Martha Woodroof

Host

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 npr.org.

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

The Magic of Radio

Mar 20, 2015

On this edition of The Spark, Martha Woodroof sits down for a chat with Lulu Miller.  Lulu lives half her life in Charlottesville, half in DC, and spends all her time making NPR’s wildly popular new show Invisibilia.

Lulu Miller's Website

On this edition of The Spark, Martha Woodroof speaks with writer Erika Raskin.  Erika grew up the child of Marcus Raskin (a human rights activist whom Dennis Kucinich called, "the dean of the American Left") and novelist Barbara Raskin. Her own first novel, Close, came out in October.

Moving Forward

Mar 6, 2015

On The Spark, Martha Woodroof speaks with John Arnold, who went from grass, to pills, to shooting heroin. And then he went to Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge; where, at age 24, he's found a path to recovery.

Shenandoah valley Teen Challenge on Facebook

Kenan Rubenstein

Martha speaks with Sophia Weideman, who has been drawing cartoons her whole life, but it took a while for her to find her own superheroes.

Sophia Draws

ETSY - Sophia Makes Things

Sophia Weidemen's Tumblr feed

Jubilant Skier

Feb 20, 2015

On this episode of The Spark, Martha Woodroof spends some time with Seth Whitten, who lost his leg in an accident when he was 14, and later went on to become a jubilant skier.

Berkeley House B&B

Feb 13, 2015
Berkeley House Bed and Breakfast - Facebook Page

Okay, what do you do if you’ve spent your professional life in Australia, and have zero DIY experience? Well, if you're Jeff Ribman, you buy a rambling old house in Staunton, Virginia, that needs a lot of work and start renovating it as a B&B.

Berkeley House Bed and Breakfast - Facebook Page

Ordering The Urban

Feb 6, 2015

Next Time on The Spark: Martha speaks with Thanh Dang, Harrisonburg’s Transportation and Environmental Planning Manager. She loves her job, she says, because she likes to make things work better in her town.

Martha speaks with George F. Thompson who has made a career out of publishing lovely books commemorating the place of places in our lives.

George F. Thompson Publishing

Dean Weaver almost lost a child, and the experience made him aware that what he really wanted to do with his life was build community... literally.

Miller's Music

Jan 16, 2015
AIM Studios of Virginia / Allen Moore

Martha speaks with Dawn Miller, who grew up listening to her parents play music. So, naturally, she started making music as soon as she was old enough to carry a tune.

Funding Creativity

Jan 9, 2015

Next Time on The Spark: Martha talks with Christina Cain Executive Director of the Staunton Creative Community Fund. And she sparkles when she talks about helping her hard-working, creative fellow citizens fund their dreams.

Staunton Creative Community Fund

Local Investing Project

hOUR Economy

A Stunting Past

Dec 19, 2014

Martha Woodroof speaks with retired stunt man Steve Winegard.

Sculpting the Earth

Dec 12, 2014

Martha talks with Winchester’s Catherine Peek, an urban designer and groundworks artist.

Gary Freeburg

Part two of Martha Woodroof's conversation with photographer Gary Freeburg.

Gary's work focuses on photographs of the barren, windswept and unpopulated areas around Alaska's volcanoes.

Alaskan Zen

Nov 28, 2014
Gary Freeburg

JMU professor and gallery director Gary Freeburg served two tours in Vietnam. He escaped the noise and confusion of war by visiting Japanese Zen gardens. He now takes photographs of the barren Alaskan wilderness in the hopes of capturing that same kind of calm peace.

Gary Freeburg's Photographs

Information about the Ryoan-ji Japanese Zen Garden

In honor of the recent defeat of nationally ranked UCLA, we present Martha Woodroof's conversation with longtime JMU Women's Basketball coach Kenny Brooks. Note - This interview originally aired May 30, 2014 and at that time, the JMU Women's Basketball team had just defeated UVa.

Nashville Dreams

Nov 14, 2014

Harrisonburg’s John Samson loves, plays, and writes music that leans toward country.

John, who installs dropped ceilings for a living, recently went to Nashville with his family.

He got there as a tourist and left with a recording contract.

This is part two of Martha's conversation with writer Jack Greer.  They talk about the four years he mostly spent sailing the Caribbean on a 40 ft sailboat with his wife Bobbi. Oh yes, and about changing from writing mostly non-fiction to fiction.

In part one of Martha's conversation with writer Jack Greer, she asks him why he is as drawn to water as a sugar ant is to chocolate cake. Their conversation also centers on his involvement with the efforts to reclaim the Chesapeake Bay.

Heart-Felt

Oct 17, 2014

Martha Woodroof speaks with Staunton’s Lisa Jacenich, a fiber artist who creates felt garments, scarves, and art out of a fabric she describes as, "not your grandmother’s felt."

At Lisa's website, Artful Gifts, you can learn more about creating felt, which involves, "a process of laying out combed or carded fibers of wool either in the ultimate shape for their use or as a sheet of fabric later to be sewn into a garment."

WEB EXTRA:

Joy and Sunshine

Oct 10, 2014

Joy Loving talks with WMRA's Martha Woodroof about why Virginia should go solar. College towns like Harrisonburg should solarize, she says. (Oh, and this also involves a spoonbread recipe.)

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