Frank Stasio

Host, "The State of Things"

Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.

From there he went to National Public Radio, where he rose from associate producer to newscaster for All Things Considered. He left that job in 1990 to help start an alternative school in Washington, DC. Frank returned to NPR as a freelance news anchor, guest host of Talk of The Nation and other national programs, and host of special news coverage.

He also presents audio theater workshops for children and teachers and conducts radio journalism workshops for broadcasters in former Soviet-bloc countries. He lives in Durham.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, a 20-year old African American man was shot to death in North Raleigh. Tapes of the 911 calls  feature the accused shooter, Chad Cameron Copley, declaring himself a member of neighborhood watch who fired what he called warning shots that hit Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas. Copley said there were "hoodlums" on his street and told the 911 operator that he was going out to "secure" the neighborhood. Copley has been charged with first-degree murder. Host Frank Stasio talks with News and Observer reporter Ron Gallagher about the latest.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

A federal court ruling created uncertainty in North Carolina's election process when it overturned the state's controversial voting regulations. The law would have required photo identification, reduced early voting days and eliminated same day registration.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that measure violates the U.S. constitution, because it discriminates against African-American and Latino voters. Local Board of Elections are now making changes that advocates say do not comply with the ruling.

Photo of Curly Seckler and Charlie Monroe
Curly Seckler

Curly Seckler grew up a farming kid in the tiny town of China Grove, NC and liked to listen to the Monroe Brothers on the radio.

Eventually, he became one of the forebearers of bluegrass music as a part of the Foggy Mountain Boys. Seckler's iconic mandolin style and tenor harmonies carved a music career that spanned more than 50 years.

"All The Missing Girls" by Megan Miranda
Megan Miranda

Four years ago the novel "Gone Girl" took the world by storm. The book invoked a familiar thriller novel premise—a sudden mysterious disappearance—but also explored deep psychological and emotional themes.

Critics say the new novel "All The Missing Girls" (Simon & Schuster/2016) from North Carolina author Megan Miranda follows in the tradition of "Gone Girl."

headshot of Whitney Way Thore
Deborah Feingold

This is a rebroadcast of a program that originally aired on June 27, 2016.

Whitney Way Thore knows how much she has weighed at every point in her life.

And for decades, deconstructing the size and shape of her body consumed much of her mental and emotional energy. She struggled with an eating disorder, compulsive exercise, and eventually was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome.  

An image of Dorothy Day
Public Domain / Wikipedia

Note: this segment originally aired April 7, 2016. 

Journalist and social activist Dorothy Day challenged the structure of the Catholic church when she co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement in the 1930s.

The group advocated for direct aid to the poor and civil disobedience on their behalf. Today, Day's granddaughter Martha Hennessy continues Day's work.
 

photo from 'The Little Rascals'
Photo Courtesy Bronwen Dickey

Note: this segment originally aired June 1, 2016.

Writer Bronwen Dickey grew up with the impression of pit bulls that dominates popular discourse: they are mean, aggressive, and dangerous dogs. But after a freelance writing piece put her in an environment with a sweet and gentle pit bull, she began to wonder whether there was more to the stereotype.

An image of Durham poet and musician Shirlette Ammons
Tim Walter

Note: this segment originally aired April 29, 2016. 

Willy Somma

Durham native Heather Havrilesky has spent most of her professional life as a social commentator of sorts. 

She has written online cartoons about the absurdity of life, reviews of crappy TV reality shows, and columns about why we love crappy TV reality shows.

It is perhaps no wonder that she has become a successful advice columnist.

Havrilesky is the writer behind "Ask Polly," a weekly column in New York magazine in which she guides readers through existential questions.

An image of the book cover for 'The Last Road Home'
Kensington Books

Growing up as a kid in the 1950s, Danny Johnson liked to do two things: read books and work on his grandmother's farm. He's now combined his love for Southern literature with imagery from his upbringing in his debut novel, "The Last Road Home" (Kensington Books/2016). 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Johnson about his Southern adolescence and creating a story outside of his lived experience.

More than two decades ago Father Greg Boyle (middle) founded 'Homeboy Industries,' the largest gang-internvention program in the country. Here he is on Thanksgiving day in 2012 at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.
Homeboy Industries

Note: This segment originally aired February 2, 2016.

In 1986, Jesuit priest Father Greg Boyle was appointed to a poor parish in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Abandoned farmhouse western North Carolina
Julia Franks

Eight years ago, Julia Franks and her husband bought a farm in western North Carolina. At the time, the 1800s farmhouse on the land was still standing and when they walked in the doors, they were greeted by dozens of odd artifacts, including animal bones, locks of hair, insect hives, and even a jar with a fingernail in it. Franks is a high school literature teacher and lover of writing, so it was hard for her to not let her imagination run wild.

Justin Natvig as Vivian Vaughn
D.j. Bonet V'lentino & After Six Photography Studios

Justin Natvig has had a flair for performance most of his life. As a young kid, he often snuck into his grandparents’ attic and dug through his grandmother’s things: vintage dresses, hats, wigs, shoes and makeup. He would put it all on, play Diana Ross records and lip sync in front of the mirror. For many years, he kept this passion a secret as he struggled with a family that would not accept his identity. 

An image of an adult holding a child
Pexels / Creative Commons

 Note: This segment originally aired on Wednesday, April 27, 2016.

More than 179,000 children in North Carolina have had a parent incarcerated, according to a new report. As a result, these children are more likely to face emotional trauma and financial instability.

The report recommends improving a child's relationship with the incarcerated parent and the community as a way to lessen these burdens.

photo of a church
Theresa Schenk / Pixabay

Note: This segment originally aired on Thursday, June 2, 2016.

Whether it's reducing carbon emissions or increasing solar energy, environmentalists see a need for people to change the way they treat the earth in the shadow of climate change. Likewise, some religion leaders see their faith as motivation to care better for the environment.

Ellis Dyson and the Shambles

  Note: This segment originally aired on Friday, February 19, 2016.

For Ellis Dyson, there is something alluring about the music from the 1920s. He sees it as dirty, raw and mysterious.

With the help of fellow musicians at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dyson has blended the sounds of Dixieland jazz with themes of standard folk ballads to create a "whiskey folk" ensemble.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Dyson about the band's origins and influences as a young group channeling another era.

Big Book of Science Fiction
Penguin

Science Fiction and fantasy have traditionally created worlds of aliens, robots and monsters of various sorts.

And there was a time when readers might have been stereotyped as nerds and geeks. But now sci-fi is exploding in the mainstream through digital media. And authors who were once niche writers are now mainstream.

Three leading writers in the genre read this Saturday at Malaprops Bookstore in Asheville as part of the Shared Worlds event. The event features authors who are participating in a youth program by the same name at Wofford College in South Carolina. 

Ken Ilgunas

This program originally aired on April 21, 2016.

Ken Ilgunas was working as a dishwasher near the oil refineries of Alaska when his friend suggested they should hike the entire length of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

He immediately agreed, and a year later he started the journey from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas on foot.

Frank C. Curtin / Associated Press

Note: This segment originally aired February 19, 2016.

Pauli Murray and Eleanor Roosevelt could not have come from more different backgrounds. Murray was the granddaughter of a mixed-race slave, while Roosevelt’s ancestry gave her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In J.J. Johnson's book, 'believarexic,' she recalls her battle with eating disorders through her diary entries as a teenager.
Jessica Arden Photography

Note: This segment originally aired January 21, 2016.

When J.J. Johnson was 15 years old, she had to force her family to admit that she needed help for her eating disorder. She spent 10 weeks in an inpatient unit, but her healing process took many more months and years.

Her new book "believarexic" (Peachtree Publishers/2015) is a ‘fictional autobiography’ that revolves around her diary entries from her teenage years.

Jay Price / WUNC

It is a long-standing tradition for presidential candidates to address the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in election years.

This year, the event is in North Carolina, a key swing state. That is especially appealing to the candidates in this election because veterans regularly vote in larger numbers than other voters. 

But this year, veterans are not enthusiastic about their choice in either party.

Leon Capetanos

This show originally aired on May 27, 2016.

As a kid growing up in Raleigh Leon Capetanos never imagined that he’d spend most of his life out West. He was an aspiring poet and studied writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After participating in a talent program in Hollywood, he got a call from Universal Studios to join their writing department, and his career took off from there.

Jedediah Purdy
Travis Drove

  This show originally aired on October 6, 2015.

In an era where humans and the environment are inextricably tied, how do we approach environmental politics, economics and ethics?

In what ways do the historical perspectives on the relationship between humanity and nature shape how policymakers approach current environmental issues like climate change and global warming?

Diana Matthews / Algonquin Books

This program originally aired April 4, 2016

Lee Smith started writing stories when she was nine years old and sold them for a nickel a piece.

Many of them were inspired by the gossip, true stories and daily grind she observed at her father's dime store, deep in the coal mining mountains of Virginia.

Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

The NBA announced that the 2017 All-Star Game will not be held in Charlotte as planned.

The decision comes after state lawmakers did not make enough changes to the law known as House Bill 2 to satisfy the league. It could cost the state more than $100 million in economic impact and the decision will be a factor in the gubernatorial race between incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper.

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