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.

Lanier Falls Cape Fear River, Raven Rock NC
bobistravelling / Flickr - Creative Commons

Last month a chemical compound found in the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) water supply caught the attention of local officials. The contaminant GenX is manufactured by the Chemours Company at its Fayetteville Works plant. It is a replacement for a hazardous ingredient in Teflon.

Penguin Random House

Historian Nancy MacLean stumbled upon the work of James M. Buchanan when she was on the hunt for the ideological roots of the school voucher system. The Nobel Prize-winning economist was at the forefront of a push to popularize libertarianism. 

Outdoor Afro / Outdoor Afro

There is a common misconception that black people do not hike, camp or spend much time in the outdoors. This perception is perpetuated by images featured in nature magazines and fitness Instagram accounts that still predominantly feature white individuals and families. 

Photo: A Massachusetts voting station sign
Katri Niemi / Flickr

State lawmakers are considering another voter ID bill that would be brought to voters as a constitutional amendment. In 2013 lawmakers passed a voter ID measure that was deemed unconstitutional last year by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals . 

Author of 'Borne,' Jeff VanderMeer
Jeff VanderMeer

In Jeff VanderMeer’s highly successful Southern Reach trilogy, characters were cut off from one another, and their stories unfolded against the backdrop of a devastated landscape. In his latest novel “Borne,” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/2017) he highlights how a new cast of characters attempt to make connections with each other.

Cover of 'The Reason You're Alive' by Matthew Quick
Matthew Quick / Harper Collins - 2017

In his new novel “The Reason You’re Alive” (HarperCollins/2017), writer Matthew Quick tells the story of an aging Vietnam veteran grappling with civilian life.

Profile photo of Wendell Tabb outside WUNC Durham studios.
Courtesy Wendell Tabb

Wendell Tabb spent much of his life training for a career as a stage actor. So when an opportunity arose to teach drama at Hillside High School in Durham, he thought the gig would be a detour on his life journey.

Donald Trump Jr.
Richard Drew / AP - 2017

Senate Republican leaders unveiled the newest version of their health care bill intended to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The new bill differs from the Senate’s last attempt in a few significant ways, namely a resurrection of two Obama-era taxes on high-income individuals. 

Woman's hand gesturing 'no'
Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr - Creative Commons

The 1979 North Carolina Supreme Court ruling in State v. Way declared that women cannot legally revoke consent during a sexual encounter. 

Lizzy Ross and Omar Ruiz-Lopez
Violet Bell

Last year Omar Ruiz-Lopez began playing alongside songstress Lizzy Ross. Ruiz-Lopez is a classically trained violinist, viola and cello player who complements her folksy sound. As their collaboration grew, he became more than just an accompanist, and the duo became known as Violet Bell.

The band has since performed about 200 shows together and recently returned from a tour that took them from the Outer Banks to Massachusetts. Their songs reflect the beauty they find all around them and their sense of wonder and gratitude. 

foster care children
Credit U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons

The opioid crisis continues to ravage the United States. Children of family members caught up in the epidemic face a particular set of pressures. One of the markers of that extra pressure is the steady rise in foster care rates around the country. In North Carolina the number of children in the foster care system has risen 28 percent in the past five years and is now at a 10-year high. 

Two eagles flying
Ellen Tinsley / Dreaming Song Photos

Ellen Tinsley is acutely aware of the behavior and patterns of bald eagles in North Carolina. The retired equine veterinarian is a bald eagle monitor for the United States Army Corps of Engineers. She spends most mornings at Jordan Lake tracking the behavior of Petruchio, Kate, Hershey and Godiva – eagles who have nested in the area. 

An image of the book cover for 'The Blood of Emmett Till'
Simon & Schuster

In 1955, a group of white men in the Mississippi Delta kidnapped and murdered a young boy named Emmett Till. Till was 14 years old from and was visiting relatives in Mississippi. News of the tragedy spread as Till’s murder helped spark the modern civil rights movement.

Big Dubya / Flickr - Creative Commons

A federal voter fraud commission’s request for voter data from individual states has prompted concern from voters and politicians. The commission was formed at the behest of President Trump in reaction to claims of widespread voter fraud. In North Carolina the state elections board is facing a wave of calls from voters who want to voice opposition, or even cancel their voter registration in reaction to the federal data request.

Promotional still for the movie, 'Citizen Kane'
Alexander Kahle, RKO Radio Pictures / Wikimedia Commons

For decades, Hollywood has reigned as an industry that offers entertainment for mass audiences.

In his new book “Hollywood Aesthetic: Pleasure in American Cinema” (Oxford University Press/2017), Todd Berliner explores Hollywood as an art form that appeals to a mass audience. From “Citizen Kane” to “Starship Troopers,” filmmakers have used unique styles to construct narratives, ideologies and genres that challenge the industry’s standards.

Patrick Read Johnson directs John Francis Daley through a scene
5-25-77, LLC

Growing up in the small town of Wadsworth, Illinois, Patrick Read Johnson was enthralled, some might say obsessed, with making movies. As a teenager in the 1970s, movies like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Jaws” inspired Johnson to make Super 8 movies with his friends in his garage, using any prop or special effect Johnson could concoct. But during a trip to Hollywood, Johnson’s life changed forever when he saw a rough cut of “Star Wars” in the spring of 1977. Johnson was blown away when the movie hit theaters, and was propelled to continue making movies.

Construction worker.
Naoya Fujii / Flickr - Creative Commons

Nationally the number of people employed in middle-wage jobs rose by 6 percent between 2001 and 2015. But the numbers in North Carolina went in the other direction. 

Cori Vella poses with cupcake
Loni Lyn Price

The new play “Licked Cupcake” grapples with how organized religion influences the way young women learn about sexuality. Through a series of monologues, anecdotes and songs, characters process the formative and sometimes-shaming messages they were told in their youth about purity and sexual identity. 

Steak on a grill.
Mo Riza / Flickr - Creative Commons

When patients began showing up at hospitals with allergic reactions they believed were caused by meat, doctors were quick to dismiss their theories. But patients living in the South who were exposed to a cancer drug containing alpha-gal, a carbohydrate found in beef, pork and lamb, had similar responses. 

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

President Donald Trump meets with world leaders this week at the G-20 summit in Germany. This morning Trump had a highly-anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The meeting comes as questions remain regarding ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia during the presidential election. 

Eddie Wise on the day of his eviction from his family farm.
Courtesy John Biewen

Eddie Wise comes from a family of farmers who worked the land for three generations. He and his wife Dorothy had dreams of raising animals together, so they decided to start their own farm near Whitakers, North Carolina. 

Steph Stewart and Mario Arenz of Blue Cactus
Roxanne Turpen

In their recent self-titled debut album, the duo Steph Stewart and Mario Arnez conjures the classic country sounds of Patsy Cline and Hank Williams. Stewart grew up listening to country icons with her grandfather and has always been fascinated with the songwriting style of country music. With the help of Arnez, the duo infuses wit and personal storytelling into its music. 

Man stands on arid land created from drought
Faixal / Pixabay - Creative Commons

The South is likely to be hit harder by the costs of climate change over the next several decades, according to a new report from the Climate Impact Lab. Researchers studied the impact of past changes in weather patterns and simulated how trends in climate change will affect the U.S. county by county. The report claims the South will see bigger costs because of dying crops, larger energy costs and higher mortality rates. 

Image Couresty of Kerra Bolton

One year ago today black motorist Philando Castile was fatally shot at the hands of a police officer. The aftermath of the incident was captured and broadcast in real-time by his girlfriend and fueled an ongoing conversation about racial tension and police violence in the United States. The event struck a particular chord with Kerra Bolton, a black writer and artist, who had witnessed the impact of police violence firsthand as a teenager.

Child prays at vacation bible school.
Lance Cpl. Joseph Abrego / Dept of Defense

For parents who like to provide concrete answers when their children ask questions, the topics of God, faith and spirituality can be especially tricky. Parents who themselves are not sure what to believe are sometimes at even more of a loss when talking to their children about religion.

Men drinking beer.
Max Pixel / Max Pixel - Creative Commons

Women live longer than men in many countries around the world. In the United States, women outlive men by an average of five years. Scientists have long attributed this divide to genetics and biology, but a physician at Duke University is posing an alternative theory: toxic masculinity. 

Barak Richman
Barak Richman

New York City’s Fifth and Sixth Avenues are home to some of the world’s biggest, richest retailers and financial giants. But on a stretch of 47th Street that connects these two thoroughfares, an ancient barter economy for diamonds still holds sway. The diamond industry is built on family relationships and ethnic networks, and it operates independent of modern legal and financial institutions.

'Lord of Monsters,' written by John Claude Bemis
John Claude Bemis / Disney-Hyperion/ 2017

 

In his “Out of Abaton” series, North Carolina author John Claude Bemis has created a fantastic twist on an ancient Venetian empire. But it is one in which monsters and a once-servantile robot-puppet push the boundaries of reality.

The second book in the series, “Lord of Monsters,” (Disney-Hyperion/ 2017) brings youth into a new, more regal landscape for the character Pinocchio. It also thrusts Pinocchio and other characters into a battle against ancient monsters. 

Public Domain / Wiki Creative Commons

In the 1930s, the federal government started to map out regions deemed financially stable enough to receive mortgage assistance through a process called “redlining.” The areas identified as “too risky” for loans were largely concentrated in minority and low-income neighborhoods. During the same time, the City of Durham implemented tree-planting programs across various neighborhoods.

Elsa Loissel

Bird brains are the size of a nut, or possibly even smaller in some cases. But a plethora of new research shows that despite their small brain size, birds are actually among the most intelligent members of the animal kingdom.

“The Genius of Birds” (Penguin Books/2016) profiles a range of winged-beasts who are expert problem solvers and mappers with their own social networks and cultural traditions. Host Frank Stasio talks with science writer Jennifer Ackerman about her new book.

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