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 of Dominique Witten
Dominique Witten

Comedian Dominique has performed alongside Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock, and Dave Chappelle. But she says her comedic inspiration doesn’t come from these comedy all-stars, it comes from her mother.

She was raised by a straightforward woman who encouraged her to ‘tell the truth’ and ‘call it as you see it,’ and that’s exactly what she does on stage.She has appeared on HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam,” was a finalist in last year’s “Last Comic Standing,” and currently stars in the hit TV series “Black Jesus” on Adult Swim.

Photo of a ball and chain with "student loans" written on it
thisisbossi / Flickr

Forty-two million people in the United States owe $1.3 trillion in student debt, according to a recent report from Reveal radio program in conjunction with the Center for Investigative Reporting.

In 2014 in North Carolina, 61 percent of students graduating from public and private four-year institutions graduated with loans amounting to an average of $25,000 per individual, according to The Project on Student Debt. The privatization of Sallie Mae and the continued disinvestment in public higher education at the state level contribute to the problem.

Book Cover For 'In A Different Key'
Crown Publishers

Note: This program is a rebroadcast.  

The term "autism" dates back to the 1930s when a pediatrician named Hans Asperger coined it to describe young boys he was treating who had high intelligence but limited social skills.

The new book, "In A Different Key: The Story of Autism" (Crown/2016) looks at the term and documents how scientific and popular understanding of the disorder have shifted and evolved tremendously in the past century.

Aminatou Sow

Note: This program is a rebroadcast.

About five years ago, Aminatou Sow was working for a technology company in Washington D.C. and came across an article detailing how few women work in tech. The statistic did not match her personal experience as she knew of a number of women working in tech-related fields, from NASA to the National Security Agency.

Ryan Gibson of Raleigh is among the hundreds of people who filled a parking lot outside of the gay night club Legends in downtown Raleigh to support the victims of the Orlando shooting.
Jorge Valencia / WUNC

Just one day after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, many questions remain.

Thus far, investigators have confirmed that on Sunday morning, alleged shooter Omar Mateen attacked a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and injuring 53 others. According to reports, Mateen pledged his allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call during the attack but no direct link has been confirmed between him and the terrorist group.

photo of Stuart Albright
Stuart Albright

Why do some students succeed while others do not? This question has stumped teachers, school administrators, and education policy professionals who try to stop students from falling through the cracks.

photo of Revolution Mill
Raymond Wyrick / Flickr

In the early 1900s, Greensboro quickly became a global hub for denim and flannel. Textile manufacturing company Cone Mills Inc. built several factories and transformed the surrounding areas into mill villages complete with churches, schools, community centers and company stores.

photo of Clyde Edgerton

Famed North Carolina author Clyde Edgerton is best known for his witty, character-driven novels about Southern life, like “Raney” and “Killer Diller.” He is now in the headlines for being banned from all public schools in New Hanover County where two of his children attend elementary school.

photo of FRANK Gallery Karen Youth Art Group
Karen Youth Art Group

North Carolina is home to a growing Karen community, an ethnic minority from Burma that has been forced out of their country due to war. Many of these refugees call the Triangle home, and for the past six years, they have been incorporating their traditional farming techniques in growing both local and Asian produce at the Transplanting Traditions Farm, a five-acre plot of land in Chapel Hill.

photo of a unisex bathroom sign
Tombe / Wikipedia

North Carolina’s House Bill 2 has stirred up numerous conversations about the lives of transgender Americans. It has also illuminated many misconceptions about what gender identity is and how it is formed.

Groups of scientists have stood up in opposition to HB2, arguing that there are genetic and biological causes of gender differences, and for the vast majority of trans individuals, their gender identity is not a choice.

Mayor Alice Butler points to a map hanging in Roseboro Town Hall.
Patrick Nichols

Second to Pennsylvania, North Carolina has the most small towns in the United States. And it has been able to remain the so-called “small town state” because of the many miles of state highways connecting dispersed towns to one another.

The Last Good Girl

May 26, 2016
photo of "The Last Good Girl" by Allison Leotta
Allison Leotta

The statistics about campus sexual assault are staggering: one in five women is assaulted during her time on campus, and the vast majority of these assaults go unreported.

Advocates and survivors across the country have pushed to bring the issue to the forefront, and in the past few years, there has been increased attention paid to how universities are responding to students' needs.

Still From documentary
Erin Derham

Julian Price was born into money but spent most of his life giving it away.

A new documentary looks closely at how his social and entrepreneurial vision shaped downtown Asheville.

photo of a spread at Grady's Barbecue in Dudley, N.C.
Rien Fertel

North Carolina is the number two producer of pigs in America, and barbeque is by most accounts the state’s food. But historian Rien Fertel argues that most barbecue writing is hyperbole. 

In his new book “The One True Barbecue: Fire, Smoke, and the Pitmasters Who Cook The Whole Hog,” (Touchstone/2016) he examines the history of the southern barbecue art, and the wide range of mythology surrounding the meat and those who tend to it.

Image of Eugene from the new opera Body Politic
Scott Bump

North Carolina’s House Bill 2 has been making national headlines for the past two months and has inspired a wide range of social action. There have been both pro and anti-HB2 rallies on Jones street, businesses have left the state, and performers have canceled appearances in protest. The law inspired a different response in two UNC School of the Arts alumni who were inspired to bring their artistic work to the state.

A Duke Energy power plant and coal ash ponds outside Asheville.
Zen Sutherland

Two environmental groups could be on the hook for $10 million if they want to continue their battle against Duke Energy. Last week’s ruling by the state Utilities Commission against The Climate Times and North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network (NC WARN) used a state law provision that has never been used before. The money is slated to cover costs incurred by Duke Energy because of the delay caused by the appeals process.

Alex Prolmos / Flickr Creative Commons

The latest numbers from the Pew Research Center show that the number of Americans who say they believe in God has declined in recent years. And millennials are much less likely than older Americans to belong to any religious faith.

But despite these trends, psychiatrist and researcher Harold Koenig argues that science shows that religious belief is good for mental and physical health.

State of Things Host Frank Stasio hosts a broadcast at the Duke Chapel on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 to commemorate the chapel's reopening.
Duke Photography

Duke University has reopened the iconic chapel at the center of its Durham campus after a $19 million renovation.

Crews have been working for a year to restore the limestone walls and ceiling that define the chapel's Gothic architecture. 

In a special broadcast at Duke Chapel, university archivist Valerie Gillispie told WUNC’s "The State of Things" the chapel has served as an institutional icon at Duke for nearly 90 years.

Nedda Ibrahim

More than 100,000 Iraqi refugees have resettled in the United States in the past decade. But for the most part their stories are underreported and their life experiences are invisible to the wider American public. An art exhibit on view at William Peace University this weekend tries to change that by shining light on the work of 10 refugee artists whose work represents the rich and storied history of Iraqi art, and the diverse experiences of Iraqi refugees settled in the Americas.

An image of  Katharine Wright sits beside Wilbur, ready for her first takeoff at Pont-Long in France in 1909.
Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University

Note: this is a rebroadcast from May 20, 2015

The state of North Carolina has many claims to fame, but there is likely none more popular or controversial than the slogan on the state license plate: “First In Flight.” The phrase commemorates the spectacular achievement of brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright who piloted their first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903.


Doug Wheelock has spent more than 178 days in space. He has been on six space walks, and describes the experience as trying to do a “ballet dance on fingertips,” where the slightest movement goes a long way.

In his almost two decades with NASA, he has spent six months as the Crew Support Astronaut for the International Space Station, served as liaison with Russia’s Cosmonaut Training Center, and trained both Russian and American astronauts for space trips. 

Michelle Lanier

Michelle Lanier’s roots in North Carolina are so deep that she describes “every branch of her family tree having at least a sapling that crosses into the state.” She has a great-grandparent who preached at the oldest black Episcopal church in the state, one who was salesmen on Durham’s Black Wall Street, and one who helped establish the state’s first black high school.  

NaShonda Cooke

In 2010, humorist and blogger Ann Imig was looking for a way “give motherhood a microphone.” She coordinated an event in her hometown in Wisconsin where women from all walks of life gathered to share their stories about motherhood.  Now, writers from across the nation gather to continue this trend by sharing their experiences of mothering—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Isle of Shoals
North Carolina Museum of Art

Childe Hassam was an incredibly prolific impressionist painter who made thousands of works throughout his career. A great majority of his paintings document the life and landscape of Appledore Island, a small island off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire.  A collection of 39 of these paintings is on view at the North Carolina Museum of Art until June 19.

Host Frank Stasio talks about the exhibit “American Impressionist: Childe Hassam and the Isles of Shoals” with curator John Coffey, art historian Kathleen Burnside, and marine biologist Hal Weeks.

Ashley Rhodes-Courter

More than 400,000 children in the United States are living in foster care. The statistics about what happens to these children later in life are startling: only about 50 percent finish high school, less than 10 percent go on to higher education. Ashley Rhodes-Courter is an exception to this statistic, but she has devoted her life’s work to speaking out on behalf of her many former foster care siblings who continue to struggle.