Anita Rao

Producer, "The State of Things"

Anita Rao is a producer for The State of Things, WUNC's daily, live talk show that features the issues, personalities and places of North Carolina. She fell in love with interviewing and storytelling as a Women's Studies and International Studies major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and began her radio career at WUNC as an intern for the nationally distributed public radio program The Story. From 2011 - 2014, she worked for the Peabody Award-winning StoryCorps Production department, where she pitched, edited and produced conversations from across the nation--from Chicago, IL to Pineville, North Carolina.  

Anita was born in a small coal-mining town in Northeast England but spent most of her life growing up in Iowa and has a fond affection for the Midwest. She loves excessively-long dinner parties and hopes to one day live up to her mom's nickname, "Sheila, The Chocolate Eater."

Ways to Connect

Image of chicago alderman
Courtesy of Michael Karlik

With fewer than 15 days until the election, it is nearly impossible to avoid conversations about politics. While some Americans may be tempted to unplug their televisions until it is all over, comedian Michael Karlik is doing exactly the opposite. Michael Karlik is a Colorado-based writer who is actively seeking out conversations about civics and government from every corner of America.

Headshot of Roy Cooper
Courtesy of Roy Cooper

With the election less than three weeks away, the national spotlight is on North Carolina as a key swing state in this election. The latest polls in the governor’s race show incumbent Governor Pat McCrory head-to-head with democratic challenger Attorney General Roy Cooper.

An image from Bright's series '#1960Now' that explores the parallels between the Civil Rights Movement and the current  #BlackLivesMatter movement today.
Sheila Pree Bright

Photographer Sheila Pree Bright first picked up a camera in search of a means of personal expression. After her first public exhibit, it was clear that not only did she have a gift for making beautiful images, but her work also sparked thoughtful and unexpected conversations about race, politics, and justice. Bright first came into the national spotlight with the series “Suburbia,” which explored black suburban life in Atlanta.

Courtesy of Perfecta Visuals

What happens when women get up on stage dressed to the nines and are judged not for their beauty, but for their strength? Groups of women around the country have been exploring just that with competitive arm wrestling leagues. Two of these leagues are based in North Carolina, the League of Upper Extremity Wrestling Women in Durham (LUEWWD) and the Greensboro Arm Wrestling League (GRAWL).

Image of Dan River Girls
Dan River Girls

Each of the Winston-Salem sisters Fiona, Ellie and Jessie Burdette started taking music lessons at five years old. When the youngest sister, Jessie, turned 7, the three decided that it was time to combine their musical talents and form a band--the Dan River Girls. Their music ranges from traditional bluegrass to pop-rock. They released their first album last year and continue to play at venues and festivals around the state.

Jim McKelvey

The Piedmont Melody Makers has been jamming together formally and informally for years. The band is a who’s who of North Carolina old time and bluegrass musicians, and in the past year they decided to formalize their musical union and record an official album. “Wonderful World Outside” is a 16-track record with a blend of original tunes and covers.


Courtesy of Zanele Muholi

In 2006, South Africa became the fifth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. While social justice activists around the world saw this event as a tremendous victory, the country was still in a lot of turmoil. Homophobic hate crimes and violence were on the rise, and many individuals reported being subject to “curative rape,” a hate crime in which someone is raped to “cure” them of their sexual identity.

Image of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel García Márquez was a Colombian writer and journalist best known for popularizing the form of magical realism. His work blends the fantastical with the real and political, and there is no better example of this than his seminal novel “100 Years Of Solitude” (Harper And Row/ 1970). The book is considered by many to be the most influential piece of Spanish fiction since “Don Quixote.”

Image of Michelle Moog-Koussa with the minimoog.
Courtesy of Michelle Moog-Koussa

More than 50 years ago, Robert Moog revolutionized electronic music with the invention of the Moog synthesizer. It was one of the first widely-used electronic instruments and has been featured in music by artists ranging from The Beatles to jazz pianist Herbie Hancock. But despite his immense career success, Moog kept his professional and personal lives separate. In fact, it was not until his death that his daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa, began to learn about his professional influence.

Photo from Playmakers production of 'Detroit 67'
Jon Gardiner

Tensions between police and civilians are on the minds of many after last week’s shootings and protests in Charlotte. But a play on stage at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Playmakers Repertory Company makes it clear that these tensions are not new. “Detroit ‘67” tells the fictional story of a brother and sister working to stay afloat as their city faces increased economic and racial turmoil. The story is punctuated with music from the booming Motown music scene.

Image of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Debating
AP Photo/David Goldman)

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump faced off last night in the first presidential debate of the season. They butted heads about how to address racial tensions, the future of trade and business policy, and who is more fit to be president. Meanwhile, polls in North Carolina show the presidential and gubernatorial races are close, while Sen. Richard Burr appears to hold a slight advantage over democratic challenger Deborah Ross. 

Gloria Steinem author photo
Annie Leibovitz

Gloria Steinem, 82,  is one of the most iconic figures of the American feminist movement. Her legacy as a journalist and activist includes co-founding and editing Ms. Magazine, publishing writings on the intersecting barriers to women’s rights, and decades of organizing on the front lines of national and international feminist movements.

photo of Congress
Lawrence Jackson,

Lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill last week for a short session before the November election. Their priorities include passing a spending bill to avert another government shutdown and coming up with a funding plan to fight the Zika virus. The pressure is on to adjourn the session quickly to allow embattled incumbents, like North Carolina’s Sen. Richard Burr, time to campaign in their home states.

UNC-Chapel Hill Sophomore Delaney Robinson (right) and her attorney Denise Branch told reporters they believe the university is not adequately responding to Robinson's alleged rape.
Jess Clark / WUNC

UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore Delaney Robinson, 19, says neither the university nor local law enforcement have responded adequately to her allegations that UNC football player Allen Artis raped her last winter.

Retired New York City firefighter Joseph McCormick visits the South Pool prior to a ceremony at the World Trade Center site in New York on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015.

This Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The event caused major shifts in the political, social and economic climates around the world, and has given birth to a wide array of new academic scholarship.



Image of NC Author Belle Boggs
Courtesy of Belle Boggs

Infertility affects one in eight couples in the United States, according to Resolve: The National Infertility Association. That statistic amounts to millions of Americans, but despite the high numbers, many keep their struggle private. For many years writer Belle Boggs was one of those individuals.

Staring Down Fate

Aug 30, 2016
Photo of Chris Lucash
Jeffrey Mittelstadt, WildSides

Chris Lucash spent close to three decades working with the endangered red wolf population in North Carolina. He was present when the first wolves were released back into the wild in the late 1980s and helped support the wild population as it grew to its peak in the 2000s.

In June of 2015, Lucash was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, and he passed away just one year later.

Photo of a young Tarish Pipkins
Courtesy of Tarish Pipkins

Tarish Pipkins describes puppetry as composing a symphony in 3-D, and one quick glimpse at his work clarifies exactly what he means. Pipkins' puppets are incredibly complex, but they move in both a realistic and graceful way.

Photo from "I Wish You A Boat." A young husband rushes his wife to the life boat.
Robbie Wiggins

More than a decade before the sinking of the Titanic, a passenger ferry named "SS Stella" sank during a short crossing in the English Channel. The boat went down in just eight minutes, and less than half of the staff and crew on board survived.

Photo of Prince from "Purple Rain"
Sound Opinions / Flickr

Music can transport people to a particular time and place in a way that not many other things can. And for that reason, it has become an essential element of film.

Sometimes music is used as a tool to underscore a particular emotion or theme, and in other instances it is so distinct and memorable that it becomes a character of its own.

Actors from Raleigh Little Theatre's "Memphis"
Curtis Brown

Dewey Phillips made history in the 1950s as one of the first white radio disc jockeys to play music by black artists. He was opinionated, eclectic, and gained notoriety for being the first DJ to play Elvis Presley’s music on the radio.

Photo of LaToya Smith
Elizabeth Anderson

The stories of princesses like Cinderella, Belle, and Little Mermaid have been told and re-told for more than a century.

But for local director and playwright Nancy Rich, the standard princess narratives leave much to be desired. Rich co-directed the Raleigh Little Theatre production of "Cinderella" for years, and Rich has always left the process wondering, "But what does Cinderella really think?"

Photo of Sylvia Gray outside her surplus store turned thrift shop

Sylvia Gray was an entrepreneur of ephemera. Decades after she and her husband opened a surplus store in downtown Greensboro, she turned the business into a three-story thrift shop that she filled by taking twice-daily trips to the local Salvation Army.

Photo of Andy Eversole with his banjo in Tiananmen Square
Ben Singer

Musician Andy Eversole has always wanted to travel the world and make music, and last year an unfortunate incident gave him the push he needed to make a long-time dream a reality.

Photo of Oscar Charleston's baseball card
Ryan Christoff

Durham and baseball are intimately connected in the minds of many Americans because of the movie "Bull Durham." But the relationship between the city of Durham and the sport dates back to more than a century before the film.