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

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.

Images of MRI scans
Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities

One in 68 children in the United States will develop autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The field of autism research has grown rapidly in the past few decades, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is at the forefront of much of this discovery

Actor Meshaun Labrone playing Stokely Carmichael in a new one-man show.
DJ Corey Photography / Courtesy of the Artist

Note: This conversation is a rebroadcast from February 16, 2017.

In the early 1960s, Stokely Carmichael was a relatively-unknown young activist working primarily with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Alabama and Mississippi. But he rose to prominence in the summer of 1966 when he introduced the term “black power” into the national dialogue.

Courtesy of The Department of Special Collections at Stanford University Libraries

Flores Forbes joined the Black Panther Party when he was just 16 years old. He became the youngest member of the Central Committee and eventually got involved in the party’s military arm. 

Nin Solis

Hundreds of thousands of individuals move to Mexico from the United States each year. This number includes both those who are deported and those who choose to return. Many of those individuals spent their formative years in the United States and experience distinct challenges upon return to Mexico, including extreme culture shock, depression and mental illness, and barriers to accessing employment and education in Mexico.

Eric Kelley

Daniel and Lauren Goans have had a busy five years. They got married, formed the band “Lowland Hum,” and recorded three full-length albums and an EP.

Krista Tippett, host On Being
Peter Beck

Many people think that listening means just being quiet while someone else talks. But public radio host Krista Tippett says it an art form that must be practiced.

VG Photography

Comedian Aparna Nancherla is well known for her absurdist wit and introspective reflections. Her style is captured perfectly on her Twitter account, where she shares one-liners like, “I like to call therapy baggage claim,” and, “I once dated an apostrophe.Too possessive.”

cream cheese pound cake
Wikimedia Commons

When Eddy McGee started as a mail carrier in the early ‘90s, he knew that he wanted his job to be more than just putting mail in a box. He started to build relationships with the people along his route, and they began an informal exchange of food and baked goods.

musicians Bruce Burgess, Kay Richey, and John Hartman
The Danbury Songwriters

After more than 40 years, the Stokes County Arts Council will finally have a consistent home for its growing arts scene. "The Arts Place" will feature a coffee shop, retail market, gallery, office, and performance space.

Image of atomic wasteland in Nagasaki
Hayashi Shigeo, Courtesy of Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

In 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs in Japan, killing more than 200,000 individuals within a year.

Courtesy of Anna Shternshis

More than two million Soviet Jews were killed during the Holocaust, yet their lives and experiences are not well documented in Holocaust history. 


Jose Angel Figueroa

Iris Morales was among the first women to join The Young Lords, a Puerto Rican nationalist group founded in the late 1960s that aimed to fight the colonial status of Puerto Rico in addition to poverty and racial inequality within the United States.

Image of special agent Rosalynde Fenner
Rosalynde Fenner

  Note: This program is a rebroadcast from January 25, 2016.

Courtesy of Janet Link

Portraiture as an artistic expression has been around for more than 2,000 years. In ancient Egypt, individuals painted portrait-style images of pharaohs in temples and palaces. During the Renaissance, artists sat down with others in their social and intellectual circles to make portraits. A new exhibit "REGARD" on view at Meredith College looks at modern portraiture through the work of 15 pairs of artists who made reciprocal portraits.

Courtesy of Nancy Peacock

"I’ve been to hangings before, but never my own” is a line that came to author Nancy Peacock one day while she was on an early-morning walk.

The Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern and the LGBTQ Center of Durham join forces for the second year in a row for a fundraiser cabaret show. This year’s show is set in a dystopian near-future where a fictional character named Zee must fight for sex-positive liberation from the tyranny of an evil empire.
 

Image of Sherri Holmes
Courtesy of Sherri Holmes

How did one word both lift a white playwright to American fame and condemn a black actor to failure?

Courtesy of Dawn Sinclair Shapiro

For more than 70 years, programs around the United States forcibly sterilized tens of thousands of American citizens.

Voting sign
Wikipedia Commons

A new report from the Electoral Integrity Project, based at Harvard University and the University of Sydney, indicates that North Carolina can no longer be considered a functioning democracy. 

Image of Sheri Castle on her first birthday
Courtesy of Sheri Castle

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from November 14, 2016.

Food and storytelling have gone hand in hand for Sheri Castle since she was a little girl. At the age of four, she wrote her first original recipe: a smoothie she called “Hawaiian Tropic Sunset Delight.”

Image of a quilt made by Elizabeth Keckley
Kent State University Museum

In 1868, Elizabeth Keckley published the memoir “Behind the Scenes: Or Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House.” She wrote in the preface, “I have often been asked to write my life, as those who know me know that it has been an eventful one.” 

Photograph of Producer Anita Rao with NASA Astronaut Doug Wheelock
Charlie Shelton-Ormond

As 2016 comes to a close, The State of Things staff goes “behind the glass” to join Frank Stasio for conversations about their favorite segments of the year.

Toby was one of many 'learned pigs' that spelled words and solved math problems onstage in England and America in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Basic Books

Pigs are a beloved part of North Carolina culture and vital to the state’s economy, but internationally their reputation is more divisive.

Image of exhibit celebrating the history of The Scrap Exchange and Durham's Lakewood neighborhood.
Katy Clune

North Carolinians throw away 11 million tons of waste each year, contributing to the more than 200 million tons of waste discarded by all Americans. 

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