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.

Hammer No More the Fingers

Apr 1, 2011

They’ve known each other since elementary school, and have been playing in bands together for almost as long. But after their high school days, the three members of Hammer No More The Fingers scattered to locations across the globe. Since returning to Durham and reforming in 2007, they have impressed crowds around North Carolina and abroad with their freewheeling, energetic live shows. Blending 90’s alternative rock with a sometimes punk aesthetic, they write songs with raucous guitars and ear-worming hooks.

Margaret H. Turner fought vigilantly for civil rights in Durham, North Carolina in the 1960s by recruiting local students to join the March on Washington, mentoring NAACP youth, and enrolling her own children in a previously all-white school as a way to bring balance to an unequal education system. Turner passed away last week at the age of 93.

Lady Be Good

Mar 31, 2011

Filmmaker Kay D. Ray has captured the stories of generations of female jazz musicians in a new documentary called “Lady Be Good: Instrumental Women in Jazz.”

“Mama’s Gun” is the critically-acclaimed sophomore CD from neo-soul artist Erykah Badu. The project was released 10 years ago and featured background vocals from a teenage singer who called herself YahZarah. That teenager is all grown up now and after touring with Badu and recording two studio projects of her own, YahZarah has reinvented herself for her third CD, “The Ballad of Purple St. James.” YahZarah joins host Frank Stasio for a live, in-studio performance and to talk about working with the Grammy-nominated group The Foreign Exchange and how she defeated the music business in the battle for creative authority of her own music. YahZarah will perform a benefit concert for Durham Nativity School on Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 8 p.m.

The sea level at North Carolina's coast will probably rise one meter by the end of the century thanks to global warming. With about 2,000 square miles of the coast just a meter or less above sea level, state residents can expect radical changes. The Outer Banks could be cut to pieces, water might threaten thousands of homes and buildings and the coastal ecosystem would never be the same.

Picasso And Einstein Walk Into A Bar...

Mar 30, 2011

Imagine a situation in which Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso share an evening at a tavern discussing genius, art, science and the creative process. Comedian Steve Martin did just that when he wrote, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” which is currently on stage at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina.

Vampire Frogs

Mar 29, 2011

Bryan Stuart has always had a love for amphibians, but he wasn't expecting what he found during a 2008 research trip to Vietnam: vampire flying frogs. Host Frank Stasio will talk with Stuart, Curator of Herpetology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, about his discovery and just what a frog would do with fangs anyway.

This program originally aired on January 11, 2011. For a link to the audio click here.

What happens when a memory expert finds out that his marriage didn't go quite as he remembers? Chapel Hill author Rosecrans Baldwin answers that question in his debut novel, "You Lost Me There" (Riverhead Books/2010). He joins host Frank Stasio to talk about the book, marriage, memory and his time faking fluent French in France.

This program originally aired on August 10, 2010. For a link to the audio, click here.

Abuse and neglect at the hands of hired caregivers are very real concerns for the elderly. But for gay seniors, these can be even bigger problems as they face discrimination within the healthcare system. A new film called “Gen Silent” examines the challenges of being out and aging. Host Frank Stasio gets a preview from filmmaker Stu Maddux before the film screens in Cary and Chapel Hill this weekend.

Meet Jeff Polish

Mar 28, 2011

Jeff Polish had a lonely childhood. He moved around a lot and had to dodge his mother's overbearing anger. Jeff learned early to say little and have an active inner life. When he left home for college, Jeff discovered that friends came easily when he told stories. The inner narratives he had been constructing for years paid off socially. He went on to earn a PhD in genetics and has happily taught high school for years.

North Carolina Senator Neal Hunt, a Republican from Wake County, didn't anticipate much reaction from within his party when he proposed a resolution earlier this week to pardon William Holden, a North Carolina governor impeached in 1871. Reconstruction-era Democrats removed Holden from office after the governor sent troops to quell violence spurred by white supremacists in Caswell and Alamance counties.

Anna Jean Mayhew was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina where she also lived, worked, raised a family and enjoyed civic life. It wasn't until she moved to the Triangle region of the state that she understood how much she wanted to write about Charlotte. Mayhew had always written, but she had no formal education as a writer. Yet with the help of a dedicated writing group and many years of perseverance, she finished "The Dry Grass of August" (Kensington Books/2011), which was recently released.

Musician “Th’ Bullfrog” Willard McGhee has nothing but respect for the blues greats of the Piedmont. In fact, McGhee would love to see more being done to honor blues pioneers like Blind Boy Fuller and Floyd Council. Their legacies live on in McGhee’s music. His new CD project, recorded with fellow blues guitarist Tad Walters, is called “Stealin’ Gasoline.” In the tradition of blues, the songs are personal and poignant and sometimes racy.

The word “cult” comes from a Latin root word that translates into “ritual.” But in the modern era, the word has acquired derogatory connotations – used to describe spiritual, political or social groups that challenge conventional beliefs. In North Carolina, police are investigating the possibility of a connection between two missing persons and a Durham congregation that has been characterized as a cult. Could use of that word in the news coverage of the case influence its outcome? Host Frank Stasio examines public perception of new religious movements with James Tabor, chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Sean McCloud, an associate professor of religious studies and American studies affiliate at UNC-Charlotte; Benjamin Zeller, an assistant professor of religious studies at Brevard College; and Lisa Kerr, founder of the Web site Listener Call-in.

National Public Radio has taken a lot of hits lately. A recent hidden camera video showed the organization’s top fundraiser, Ron Schiller, making inappropriate comments about Tea Party members and saying that NPR could survive without federal funding. The tape was deceptively edited, but the damage was done. Schiller resigned in the aftermath along with the CEO of NPR. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would block federal funding for NPR. Host Frank Stasio talks about the future of public broadcasting with NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard.

One Big Table

Mar 23, 2011

Molly O'Neill is a celebrated chef, cookbook author and restaurant reviewer. She spent years writing about food and the culture of food for the New York Times. Her new book, "One Big Table" (Simon and Schuster 2010) investigates the allegations that Americans no longer cook. She traveled all over the country and can happily report that Americans do, in fact cook, but even more importantly, Americans still love to eat.

Artist Carolee Schneemann became an icon of feminist art in the 1960s and 1970s for works that tackled sexuality, the human body and gender. She is perhaps best known for provocative pieces like 1964's "Fuses," which featured her having sex with her boyfriend at the time and included her cat as a silent observer.

Leon Botstein is on a mission to make Americans think more. As president of Bard College in New York's Hudson Valley, he pushes science education as well as arts and humanities. This may surprise classical music fans who know him best as the music director and conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra. But Botstein clings to a classical view of academics, insisting that knowing something about everything is the best way to create an informed citizenry.

When Jane Borden moved to Manhattan after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she thought she would have no trouble leaving her Southern home behind. Turns out she didn't count on the voice of her Aunt Jane, which she seemed to hear wherever she went in the Big Apple. In an endearing collection of essays called "I Totally Meant to Do That” (Broadway Paperbacks/2011), Borden recalls her Southern fish-out-of-water experiences with humor and affection for both North Carolina and New York.

Growing up in Egypt, Samia Serageldin didn't think about becoming a writer. She was more worried about the fate of her family whose political activity set them against the ruling parties under Nasser, then Sadat. She married and moved to London at age 20 with her husband. Except for two brief years of hopeful return to Egypt in the late 1970s, Serageldin has been an expatriate, living in Michigan, Massachusetts and North Carolina. Her autobiographical first novel, “The Cairo House,” was published in 2000 and chronicles the rise and fall of a class of Egyptians caught between Western and traditional influences. Her subsequent books, “The Naqib’s Daughter” and “Love is Like Water,” also focus on Egypt.

The Lee Boys

Mar 18, 2011

The Lee Boys play Sacred Steel, so called because of its roots in gospel and the pedal steel guitar that drives the sound. Made up of three brothers and their nephews, the band members all learned to play at the House of God Church in Perrine, Fla., where their father was a pastor. They integrated blues, rock, jazz and funk elements into their sound, creating an energetic and uplifting music, which they have showcased at churches, clubs and festivals across the country.

Raleigh writer Angela Davis-Gardner loves Japan. She went there to teach when she was a young woman fresh from her undergraduate studies at Duke University. The landscape and the people stayed in her imagination so profoundly that she has visited several times and set her most recent books there. “Plum Wine” examines the aftermath of World War II in Japan. And her new book, “Butterfly’s Child” (The Dial Press/2011) moves between Japan and America at the end of the 19th century.

Arthur Lenk, director of the Department of International Law in Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will deliver a lecture at Duke University’s Law School today, focusing on Israel, the Middle East peace process and international law. Revolution in Egypt and Tunisia, civil war in Libya and unrest throughout the region mean Israel’s long-held relationships with other Middle Eastern states are in transition.

You may recognize the name Paul Green as that of the playwright who penned the long-running outdoor drama "The Lost Colony" or gave his name to the theater that houses the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Playmakers Repertory Company. Green's legacy is actually much greater. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, wrote screenplays for Hollywood and fought for decades in his home state of North Carolina for progressive causes and social justice.

Haroon Moghul

The Muslim Student Association at Duke University is presenting a series of lectures by experts on Islam with the goal of generating positive dialogue about Muslims in America. This year’s “Islamic Awareness Month” comes on the heels of Congressional hearings examining the spread of radicalism and extremism in Muslim communities across the U.S.