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.

Ted Richardson/Winston-Salem Journal

Darryl Hunt was exonerated in 2004 after serving almost 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. In the years that followed his release, Hunt became known as a champion for racial justice. His story was featured in the widely-viewed HBO documentary “The Trials of Darryl Hunt.”

Chris Pizzello / AP Images

In the new Netflix series “Dear White People,” conversations about racism on a college campus take center stage. The story features members of the Black Student Union at a fictional Ivy League college called Winchester University, where the main character hosts a socially-conscious radio show. The series has received praise for featuring nuanced stories of students of color, and backlash by some who consider the show racist.

Photo: The U.S. Supreme Court building
Sno Shuu / Flickr Creative Commons

The Supreme Court announced this morning that it will not review North Carolina’s controversial 2013 voter ID law. 

Justin Ashley

Justin Ashley was a star teacher at McAlpine Elementary School in Charlotte. In 2013 he won state awards naming him “Teacher of the Year” in history and social studies. But his personal life was falling apart. Ashley says he had $100 in his bank account and a worsening prescription drug addiction.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

The White House is reeling after the president fired James Comey as FBI director earlier this week. The Trump administration said Comey tarnished the FBI’s reputation by mishandling its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. However, many Democrats suspect a cover-up and are calling for a special prosecutor into the investigation of Trump’s campaign aides’ ties to Russia.

Courtesy Sonorous Road Productions

Raleigh Little Theatre’s “Women And War” series aims to bring audiences into the minds and experiences of women in the military community. From Vietnam-era nurses who volunteered with the Red Cross, to modern-day spouses dealing with repeated deployments and a fighter pilot who finds herself grounded by a pregnancy, the plays highlight narratives of war that often go unheard.

Courtesy of The Artist

Durham-based musician Kamara Thomas knew she wanted to be an artist at a young age. But she grew up in a Christian fundamentalist household that frowned upon artistic expression.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The North Carolina Senate released their $22.9 billion spending plan earlier this week. The budget has significant implications for the state’s education system. It shifts how teacher raises are allocated and proposes a $600 million increase in education spending.

Flickr Creative Commons

Mission Health, a hospital system in Western North Carolina, announced this week that it would close its maternity ward at Angel Hospital in Franklin, North Carolina. The hospital serves a mostly low-income, rural population. Mission Health said it cut the hospital’s labor and delivery services to remain solvent in the face of low reimbursement rates.

arianta / Flickr

A well-executed remake film can bring a beloved story to a fresh audience. But when a remake is done wrong, it can leave faithful viewers cringing.

For the next Movies On The Radio, The State of Things wants to know what are the best and worst remake films? 

Hector Emanuel, special to ProPublica

Case Farms chicken company produces nearly one billion pounds of meat each year. It supplies food for customers including Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Boar’s Head, and the U.S. government. Yet a new report shows it is a business built on the backs of the world’s most vulnerable immigrants. And its factories are some of the most dangerous workplaces in America.

Courtesy Monica Berra/ Soul City

Like many utopian societies, Soul City was a dream that was doomed to fail. It was the brainchild of civil rights leader Floyd McKissick who wanted to build a haven of racial equality for nearly 20,000 people. Construction for the project began in the Piedmont region of North Carolina in the 1970s, but constant bureaucratic battles led to its demise.

Southerners on New Ground

Many families will not be able to celebrate Mother’s Day together this weekend due to barriers in the criminal justice system. In the United States, nearly 80 percent of women in jail are mothers, and most of those women are also single parents, according to a 2016 report from the Vera Institute of Justice. 

Naomi Prioleau
Elizabeth Baier / WUNC

Burgeoning interest from foreign architects is sparking hope among High Point furniture manufacturers that they could find a new market overseas. A group of architects from India recently made their first visit to the area. And in Guilford County, one in 20 adults struggles with basic literacy tasks like reading a story or a map.

University of South Carolina Press

Theories abound regarding why famed writer Ernest Hemingway shot and killed himself in Idaho in 1961. Some claim he suffered from bipolar disorder or that he had depression. But in the new book “Hemingway’s Brain” (University of South Carolina Press/2017), psychiatrist Andrew Farah offers a new theory.

Gate City Divas / www.gatecitydivas.com

The Gate City Divas are a female-led blues group made up of seasoned singer-songwriters from the Triad. The group had an unconventional start; they were awarded a grant to record an album of original songs by Greensboro-based female performers. After completing the project and releasing the album “Goin’ To Town,” they decided to form a full-fledged band.

Journalist Mark Binker died April 29, 2017.
Courtesy N.C. Insider

 

Last week’s jam-packed and dramatic legislative schedule would have been a welcome distraction this week for political reporters in the General Assembly. They mourned the loss of veteran political reporter Mark Binker, an irreplaceable friend and colleague, who passed away suddenly at the age of 43.

Terrestrial Podcast / kuow.org

Many people are aware of the way human choices are changing the planet. But how is the planet shaping the big and small choices people make everyday? The new podcast “Terrestrial” from NPR member station KUOW traces the decisions people make based on the environment, like a couple’s decision not to have children because of rising global population, or the exploration of composting as an eco-friendly way of processing dead bodies.

Michael Zirkle

Loud drum beats and trumpet calls are prominent features of many war-themed musical works. They symbolize the disruption and angst present in times of conflict. On the other hand, lyrical melodies and poetic vocals are also commonly used to evoke themes of reconciliation and hope. The North Carolina Master Chorale brings this range of sounds to the stage Friday, May 12 in a special performance entitled “War and Peace.

Duke Energy / Flickr Creative Commons

Last year Duke Energy acquired Piedmont Natural Gas for $4.9 billion. The purchase is a marker of the energy industry’s shift toward using natural gas to produce electricity. Supporters of natural gas say it is cheaper and burns cleaner than coal. But critics argue that methane leaks during storage and transportation, which can accelerate global warming.

Courtesy of Kathryn Clarke

Holidays like Mother’s Day are often marked by cards, bouquets, or a heartfelt gift. But for the past three years, local writers have been gathering together to celebrate the occasion through storytelling. “Listen To Your Mother” features live readings about every aspect of motherhood, from the messy to the mundane.

Sarah Sneeden / Viking/Penguin Publishing

For nearly 20 years, Ann B. Ross has written about the lives of the outspoken Miss Julia and her band of friends. They live in the fictional town of Abbotsville.

The newest novel in the Miss Julia mystery series takes the book’s heroine to the coast where a hurricane bring both chaos and surprising treasures. Ross lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and her town has provided endless inspiration for the characters and content of her work.

GERRY BROOME / ASSOCIATED PRESS

A rush to execute death row inmates in Arkansas led to national concern about the use of the death penalty. In North Carolina, juries continue to send people to death row. They sentenced 16 people to death in the last ten years. But in that time there has not been a single execution. Some are questioning why the country has the death penalty if it is not being used. Others advocate for abolishing it altogether. They say it does not deliver the justice it intended, costs too much, is not administered fairly, and could amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

Abingdon Press/2017

In 1947, dozens of white men in Greenville, South Carolina kidnapped and murdered a young black man named Willie Earle. Several of the men later confessed to the crime and said it was retaliation after a black man allegedly stabbed a white cab driver. However, after a trial, nobody was convicted for the murder.

Liz Bell

Many communities in eastern North Carolina are still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. The storm hit the East Coast last October, and in Edgecombe County hundreds of students were displaced after flooding nearly destroyed Princeville Elementary School. Now the Edgecombe County school board must decide on next steps for rebuilding the school.

David Hoffman

Earl Scruggs is considered one of the most influential banjo players of all time. He made a name for himself performing with Bill Monroe’s band on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in the mid-1940s. Scruggs went on to compose seminal records like “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and “The Ballad of Jed Clampett.”

Phillip Lewis

In the novel “The Barrowfields” (Hogarth/2017) a character named Henry grows up revering his literary father, a man who ensconced the family in a strange house on a hillside in western North Carolina. But his father’s dark unraveling pushes Henry away.

He abandons the sister and mother he had promised to protect and vows to stay away from his gloomy mountain hometown forever. But the ties of family and home prove stronger than Henry’s will to escape them both.

McGuire's Miracle The Documentary

Alexander Julian is credited with the iconic revamp of Tar Heel sports uniforms. But his journey to creating the legendary Carolina blue argyle was a long time in the making. Julian drew up his first designs when he was a child, and he started working the sales floor at his father Maurice Julian’s haberdashery when he was in his teens.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

 

This Saturday marks 100 days in power for the Trump administration. The Trump team is touting the president’s accomplishments, which include job creation efforts and national security measures. A significant number of these measures were instituted through executive orders or memorandums, a maneuver for which Republicans criticized former President Obama.

Man Bites Dog Theatre

What do we choose to remember as we grow older? How do the stories we tell ourselves shape our own identity? The play “Marjorie Prime” explores these questions through the story of an 85-year-old woman dealing with memory loss. Marjorie finds companionship in artificial intelligence modeled after a younger version of her deceased husband.

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