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. 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

Che Apalache / Che Apalache

The word ‘che’ is ubiquitous on the streets of Argentina. It is a term of endearment that people use often in casual conversation – similar to a word like buddy in American slang. So when North Carolina native Joe Troop decided to form a band in Buenos Aires with a group of his students, he found it fitting to characterize themselves using the term ‘che.’ The band Che Apalache is comprised of four musicians from three countries who fuse Appalachian folk with Latin American music. 

Image of two best friends
Flickr/ Stuart Seeger

Best friends are the constant in many people's lives. They rescue each other when a car breaks down. They join go on late-night quests for fast food. And they console and support each other in a time of need. The relationships of best friends have been fodder for movie plot lines for decades and exist in all genres.

Outdoor Afro / Outdoor Afro

There is a common misconception that black people do not hike, camp or spend much time in the outdoors. This perception is perpetuated by images featured in nature magazines and fitness Instagram accounts that still predominantly feature white individuals and families. 

Woman's hand gesturing 'no'
Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr - Creative Commons

The 1979 North Carolina Supreme Court ruling in State v. Way declared that women cannot legally revoke consent during a sexual encounter. 

Image Couresty of Kerra Bolton

One year ago today black motorist Philando Castile was fatally shot at the hands of a police officer. The aftermath of the incident was captured and broadcast in real-time by his girlfriend and fueled an ongoing conversation about racial tension and police violence in the United States. The event struck a particular chord with Kerra Bolton, a black writer and artist, who had witnessed the impact of police violence firsthand as a teenager.

Elsa Loissel

Bird brains are the size of a nut, or possibly even smaller in some cases. But a plethora of new research shows that despite their small brain size, birds are actually among the most intelligent members of the animal kingdom.

“The Genius of Birds” (Penguin Books/2016) profiles a range of winged-beasts who are expert problem solvers and mappers with their own social networks and cultural traditions. Host Frank Stasio talks with science writer Jennifer Ackerman about her new book.

Image of scholar William (Sandy) Darity
Duke University Sanford School School of Public Policy

Why are some people rich and others poor? Answering this elusive question has been the lifelong work of economist William (Sandy) Darity. Darity was an observant child, and from an early age he picked up on how wealth disparities divide communities. 

Icy waterside
Belinda Novika Follow / Flickr - Creative Commons

A range of national and international events in the past decade have thrust conversations about race into the forefront of public consciousness. And with these conversations come questions about terminology like ‘whiteness’ and ‘blackness’. What is ‘whiteness,’ where did the idea of a ‘white race’ come from, and how has that idea changed over time? These are questions explored in “Seeing White,” a miniseries that is part of the podcast “Scene On Radio,” produced at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.  

There Goes The Sun

Jun 15, 2017
This image shows how the Sun would look at the extreme ultraviolet wavelength end of the spectrum.
Solar Dynamic Observatory, NASA / NASA

This August communities across the United States will witness a total solar eclipse for the first time almost 100 years. This event is both a visual spectacle for sky watchers and a significant scientific event. 

Cover of 'Guantanamo Diary' by Mohamedou Ould Slahi
Little Brown-2015 / Little Brown-2015

Mohamedou Ould Slahi is an innocent man who spent 14 years detained and tortured in Guantanamo Bay.

Image of Lisa Hightown-Weidman and her family
Courtesy of Lisa Hightow-Weidman

Lisa Hightow-Weidman grew up with her nose always in a book. She majored in English in college and had aspirations of becoming a writer.

Picture of Nina Riggs
Toni Tronu

Nina Riggs was not surprised when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. She knew the disease ran in her family, and she’d spent years watching her mother battle cancer. Once Riggs’ cancer turned metastatic and incurable, she decided to reflect through writing.

Shana Tucker poses with her cello
Lei Rivera Photography

For cellist and singer-songwriter Shana Tucker, the last two years have been a whirlwind. She has been busy promoting her first album "Shine" which received widespread recognition for its original songwriting and distinctive sounds. Tucker recently left her job performing with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas to pursue new opportunities in her independent career.

Mitch Prinstein / Penguin Random House/2017

Popularity is often a concern for teenagers, but research shows it also influences life outside the high school cafeteria. Children as young as four years old can identify their most popular peer, and one’s popularity growing up can even predict his or her lifespan.

In the new book “Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World” (Penguin Random House/2017), Mitch Prinstein teases apart the distinction between two different types of popularity: likability and status. 

Joan Marcus, 2016

Ariana DeBose has been moving up in the Broadway world by leaps and bounds. The North Carolina native got her start in showbiz with a role on the television show "So You Think You Can Dance" when she was only 18 years old. Just a few years later, she became one of the original ensemble cast members of the hip-hop Broadway sensation "Hamilton.”

Image of teacher Angie Scioli
At Large Productions

Teachers are a common subject in Hollywood films. Portrayals of teaching range from the unorthodox style of Robin Williams’ character in “Dead Poets Society” to the dull and droning econ teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” A new documentary film about a veteran North Carolina teacher explores how popular culture’s portrayals of the teaching profession are a far-cry from what happens in most classrooms around the country day-in and day-out.

Image of young black kids in Chicago with a police officer.
Patricia Evans

In the mid ‘90s, writer Jamie Kalven became immersed in Stateway Gardens, an impoverished and embattled public housing community on the South Side of Chicago.

North Carolina's newest Congressional districts are among those up for debate in Wake County Superior Court Monday and Tuesday.
NC Legislature / ncleg.net

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the North Carolina General Assembly violated the constitution by relying too heavily on race in drawing two congressional districts. The decision upholds a lower-court ruling that struck down maps drawn in 2011 by a Republican-led legislature.

Ted Richardson/Winston-Salem Journal

Darryl Hunt was exonerated in 2004 after serving almost 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. In the years that followed his release, Hunt became known as a champion for racial justice. His story was featured in the widely-viewed HBO documentary “The Trials of Darryl Hunt.”

Photo: The U.S. Supreme Court building
Sno Shuu / Flickr Creative Commons

The Supreme Court announced this morning that it will not review North Carolina’s controversial 2013 voter ID law. 

Hector Emanuel, special to ProPublica

Case Farms chicken company produces nearly one billion pounds of meat each year. It supplies food for customers including Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Boar’s Head, and the U.S. government. Yet a new report shows it is a business built on the backs of the world’s most vulnerable immigrants. And its factories are some of the most dangerous workplaces in America.

Michael Zirkle

Loud drum beats and trumpet calls are prominent features of many war-themed musical works. They symbolize the disruption and angst present in times of conflict. On the other hand, lyrical melodies and poetic vocals are also commonly used to evoke themes of reconciliation and hope. The North Carolina Master Chorale brings this range of sounds to the stage Friday, May 12 in a special performance entitled “War and Peace.

Courtesy of Kathryn Clarke

Holidays like Mother’s Day are often marked by cards, bouquets, or a heartfelt gift. But for the past three years, local writers have been gathering together to celebrate the occasion through storytelling. “Listen To Your Mother” features live readings about every aspect of motherhood, from the messy to the mundane.

Courtesy of Karen Ziegler

LGBTQ individuals have long been pushed out of religious and spiritual communities, but that has not made all of them lose their faith. In fact, many LGBTQ folks have taken on leadership roles to advocate for and heal their communities. 

The 2017 election laid bare stark divisions between urban and rural areas of the United States, and North Carolina was no exception. While highly-regarded research universities and the creation of Research Triangle Park helped turn the state’s economy around in the 1950s, they also created an economic and political wedge that continues to grow to this day.

HCC Public Information Office Biotechnology Program

The Research Triangle is dotted with life sciences research and development companies, and Big Pharma operates sizeable manufacturing facilities in surrounding counties. The industry is a big player in North Carolina’s economy. It supports high-paying jobs, and in 2016 alone, it contributed an estimated $86 billion to the state’s economy.

Catherine Coleman Flowers

Lowndes County, Alabama covers more than 700 square miles in the south-central portion of the state. It is part of the Black Belt, a region with dense soil that was once the site of thriving cotton plantations. The area declined rapidly during industrialization, and the chalky, clay soil that was once the key to thriving cotton fields, became a disaster for sewage systems. To this day, large swaths of Lowndes County residents have either inadequate or no septic system, which leads to a wide range of environmental and public health issues.

Max Cooper Photography

Thirty years ago Chapel Hill Town Council member Joe Herzenberg made history when he became the first openly gay elected official in the South. Today there are 13 openly-LGBTQ individuals serving in elected office in North Carolina. The social and political climate in the state has evolved dramatically in three decades, but many argue that the heated debate around House Bill 2 shows that LGBTQ issues are still politically divisive.

Tabacus: The Magazine of the British Tabulating Company, August 1958.

In the 1940s, Great Britain led the world in electronic computing. They were responsible for developing the world’s first digital electronic programmable computer; it helped crack enemy codes to aid the Allies in winning World War II. Three decades later, Great Britain’s computing industry was nearly extinct.  

Image of folklorist Joseph Hall
Courtesy of Ted Olson, ETSU

More than 4,000 people surrendered their homes and land to create the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park covers more than 500,000 acres and straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.

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