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 tomlin overlooking newsroom floor with many cublicles
Courtesy of Robyn Tomlin

Robyn Tomlin oversees eight newspapers across two states. In January, she was appointed the first regional McClatchy editor for the Carolinas. But her relationship with newspapers started far from a bustling newsroom. As a 19-year-old mom running a daycare inside her apartment, Tomlin became an avid reader of The News & Observer. The paper was her lifeline to a world outside of dirty diapers and wailing children.

flag of the eastern band of cherokee indians
Wikimedia Commons

In early April, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council member Tommye Saunooke called for Smoky Mountain News reporter Holly Kays to be blocked from entering the Tribal Council Chambers. A couple days later, Saunooke issued a motion to ban all non-native media from Tribal Council Chambers. This effectively made the tribe-funded paper The Cherokee One Feather the only media organization allowed to sit inside the chambers.

still from the movie, both men lounging near a pool in the desert
Courtesy of Tim Kirkiman

Twenty years ago openly-gay North Carolina filmmaker Tim Kirkman produced a narrative documentary in the style of an open-letter to former Sen. Jesse Helms. The Emmy-nominated “Dear Jesse,” featured a wide range of interviews, serving to bring humanity to gay voices in the state. Kirkman returns to the North Carolina to screen his latest work “Lazy Eye,” a movie reuniting two long-lost lovers for a weekend at Joshua Tree. It explores the angst of mid-life through the drama of a tangled relationship.

black and white photo of jackson and best singing together
Courtesy of A Different Thread

Alicia Best and Robert Jackson met busking on the streets of Ireland. Jackson mistook Best’s ukulele for a fiddle, but what happened next was the spark that created their musical collaboration. The two sang a little ditty called “Yellow Taxi” and quickly knew they were destined to collaborate.

still photo from the film, picturing welles seated at a table and coulouris gesturing with a newspaper
Public Domain

Some films get nothing but love from the critics. They garner five stars, win awards, and spark endless think pieces. But do audiences actually like them? On Movies on the Radio host Frank Stasio speaks with film experts Marsha Gordon, a film professor at North Carolina State University, and Laura Boyes, film curator for the North Carolina Museum of Art, about listener picks for most overrated films.

a picture of young Joan Crawford
From The Last of Mrs. Cheyney trailer

While we're celebrating mothers this month, why not honor the most memorable moms in cinema history?  Who can forget Faye Dunaway's portrayal of Joan Crawford as an abusive tyrant in "Mommie Dearest." 

posed photo of rashon nelson and donte robinson sitting on a sofa, the wall behind them hold many diplomas etc.
Jacqueline Larma / AP Photo

The arrest of two 23-year-old black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks earlier this month has sparked a national conversation about implicit bias. Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were waiting for a business meeting when the employees asked them to leave. Soon after, police entered the store, handcuffed them and took them to jail.

photo of a barbed wire fence
Pxhere / Public Domain

Most state prison employees charged with crimes while on duty get off with little punishment, according to a new review from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. From 2013-2017, 57 employees were charged, and only four got prison time. 60 percent of criminal charges were dismissed.

headshot of Josh Stein, NC flag in the background
Courtesy of NCDOJ

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has signed onto several federal lawsuits since taking office in January 2017. He joined 14 other Democratic attorneys general in a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s plans to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA. Earlier this month Stein signed on to a multi-state lawsuit to block a question about citizenship on the upcoming 2020 Census. A week later, he and 15 other Democratic attorneys general filed a motion to intervene in a Texas lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act.

book cover for 'the peacemakers: leadership lessons from twentieth-century statesmanship'
Courtesy of Sanford School of Public Policy

There were breakthroughs on several seemingly impossible conflicts in the 20th century: the Cold War came to a close; apartheid ended in South Africa; relations warmed between the United States and China; and the violence between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland quieted. Can 21st century leaders learn from those behind these peacemaking efforts from the previous 100 years? Bruce Jentleson tackled this question in his new book, “The Peacemakers: Leadership Lessons From Twentieth-Century Statesmanship” (W. W. Norton and Company/2018). The book profiles 13 leaders, including negotiators, activists, and trailblazers.

photo of 5 actors in nascar-type coveralls
Courtesy of Keith Harris

Fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” know him as Dr. Harlan Carson, but long before that R. Keith Harris was making a name for himself as an actor in films like “Big Fish” and “A Walk in the Woods.” Raised in Reidsville, North Carolina, Harris tried his hand at living in Los Angeles, but came back home with $40 in his pocket and very little to show for his five year investment. For most that would have been the end of the Hollywood dream. But for Harris, his acting opportunities have continued to expand.

photo of Nikki Haley speaking at the United Nations
Julie Jacobson / AP Photo

This week marked another rift in the Trump administration, this time over imposing new sanctions on Russia. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the president would announce those new sanctions during her appearance on Sunday talk shows. On Tuesday, a top White House official negated that comment and blamed Haley’s statement about sanctions on “momentary confusion.” Haley shot back, saying “I don’t get confused.”

text of the sign: 'Freedom Hill: Community established here by freed blacks in 1865. Incorporated as Princeville in 1885.'
ncdcr.gov

The concept began with eight mayors from historically black towns who joined academics to preserve history, problem solve and build for the future. The 2015 project was so successful, it has expanded into the multidisciplinary Black Communities conference. Hosted by the Institute for African American Research and NCGrowth, organizer Karla Slocum is professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Institute of African American Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and organizer Mark Little is Director of NCGrowth and Executive Director at UNC Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise.

the five members of kooley high posing in a parking lot
Brett Villena

North Carolina hip-hop group Kooley High is out with their new album “Never Come Down.” The acclaimed Kendrick Lamar-collaborator Patrick Douthit, better known as 9th Wonder, is executive producer for the album and one of the tracks includes Grammy-nominated artist Rapsody who was also a founding member of the group. Rapsody has since branched off for her own solo career, but she is still close with the group that helped her get her start.

Deana Martorella Orellana's mother, Laurel Martorella (left), and Orellana's sister, Robin Jewell, hold her Marine Corps photo. Orellana killed herself a year after leaving the Marines. She had agreed to undergo counseling the day she died.
Jay Price / American Homefront

Female veterans are nearly 2 1/2 times more likely to commit suicide than civilian women, according to data from the Veterans Administration Suicide Prevention Program. The same data show male veterans are 18 percent more likely to kill themselves than civilian men. Why are female veterans struggling? The advocacy group Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) released six recommendations on the mental health needs of women service members and veterans based on a poll of veterans in the civilian world and women on active duty.

book cover for 'dreams that can save your life,' picturing a dreaming woman and a hooded monk in the background
Findhorn Press

Dr. Larry Burk has spent much of his life practicing traditional medicine as a radiologist. But his search for solutions to his patients’ problems led him on an unexpected journey outside of traditional medicine. A graduate of Duke University, Burk co-founded the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine. He is certified in acupuncture, hypnosis, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and is committed to holistic medicine.

photo of a garden area, with several spires made of earthy material, rising about 10-15 feet into the air
Courtesy of Clearscapes

The new “Oberlin Rising” monument in Raleigh commemorates one of the first African-American communities in the city. After the Civil War, Southern land was divided into parcels and sold to former slaves, and Raleigh’s Oberlin Village was made up of several of these parcels. It was established in 1866 as one of the first freedmen communities in the city. Oberlin’s history is largely overlooked, and development has nearly erased the community from the landscape.

Author Mary Shelley’s life holds enduring intrigue. Born in 1797, Shelley was raised by famed intellectuals and trained to think in ways that stretched far beyond most women in her time, and she was undoubtedly a rebel. In her teens, Shelley took up a lover, writer Percy Shelley, who would later become her husband. Their escapades with literary friends fueled Mary Shelley’s work.

photo of a man speaking at a rally
Sam DeGrave / Asheville Citizen Times

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, conducted raids across North Carolina over the past week. ICE agents took several dozen people into custody in the Triangle area and arrested about a dozen people in Western North Carolina, according to a ICE spokesman Bryan Cox. The mayors of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham all released statements condemning the raids in their communities. An immigrant advocate group in Asheville held a rally on Saturday that drew hundreds of people downtown.

many small photos of plastic objects such as a pizza table or small bag, each photographed next to a ruler
Robin Frohardt

Mandatory recycling is law in some places around the United States, which makes people feel comfortable about their part in saving the planet. But what happens to single-use plastics, like take out containers, grocery bags, and Starbucks cup caps? They end up in the oceans, among other places.

To honor Frederick Douglass’ 200th birthday, the nonprofit Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives set forth to print and distribute one million copies of Douglass’ historic slave narrative. They initially had no idea how they would generate public interest. Then Donald Trump was quoted saying, “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.”  Suddenly Ken Morris, a descendant of Douglass and co-founder of the nonprofit, was fielding non-stop calls from the press, and his history lesson for the president went viral.

headshot of pierce freelon
Mark Maya Photography

Pierce Freelon is known to many in the Triangle for his ambitious projects and constant stream of new ideas.

If he is not performing onstage with his band The Beast, teaching about the intersection of politics and hip-hop, or heading a rap cypher in downtown Durham, he is likely leading workshops at Blackspace: a digital makerspace that offers black and brown youth the opportunity to create multimedia projects that reflect their identities.

photo of tammy hooper in the blue ridge public radio station
Amanda Magnus

In late February, leaked bodycam footage of a white Asheville police officer beating a black pedestrian went viral, and the city is still reeling. The footage captured an incident that took place Aug. 24, 2017 when former Asheville Police Officer Chris Hickman confronted city resident Johnnie Jermaine Rush over alleged jaywalking and trespassing. Footage shows Hickman beat, choked, punched and stunned Rush.

photo of joy harjo
Karen Kuehn

Critics call Joy Harjo “the first lady of American Indian poetry.” But Harjo is more than a poet. She is also an author, musician and playwright. She is a native of Oklahoma and a member of the Mvskoke (Muscogee) Nation.

photo of leeda 'lyric' jones playing guitar onstage
Courtesy of Leeda 'Lyric' Jones

Leeda “Lyric” Jones honed her skills as a writer, singer and performer busking on the streets of downtown Asheville. At first hesitant to play for strangers, she quickly realized her original lyrics and soulful style helped her forge connections with those who needed it the most.

photo of asheville and the surrounding mountains at dusk
Michael Tracey/Public Domain

Asheville city police face potential budget cuts a month after body camera footage of an officer beating a black pedestrian was leaked to the Asheville Citizen-Times. The beating prompted outrage and led to the arrest of the former officer who beat the pedestrian and the firing of City Manager Gary Jackson. Blue Ridge Public Radio News Director Matt Bush speaks with host Frank Stasio about the latest updates from the story.

photo of a young man wearing a varsity jacket with the letters 'mdtmt' on the back
Courtesy of Keynon Lake

Many know Bennie Lake as one of the original Harlem Globetrotters who traveled the world entertaining audiences with their comedy and athleticism. But for his son Keynon, Bennie was a role model of what a man should be: an engaged citizen with a commitment to helping young people through his career as a social worker.

photo of the airbnb website, with pictures of rooms for rent
www.airbnb.com/a/Asheville

The Asheville City Council voted to severely restrict tourist rentals in Asheville earlier this year. The new rules state that rentals that had city permits before the vote can stay in business.

photo of vegetables displayed at a farmers market
USDA

The Trump administration wants to see a 20 percent cut over 10 years to SNAP, the food stamp program that helps feed 42 million Americans each year. Funding for SNAP is provided through the Federal Farm Bill, which will soon be under debate in Washington. The current bill is set to expire this fall.

close up photo of people exchanging rings during a wedding ceremony
Pixabay/Creative Commons

There was a time during slavery when black women could not legally marry. Yet, throughout history the single black woman has been vilified.

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