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

headshot of chancellor cummings
Courtesy of UNCP

Retired surgeon and former state Medicaid Director Robin Gary Cummings took office as chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in 2015. Cummings is a Pembroke native and member of the Lumbee Tribe. His tenure has been marked by efforts to expand economic and educational opportunities for residents of Robeson County, which has one of the highest poverty rates in the country.

photo of two adults with autism working with two therapists
Courtesy of Autism Society of NC

One in 57 8-year-old children in North Carolina is diagnosed with autism, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But new reporting from North Carolina Health News and EdNC shows many families around the state are struggling to access specialized treatments that could transform how their children with autism behave.

photo of tomlin overlooking newsroom floor with many cublicles
Courtesy of Robyn Tomlin

Robyn Tomlin oversees eight newspapers across two states. In January, she was appointed the first regional McClatchy editor for the Carolinas. But her relationship with newspapers started far from a bustling newsroom. As a 19-year-old mom running a daycare inside her apartment, Tomlin became an avid reader of The News & Observer. The paper was her lifeline to a world outside of dirty diapers and wailing children.

posed photo of rashon nelson and donte robinson sitting on a sofa, the wall behind them hold many diplomas etc.
Jacqueline Larma / AP Photo

The arrest of two 23-year-old black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks earlier this month has sparked a national conversation about implicit bias. Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were waiting for a business meeting when the employees asked them to leave. Soon after, police entered the store, handcuffed them and took them to jail.

photo of tammy hooper in the blue ridge public radio station
Amanda Magnus

In late February, leaked bodycam footage of a white Asheville police officer beating a black pedestrian went viral, and the city is still reeling. The footage captured an incident that took place Aug. 24, 2017 when former Asheville Police Officer Chris Hickman confronted city resident Johnnie Jermaine Rush over alleged jaywalking and trespassing. Footage shows Hickman beat, choked, punched and stunned Rush.

photo of tom perez speaking at a microphone, an american flag in the background
Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez took the helm of the Democratic National Committee in early 2017 when its reputation was in tatters. The Clinton-Sanders primary created a rift in the party, which was further devastated by the Russian email hacking scandal and big losses in the 2016 election.

photo of Kim Pevia
Courtesy of Women AdvaNCe

A record number of women are running for public office this year for positions ranging from state legislators to governors and members of Congress. Whether or not they will be elected still remains uncertain, but their attempts could counteract staggering statistics: for every one woman who holds office as a governor, member of congress or state legislator in the United States today, there are three men, according to analysis from The Washington Post.

photo of ava duvernay signing posters for fans
Alex J. Berliner / ABImages

With the new Disney release “A Wrinkle In Time,” Ava DuVernay became the first African-American woman to direct a film with a budget over $100 million. She notes the accomplishment but calls it bittersweet, because it has taken Hollywood until 2018 to support women of color in these roles. 

photo of stage production - a man speaks at a podium and a group of people look up at an angel figure
Sarah Shatz / 'The World Only Spins Forward'

Playwright Tony Kushner subtitled his seminal work a “gay fantasia on national themes.” “Angels in America” is a two-part, seven-hour play that examines the politics and culture of 1980s America through the stories of eight characters living at the peak of the AIDS epidemic. From its debut in a small San Francisco theater in 1991 to its return to Broadway this year, the play has not only earned a Pulitzer Prize and several Tony awards, but it has also struck a chord with actors, activists and writers around the world.

photo of a man steering a motorboat down a river
Bear Guerra / Fonografia Collective

Ruxandra Guidi is no stranger to deadlines. She has been working as a storyteller and journalist for close to two decades for outlets including NPR, the BBC, National Geographic and The New York Times. But lately she has become increasingly interested in slowing down the reporting process and seeing what happens when she gives herself one month or one year to tell a story, instead of one day or one week.

photo of Danai Gurira on top of a car holding a weapon
Marvel Studios-Disney via AP

There are not many superlatives left to describe the success of “Black Panther.” The latest Marvel movie has received glowing reviews, broken countless records, and is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. It is also well on its way to surpassing $1 billion at the global box office. And although it has reached screens in far corners of the world, questions remain about what its long-term impact will be. Can one successful film finally disprove the longstanding myth that black films don’t travel?

photo of Rachelle Faroul in the doorway of her new home
Sarah Blesener for Reveal

Starting in the 1930s, the Federal Housing Administration practiced a policy called redlining, which permitted banks to deny loans to particular neighborhoods based on their racial or ethnic composition. That practice has been illegal since 1968, but African-Americans and Latinos continue to be denied mortgage loans at rates far higher than their white counterparts, according to new reporting from Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

The black community owned 0.5 percent of America’s wealth at the end of slavery, and today that number has barely increased. A typical white household is 10 times wealthier than a typical black household, and the racial wealth gap is growing.

Phelan M. Ebenhack / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Donald Trump just celebrated his first year in office, and the burning question in some circles is: should Oprah Winfrey take his place? The buzz around #Winfrey2020 started after she gave a rousing speech at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards.

NC Legislature
W Edward Callis III

Federal judges ruled yesterday that the state's congressional districts drawn by Republican lawmakers are too partisan. They described them as  drawn to “entrench Republican domination of the state’s congressional delegation.” This ruling marks the first time a federal court has struck down a congressional map on those grounds. 

Women in Hollywood came forward this weekend at the Golden Globes to declare that “Time’s Up” for tolerating sexual harassment. Their new initiative is one of many bubbling efforts in the country to shine a light on gender inequity and harassment in the workplace.

Courtesy of New Hanover County Public Library

The 1940s was a decade of great transformation in North Carolina – the state transitioned from a mostly rural, agricultural place to one with a booming tobacco industry, strong musical traditions and a large military presence.

Liz Baier

2017 marked a unique moment for journalism. Headlines broke each hour, and conversations that long took place in the margins were brought to the center. With all of this barely in the rearview mirror, The State of Things staff takes turns joining host Frank Stasio in the studio to recap their favorite moments of the year.

exterior of the NC State Legislature
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

Revelations of sexual misconduct at the federal level have opened up inquiries into the culture in state houses around the country. At the North Carolina General Assembly, WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii uncovered two incidents of reported misconduct: one from 2007 involving former Representative David Almond (R-Stanly), who allegedly exposed himself to a legislative assistant and then masturbated on an office chair.

Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano
Courtesy of 'Brunch is Hell' / Brunch is Hell

Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano are experts at hosting dinner parties, or at least virtual ones. As the hosts of the podcast and radio show “Dinner Party Download,” they guided audiences through 400 conversations about culture, history, arts and food – all packaged in segments that represented different phases of a dinner party, like “small talk,” “cocktails,” and “guest of honor.” 

Voice Male magazine editor Rob Okun and other men at the Massachusetts state house in Boston taking the White Ribbon campaign's pledge to be part of the solution in ending violence again women.
Courtesy of Rob Okun

The #MeToo movement has broken a decades-long culture of silence around sexual assault and harassment and taken down a number of powerful men, including Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, TV host Matt Lauer, politician Al Franken, and 30 some others compiled in a list from The New York Times. But according to writer Rob Okun, the thing that ties together all of these individual incidents is a culture of power and privilege held in place by particular ideas about masculinity. 

Courtesy of Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Gabrielle Calvocoressi was born with nystagmus, a visual condition where the eyes are constantly in spasm. It took Calvocoressi a while to learn how to walk and balance, so the young child spent a lot of time sitting on the floor, daydreaming and observing the world. 

geralt / Pixabay Commons

In 2015 the Federal Communications Commission solidified network neutrality rules that prevent internet service providers from blocking, slowing down or interfering with web traffic. Last week FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced a repeal of these rules, which would usher in a new era of the internet. 

Margaret Bauer had what many would consider an idyllic childhood. She was raised in a restored plantation house in southern Louisiana on the bayou and spent her time with either her feet in the water or her nose in a book. She came from a long line of notable figures, including state politicians and renowned attorneys, so her name often preceded her, but Margaret just wanted to fit in. 

 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. 

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