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.

Headshot of Eric Fair, a former interrogator at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Amy Cramer

In 2004, photographs capturing extreme abuse of detainees at the American-controlled Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were released to the public, sparking a humanitarian outcry. That same year, Eric Fair was working as an interrogator at the prison. Fair's new memoir, "Consequence" (Henry Holt/2016) is an unflinching look back at his time at Abu Ghraib and the mental and physical pain he inflicted on detainees as part of military-sanctioned interrogations.

An image of folk singer Leadbelly
Public Domain

Rock music has roots in many different musical forms. It is shaped by the blues and jazz. Meanwhile, the narratives in rock songs can be traced back to English ballads.

Courtesy of Perfecta Visuals

What happens when women get up on stage dressed to the nines and are judged not for their beauty, but for their strength? Groups of women around the country have been exploring just that with competitive arm wrestling leagues. Two of these leagues are based in North Carolina, the League of Upper Extremity Wrestling Women in Durham (LUEWWD) and the Greensboro Arm Wrestling League (GRAWL).

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Roy Cooper, left, and North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory participate in a live televised debate at UNC-TV studios in Research Triangle Park, N.C., Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016.

With his back against the political ropes, Governor Pat McCrory was ready for a fight on Tuesday night. The Republican incumbent looked energized, confident, and threw jabs, hooks and overhand rights at his challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Image of Dan River Girls
Dan River Girls

Each of the Winston-Salem sisters Fiona, Ellie and Jessie Burdette started taking music lessons at five years old. When the youngest sister, Jessie, turned 7, the three decided that it was time to combine their musical talents and form a band--the Dan River Girls. Their music ranges from traditional bluegrass to pop-rock. They released their first album last year and continue to play at venues and festivals around the state.

An image of Duke postdoctoral associate Duke Marisol LeBron
Marisol LeBron

Growing up in the Bronx, Marisol LeBrón witnessed two conflicting realities. She saw the diverse and vibrant communities around her neighborhood of Parkchester, but she also witnessed the struggles of Bronx's residents around stigmas about poverty and crime.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie

Vice-presidential candidates Mike Pence and Tim Kaine sparred earlier this week in their only debate of the season.

What did their interactions demonstrate about both campaigns, and how do the vice presidential candidates affect the race? And in the state's gubernatorial race, ad spending reaches new highs. Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest. 

Worst. President. Ever.
Lyons Press, 2016

 With just a month to the election, both sides are on the attack, highlighting the shortcomings of their opposition.

Accusations fly as Clinton and Trump vie for the highest office in the country.

But as voters assess who should lead modern America, author Robert Strauss takes a look back at the nation's 15th president, James Buchanan. Strauss traces Buchanan's presidency and declares him the worst president ever. Host Frank Stasio talks with Strauss about his book,"Worst. President. Ever." (Lyons Press/2016). 

Jim McKelvey

The Piedmont Melody Makers has been jamming together formally and informally for years. The band is a who’s who of North Carolina old time and bluegrass musicians, and in the past year they decided to formalize their musical union and record an official album. “Wonderful World Outside” is a 16-track record with a blend of original tunes and covers.


An image of a memorial to Ash Haffner, who died by suicide in 2015

The youth suicide rate has increased in North Carolina since the start of the decade. Nationally, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young adults between ages 15 and 19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.  

Meanwhile, LGBT youth are twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their heterosexual peers. Organizations including the Child Fatality Task Force and the Wake County Public School System have offered policy recommendations and programs to prevent the rising teenage suicide rate.

Courtesy of Zanele Muholi

In 2006, South Africa became the fifth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. While social justice activists around the world saw this event as a tremendous victory, the country was still in a lot of turmoil. Homophobic hate crimes and violence were on the rise, and many individuals reported being subject to “curative rape,” a hate crime in which someone is raped to “cure” them of their sexual identity.

An image of peace activists Ali Abu Awwad and Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger
Courtesy of Hanan Schlesinger

Even though Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger has lived in the West Bank for 33 years, he had never spent much time with a Palestinian. That was before he met Ali Abu Awwad. Schlesinger lived in the area with for decades seeing Palestinians as an invisible "other." 

Movies on the Radio
Keith Weston / WUNC

Whether it is a scathing satire or a chilling suspense film, plotlines about politics and the political process make for great drama. For this month’s edition of Movies on the Radio, listeners draw parallels between their favorite political movies and the current election season.

An image of an empty hospital bed
Public domain

Thousands of Medicaid recipients across North Carolina are being denied government-assisted funding for personal-care services. In April 2015, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Division of Medical Assistance changed the requirements for personal-care eligibility.

Image of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel García Márquez was a Colombian writer and journalist best known for popularizing the form of magical realism. His work blends the fantastical with the real and political, and there is no better example of this than his seminal novel “100 Years Of Solitude” (Harper And Row/ 1970). The book is considered by many to be the most influential piece of Spanish fiction since “Don Quixote.”

Breakwater Studios

Rwanda & Juliet: In Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, Juliet asks: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The oft-quoted passage takes on new meaning in a production of Romeo and Juliet staged in Rwanda with both Hutu and Tutsi victims of the 1994 genocide. The documentary film “Rwanda & Juliet” follows the production of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy in Kigali, Rwanda in the spring of 2013.

Image of Michelle Moog-Koussa with the minimoog.
Courtesy of Michelle Moog-Koussa

More than 50 years ago, Robert Moog revolutionized electronic music with the invention of the Moog synthesizer. It was one of the first widely-used electronic instruments and has been featured in music by artists ranging from The Beatles to jazz pianist Herbie Hancock. But despite his immense career success, Moog kept his professional and personal lives separate. In fact, it was not until his death that his daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa, began to learn about his professional influence.

The State of Things is broadcasting live from the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh:

Photo by John Davisson/Invision/AP

The International Bluegrass Music Association is underway in Raleigh with the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Awards. The group The Earls of Leicester won Entertainer of the Year for the second year in a row. The group led the field in nominations. Host Frank Stasio talks with John Lawless, editor of Bluegrass Today, about notable awards and emerging bands in bluegrass.

Claire Lynch Band

Bluegrass music traditionally draws inspiration from the back porches, front porches, swamps, mountains and hollers of the South. But for her new album, celebrated bluegrass artist Claire Lynch looked north. The album is called “North By South,” and it is a celebration of the often underappreciated catalog of bluegrass songs written by Canadians. Host Frank Stasio speaks with Claire Lynch about her Canadian muses and listens to some live music from the band.

Courtesy of Laughing Penguin Publicity

Kenny and Amanda Smith have been professional musicians as a duo for 15 years but have been playing music together as husband and wife for decades. The pair's new album is called "Unbound." Amanda Smith was a nominee for Female Vocalist of the Year, and Kenny Smith was nominated for Instrumental Performer of the Year on the guitar in the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Awards.

An image of San Francisco 49ers players protesting the national anthem
Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Since the beginning of the NFL season, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has knelt during the national anthem in protest against racial inequality. Dozens of athletes have followed in Kaepernick's footsteps.

Meanwhile, protests erupted in Charlotte last week after police fatally shot a black man. Against this backdrop, new television shows like "Queen Sugar" and "Greenleaf" unpack narratives about contemporary black life.

Greensboro Police Department

The Greensboro city council says state officials should revoke the law enforcement license and reconsider charges against a white police officer who violated the department's use-of-force policy in a confrontation with a black man.

An image of the skyline of Charlotte, N.C.
Chuck Burton / Associated Press

In the past week, residents in Charlotte have protested throughout the city in response to the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by law enforcement. The week's events created a lingering sense of civil unrest in communities.

Photo from Playmakers production of 'Detroit 67'
Jon Gardiner

Tensions between police and civilians are on the minds of many after last week’s shootings and protests in Charlotte. But a play on stage at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Playmakers Repertory Company makes it clear that these tensions are not new. “Detroit ‘67” tells the fictional story of a brother and sister working to stay afloat as their city faces increased economic and racial turmoil. The story is punctuated with music from the booming Motown music scene.