Martha Woodroof


Martha is both a college dropout (Mount Holyoke) and a graduate school dropout (the University of Virginia).

Her first real job was as a teacher’s aide in a pilot Head Start program in Greensboro, North Carolina. She's been with WMRA since the (latest) turn of the century, and has actively freelanced for the NPR Culture Desk and for

Before that – among a lot of other things - she co-owned restaurants, did a bit of acting, was fired as a magazine editor, hosted local TV talk shows and anchored the news, wrote a book called How to Stop Screwing Up: 12 Steps to a Real Life and a Pretty Good Time, cooked for an artist’s colony, was a country music disc jockey and a psychiatric occupational therapy aide, taught preschool, published a bunch of essays, was a morning drive-time personality on a tiny AM radio station, ran a college bookstore coffee shop, directed a college’s co-curricular programming, and failed to sell cars.

Her daughter is spinner, weaver, author, and content provider, Liz Gipson. Many of the photographs accompanying her work were taken by her husband, Charlie.

She loves words and their power to tell other people’s stories.

Her first novel, Small Blessings, was published by St. Martin’s Press in the summer of 2014.

Ways to Connect

Jeff McCormack

Feb 17, 2012

Jeff McCormack’s long relationship with plants includes starting Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Garden Medicinals and Culinaries, co-founding Virginia Plant Savers, and being lead author of Bush Medicine of the Bahamas,  an ethno-botanical study of the native uses of medicinal plants on San Salvador Island.

JMU student Shanell Dowling reads “Won’t You Celebrate With Me” a poem by Lucille Clifton,  in honor of Black History Month.

Urban Renewal XVIII

Feb 10, 2012

To honor Black History Month, JMU student Kirsten Warne reads Major Jackson’s poem Urban Renewal XVIII.

Stan Driver

Feb 10, 2012

Hop grower Stan Driver talks about his fantastical vines, and the burgeoning Virginia hop-growing business.

Blue Mountain Brewery Hops

Ellen Butchart

Feb 10, 2012

When Staunton’s Ellen Butchart unexpectedly lost her job working on the creative side of Rosetta Stone, she responded by going back to school for an MBA in sustainable business.

20-year-old Austin Shifflett blows the blues on his harmonica.

At the Carnival

Feb 3, 2012

To honor Black History Month, JMU student Patrick Ragland reads Ann Spencer’s poem At the Carnival.

Henry McHenry

Jan 27, 2012

Henry McHenry talks of his passionately held beliefs about the responsibilities inherent in substitute teaching.

Essayist Kate Cohen is a writer and editor who grew up in the Shenandoah Valley and now scrambles eggs in Albany, NY.

Blue O'Connell describes herself as, "profoundly deaf," and she joins us to talk about her love of music and songwriting... which she pursues despite her loss of hearing.

Kelly Harris

Jan 27, 2012

Kelly Harris lives in Lexington where she does an astonishing number of different things to earn a living.

Essayist Ernie Didot reflects on home movies and the power of nostalgia as presented in Harrisonburg's Super Gr8 Film Festival.

Harrisonburg’s Tim Estep describes himself as a "film maker."

The Judy Chops

Jan 13, 2012

The Judy Chops, whose five members hail from various parts of the Shenandoah Valley, share their eclectic music and love of making that music.

Stonemason Dana Nelson, a guest of WMRA's The Spark, teases us with just one of his funny Irish stories.

Patricia and Don Lansky each had successful careers before being called to the Ministry… and to each other.

Kate Kessler

Jan 6, 2012

A tribute to Kate Kessler, intrepid teacher, dancer, WMRA contributor and solo hiker of the entire Appalachian Trail. We just heard this week that Kate is in hospice.

Jonathan Coleman

Jan 6, 2012

Best-selling author, Jonathan Coleman, talks about his collaboration with NBA icon, Jerry West, on West by West, My Charmed, Tormented Life.

Information about Jonathan’s WriterHouse talk on “The Art and Responsibility of Narrative Nonfiction Writing”

Earl Martin

Jan 6, 2012

Earl Martin, life-long Asian traveler, discusses his recent house-building foray into North Korea.

The Fuller Center for Housing web account of Earl’s trip

Andi Arndt

Dec 16, 2011

Former WMRA classical music announcer (and Harrisonburg resident), Andi Arndt, has taken her voice international through the magic of the WEB.