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.

As the legend goes, Sevilla Jones and Henry N. Sargent were courting when Sevilla's heart changed, and their romance took a tragic turn.

The pair died over 160 years ago, but the notorious gravestone in New Boston's cemetery still draws curious visitors.

But what really happened?

In the months since #MeToo went viral on social media, millions of people across the globe have broken the silence on their stories of sexual assault and harassment. But where do we stand in New Hampshire? How has the Granite State responded to the Me Too movement? What conversations are we having? What actions are we taking?

©David J. Murray / Cleareyephoto.com

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with romance author and screenwriter Jojo Moyes, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. 

If you're looking for a slice in New Hampshire, you can find a House of Pizza in just about every town in the state. These pies are pan baked, with a hard crust that works like a retaining wall for an even layer of sauce and cheese. This is Greek pizza. And if New Hampshire's got a signature 'za, this is it.

But why are all of these Greek pizza joints called "House of Pizza"? And how did Greek pizza come to corner the market in the Granite State?

Big Brother and the Tax Man

Feb 9, 2018

New Hampshire is one of 9 states without a state income tax, and one of just two states without a broad-based sales tax either. 

Democrat or Republican, almost every serious candidate for governor takes the Pledge: a promise that they won't even consider a broad-based state income or sales tax.

When listener Mary Douglas moved to New Hampshire in 2005, she couldn't make sense of the state's strong anti-tax sentiment. For our "Only in NH" series, she asked us: why doesn't New Hampshire have a state income tax?

Chris Jensen

When the state of New Hampshire submitted a bid to Amazon , throwing Londonderry into the ring as home for the company’s second headquarters, they summed up their case like this: "All the benefits of Boston… without all the headaches."

Of course, that logic doesn't really apply if you live in New Hampshire's northernmost towns, where the closest city of size is Sherbrooke, Quebec.  In this episode, as part of NHPR's series "The Balance", we look at arts, culture and economy north of the notches.  

Plus, New Hampshire filmmaker and visual artist Amy Jenkins on her film Instructions on Parting, which premiers at MOMA later this month. 

Sara Plourde

After more than two years and 60 episodes, we are signing off, to make room for new projects and podcasts (but episodes will continue to live online if you’re looking for a dose of inspiration). Thanks to everybody who listened and learned from the show! For other literary offerings from NHPR, check out: The Bookshelf, featuring authors from around New Hampshire and the region, as well as books about New Hampshire by authors from anywhere. Writers on a New England Stage

For many, the mention of contra dance conjures images of tradition and wholesomeness -- a thoroughly American, and old-fashioned, past time. But in New Hampshire, contra dance has shifted over the decades. From turn-of-the-century stiffness to hippy ease to Millennial intensity, contra accommodates whatever community chooses to adopt it.

Death Resulting

Jan 21, 2018

New Hampshire is one of the hardest hit states in the current overdose epidemic, leaving communities grasping for answers. Meanwhile, some local courts and prosecutors have dusted off an antiquated state statute called "Death Resulting" to target drug dealers. But how are courts discerning between dealers and people with active substance use disorders? On today's show, we'll hear a complicated and tragic story that may shed some light moving forward. 

*This story was produced with support from the Third Coast Radio Residency at Ragdale

Stalking The Wild Frost Heave

Jan 12, 2018
Taylor Quimby

Every spring, many New Hampshire roads come to resemble obstacle courses as frost heaves emerge with the thaw. On this week’s installment of Only in N.H., we answer a listener question: “How and when did the term 'frost heaves' originate? Is the phenomenon unique to New Hampshire?” The answer brings us from 17th century Swedish geological manuscripts to Martian ice formations and, finally, on a winding journey down the country roads through New Hampshire’s hills.

Word of Mouth

On a rainy night in December, author Bill McKibben joined Virginia Prescott in front of a live audience for the "In the Spotlight" series at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire, presented in partnership with Gibson's Bookstore.

In this episode, McKibben reads from his newest book, and speaks with Virginia about the importance of humor in activism, hope and despair in the face of climate change, and how to deal with the depression that's tied to covering an overwhelming global threat.

Why Are Liquor Laws In New Hampshire So Weird?

Dec 29, 2017

Whether you buy, drink, or do business in the Granite State, liquor plays a significant role in the culture and the economy.  Today, Word of Mouth tackles a complicated (and very broad)  question sent in by a listener: "Why are liquor laws in New Hampshire SO WEIRD???"  So here goes: in this episode, we'll try and get to the bottom of a Prohibition era law that requires bars to sell food,  take a trip to a local distillery to find out more about what it means to produce "scratch-made" liquor, and look at how liquor revenue is used. Plus, three attempts to make a signature NH beverage.  Go slow! This episode is high-proof.

Some of you may know Manoush Zomorodi as host of the podcast Note to Self from WNYC. She is also, now, an author. Her book Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self came out of her own experience and curiosity about the creative process and confronting digital distractions - one of the biggest challenges for writers. She asked her audience to help her figure out what it would mean to let all of that go and to learn to shut down in order to build your creative juices up.

As the farm-to-table movement caught on nation-wide, a cohort of farmers, chefs, and organizers put in the legwork to make local food possible here in New Hampshire. 

This week on Word of Mouth, we trace the history of local food in the state, and we address a listener's question: How can you distinguish real, authentic local food from the dizzying display of marketing gimmicks? 

We also hang out with a local arts collective on the seacoast, and we sit down with National Book Award-winning poet Frank Bidart. 

Years ago, in the very early days of Youtube, a video was posted that mesmerized audiences and inspired thousands of imitators across the country. But there's someone in New Hampshire who says he's been doing it just as long: syncing sound and light in an all-consuming holiday spectacular on his front lawn.

On this episode, we find out what it takes to produce the kind of Christmas display that stops traffic.

Also: what exactly happens to your leaves after you rake them up and send them off?

Conventional, linear narratives are not really Jennifer Egan’s thing. She's a shape-shifter of fiction – jumping through time, space, voices and forms. She's written a graphic novel, a short story composed of tweets, and, in the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit From The Goon Squad, a kind of novel-as-concept album. Jennifer Egan takes on historical fiction in her newest novel, Manhattan Beach. We called her at her home in Brooklyn to ask about her process and how she begins her unpredictable novels.

Taylor Quimby

In this episode, a look back at the most controversial stories from our "Only in NH" series, where you ask the questions and we find the answers. We'll hear about the origin of the famous "Chicken Farmer I Still Love You" rock, get an update on the health effects of inhaling wood-stove smoke, and investigate whether New Hampshire's lack of seat-belt law results in more accidents. Plus, your feedback on what we got right (and wrong) reporting each of these stories!

This week on Word of Mouth, two stories about New Hampshire's past, and what it means for the future. First, what did New Hampshire's landscape look like before the intensive logging and development of the past few centuries, and what does that tell us about our history?

Next, a New Hampshire court case in the 1970s wound its way to the Supreme Court--and what seemed at the time to be a narrow freedom of speech case is still influencing laws today. 

Nina Subin

Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink, co-creators of the phenomenally popular Welcome to Nightvale podcast, the “Nightvale Presents” series of podcasts, and New York Times bestselling co-authors of the new novel, It Devours, their second book set in the fictional world of Nightvale. We caught up with them at the 2017 Boston Book Festival.

Episode Music by Disparition

Writers on a New England Stage: Dan Brown

Nov 22, 2017
Sara Plourde

NHPR and The Music Hall present Writers on a New England Stage with Dan Brown, recorded live at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Dan Brown is the author of bestselling thrillers like The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, and Inferno. 

Jen Steele, via Flickr CC http://bit.ly/2zPAB3x

Holidays don't simply spring into existence - they're conceptualized, created, lobbied for, and passed into law by state and federal lawmakers. On this show, we're looking at the New Hampshire author Sarah Hale, who helped craft the modern traditions of Thanksgiving.  Also, a holiday that's still under construction: Indigenous People's Day.  

The blockbuster 2003 thriller The Da Vinci Code launched Dan Brown into the best-selling stratosphere. More than 200 million copies of his books have sold worldwide since. Three of his novels have been made into films starring Tom Hanks as fictional Harvard professor Robert Langdon. Brown is a disciplined writer, rising at 4 a.m. to a breakfast smoothie and "bulletproof" coffee, writing every day, and throwing himself into his research.

In the past few months, the Manchester VA Medical Center met with scandal, disaster, and a full helping of public outcry. Today on Word of Mouth, NHPR's Peter Biello looks back on the summer's news and tells the story of one woman's effort to improve hospital facilities for survivors of military sexual trauma. 

Bodo Schrader was just a baby when his mother was taken to Auschwitz, and four when the concentration camp where he was being held was liberated.  

While many Holocaust survivor stories are first-person narratives told from memory, time and trauma have prevented Bodo from accessing the details of his own history.

For the past two years, Bodo's daughter Margot has taken on the tasks of researching his past. Today on Word of Mouth, Bodo and Margot talk about their shared journey.

For many writers, hitting their stride means finding their voice. Success for Sarah Hurwitz is in creating a voice for others. Sarah was candidate Hillary Clinton’s chief speechwriter during the 2006 Presidential primary, and was quickly snatched up by the Obama campaign team. She landed in the White House, soon being named First Lady Michelle Obama’s head speechwriter.

For generations, the little red house at the end of Via Tranquilla has been home to a legend. The kind that makes your heart pound and your hair raise. A ghost story... a murder mystery... a curse. 

On this episode, the keepers of this myth share the grisly story of Via Tranquilla. And then, the truth comes out. 

For the better part of two decades, New Hampshire has been home to dozens of Indonesian families who immigrated to the United States fleeing religious persecution. Some of them were denied their applications for religious asylum, and they've spent years checking in with authorities and receiving temporary means to stay in the country. Now, under President Donald Trump, they've been told their time is up. 

This week on Word of Mouth, producer Ben Henry follows one family's journey from Indonesia to New Hampshire to the brink of deportation. 

Virginia Macgregor, author most recently of Wishbones, has a knack for capturing the voices of children and young adults and projecting her novels through their lenses, giving us young narrators with accurate levels of experience and naivety - and a perspective not often found in adult literature. Our conversation with her centered around that: how she conjures the voices of young people, insures they are three-dimensional, and navigates those voices around complicated adult situations.

Episode music by Broke for Free

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and Sy Montgomery's 30-plus year friendship began with a ferret bite. Since then, the pair of New Hampshire-based naturalists and science writers have traveled together from Costa Rica to Tanzania.  

Their new book is called Tamed and Untamed, a collection of essays from their long-time Boston Globe column of the same name.  On this episode, Sy and Liz share scientific findings and personal viewpoints that argue the line between human and animal is blurrier than you might think. 

Also in this episode: Where to look for moose in New Hampshire, and singer-songwriter Liz Longley

Andi Noble

In this episode, a look back at some of the best stories from our "Only In NH" series, where you ask the questions and we find the answers.  We'll search for the last living inhabitants of a White Mountain ghost town, try and stay up as late as possible on the NH seacoast, and try and understand why the Old Man of the Mountain is still on everything from license plates to gift shop key chains, a full 14 years after collapsing into a pile of rubble. Plus, your feedback on what we got right (and wrong) reporting each of these stories!