Charlie Shelton

Producer, "The State of Things"
A U.S. Army Air Forces plane flies over 'The Hump' in the Himalayan Mountains in 1945. Many U.S. planes crashed in this area during World War II due to the terrain.
United States Army Air Forces / Wikimedia Commons

Hundreds of U.S. aircrafts were lost during World War II along a remote military supply route in the Himalayas called the Hump. The treacherous terrain caused hundreds of World War II service members to crash, scattering their remains along the region.

For decades, families have waited for the lost veterans' remains to return to the U.S., but a border dispute between India and China has stalled military search efforts from recovering the remains.

The Imani Winds quintet has its roots in classical music but takes musical influences from all over the world.
Duke Performances

Imani Winds is a Grammy-nominated wind quintet that has explored the limits of classical music for almost 20 years.

The ensemble grounds itself with a classical foundation, but infuses sounds from the Middle East to South America in its work.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Imani Winds about its origins and an upcoming performance at Duke University. Imani Winds is: Toyin Spellman-Diaz on oboe, Valerie Coleman on flute, Jeff Scott on french horn, Mariam Adam on clarinet and Monica Ellis on bassoon.

Jumilla / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Justice is scheduled to release about 6,000 inmates at the end of October as part of a larger effort to reduce overcrowding in prisons and scale back punishment for low-level drug offenses.

North Carolina is set to release approximately 218 inmates, the fifth most in the country.

Rennie Harris Puremovement takes hip-hop dance from the street and puts it on stage.
Brian Mengini

From "krumping" in Los Angeles to "breaking" in the streets of New York City, hip-hop dance takes many shapes and styles.

Hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris takes street dance and puts it on the stage. Harris founded Rennie Harris Puremovement in 1992, the oldest and longest running hip-hop dance touring company in the country. He tours with the company showing audiences the eclectic variations and styles of hip-hop dance.

Oscar Wong started Highland Brewing Company in Asheville in 1994 and passed along the business to his daughter, Leah Wong Ashburn.
Carrie Turner / Carrie Turner Photography

Leah Wong Ashburn has been around beer all her life.

Her father Oscar Wong is considered the "godfather" of craft beer culture in western North Carolina. In 1994, he founded Highland Brewing Company, the first legal brewer in Asheville since Prohibition. Today, Highland is the largest homegrown craft brewery in North Carolina.

An image of Jack the Radio
Story Photographers

Jack the Radio’s new album Badlands stretches outside the Raleigh band’s Americana comfort zone. The album's musical recipe is one half blues-rock and the other half experimental synthesizers.

Host Frank Stasio talks with the band about it’s new “cosmic country” album and marketing music in the modern age. Jack the Radio is: George Hage on acoustic guitar and vocals, A.C. Hill on acoustic guitar and vocals, Chris Sayles on hand percussion and vocals, and Danny Johnson on dobro and vocals.

Chuck Liddy / News and Observer

It is the responsibility of the N.C. Department of Labor to protect the rights of workers.

But a new report from the News & Observer finds that state investigators for the department did not collect $1 million in wages that were owed to 617 workers in 2014.

John Hodgman is known for his work on 'The Daily Show' and as the PC guy from Apple's 'Mac vs. PC' commercials.
Shark Party Media

Comedian John Hodgman has made a name for himself as a correspondent for The Daily Show and the PC guy from Apple's "Mac vs. PC" advertisements.

But Hodgman is putting those characters aside and showcasing stories from his life as an aging, weird, mustachioed father. In Hodgman's new one-man show "Vacationland," he tells stories about traveling to Maine for vacation but being met by "oceans made of hate" and skeptical locals. 

Home Movie Day uses amateur filmmaking to take a peek into our past culture and history.
Louis Cherry

You might have spent years trying to forget the embarrassing family vacations and birthday parties from your old home movies. Those celluloid memories may not have seemed important at the time, but home movies can give viewers glimpses into the lives and culture of everyday people through the decades.

Ian Dawson's '1365' is made from plastic. The museum purchased it in 2004, and UNC-Greensboro students use this in 'Art of Seeing' workshops to merge art and science.
Weatherspoon Art Museum

Classroom lectures are only a part of the education of students in the healthcare field. 

The Art of Seeing” program through the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the Weatherspoon Art Museum gets students out of the classroom by combining contemporary art and science.

Heartwood is a Greenville country rock band playing three sold out shows at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro as a reunion series 40 years after they disbanded.
Nick Reitz

Back in the early 1970s, the country rock band Heartwood was on a roll. The group started in a small town outside Greenville, North Carolina and climbed the ladder from jam sessions and club concerts to a national record label.

They toured the country with bands like The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. But road weariness caused the band to break up.  Now, 40 years later, they are back together for a three-night reunion.

An image of musician Noah Gundersen
Philip Harder

Noah Gundersen grapples with some big topics on his latest album Carry the Ghost. The Seattle-based songwriter's introspective excavations range from understanding the meaning of life and letting go of faith.

U.S. Capitol Building
ttarasiuk / Flickr Creative Commons

Republicans on Capitol Hill met Thursday to nominate a new Speaker of the House after John Boehner announced last month he will be resigning.

The front runner for the nomination was House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. However, McCarthy abruptly dropped out of the race Thursday, causing disarray in the Republican caucus. The House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on a new Speaker at the end of October. The vote has now been postponed as GOP leaders search for a new nominee.

This picture was taken at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard in 2013. Jaji was rehearsing with her undergrad research partner, Cansu Colakoglu, for a lecture-recital on U.S. and British black composers.
Tony Rinaldo

Duke English professor Tsitsi Jaji remembers the noises of independence outside her window in her home country of Zimbabwe when she was 4 years old. Jaji grew up as a part of Zimbabwe's first legally integrated generation and witnessed the country's recovery from harsh colonial rule.

Balsam Range won 'Song of the Year' and 'Vocal Group of the Year' at this year's IBMA awards.
Courtest of Laughing Penguin Publicity

Balsam Range is a bluegrass band with the accolades to show for it.

The Haywood County quintet won two awards at this year’s IBMA awards: "Song of the Year" and "Vocal Group of the Year." The group was nominated for six IBMA Awards this year. The band’s fifth studio album, Five, combines traditional bluegrass and gospel with songs about home and hard times.

Tara Linhardt plays with Nepali musicians
Tara Linhardt

Nepal and Appalachia are on opposite ends of the Earth, but their musical traditions show striking parallels. Bluegrass musician Tara Linhardt traveled with friends, her mandolin and camera around the Nepali countryside to find and play alongside musicians preserving the country's folk traditions. The result is a musical fusion of two worlds usually separated by cultural and geographic barriers.

Three handguns of various styles.
Matanya / Wikimedia Commons

Advocates for gun control propose stricter enforcement of background checks as a means to reduce gun-related crime.

Allen plant
Duke Energy

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has reached an estimated $20 million settlement with Duke Energy for groundwater contamination at all of its 14 coal ash facilities. The settlement also requires Duke Energy to accelerate clean-up of groundwater contamination at four coal ash sites:

A picture of a gavel on a document.
Brian Turner / Flickr Creative Commons

Employees at the state Department of Health and Human Services received subpoenas in a federal investigation, according to a report by the News and Observer. 

Federal prosecutors are investigating expensive contracts for high-ranking DHHS employees and a Medicaid consulting firm. The subpoenas request information for more than 30 employees, including the employment contract for former DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos. 

Serena Williams won the first three Grand Slams of the tennis season and is considered one of the top female tennis players ever but is often scrutinized for her demeanor.
Yann Caradec / Flickr Creative Commons

A new season of television launches this week with hit shows Empire and Black-ish. The shows are breaking records and barriers with audiences, showcasing narratives of black life in America. 

Meanwhile, Viola Davis won an Emmy this weekend for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series," becoming the first woman of color to win the award. 

An image of UNC's Old Well
yeungb / Wikipedia Creative Commons

It may seem like the school year just started, but pretty soon high school seniors and other aspiring college students will start submitting applications for next year’s college enrollment.

An image of the NC Museum of Natural Science
Public Domain

The State of Things is broadcasting live Friday at 12 p.m. from the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. You can stream the show live below:

Scott Dikkers is the founding editor of the satirical newspaper and website The Onion
Nicki Fietzer

The Onion is known for it's satirical news with headlines like "Study Reveals: Babies Are Stupid" and "CIA Realizes It's Been Using Black Highlighters All These Years."

But for Scott Dikkers, making fake news is often serious work. Dikkers is a founding editor of The Onion and served as it's longest serving editor-in-chief. 

MillerCoors trucks
MobiusDaXter / Wikimedia Commons

Big beer companies are starting to feel the pressure of a rising thirst for craft beer. There are more than 130 breweries and brewpubs in North Carolina, but MillerCoors announced it is closing the plant in Eden, North Carolina in September of next year.  

Rhiannon Giddens
Michael Weintrob

For as long as she can remember, Rhiannon Giddens has been singing. Growing up in Greensboro, she sang in youth choirs, despite not knowing how to read music. But that was okay, because Giddens said she received the best kind of teaching as a child.

An image of musician Phil Cook
Middle West Management

 

Wisconsin native Phil Cook headed south for a new home in North Carolina 10 years ago.  Since then, he has been in a band with Justin Vernon from Bon Iver, formed Megafaun with his brother Brad Cook and drummer Joe Westerlund, and has played on or produced records by everybody from Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls to Hiss Golden Messenger.

Along the way, Phil got married, had a son and settled himself deep in North Carolina's red clay.  Now he's releasing his first solo record called Southland Mission.  Fans of Megafaun will find Cook’s new music to be groovier with a more rootsy vibe than some of that band's work, but there are hints of the past in some of the vocal harmonies and instrumentation. On the whole, the album reflects a passion for southern music that’s been growing in Cook for decades.

"I had the title of the record before I had the songs written. I liked the idea that a title for a record is a theme for your life, a theme for your music, and seems to be the title of the chapter for wherever you’re at," Cook said. "To me, Southland Mission seemed like a great way to sum up being in the South for 10 years now, and longed to be in the South 10 years before that. I had built up quite a mission in my mind about, 'What was I coming down here for?' Well, it was the music."

An image of bluegrass group Chatham County Line
Yep Roc Music Group

The summer is wrapping up, but the bluegrass does not have to stop just yet. Chatham County Line and the Jeanne Jolly Trio take the stage Thursday, September 10 for the final Back Porch Music on the Lawn concert. The free concert is open to the public and kicks off at 6 p.m. on the American Tobacco Campus lawn in Durham.

Craig McLaughlin grew up around tigers, ostriches, monkeys and other exotic animals on his step-father's farm in Pittsboro, N.C.
Craig McLaughlin

Craig McLaughlin was given 12 years to live when he was born with hemophilia in 1957. With the help of developments in medicine and some good fortune, McLaughlin exceeded the life expectancy and eventually started a family.

But along the way, he experienced hard bumps in the road. As a child, McLaughlin battled constant physical pain and social isolation. He was diagnosed with HIV from a blood transfusion as a young adult. 

An image of an event from Working American in Greensboro
Carolyn Smith / Working America

Labor Day was established as a national holiday in 1894 to celebrate the achievements of American workers. What does labor in the state and nation look like today?   In 2013, North Carolina had 130,000 workers earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 or less, comprising 5.8 percent of all hourly-paid workers.

Lloyd Arneach
Dawn Arneach

For Lloyd Arneach and Sheila Kay Adams, storytelling runs in the family.

Arneach was raised as a Cherokee on a Native American reservation in western North Carolina, absorbing stories at the dinner table from his two great-uncles. Adams was right up the road in Madison County, learning the ballads and stories from seven generations of Scots-Irish ancestors.

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