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.

photo of a doctor
www.maxpixel.net/Doctor-Medicine-Health-Stetoscope-Medical-563428

In 2014, former President Barack Obama’s health care law gave states the option to expand Medicaid. North Carolina was among 18 states who chose not to expand the program. At the time, many officials in those states expressed concern over how much expansion would cost.

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

Nearly 40 school districts in North Carolina will close schools on Wednesday, May 16. That is the opening day for the legislative session, and thousands of teachers from around the state plan to protest in Raleigh for better pay and working conditions. The demonstration comes as teachers strike and walk out in other states around the country, like Arizona, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

Greensboro will host its first-ever literary festival this weekend. 50 planned events will feature more than 80 writers who are as diverse as the topics they cover, including authors who are undocumented, gender fluid, and from a range of other religious and ethnic backgrounds.

photo of the band playing onstage
Courtesy of Farewell Friend

Under the umbrella of “alternative country,” you will find the music of Farewell Friend. Guitarist and vocalist Tom Troyer, guitarist Mark Byerly, and upright bass player Evan Campfield perform live at the Triad Stage’s Upstage Cabaret in Greensboro.

photo of Candis Cox speaking at a podium with signs for the human rights campaign and equality NC
Courtesy of Candis Cox

Candis Cox was working as a representative with American Airlines at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport when she was thrust into the role of political activist. Cox is a transgender woman, and after the passage of North Carolina House Bill 2, she was told she could no longer use the bathroom that aligned with her gender identity.

This video shows a white police officer choking a young tuxedo-clad man who is African American, pushing him against a storefront and then slamming him to the ground outside a North Carolina Waffle House.
Anthony Wall via Facebook / Screenshot by NPR

Waffle House has become embroiled in a new public scandal, and African-American activists are calling for a boycott. Early this week, a video went viral of 22-year-old Anthony Wall getting choked by a police officer outside of a Waffle House in Warsaw, North Carolina.

A hog waste lagoon in Beaufort County, NC.
DefMo / Flickr Creative Commons

Two weeks ago, 10 Bladen county residents were awarded $5 million each in punitive damages after winning a hog nuisance lawsuit against Murphy-Brown/Smithfield Foods. This week U.S. District Judge Earl Britt severely cut the award. Instead of the millions they were expecting, the plaintiffs will each get only $250,000.

composite image of artist honorees and the words '50 for 50'
Courtesy of the North Carolina Arts Council

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the North Carolina Arts Council, the state agency decided to profile 50 artists with North Carolina roots. The project is called “50 for 50,” and it includes artists from bestselling-author David Sedaris to poet and musician Shirlette Ammons.

photo of tony williamson holding a mandolin
Courtesy of Tony Williamson

This year is the 50th anniversary of mandolin player Tony Williamson’s recording career. Throughout the years, he has played with bluegrass legends like Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs and Sam Bush. But in the 1980s, Williamson suffered a series of accidents and injuries, and a surgeon told him he would never play the mandolin again. He went through a long transition that included experimenting with Chinese medicine, a spiritual awakening and trying to look at the world a little differently.

photo of 6 people on the front steps of a house
Courtesy of Stephen Sills

The highest rent prices in the nation can be found in metropolitan areas like Manhattan or San Francisco. So why is it that Greensboro has some of the highest eviction rates in the country? Greensboro is ranked seventh on the list of the top evicting large cities in the U.S., according to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. 

photo of miniature model houses and commercial buildings
Courtesy of Gordon & Cherry

In Steven Burke and Randy Campbell’s Hillsborough home, 1,200 miniature buildings are on display. The extensive collection of American folk art buildings represent everything from movie theatres, to gas stations, to family homes, and they reflect a wide swath of American architecture.

photo of ariel dorfman
Courtesy of Seven Stories Press

Many of writer Ariel Dorfman’s works explore power dynamics in a post-colonial world. His latest novel is no exception. “Darwin’s Ghosts” (Seven Stories Press/2018) centers on a man whose life is changed on his 14th birthday when his father takes a Polaroid picture of him. However, in the photo protagonist Fitzroy Foster’s face is not his own. Instead, his face is that of a stranger.

A picture of an 'I Voted' sticker.
Vox Efx / Flickr

North Carolinians had their say at the polls Tuesday in the 2018 primary election. There were primary challenges in almost every Congressional district, and Democrats running for every legislative seat in the state.

photo of rev. dr. william j. barber II and jonathona wilson-hartgrove
Courtesy of Jonathon Wilson-Hartgrove

At an Easter dinner gathering in 2016, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s teenage son and his grandfather began to butt heads. The topic was the upcoming election and then-candidate Donald Trump. While his conservative, Christian grandfather supported the idea of “Making America Great Again,” his black son questioned whether or not his grandfather understood what that meant. In an attempt to reconcile these worlds Wilson-Hartgrove wrote “Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion” (IVP Books/2018).

photo of hendricks and dimuzio on guitar and keyboard
Courtesy of Arts Access

At the arts celebration “A Series of Fortunate Events,” actors, visual artists, and musicians with disabilities showcase their creations and their talent. But the event goes beyond representing art, it is also a platform for artists to advocate for their own place in the North Carolina arts economy.

refugees and migrants in boat
Felipe Dana / Associated Press

The Trump administration’s new refugee restrictions have drastically cut the rate of refugees arriving in the United States and in North Carolina. In 2016, more than 3,000 refugees were resettled in the state. In 2017 there were fewer than 2,000 – the lowest rate in at least a decade. With the new stricter federal vetting policies in place, North Carolina is set to admit fewer than 900 refugees by the end of 2018.

photo of a drone against a blue sky
Don McCullough / Flickr Creative Commons

Across North Carolina, police departments in urban and rural areas are getting into the drone game. A statewide de facto moratorium on law enforcement drone use ended in 2015. Since then the technology has become more affordable and police departments are purchasing the aerial tools for a range of reasons – from chasing down suspects to showing off to kids at community events.

photo of two adults with autism working with two therapists
Courtesy of Autism Society of NC

One in 57 8-year-old children in North Carolina is diagnosed with autism, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But new reporting from North Carolina Health News and EdNC shows many families around the state are struggling to access specialized treatments that could transform how their children with autism behave.

album cover for the sensational nightingales
Universal Special Products

For more than two decades, Charles Johnson was the lead singer for the Durham-based gospel quartet The Sensational Nightingales. His hit single, “It’s Gonna Rain” spent dozens of weeks on the Billboard gospel charts. The album of the same name reportedly sold one million copies.

Voting sign
Wikipedia Commons

The 2018 midterm election is shaping up to be one of the most important in recent memory, and much of what happens in November will be determined tomorrow in primary elections around the state. There are no statewide races on the ballot, but there are primary challenges in almost every Congressional district, Democrats running for every legislative seat in the state, and many contentious local races for positions like sheriff and county attorney.

headshot of serapio
Courtesy of Luis Carlos Serapio

Luis Carlos Serapio crossed the border from Mexico as an undocumented immigrant in the early 1990s. He was looking for a better life. He moved around, from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Utah, and then to the East Coast. After visiting Asheville for a wedding, he and his first wife fell in love with the city. They soon decided to take a leap of faith and just move there.

photo of rudy giuliani
Carolyn Kaster, File / AP Photo

Rudolph Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York City and now member of President Donald Trump’s legal team, told Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Wednesday that Trump repaid the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump followed up on Twitter the next morning and backed up some of what Giuliani stated adding “money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll (sic) in this transaction.” The repayment claim goes against what Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen have previously said.

headshot of andy fisher
Courtesy of Andy Fisher

When Andy Fisher co-founded the Community Food Security Coalition in 1994, he had a clear goal of advocating for food security. During his 17 years working in conjunction with leaders of the anti-hunger movement, he observed the systems and practices that are holding the movement back.

photo of mimi stillman posing in an evening gown on a city street
Vanessa Briceño

It was like a fairy tale. Renowned flutist Julius Baker was in town and 11-year-old Mimi Stillman got to meet him. Then he asked the question every orchestral musician wants to hear: do you know any Mozart? Of course she knew Mozart. Though Stillman had only been playing flute for a couple of years, she managed to impress one of the best and was launched into the spotlight and eventually had a full-fledged career as a solo flutist.

Henry McCollum, left, spent 30 years, 11 months and seven days on death row. Leon Brown was imprisoned at the age of 15 and spend the first decade in solitary confinement. In 2014 the men were released after DNA evidence implicated another man.
Courtesy of Patrick Megaro

In 1983, an 11-year-old girl was raped and killed in Red Springs, North Carolina. Half brothers Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, teenagers at the time, initially confessed to the crime, but later recanted saying they were coerced. They spent 31 years in prison until DNA from the crime scene proved them innocent.

faded photo of mcbane and mann, smiling and seated on a couch
Courtesy of Eryk Pruitt

For author Eryk Pruitt the podcast “Serial” was more than just a riveting crime drama. It was the type of suspenseful story he aspired to create. After joining forces with journalist Drew Adamek, he found his own gripping crime to explore, and it took place in a location in Durham he passed every day.

book cover for 'murder on shades mountain,' picturing a dirt road
Duke University Press

In 1931, Willie Peterson was arrested for the attack of three white women in Birmingham, Alabama. He did not match the description that the sole survivor of the attack gave police, other than the fact that he was black. He was convicted and sentenced to death.

photo of a brown lagoon, farm buildings in the background
Bob Nichols / USDA

A federal jury awarded more than $50 million in damages to 10 neighbors of a 15,000-head hog operation in Eastern North Carolina. The residents said the stench and noise from the hog farm made living in their rural homes unenjoyable.

illustration of playing cards with the words 'this is love'
Illustration by Julienne Alexander

Four years ago when Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer launched the podcast “Criminal,” their desire was to create a show that they controlled. It turned into one of the most beloved podcasts, according to many best-of lists. More importantly, it set a bar that many other crime-themed shows aspire to. A few years in, Judge and Spohrer put their heads together and thought: now, let’s create a podcast for us. Figuring it gets a bad rap, they decided to chose love as the topic for their next creative endeavor.

headshot of denise kiernan
Treadshots

When the documentary “The Queen of Versailles” was released in 2012, it bragged that the film was following a couple building the largest home in America – 90,000 square feet. Author and journalist Denise Kiernan balked at that notion remembering a childhood trip to Asheville’s Biltmore Estate. At over 170,000 square feet, George Vanderbilt’s home is still the biggest in the country. Fresh off of her New York Times best-seller “The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II” (Touchstone/2013), Kiernan was looking for her next book idea.

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