Amber Nimocks

Producer, "The State of Things"

Amber Nimocks came to The State of Things in January 2009. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a survivor of 15 years in the newspaper business. As a reporter and editor, her posts have included such exotic locales as her hometown of Fayetteville, Robeson County, Wilmington, Raleigh and Fort Worth, Texas.

In her spare time she drinks wine and writes about it for The News & Observer, eats and writes about it for Edible Piedmont, and travels and writes about it for anyone who’s interested. She lives with her husband, her son and two dogs in downtown Raleigh.

Ways to Connect

Who are the Melungeons?

Questions of racial identity and cultural heritage have long surrounded a group of Appalachians called the Melungeons. In recent years, curiosities have been piqued about this loosely connected group of people, spawning DNA testing, numerous books, Web sites and a documentary film. Guest host Isaac-Davy Aronson talks with K. Paul Johnson, corresponding secretary for the Melungeon Heritage Association; and Julie Williams Dixon, a Raleigh-based writer and director of the film "Melungeon Voices."

The week of highlights from 2011 continues as host Frank Stasio chats with producer Amber Nimocks about her picks for the year's best shows. North Carolina author Clyde Edgerton jams out to James Brown, humorist Celia Rivenbark pitches a Southern version of "Prairie Home Companion," Mississippi writer Tom Franklin tells the saddest funny story of the year and Brian Hoyle, RBC Center announcer for the Carolina Hurricanes, tells us how to say "Woo!" in Finnish.

ACC Basketball: The Story of the Rivalries, Traditions and Scandals of the First Two Decades of the Atlantic Coast Conference

It may come as a surprise to modern fans of the Atlantic Coast Conference, but the organization that gave rise to Michael Jordan and Mike Krzyzewski started life with a football agenda. Historian J. Samuel Walker chronicles the formative two decades of the conference in his new book "ACC Basketball: The Story of the Rivalries, Traditions and Scandals of the First Two Decades of the Atlantic Coast Conference" (UNC Press/2011).

The Wife of His Youth by Charles Chesnutt

Decades before the influential writers and thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance began to challenge prevailing American understandings of race and society, Charles Chesnutt was building a foundation for their work. A teacher and writer who lived for much of his life in Fayetteville, Chesnutt imagined a world where race was irrelevant and injustice could be faced down with nonviolence. In recent years, an increasing number of academics and artists have turned their attentions to Chesnutt, whose work was in danger of being forgotten. As part of our occasional North Carolina Literary Lights series, host Frank Stasio talks about Chesnutt's legacy with Dante James, a filmmaker and instructor at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and its African and African American Studies program; and Gene Gorman, a PhD candidate in English at Boston College.

Yesterday, Durham Judge Orlando Hudson granted convicted murderer Michael Peterson a new trial. In 2003, Peterson was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his wife. The judge granted the new trial due to questions raised about the credibility of State Bureau of Investigation agent Duane Deaver, who presented evidence against Peterson. Deaver, and others in the SBI crime lab, have been investigated for misconduct and faulty science.

Gary Grant

Gary Grant's family has owned land in eastern North Carolina since just after the Civil War when his great-grandfather, a former slave, bought a farm. That is one reason Grant has made his life's work defending the rights of African-American land owners in rural North Carolina. Grant is the executive director of the Concerned Citizens of Tillery and founding president of the National Black Farmers & Agriculturalists Association. Both groups have fought the federal Department of Agriculture to undo the wrongs of racial discrimination that have cost black farmers their land.

Historic Oakwood

Downtown Raleigh's historic Oakwood neighborhood puts on its annual candlelight tour this weekend. It's a chance for curious strangers to poke around in some of the city's grandest and oldest homes. What few people realize is that the tour began some 40 years ago as a last-ditch effort to keep a freeway from demolishing the historic area. Neighbors have recently begun collecting one another's oral histories, to help preserve the neighborhood's fascinating story.

When Carolina Ballet Artistic Director Robert Weiss set out to reinvigorate the company's annual chestnut, “The Nutcracker,” his thoughts immediately turned to Las Vegas. That's where the best magicians are, after all. His quest led him to employ the services of magician Rick Thomas. Together they have added Vegas-style magic to the first act of the 1891 work of art. Host Frank Stasio talks with Weiss about retooling "The Nutcracker" for the new millennium.

American Meat

Documentary producers have sunk their teeth into the growing sustainable food revolution over and over in recent years. In the crowded field of food films, this year's "American Meat" stands out for its digestible portrayal of the many aspects of our nation's flawed food system. The film will screen at the Haw River Ballroom on Thursday, followed by a panel discussion. In advance of the screening, host Frank Stasio talks with filmmaker Graham Meriwether and a group of local farmers: Suzanne Nelson of Cozi Farms; Eliza MacLean of Cane Creek Farms and Jeff Barney, chef of the Saxapahaw General Store and The Eddy.


Dec 1, 2011

Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill fall all over themselves to get into Marianne Gingher's stylistics class. Gingher, the Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, teaches her language class just once a year. It culminates in the annual performance of Gram-O-Rama, a collection of student-produced skits and songs spun out of grammar assignments.

On Monday, the North Carolina General Assembly sent a repeal of the Racial Justice Act to Gov. Bev Perdue for her signature. The law, which legislators passed in 2009, gave the state's death row inmates a means to challenge their sentences using statistical evidence. The law has been at the center of controversy since its beginnings. Advocates claimed it would help right racial imbalance in the justice system, while opponents said the law would give convicted murderers access to parole. 

Katy Munger

Some fans know her as Gallagher Gray or Chaz McGhee, but those who grew up with mystery writer Katy Munger in Raleigh knew her as one of six children in a large, eccentric family that lived in Cameron Park. Her father was the longtime books editor at The News & Observer, her mother was a political activist who took her children with her to protests and marches. Munger's lively childhood has helped shaped the characters she creates in three sets of mystery series, The Hubbert and Lil books, the Casey Jones series and her latest, the Dead Detective series. Host Frank Stasio talks with Katy Munger, who now lives in Durham, about her life, her work and how her characters interact with the justice system.  This program originally aired on August 22, 2011.  For a link to the audio, click here.

Turning a secret recipe for barbecue sauce or homemade pickles into a packaged product is a lot harder than it looks. But it's getting easier. That's thanks to the hard work of some food-loving entrepreneurs, and a growing sector in the middle of the local food chain. Host Frank Stasio talks with Nick Hawthorne-Johnson, co-owner of The Cookery in Durham, and with Jennifer Curtis, director of NC Choices and co-founder of Farmhand Foods. Both Hawthorne-Johnson and Curtis help fill the gap between the farmer and the food buyer.

North Carolina author Margaret Maron takes fictional District Court Judge Deborah Knott on a crime-solving adventure in New York City in her newest book "Three-Day Town" (Grand Central Publishing/2011). It is the 17th book in Maron's Deborah Knott series. Host Frank Stasio talks with the author about the new setting for her North Carolina-born heroine and where she finds her inspiration.

 The Abraham Jam

When local musician David LaMotte found himself frustrated by rising levels of bigotry in the national conversation, he decided he had to do something. So, he put on a show. LaMotte invited Dawud Wharnsby, an Islamic musician, and Dan Nichols, a Jewish musician, to meet him on stage at Duke University. The three will perform together in support of cultural and religious harmony tonight at Page Auditorium. They join host Frank Stasio to talk about the concert, which they're calling The Abraham Jam.