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

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.