Catherine Brand

Host, "All Things Considered"

Fed up with the frigid winters of her native state, Catherine was lured to North Carolina in 2006. She grew up in Wisconsin where she spent much of her time making music and telling stories. Prior to joining WUNC, Catherine hosted All Things Considered and classical music at Wisconsin Public Radio. She got her start hosting late-nights and producing current events talk shows for the station's Ideas Network. She later became a fill-in talk show host and recorded books for WPR's popular daily program, Chapter A Day. 

Catherine is just as comfortable on stage as she is behind the microphone. She holds a Masters Degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She enjoys using her musical background in her work with the North Carolina Symphony. For the past several seasons, she has hosted a pre-concert program called Meet the Artists. Catherine adores being a being a mom and loves spending time exploring the natural world with her beautiful little girl, Wren.   

Ways to Connect

Fort Bragg
Fort Bragg

The annual Thanksgiving holiday meal and best dining facility competition starts Tuesday at Fort Bragg. Some 20,000 military service members, family and retirees are expected to attend.  Chief Roshaun Anderson is food advisor for the 82nd Sustainment Brigade.  He says the event is like the food service Super Bowl on post.

37th US Colored Troops re-enactors participated in Pvt. Frank Worthington's headstone ceremony, Civil war
Leoneda Inge

The city of New Bern is honoring black Civil War soldiers with an official state highway marker. 

It's meant to mark the  flag of the city's 1st NC Colored Volunteers, raised there in the spring of 1863. That was shortly after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation - effectively freeing African American slaves in areas of rebellion against the union.  New Bern native Bernard George is an administrator in the city's planning department. He says, just as importantly, it allowed African American slaves to enlist in the army.

CMAST
NC State

A new study out of N.C. State demonstrates how oysters may rely on sound to navigate to their permanent homes on the reef.

Ashlee Lillis is a researcher in the marine sciences department at N.C. State. She recorded underwater sounds then tested larval oysters to determine whether settlement rates increased when they were exposed to reef sounds versus the open sea floor. 

“We've got differences in water flow over a hard structure compared to just a sandy bottom that's going to make it distinct as well as a lot of fish,” says Lillis.

Town of Chapel Hill

Franklin Street in Chapel Hill will be cordoned off again this year for the annual Halloween celebration.

Crowd size has steadily decreased since the peak of 80,000 in 2008. Smaller numbers have turned out since then, following strict town rules that prohibit revelers from bringing  alcohol, glass bottles, and anything that resembles a firearm, whether it be the real thing or part of a costume.

Interstate 40 traffic
Dave DeWitt

Some eastbound lanes on portions of I-440 near the I-40/440 split will now be shut down at night. 

It's part of 3-year rebuild project that will replace an 11-and-a-half mile stretch of freeway in southern Wake County. Daytime lane closures won't begin until mid December.

The DOT's Cris Mulder says 100,000 vehicles use this part of the highway every day and safety is the biggest concern.

"This is 30-year old concrete and pavement," Mulder says.

NCDA&CS

The North Carolina State Fair is getting ready to open its gates Thursday. The 11-day event features rides, exhibits, livestock, and entertainment. The State Fair's Brian Long says there's always something new on the food front.

"We have a massive double caramel apple that's called a 'double decker doozy' that's been covered in chocolate and other candy and what not," explains Long.

Action for Children NC

A new report from Action for Children North Carolina shows corporal punishment continues to be used less and less in the state.

NC State University

The Park Foundation has given $50 million to North Carolina State University to start an endowment for the school's prestigious Park scholarships. The gift is the largest in university history.

Each year, 45 students from all academic disciplines  are awarded full-ride scholarships. They also cover room and board, a computer, and offer lots of experiential learning opportunities.  Chancellor Randy Woodson talks about what the endowment means to the school...

A Chapel Hill group is handing out stickers that look like this to restaurants and bars that want them.
emedco.com

A Chapel Hill group is helping restaurants and bars clarify a new law to patrons.  People with permits to carry concealed handguns can bring their weapon into establishments where alcohol is served. But, while drinking alcohol is prohibited when carrying a firearm, a permit holder can still bring a concealed gun into places that serve it, unless the owner posts signs saying otherwise.  Meg McGurk heads the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership and says there's still confusion over the new law so she's handing out "no concealed weapons" stickers to Franklin Street businesses.

A Duke doctor examines an elderly patient.
Duke Medecine

A health care community center opens today in Hoke County, a first for residents in that rural area. The center will offer a range of services from mental health and substance abuse counseling to family medicine and preventive care. The facility is being operated by the Robeson Health Care Corporation. The company's Marlo Fulmore says the center will cater primarily to low-income residents.

A supermarket in Durham is going to offer healthy snacks in the check out line.
Tijmen Stam via Creative Commons

Shoppers at a local grocery in Durham will have the option of checking out at an aisle filled with healthy snack choices. So instead of lollipops and candy bars, last minute purchases at Los Primos Market might include apples, raisins or yogurt. Erica Samoff coordinates Partnership for a Healthy Durham, a community coalition that's collaborating with the East Durham Children's Initiative.

Traffic jam
epSos via Flickr, Creative Commons

As the summer begins to wind down, lots of folks will be hitting the road and getting in last trips to favorite water recreational areas this Labor Day weekend. Troopers will be joining forces with officers from the state Wildlife Resources Commission to keep roadways and waterways safe.  First Sergeant Jeff Gordon from the state Highway Patrol says last Labor Day weekend 18 people lost their lives and more than 400 were injured on North Carolina roads.

Actress Gabourey Sidibe has spoken openly about her obesity and how people perceive her because of it.
Greg Hernandez via Creative Commons

New research out of Duke University suggests merely maintaining weight, instead of losing it, is a more practical and successful approach for African American women. Lead author Gary Bennett is associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. He says pre-menopausal black women have the highest rates of obesity in the country. About 80 percent are overweight, which contributes to a disproportionate risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, stroke, and cancer.

A new study looks at the availability of caloric information from fast food restaurants online.
jasonlam via Flickr, Creative Commons

Many of the nation's largest restaurants chains are making calorie information available on menus online, according to new research out of Duke University. Part of the Affordable Care Act mandates the information be provided on all in-store menus for chains with more than 20 stores. Lead author of the study Gary Bennett is an associate professor psychology, neuroscience, and global Health at Duke, and he says there are huge variations on how caloric and other nutritional content is presented to consumers.

Heavy rain could be reducing farm yields across the state, like this one in western NC.
mystuart via Flickr, creative commons

Record rainfalls across much of North Carolina have resulted in poor crop growth. When there's too much moisture, root systems often don't get a chance to develop fully, and certain nutrients, like nitrogen, also tend to be depleted.

Carl Crozier, soil science professor and extension specialist at N.C. State, says it's a complex issue because of all the different types of soil in North Carolina.

Democratic Senator Ellie Kinnaird announced her resignation Monday. She had served nine terms.
elliekinnaird.org

Nine-term Democratic Senator Ellie Kinnaird has announced she's resigning. Representing Orange and Chatham Counties, the 81-year-old Kinnaird served 17 years in the state Senate and was also once mayor of Carrboro. Kinnaird says there's no greater privilege than to make public policy, but she says she was frustrated at not being able to influence legislation. She was one of only 17 Democrats in the 50-member Senate.

A bus participating in the Bus on Shoulder System (BOSS) program.
NCDOT

After a year of success in Durham County, the state's first Bus on Shoulder System (BOSS) is ready to expand into Wake County. The North Carolina Department of Transportation allows transit buses to travel on the shoulders of designated stretches of roadways to bypass congested traffic, but only when speeds drop below 35 miles per hour.

A cannon raised from Blackbeard's Queen Anne Revenge on Friday, August 16, 2013.
NC Dept. of Cultural Resources

Researchers off the North Carolina coast are on dive number two for the year. Their goal is to recover artifacts from the wreck of Blackbeard's flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge, which ran aground near Beaufort nearly 300 years ago.

Project Director Bill Ray Morris says this excavation will focus on the forward part of the ship near the bow.

NC FAST is the new electronic food stamp system.
NC FAST

The state's new electronic food distribution system or NC FAST has been beset by a myriad of software and other problems that have caused backlogs and delays in issuing food stamps.  The new system was rolled out to all 100 counties this past February in hopes of streamlining services for those in need.  David Atkinson is director of the Carteret County Department of social services. His county was one of the first to implement NC FAST. He says while his staff is among the most skilled at using the system, it only works about three quarters of the time.

Sunburnt feet after a kayaking trip.
Laura Brunow

New research out of Duke University could put an end to painful sunburns. Scientists have discovered a way to block TRP-V-4, a skin molecule responsible for the redness and pain following prolonged sun exposure.

"Like reddening, formation of soreness and blisters... influx of blood, inflammatory cells, of cells that make itch," said Wolfgang Liedtke, a neurobiology professor at Duke. "That is the tissue injury response down to the level of non-visible."

solar panels
Strata Solar

A new six megawatt solar farm is under construction the Orange County community of White Cross. When it’s completed, it will be the second largest in the Triangle. The project is being designed by Chapel Hill based company, Strata Solar. The firm's Blair Schoof says when it's up and running, the 35-acre farm will provide energy for about 750 homes.

Strata Solar is the state's largest solar developer, responsible for generating more than 145 megawatts around the state. Schoof says two farms in the Triangle area are already operational with eight more planned for next year.

A North Carolina hog house being kept cool by large fans.
Bob Nichols, USDA NRCS

A fatal swine disease is striking the nation's hog industry. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus or PED is usually deadly for baby pigs. Its symptoms resemble dysentery, and it's spread through bodily secretions. Tom Ray, director of Livestock Health Programs for the state department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says so far, there have been only four confirmed cases in North Carolina. He expects the impact for farmers and the state's economy to be significant.

A southern cricket frog
Matt Edmonds, creative commons

Southern cricket frogs are disappearing in the Piedmont of North Carolina at an alarming rate. Their disappearance mirrors a national trend that shows dwindling populations of all amphibians including other frog species, toads and salamanders. They play an important ecological role by feeding on pests and other insects.

Break the Grip of the Rip sign
James Albright via Flickr, Creative Commons

Dangerous rip currents off the Carolina coast are to blame for the deaths of seven people over the 4th of July holiday. That number is double the average number of rip current deaths in a year. Community leaders are calling the tragedies a wake-up call and are trying to find ways to prevent future drownings.

Putting signs and red flags up at various beach access points is one of several ideas, says Anthony Marzano, the director of emergency services in Brunswick County, where four of the deaths took place. 

Two Ob/GYN doctors review test results.
Mercy Health

For decades, women have been told to get annual screenings for cervical cancer. In 2009, mounting scientific evidence prompted major groups like the American Cancer Society to recommend less frequent screenings; every 3 years instead of every year.

Despite the revised guidelines, about half of the OB/GYNs surveyed reported they continue to provide yearly exams. Dr. Russell Harris from UNC's Center for Health Services Research says that practice is outdated and may do more harm than good.

Pages