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

A web extra --more of Martha's talk with Joe/Ojo Taylor below.

And some of his music.



Navy vet Karl Beckett amazed WMRA's Martha Woodroof by sporting the biggest hair she'd seen "since the 1970’s." Martha just had to introduce herself and ask his story.

Like A Rolling Ssam

Aug 14, 2014

Harrisonburg's foodie scene got more variety with the arrival of Mashita, a food truck serving Korean cuisine.  WMRA's Martha Woodroof chats with enterprising epicurean, Mikey Reisenberg.  

Tomato Guru

Aug 8, 2014

How does one pick a bushel of tomatoes without kneeling? It depends on how they're strung up. Though he'd humbly disagree, many Harrisonburg folks think that Singers Glen farmer, Marlin Burkholder, knows all there is to know about growing tomatoes. 

Bob Driver!

Aug 1, 2014

Homegrown bluesman, regional acoustic guru, musician-booster  and long-ago owner of the legendary Little Grill:  Bob Driver. Bob chats with WMRA's Martha Woodroof about some 'a this and some 'a that.

This is a web-only bonus: extra audio of Bob Driver who appeared on The Spark.



A chat with self-described "Author, Poet, Spoken Word Artist, Motivational Speaker, & Artist" Angela Carter.

Angela Carter appeared on The Spark. Here is a bonus: a recording of her reading her poem Morning Glory.

We meet Luke Frazier, Fairfax Symphony Orchestra's New Principal Pops Conductor, who premiers 2 new programs July 25th and 26th at the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival in Orkney Springs. One  explores the Civil War through period music, journal entries, speeches, and historical accounts.

Charles Marsh, the acclaimed author of Reclaiming Bonhoeffer discusses his new book, Strange Glory: A life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which the Wall Street Journal calls “truly beautiful and heartbreaking.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and  anti-Nazi dissident who was executed by the Nazis just weeks before the end of the war in Europe.

This time on the Spark, Martha speaks with audio book producer Paul Heitsch.

Bill Fawcett, WMRA's intrepid engineer, has happily gone to the dogs...

In 1978, she was in the vanguard of female pastors (being only the second-ever ordained Presbyterian woman in her state). Ann Held remembers the long and winding road she took to first become a pastor, back in the 1970's when there weren’t many women in the field. 

Just where did the name St Brigid Press come from?


HOOs Cryin' Now?

May 30, 2014

WMRA's Martha Woodroof meets longtime JMU Women's Basketball coach and vanquisher of Wahoos, Kenny Brooks.

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.