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

Animation still artwork
Ammar Nasri and Zhou Quan

During the Jim Crow era, many businesses and establishments were not friendly to African-Americans which made traveling both inconvenient and dangerous for black families.

Andy Griffith and Barney Fife shoot their first scene on 'The Andy Griffith Show.' The production was supposed to revolve around Andy; but once producers saw the magic between Andy and Don, they set about reordering the show around their relationship.
CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

“The Andy Griffith Show” was one of the first sitcoms to portray life in rural, small-town America. The show was set in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C. and traced the friendship of two quirky men: Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife.

Orson Welles directed, produced, co-authored, and starred in 'Citizen Kane,' considered by many as the greatest film ever made.
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

The 1941 film Citizen Kane is considered by many to be one of the best films of all time. Its daring subject matter, bold visuals, and unique style made Orson Welles a household name.

Photo of Arab composer Suad Bushnaq
Suad Bushnaq

Suad Bushnaq was born and raised in Amman, Jordan. She composed her first piece of music, a simple birthday song for her brother, when she was just 9 years old. She is now one of a handful of Arab women composers in the world. Her compositions are featured in documentaries and films like “The Curve,” a feature film recently selected at the Dubai International Film Festival.

Clarence Page
Keppler Speakers

Protests erupted on college campuses around the country this month as students called for racial and social reforms. At the University of Missouri-Columbia last week, the system president and university chancellor resigned after mounting tensions over race relations on campus.

Cervantes Is Among Us, one photo that's part of the 'I am Quixote/Yo Soy Quixote' arts exhibit on view at the Durham Arts Council.
Jean-Christian Rostagni

This year marks the 400th anniversary of Miguel De Cervantes' infamous two-part novel “El Quixote.” It is considered by many to be the first modern novel, and its themes continue to resonate with today’s artists and thinkers.

To celebrate the anniversary, Triangle-based artist Rafael Osuba coordinated a 7-month long festival, “El Quixote Festival,” that gathers artists around the state to share works that reflect the character and spirit of Don Quixote.

Vivian Joiner

After college, chef Stephanie Tyson wanted to leave her Southern roots behind her and start life anew in the North. She left North Carolina for New York with hopes to become an actress, but things did not quite work out as planned.

Thomas Brown studies landmarks of Confederate memory such as the flag, shown here flying at the South Carolina capitol before it was taken down this summer.
eyeliam / Flickr Creative Commons

The Confederate flag has been around for more than a century, yet the controversial symbol has been in the headlines almost every week this year. South Carolina removed the flag from their state grounds this summer after the shooting of churchgoers in Charleston, but the debate over Confederate symbols has continued across the nation.

Historian Thomas Brown has studied landmarks of Confederate memory around the country and examines what they can teach us about Americans’ changing political, social, and economic positions.

Photographer Nadia Sablin spent seven summers documenting the lives of her aunts Alevtina and Ludmila in a small village in northwest Russia. These photographs are some of those shown in her new book 'Aunties: The Seven Summers of Alevtina and Ludmila.'
Nadia Sablin

Photographer Nadia Sablin grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, and each summer her family escaped the hustle and bustle of the city to spend time with their extended family in a small, rural village. They left Russia for good in 1992 and Sablin didn’t know whether she would ever get a chance to go back.

She went back for the first time more than 15 years later, and although everything in Russia had changed, one little piece of the world remained exactly the same: the small family home in Alekhovshchina.

Photo of foreign policy expert Trita parsi
Trita Parsi

Trita Parsi was born in pre-revolution Iran in the early 1970s. Although his family left the country when he was just four years old, his interest and connection to Iranian people, culture, and politics has remained strong throughout his life. Early in his career Parsi worked for the United Nations addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq.

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou opposed the torture tactics that the CIA used in the 'War on Terror.'
Troy Page / t r u t h o u t / Flickr Creative Commons

John Kiriakou spent 14 years in the CIA as an analyst and counterterrorism officer. At one-point he was responsible for leading the team that found Abu Zubaydah, one of the highest ranking al-Qaeda officers at the time.

But Kiriakou’s career has become defined by a decision he made after he left the CIA. In 2007, he became the first CIA official to publicly acknowledge the agency’s use of waterboarding.

Joe Kwon is the cellist for the Avett Brothers and also runs a popular food blog based on where the band eats.
Front of House Photography

As a kid, Joe Kwon spent all of his time doing two things: practicing the cello and eating delicious food.

His family had recently immigrated to North Carolina from South Korea so his house was always filled with family and lavish Korean cooking.

Survivors of a civilization-ending apocalypse manage to salvage fragments of their cultural history.
Emily Levinstone

The Simpsons is the kind of show that people watch over and over. Many episodes continue to linger in popular culture no matter how many years have passed since they originally aired.

But what would happen if suddenly all The Simpsons episodes and all other media and technology were gone and all that remained were people’s memories of what they think they heard or saw?

Right Image Photography, Inc.

Mental healthcare practices in the United States have changed quite a bit in the past two centuries. State hospitals and asylums once housed the great majority of mentally ill individuals, but definitions for what constituted mental illness were often vague and included conditions like epilepsy and PMS. In the 1950s and 60s, government officials pushed towards the deinstitutionalization of mental health care, and many individuals experiencing mental illness were released into the community.

Author Robin Greene with her first son Dan in 1981
Robin Greene

Robin Greene gave birth to her first child in 1981. It was a traumatic experience for her, and she was shocked that nobody had prepared her for what it would be like.

She shared her experience with a friend and they both began to wonder how many other women had similar experiences, and if anything could be gained from encouraging women to share their birthing stories more openly.

Odili Donald Odita stands in front of his mural, a public art display at the Nasher Museum of Art.
J Caldwell

Duke University’s Nasher Museum opened its doors in the fall of 2005 with a vision for a first-rate museum but without a clear path to get there. Luckily the board hired talented staff, and within a few years they were on their way to becoming an established museum with robust collections of contemporary art and art by people of African descent. 

Time on a clock
Flickr/Sean MacEntee

Time is an essential part of day-to-day life. Clocks and calendars let people know when to sleep, eat, and where they’re supposed to be each morning.

But time is also something much more complicated; time is an abstract concept that sits at the center of conversations about physics, philosophy and culture.

Host Frank Stasio with brothers Noah and Gabriel Harrell, founders of the Rural Academy Theater, a theater troupe that travels the state by horse and buggy and brings theater to rural audiences.

A Republican congressman charts his course in a Democratic capital.
The Martin Family

Jim Martin was the first and only two-term Republican governor in North Carolina, serving from 1985-1993.


Becky Buller won three IBMA awards this year for emerging artist, songwriter of the year and recorded event of the year.
Becky Buller

Becky Buller has tried her hand at almost every part of the bluegrass music industry.

She is a prolific songwriter whose compositions have been recorded by musicians like Ricky Skaggs; she produced for and toured with Valerie Smith; she co-hosts a bluegrass music show; and she has released two solo records.

Sociologist Kathy Giuffre studies creativity and social networks. Her debut novel 'The Drunken Spelunker's Guide to Plato' blends a look at dive bar culture with ancient philosophy.
Kathy Giuffre

Sociologist Kathy Giuffre has spent much of her career as an objective outsider who writes about cultures that are not her own. She studies artistic communities and creativity in the South Pacific, and eventually this work encouraged her to examine her own life and the spaces she grew up in. Her debut novel “The Drunken Spelunker’s Guide to Plato” (John F.

Melissa Radcliff is an advocate for children with incarcerate parents as the executive director of Our Children's Place.
Melissa Radcliff

More than 2.7 million children in the United States have an incarcerated parent and more than 25,000 of those children live in North Carolina. But while conversations around mass incarceration are on the rise, the stories of these children often remain invisible. 

Giorgio Ciompi (right) founded the Ciompi Quartet at Duke University in 1965. Pictured with him are (L-R) Claudia Warburg, one of the early quartet members, pianist Murray Perahia and Horst Meyer, a professor at Duke and a great patron of the quartet.
Ciompi Quartet

The Ciompi Quartet was founded at Duke University by renowned Italian violinist Giorgio Ciompi. Since its inception in 1965, the quartet has been an integral part of the classical music scene in the Triangle and has also built a reputation around the world.

The quartet begins its anniversary season with a performance at Baldwin Auditorium next Saturday, October 3. The event features celebrated jazz vocalist Nneena Freelon. 

Former U.S. Congressman Barney Frank
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr Creative Commons/ USDA

Representative Barney Frank served in Congress for more than three decades.

His momentous career was marked by personal and political achievements; he was the first member of Congress to voluntarily come out as gay, he helped bring about the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and he co-authored the far-reaching Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.