of a new biography dig into Daniels' life and activism.

Plus, what makes up a memory? For years, filing cabinets or computer folders were used as metaphors for how our brains store and retrieve memories - the truth is a lot less reliable. One man's near-death experience reveals a lot about how and what we remember.

Women have always been drawn to the White Mountains. What surprises people is how many women have been leaders in shaping the region. The mountainous land gave women a place to explore their talents and creativity uninhibited by the constraints of urban life. 

The newest exhibition at the Museum of the White Mountains explores this history. It's called, Taking The Lead: Women and the White Mountains.

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Want to guess how America's internet speed stack up to the rest of the world? Not even top 20... That means below Mongolia, Slovenia and dozens of other countries.Today, find out why the leader of the free world lags so far behind in fast -and affordable - access.

Plus, love is complicated. Most people can agree that they want love in their life, but we are messy, imperfect beings and a lot of ways to get it wrong. From sibling resentments to misguided crushes to good old self delusion, one podcast is jumping in to take a closer look at love in all its forms.

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In the 1968 Olympic games, American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the medal stand - with the eyes of the world upon them - and raised their fists to the sky. Today, John Carlos talks about athletic activism today and the force of that protest nearly fifty years ago.

Plus, the multi-million dollar industry of suffering. A filmmaker explores why people pay money to grind through obstacle courses races through mud, icy ponds and electric shocks? Are we primitive beings taking flight from desk jobs? Or does running through fire just make for a better Facebook post?

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Emily post said "never talk about politics or religion"... But with candidates so divisive, and voters so impassioned, it's a  tough rule to follow. Today, a polite guide to political conversation. First tip? Know what you're trying to accomplish.

Then, there are a lot of adjectives used to describe great white sharks: giant, fearsome, deadly. But author and animal lover Sy Montgomery has seen sharks up close and might choose another word - like sublime. 

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Poverty, suicide, and alcohol and drug abuse are disproportionately high among the two million Native Americans in the US - and at crisis levels on reservations. Today on the show, we'll look into one economic impediment: property rights.

And, women of the whites. A museum exhibit highlights how, from urban society, women took the lead in  developing access, accommodations and preservation of the paths and peaks of New Hampshire's White Mountains.

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Today on the show, a writer explores the greatest escape plan: pseudocide... We'll hear about the global disappearance industry that plots, facilitates and forges documents for fake deaths - and the investigators who track them down.

And from Team Refugee to Superfan Mavis, a rundown of Olympic tweets, memes, and illegal gifs... Including a very photogenic Tongan flagbearer.

Here's What's Awesome: Rio Olympics Edition

Aug 10, 2016

The Olympics inspire us, thrill us, they engage us in the pursuit of what may seem impossible, and never have to leave our comfy chair. That's where Brady Carlson, our longtime awesomator, comes in to the picture as he observes the squabbles and strategies and fixations and silliness that happens online...sifts out the superfluous and brings it all to us.

Today Brady gives us a glimpse of the 2016 games in Rio in what will be his last run through the awesome filter for this program in this studio. Because, later this month, NHPR's  reporter and Weekend Morning Edition host and all around day brightener is heading to Wisconsin Public radio.   

Rich Fleischman

Essayist, novelist, columnist, sportswriter and former ethicist for the New York Times Magazine, Chuck Klosterman has got a wildly original voice. That makes sense for a guy who's written about glam metal bands in North Dakota, or whether you should hire a detective to trail your spouse. He's author of several best-sellers including Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs and most recently But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past.

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Mugshots are considered to be public record by the American justice system. They're also a multi-million dollar source of revenue for internet scammers. Today on the show, an investigation of extortionist websites that hold people's images, and reputations for ransom.

Plus, the chancellor of a very unusual school talks about the growing business of cannabis, and a troupe of Muslim women form a B-Girl dance group and show the western world that just because you wear a hijab, doesn't mean you can't bust a move.  

PROJohn Carleton via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/9MsoA9

The games have begun - the disastrous lead-up to the Rio Olympics has been overtaken by the spectacle of competition. Still, economists agree: hosting the games is a costly and complicated affair.  Today, we'll hear a thought experiment turned innovative solution: why not host the games in multiple cities at once?

Also today, the dog days of summer are suddenly getting shorter. As we near mid-August, perhaps you're nearing the end of your summer reading list. If you're looking for new titles to bring to the beach...we've got you covered.