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Farewell to an NHPR Icon

Chris Saunders

Some exciting news to share regarding Virginia Prescott, host extraordinaire for many of New Hampshire Public Radio’s most successful and long-running programs.

After a decade at NHPR sharing stories and conducting insightful interviews, Virginia is heading to Georgia to accept a new hosting gig at Georgia Public Broadcasting – a statewide public radio and public television network based in Atlanta. Starting in June, Virginia will be the host of the daily, one-hour news talk show “On Second Thought”.  

“I came to NHPR a decade ago with a love of conversation, a desire to tell stories, and a belief that the human voice has extraordinary power to surprise and influence us in subtle and profound ways. I’ve had thousands of conversations since -- whether with savvy innovators or Supreme Court Justices or people speaking on the radio for the first time -- that inspired me, challenged me, and opened my mind and my heart. I am thrilled to be taking on a brand new challenge in a new place, and to explore the issues and topics on the minds of the people of Atlanta, Georgia, and the American Southeast,” said Prescott. “While I’ll miss New Hampshire, the experience of returning to my home state has reaffirmed for me that even if we all have a world of information on our phones, personal exchanges still have meaning. I look forward to hearing more, and to opening up a new range of conversations at GPB. And I also look forward to making many return visits back home to New Hampshire.”

Prescott is a Concord native who worked in public radio and experienced living in New Orleans, New York and Boston before returning to New Hampshire just more than a decade ago. During her time at NHPR, she put her stamp on the long-running NHPR program Word of Mouth, starting with the show’s on-air debut in February 2008.

Prescott is a familiar face to Granite State arts and culture aficionados across the state.

She’s been the longtime host of Writers on a New England Stage, NHPR’s partnership with The Music Hall in Portsmouth. During hours of conversations, she’s posed insightful and revealing questions to literary icons such as Stephen King, Salman Rushdie, and Joyce Carol Oates. Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor; media veterans Tom Brokaw and Diane Rehm – all have been on the other end of Virginia’s distinct and inclusive interviewing style. A 2016 conversation with children’s book turned adult author Judy Blume earned Virginia a national award for best interview from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated. More recently, she was the host of NHPR’s inaugural Hall – Kenyon Poetry Prize ceremony, honoring National Book Award winner Frank Bidart.

Expanding her repertoire beyond traditional radio, Virginia helped produce and hosted Civics 101, a podcast that explores questions around legislative terminology, the political process and the rights and responsibilities of citizenry. Beginning with when the podcast first launched on Inauguration Day (January 19, 2017), Virginia hosted more than 100 episodes on subjects from the role of the Federal Election Commission, to a look at the Fourteenth Amendment, to Super PACs. Civics 101 is quickly becoming one of NHPR’s most successful media properties, with more than six million downloads. In addition, for more than two years – totaling 60 episodes – Virginia was the host of the 10-Minute Writer’s Workshop on NHPR.

From TEDx to the Monadnock International Film Festival, to appearances on panels, at local universities, and even a Concord fashion show – Virginia gave back much to the  New Hampshire community through her hosting abilities and support of the local arts and cultural community.

“I met Virginia more than twenty years ago when she was on my team at New York Public Radio.  She was a spirited and creative talent, a wonderful colleague, and later - a friend” said Betsy Gardella, President  & CEO of NHPR. “Fast forward to 2006 and the creation of Word of Mouth. Although Virginia had never hosted a show before, her passion for the arts and her high cultural IQ made her a natural choice for not only Word of Mouth, but for countless other projects, most notably Writers on a New England Stage. While we will miss her here in New Hampshire, we wish her all good things as she embarks on this very exciting next chapter of her brilliant career!”    

Word of Mouth and Civics 101 will continue production as usual, with hosting duties shared amongst existing NHPR staff for the time being.

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