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

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
goelsewhere.org

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.

Photo of a girl with red tape over her mouth
stock.tookapic.com / Pexels

North Carolina is among the top 10 states with the highest number of reported human trafficking cases, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Experts say the number of major interstates that cross through the state, the large agricultural population, and the state’s strategic location along the East Coast contribute to the issue.

Still from "Deep Run"
Courtesy of producer Chris Talbott

There are tens of thousands of transgender individuals living in North Carolina.

House Bill 2 sparked a national conversation about one particular aspect of their lives, but the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival aims to paint a broader picture.

One of the documentaries featured this year "Deep Run," is a verite portrait of a trans man named Cole Ray Davis living in Deep Run, N.C., a rural town outside of Kinston.

"All The Missing Girls" by Megan Miranda
Megan Miranda

Four years ago the novel "Gone Girl" took the world by storm. The book invoked a familiar thriller novel premise—a sudden mysterious disappearance—but also explored deep psychological and emotional themes.

Critics say the new novel "All The Missing Girls" (Simon & Schuster/2016) from North Carolina author Megan Miranda follows in the tradition of "Gone Girl."

headshot of Whitney Way Thore
Deborah Feingold

This is a rebroadcast of a program that originally aired on June 27, 2016.

Whitney Way Thore knows how much she has weighed at every point in her life.

And for decades, deconstructing the size and shape of her body consumed much of her mental and emotional energy. She struggled with an eating disorder, compulsive exercise, and eventually was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome.  

photo from 'The Little Rascals'
Photo Courtesy Bronwen Dickey

Note: this segment originally aired June 1, 2016.

Writer Bronwen Dickey grew up with the impression of pit bulls that dominates popular discourse: they are mean, aggressive, and dangerous dogs. But after a freelance writing piece put her in an environment with a sweet and gentle pit bull, she began to wonder whether there was more to the stereotype.

******Photo of Kyrie Irving
Marcio Jose Sanchez / ASSOCIATED PRESS

The 2016 Summer Olympics kick off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil tomorrow.

This year, dozens of athletes with connections to North Carolina are competing in events ranging from basketball, track, and swimming to air rifle and canoe slalom.

Basketball players Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving are part of the star-studded men’s basketball team coached by Duke University’s Mike Krzyzewski, and women’s soccer player Tobin Heath will be playing with the hopes of winning a third gold medal.

More than two decades ago Father Greg Boyle (middle) founded 'Homeboy Industries,' the largest gang-internvention program in the country. Here he is on Thanksgiving day in 2012 at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.
Homeboy Industries

Note: This segment originally aired February 2, 2016.

In 1986, Jesuit priest Father Greg Boyle was appointed to a poor parish in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Abandoned farmhouse western North Carolina
Julia Franks

Eight years ago, Julia Franks and her husband bought a farm in western North Carolina. At the time, the 1800s farmhouse on the land was still standing and when they walked in the doors, they were greeted by dozens of odd artifacts, including animal bones, locks of hair, insect hives, and even a jar with a fingernail in it. Franks is a high school literature teacher and lover of writing, so it was hard for her to not let her imagination run wild.

Justin Natvig as Vivian Vaughn
D.j. Bonet V'lentino & After Six Photography Studios

Justin Natvig has had a flair for performance most of his life. As a young kid, he often snuck into his grandparents’ attic and dug through his grandmother’s things: vintage dresses, hats, wigs, shoes and makeup. He would put it all on, play Diana Ross records and lip sync in front of the mirror. For many years, he kept this passion a secret as he struggled with a family that would not accept his identity. 

An image of President Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton
AP images

Hillary Clinton is now the official Democratic nominee, making her the first woman in history to become a presidential candidate of a major party. President Obama took the stage last night to voice his support for Clinton with a speech filled with familiar themes about hope and change.

Frank C. Curtin / Associated Press

Note: This segment originally aired February 19, 2016.

Pauli Murray and Eleanor Roosevelt could not have come from more different backgrounds. Murray was the granddaughter of a mixed-race slave, while Roosevelt’s ancestry gave her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In J.J. Johnson's book, 'believarexic,' she recalls her battle with eating disorders through her diary entries as a teenager.
Jessica Arden Photography

Note: This segment originally aired January 21, 2016.

When J.J. Johnson was 15 years old, she had to force her family to admit that she needed help for her eating disorder. She spent 10 weeks in an inpatient unit, but her healing process took many more months and years.

Her new book "believarexic" (Peachtree Publishers/2015) is a ‘fictional autobiography’ that revolves around her diary entries from her teenage years.

Leon Capetanos

This show originally aired on May 27, 2016.

As a kid growing up in Raleigh Leon Capetanos never imagined that he’d spend most of his life out West. He was an aspiring poet and studied writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After participating in a talent program in Hollywood, he got a call from Universal Studios to join their writing department, and his career took off from there.

Photo from "Bad Girls at Samarcand: Sexuality and Sterilization in a Southern Juvenile Reformatory"
Records of Samarcand Manor, Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, Department of Public Safety, Samarcand Manor School, Eagle Springs, North Carolina

More than 2,000 women and girls were forcibly sterilized in the first two decades of North Carolina's state eugenics program from 1929-1950.

While many governmental institutions and scientists propelled the movement forward, the new book "Bad Girls at Samarcand: Sexuality and Sterilization in a Southern Juvenile Reformatory" (LSUP/2016) traces the story of one reformatory's unexpected role in the process.

Image of Second Line Stompers
Gregg Gelb

Note: this program is a rebroadcast. 

Photo of Yasmin Evans and her mother
Yasmin Evans

As a young Muslim-American journalist, Yasmin Bendaas pays particular attention to how Muslim women are represented in the media.

As international media coverage continues to put a spotlight on the Islamic State Group and American political rhetoric highlights religious stereotypes, Bendaas began to wonder how these representations of Islam have impacted the daily lives of Muslim-American women.

Movies on the Radio
Keith Weston / WUNC

For the next episode of "Movies on the Radio," The State of Things is asking, what is your favorite movie about music? 

Did you enjoy the humorous depiction of rock stars in "Almost Famous?" Were you moved by the dramatic portrait of Mozart in "Amadeus?" Do you still remember the soundtracks of "American Graffiti" and "Jaws?" Film experts Marsha Gordon and Laura Boyes will examine how movies depict musicians and the music industry and discuss memorable movie music.

photo of a dress designed by Willie Kay
North Carolina Museum of History

For much of the 20th century, Willie Otey Kay was a household name among the fashion-conscious in Raleigh. The designer and dressmaker crafted one-of-a-kind fashion for women to wear to weddings, debutante balls, and other formal events.

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