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 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, whitehouse.gov.

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.
ASSOCIATED PRESS/ Bryan R. Smith / ASSOCIATED PRESS

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
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. 

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