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

Marvin VanRoane Jr

May 23, 2014

He sold pizzas. He sold drugs. He did time. Now Marvin VanRoane Junior hopes to turn his life around with art. WMRA's Martha Woodroof chats with the newly self-made artist behind the "Urban Art Exhibition" posters which have been popping up in parts of Virginia. 

Silent film wasn't silent: a theater keyboardist would play along to the on-screen action. Ben Model is a professional film accompanist for MoMA and numerous historic theaters. WMRA's Martha Woodroof meets Ben and learns about the process of making DVD music for long-lost silents which are now being digitized and seen for the first time in almost a century.

Updating Organs

May 9, 2014

Dan Smith of Crimora services pipe organs and also can hybridize them with 21st Century digital technology.

Miller's Music

May 2, 2014
AIM Studios of Virginia / Allen Moore

Dawn Miller 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.

Inspired by three unpublished murder mysteries and his own life along the Louisiana/Arkansas  border, writer Steve Weddle's book Country Hardball is in bookstores. 

Yoga Pink

Apr 18, 2014

Susan Nelson’s story of breast cancer survival and Kundalini yoga. 

He's Puzzling

Apr 4, 2014

WMRA's Martha Woodroof chats with Staunton's Matt Gaffney, whose puzzles have been published by the New York Times, Newsday, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, GAMES Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and others. 

Here's a long long chat with Lorie Strother (audio below).   Excerpts appeared in the 3/28/2014 episode of WMRA's The Spark.



Mary Ann Alger

Mar 21, 2014

Before Mary Ann Alger, wife of JMU President John Alger,  became a university’s  First Lady, she had a high-flying career in international banking and finance.

After a stream of rejections, Paul Bogard's book about light pollution, The End of Night, finally got published and got lots of praise. 

A beautiful and disturbing new children's book set in the year 2031 by visual artist Kate Samworth raises awareness of species extinction. 

Western Albemarle High school has a powerhouse robotics club for students who enjoy designing and fabricating machines that can do things. This club has spawned two teams (The Geeks Gods and the Loose Screws) that are set to compete in their third consecutive Virginia state robotics championship. 

John del Re doesn’t participate in shape note singing just to make music, he participates to engage in community.

Suddenly becoming a mommy prompted Charlottesville's Sarah Gerome to start a school.

Rembrandts at JMU

Feb 6, 2014

WMRA's Martha Woodroof meets longtime art historian Kay Arthur who helped obtain a trove of Rembrandt art for an exhibit in Harrisonburg until Feb. 28.

Chirp To Win

Jan 30, 2014

Some world-class performers --have beaks.  We meet canary expert Andre Dight.   As a lad, Andre was once decorated for agricultural/genetics achievement by Royal Family member, the Duke of Kent.   

When Staunton’s Cliff Garstang won a state-level award for his novel, What the Zhang Boys Knew, no one was more flabbergasted by this than he was. WMRA's Martha Woodroof meets the the 2013 Library of Virginia Award for Fiction honoree. 

A Twang Thang

Jan 17, 2014

Greg Tutwiler was working as a DJ and doing some writing when work sent him to MerleFest. Now he is the energy and expertise behind Americana Rhythm Magazine, whose mission is to “promote the culture of Americana music, its fans, its musicians, its venues, and its history.” 

Adaptive Snowfest

Jan 7, 2014

Live music, a film narrated by Robert Redford about adaptive athletes, and demonstrations of adaptive equipment are among the items scheduled during Snowfest at Wintergreen Resort on the weekend of 11-12 Jan, 2014. WMRA's Martha Woodroof had a chat with long-time Wintergreen Adaptive Sports volunteer instructor Seth Whitten about the festival.

Youthful APPeal

Dec 13, 2013

A chat with wise youngperson Linzy Cumbia, who designed our APP. So if you listen to WMRA through an iPhone, thank him.