Anita Rao

Managing Editor, "The State of Things"

Anita Rao is the Managing Editor 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. In her spare time she also co-hosts and produces a podcast and radio show about millennial feminism called "She and Her." 

Ways to Connect

 Pastor Mack Wolford’s rattlesnake slithers around his neck at an outdoor service, Panther Park, West Virginia, 2011
Test of Faith, Lauren Pond

Serpent handling is a religious practice where individuals hold and wear poisonous snakes during worship services to prove their faith in God.

Courtesy of Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi has become less and less comfortable viewing the world through the prisms of sex or gender. 

Ft Bragg Stories A mixed 'chalk' of U.S. and British paratroopers line up to board a C-130 transport plane for the main jump of the joint exercise.
Jay Price / North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC

North Carolina is home to the largest U.S. military installation in the world by population. It employs more than 50,000 military and close to 30,000 civilians and contributes tens of billions of dollars to the state’s economy.

Courtesy of The Monti

Science and religion are often pitted against one another as opposing forces. While science is defined by clear methodologies and peer-reviewed findings, religion is at once abstract and highly personal. Yet whether or not someone is a highly-devout Hindu priest or a Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, both are wielding tools in search of greater understanding. 

Image of Pat Mother Blues Cohen
Courtesy of Pat Cohen

Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen started singing blues tunes as a young girl to entertain her parents’ friends at their home in Edison, New Jersey. She later worked for years in the casino industry and won casino talent competitions so often that she was banned from participating. 

Women's March, Washington DC, 1/21/2017
Mark Dixon / Wikimedia Commons -2017

Hundreds of thousands of women packed the streets in January as part of the Women’s March. Many donned pink, cat-eared “pussy hats” to mark their participation. This march, alongside many other public demonstrations and landmark court decisions throughout history, have made the fight for gender equality visible to the greater American public. But the movement has really been fueled day-to-day by the work of activists, organizers and regular citizens. 

Birth control pill
Lee Health / vimeo commons

Teen birth rates in North Carolina are at a historic low, according to a statistical brief from the State Center for Health Statistics. 

Herm / Pixabay - Creative Commons

Half of the adults in the United States are married, according to the Pew Research Center, which is a sharp decline from the 72 percent of adults married in 1960. But are marriages today better or worse than they used to be? 

Finbarr O'Reilly

Thomas J. Brennan first started writing about war through letters home to his wife when he was deployed in a remote village in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

Courtesy of Alan Gratz

Tens of thousands of people are forced to flee their homes each day due to conflict and persecution, according to the UN Refugee Agency. More people around the world are displaced now than ever before. 

DACA rally in downtown Durham
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

President Trump announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program yesterday.

from left to right: Dana Marks, Drina Dunlap, Jessica Hudson, Meredith Sause)
Kim Black

Viv Albertine was a guitar player for The Slits, a British punk band from the late ‘70s. She rubbed elbows with members of the Sex Pistols and the Clash, but unlike her male punk peers, she heard ‘no’ much more often than she heard ‘yes.’ But that did not deter her from doing what she wanted to do anyway. 

Autumn Sandeen, veteran, holds a picture of herself as a man and navy seaman recruit.
Gregory Bull / AP Photo

In the past decade the military has become increasingly open to service members of different genders and sexual identities.

James Mitchell (left) and John Jessen
Trial Evidence / ACLU via AP

A settlement was reached last week in a lawsuit against two psychologists who were paid by the CIA to develop its post-9/11 interrogation program.

Aya Wallace
Areon Mobasher

In the gospel musical “Crowns” every hat tells a story. The production is based on a book of photographs and oral history interviews of African-American women in their Sunday best. Their hats provide entry points into conversations about memory, loss, family, and politics. 

An image of the total Solar eclipse 1999 in France
Luc Viatour

On Monday, Aug. 21 millions of Americans will experience a cosmic event of a lifetime: a total solar eclipse. This is the first time in 99 years that people from coast to coast can witness the moon completely covering the sun.

Christina Pelech
Courtesy of Christer Berg

Photographer Christer Berg has spent the past few years experimenting with the art of portraiture. He started with a series of environmental portraits of individuals around the state, ranging from ballerinas to business people. 

Courtesy of Michael Bojtos

 In the early 1970s it was not easy for LGBTQ people to be open about their sexuality no matter where they lived in the U.S. But those in the South had an especially difficult time finding safe and supportive spaces. 

Two Catharsis Production Educators
Courtesy of Catharsis Productions

 A Triangle-based comedy theater will close its doors later this month in the wake of assault and harassment allegations against its founder and director. He has denied the allegations, but the testimonies and resulting media coverage inspired a number of individuals in the theater and improv communities to start a more public conversation about how to create and maintain safe spaces. 

Arm of Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr.
Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff - Dominique A. Pineiro / Flickr - Creative Commons

High-level U.S. military officials are clarifying the policy surrounding transgender service members after President Donald Trump announced a ban of transgender members of the military via Twitter. Trump cited “tremendous medical costs and disruption” as a cause of the ban. Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a message to top military officials clarifying that “no modifications” to the military’s transgender policy will come into effect as a result of the declared ban. 

child doctor
Alex Prolmos / Flickr - Creative Commons

President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric made it clear that he intended to crack down on illegal immigration. Shortly after he took office, memoranda released by the Department of Homeland Security seemed to confirm his intentions. The department boosted hiring for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and expanded the list of crimes for which people could be deported. 

Jonathan Byrd

Growing up in Chapel Hill, Jonathan Byrd never thought he could make a career out of playing music. But some soul-searching after a stint in the U.S. Navy and a series of disappointing jobs led him to question why he was forcing himself into doing things he wasn’t good at and didn’t love. Jonathan began touring and performing his original songs, folksy ballads infused with bluegrass-style flat-picking and classic rock foundations. With “Pickup Cowboy” Johnny Waken, the duo aims first and foremost to put on a great show that will energize the audience. 

pipeline construction
Public Herald / Flickr - Creative Commons

The federal regulatory body responsible for assessing for the environmental effects of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline recently released their final report. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission determined the project will incur “some adverse effects” but proper safety and environmental mitigation will reduce the risk “to less-than significant levels.” 

Jeff Myers rides a wave in Rodanthe in 2012
Chris Bickford / Chris Bickford

Photographer Chris Bickford has traveled the world and soaked in different landscapes and cultures, but there is a special kind of serenity he only finds at the North Carolina shore. For more than a decade, Bickford has lived in the Outer Banks taking pictures of the region's shifting sands and close-knit surfing community. He's gathered a collection of black and white photographs in a new book called “Legends of the Sandbar” (Burn Magazine/2017). 

Cover of Coconut, Ginger, Shrimp, Rum cookbook
Brigid Washington / Skyhorse Publishing 2017

Brigid Washington grew up with the Caribbean flavors of her family's native Trinidad. Ginger, coconut, fresh seafood and other ingredients shaped her palate and her experiences in the kitchen.

But food was not an important part of her adult life until, as a dissatisfied writer living in Raleigh, she felt compelled to walk into the kitchen of Bloomsbury Bistro and ask the chef to teach her the culinary arts. That brazen request led to culinary school and a cookbook. “Coconut. Ginger. Shrimp. Rum.: Caribbean Flavors for Every Season” (Skyhorse Publishing/2017) highlights the mainstay flavors of the islands with American fusion twists. 

This Wednesday, March 29, 2017 photo shows Ana Albuquerque, 25, during an interview in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Albuquerque traveled to the Word of Faith Fellowship church in Spindale, N.C., from Brazil 11 times over the course of more than a decade.
Silvia Izquierdo / Associated Press

Over the course of two decades, church leaders of the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina manipulated and abused congregants from Brazil, according to an investigation by the Associated Press. More than a dozen former members report being told to leave their family in Brazil to join the church in N.C. However, after they arrived they say they were forced into hard labor without pay and physically and emotionally abused.

Tashni Dubroy
Tashni Dubroy

Tashni Dubroy has served as president of Shaw University in Raleigh since 2015. As president, Dubroy has helped bolster the South’s oldest historically black university. She has been credited with increasing the school’s enrollment and closing a $4 million fundraising gap. Earlier this month, Dubroy was recognized for her work and awarded Female President of the Year at the 2017 Historically Black Colleges and Universities Awards. Now Dubroy is stepping away from Shaw University to work for Howard University in Washington D.C. as executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Bill T Jones
Bill T. Jones

Legendary dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones was inspired to create his dance trilogy “Analogy” after reading W. G. Sebald’s novel “The Emigrants.” The book, like Jones’s resulting oeuvre, deals with issues of persecution, trauma, war and memory.

woman holds sign as man speaks into microphone
Marc Faletti / Rewire Media

As some states move to crack down on abortion clinics, protests at some facilities are heating up. In North Carolina scores of activists descend every weekend on A Preferred Women’s Health Center, an abortion clinic in Charlotte. Calla Hales, the director of the clinic, says anti-abortion protestors have become increasingly aggressive, and local police navigate a gray-zone of enforcing city ordinances.

stars at night
Jeremy Nicholson / Flickr - Creative Commons

Listening to audio is something we often do alone, whether it is in the car on the way to or from work or through a set of earbuds during an evening run. But people in Durham have another option for listening to audio stories with an event series called "Audio Under The Stars,” which gives adults permission to partake in their own kind of storytime. The events take place summer evenings on the lawn of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. The series is now in it's fourth season.

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