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

Theresa Curry

Sep 2, 2011

Theresa Curry has been writing about food for a long time and recalls her early years as a writer.

Audrey Wood, a middle school student at North Branch School in Afton, was one of 6 national winners of the Library of Congress annual competition, "Letters About Literature."

Mark Cline

Sep 2, 2011

Mark Cline is best known for making huge fanciful creations out of fiber glass, which show up everywhere from Dinosaur Land to Broadway.

18 year old singer/songwriter, George Washburne shares his hopes and dreams for a career in music.

The Country Store

Aug 2, 2011

Batesville, VA – A good definition of the space between a rock and a hard place might be the economic viability of a traditional Virginia country store. Once the heartbeat of farming communities' commerce and conversation, these old-fashioned emporiums have become endangered by rural Virginians increasing mobility. So, the question facing rural communities is how to keep "the country store" conversation going if "the country store" commerce is going elsewhere.

Culpeper, VA – History is riddled with mistakes.

One of these mistakes, concerning the birthplace of Pete Hill, a Baseball Hall of Fame baseball player you've probably never heard of, was corrected recently with the unveiling of a new historical marker by the side of the road in Culpeper.

For Virginia Public Radio, Martha Woodroof reports.

Staunton – The Tucson shootings highlighted the need to improve mental health services nationwide.

Western State Hospital has long been Virginia's "last resort" for the severely mentally ill, but thanks to new drug therapies and recovery-focused treatment plans, today's hospital bears little resemblance to the place once known as Western Lunatic Asylum.

Martha Woodroof offers this update.

Harrisonburg, VA – Martha Woodroof moderated the 26th District Candidate Forum at VMRC Friday, May 28th.

Democrat Kai Degner and Independent Carolyn Frank were in attendance, Republican Tony Wilt did not attend.

Charlottesville – Democrats all over the country felt the heat in in the recent local and state elections.

In Central Virginia, Democratic incumbent David Toscano faced a challenge from Independent Party candidate Robert Brandon Smith the Third. One of the most remarkable things about Smith's candidacy was the fact that he is homeless.

Smith ultimately lost his bid for the 57th district seat but he did garner 21% of the vote.

Jessica Penner

Oct 1, 2009

Harrisonburg, VA – In this installment of WMRA's One Person's Voice, you'll meet Jessica Penner, a young woman who was born with a disease that causes bony growths on one side of her body.

In 2003, Jessica's doctors discovered that complications had developed with a previously-treated brain tumor.

Soula Pefkaros

Sep 11, 2009

Harrisonburg, VA – Ms. Pefkaros grew up in Miami, graduated from Boston College, then stayed on in Boston as part of a community running a soup kitchen. After her work at the soup kitchen, she spent a year working in Latin America.

Ms. Pefkaros will soon graduate from Eastern Mennonite University with a master's degree in conflict transformation.

Soula Pefkaros is a photographer, and her show on eco-farming hangs in the downstairs gallery of Harrisonburg's Clementine Cafe.

Jawan Shir

Jul 8, 2009

Harrisonburg, VA – Twenty-four-year old Jawan Shir is a citizen of Afghanistan.

He has lived through the Soviet occupation of his country and has been jailed by the Taliban.

Jawan is now in this country on a Fulbright scholarship, studying at James Madison University and WMRA's Martha Woodroof recently sat down with him to hear his story.


Bridgewater – At the suggestion of WMRA listener Lorie Merrow, reporter Martha Woodroof spent time with Charles Johnston Churchman, Jr. who's an active member of the group Veterans for Peace.

Mr. Churchman was born in 1929, raised on the family farm near Staunton, has a masters in English from the University of Virginia, and served in the Korean War.

Dorothy Rosen

Jun 3, 2009

Augusta County, VA – Dorothy Rosen's family has been farming the Shenandoah Valley since the Valley was the frontier.

Although Ms. Rosen has 2 older brothers, when her mother died in 1970, she left the family's Augusta County house and land to Dorothy.

Since then, Ms. Rosen has run a prize winning cattle operation on her own... along with raising 2 children.

WMRA listener Laura Thurman worked with Dorothy Rosen on land conservation easements, to ensure her farm will remain a farm.

Tommie Branch

May 12, 2009

Harrsonburg, VA – Tommie Branch grew up in Franklin County, one of seven children who slept in one bed.

An African American, he lived through grinding poverty and blatant racism that he now writes songs about.


Inman Majors

Apr 28, 2009

Harrisonburg, VA – Novelist Inman Majors teaches creative writing at JMU.

Major's is a Tennessean by birth. His uncle was legendary University of Tennessee football coach Johnny Mayors, and his father had a forty year career as a lobbyist in Nashville.

Inman Major's grew up in Knoxville, and his third novel, The Millionaires, is steeped in the changing South of his childhood. The book is a sprawling story of family and greed.

Bob Jones

Apr 17, 2009

Broadway, VA – Two years ago, 78-year old Bob Jones and his wife moved to Broadway, Virginia, to be closer to family.

Mr. Jones joined the Air Force at 17 and was in federal service for the next 36 years.

He then spent twelve years as a regional manager of his church's extensive welfare system before Parkinson's disease forced his retirement.

Page, VA – Captain Jennifer Martin was raised on a farm in Page County, Virginia.

She's a 16-year army veteran, three years active duty, the rest in the national guard.

Not too long ago, her Staunton-based national guard company, the Headquarters and Headquarters Company 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Virginia, was activated and sent to Iraq. Her Combat Team was in charge of the Joint Area Support Group in Baghdad.

Dr. Margy Hobson

Jan 28, 2009

Charlottesville, VA – Dr. Margy Hobson is on staff at Southern Albemarle Family Practice, one of 13 public health clinics operated by Central Virginia Health.

Martha Woodroof recently sat down with Dr. Hobson and produced the following for WMRA's occasional series, "One Person's Voice."

Harrisonburg, VA – Anthony Eksterowicz is a Professor of Political Science at James Madison University and author of 40 articles and 7 books on the presidency and the first lady.

WMRA's Martha Woodroof recently sat down with Dr. Eksterowicz to discuss how changing times are pushing First Ladies toward a more activist role.