Laura Lee

Managing Editor

Laura Lee is the managing editor of The State of Things. Born and raised in Monroe, North Carolina, Laura returned to the Old North state in 2013 after several years in Washington, DC. She received her B.A. in political science and international studies from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2002 and her J.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law in 2007.

Laura briefly strayed from her Tarheel allegiance in 2011 to obtain a masters degree in journalism from the University of Maryland where she was an Eleanor Merrill Fellow.  Prior to WUNC, Laura worked for NPR on the Washington desk, All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation. She was previously WUNC's assistant news director for talk programming. 

Ways to Connect

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Two local advocacy groups released documents showing the Durham Police Department made payments to informants in criminal matters.

teacher at blackboard
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This week, Cumberland County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg school systems passed measures opposing a new law that eliminates teacher tenure and replaces it with a system that rewards the top 25 percent of teachers. The law addresses the complex and challenging issues of teaching evaluation and teacher pay.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Eric Guckian, senior education advisor to Governor McCrory, and Larry Nilles, an eighth grade social studies teacher and president of Wake North Carolina Association of Educators.

mvongrue via Flickr/Creative Commons

Daniel Vermeer grew up in Iowa with a passion for basketball. When his academic studies took him to Nepal, he discovered an interesting influence of American cable television: local love for the Atlanta Hawks.

"So you can imagine," says Vermeer, "[I'm] in this little hut in Kathmandu, watching TV and an Atlanta Hawks game came on.  With these enormous guys, jumping through the roof, slamming the ball..." 

Flickr user: QuicheIsInsane

  Kurt Cobain, lead singer of the band Nirvana, died 20 years ago at the age of 27. In his short life, the rock icon composed music that many said gave voice to their generation.

Now a new composition by two professional musicians reconfigures Cobain’s gritty voice and sounds into a electroacoustic work. Perfume will be performed this evening at Duke’s Music department.

Dan Vermeer Executive Director of the Center for Energy Development and the Global Environment / Center for Energy Development and the Global Environment


When he graduated from college, Daniel Vermeer did not want a job. He wanted only to wander through Asia and continue learning about world religions. But his adventures led him to some unexpected destinations, including corporate America. He led water sustainability projects for Coca-Cola and advised Fortune 50 companies on their water policies. 

Children of the Horn

This coming Fat Tuesday, the streets of downtown Durham will be filled with the sounds and celebrations of Mardi Gras. The Durham Mardi Gras parades and parties will be accompanied by the sounds of local bands including Children of the Horn. But first, they perform live in studio. Host Frank Stasio talks with band members Wayne Leechford, Bryan McCune, Robo Jones, John Simonetti, Drew Lile and Todd Proctor.

UCFFool on Flickr


Google recently announced nine metro areas under consideration for its latest internet technology: Google Fiber.

A wake county jury says United States Senate candidate Greg Brannon misled investors. How will it affect his race? And Governor McCrory’s shopping trip ends with an employee being fired. Host Frank Stasio talks with Political Junkie Ken Rudin about these issues and other political news around the state.

A federal investigation into Duke Energy’s coal ash spill expanded this week to include more employees of the state’s Department of Energy and Natural Resources. The agency’s head, Secretary John Skvarla, defended their work and their relationship with Duke Energy. Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC reporter Jeff Tiberii about the legal case and on-going debate about the clean-up.


Love can be strange, complicated and even downright bizarre. The portrayals of romance on the silver screen are no exception. Just in time for Valentine's Day, Host Frank Stasio talks with Marsha Gordon, film professor at North Carolina State University and Laura Boyes, film curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art, about unconventional romance in the movies. 

Here are some of their picks and your favorites:

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For many moviegoers, mention of the classic film The Wizard of Oz conjures up images of Dorothy and her little dog Toto skipping along the yellow brick road.  She frolicked with her newfound friends and sang happily of her travel towards the Emerald City.


One of the state’s largest and most successful tech companies is the Cary-based SAS. CEO and co-founder Jim Goodnight says the success of the global business analytics company is rooted in policies that keep employees happy. Benefits like on-site childcare, health clinics and flexible work hours keep SAS at the top of many lists of the best places to work. Host Frank Stasio talks with Goodnight about his work and his workplace philosophy


In the four years since a massive earthquake devastated Haiti, billions of dollars of aid have flowed into the country. But the stream of funding comes with its own complications. Journalist and writer Amy Wilentz has lived, worked and reported on Haiti for more than three decades.

Courtesy of Ken Rudin


Political Junkie Ken Rudin reminds us of the significance of this day in North Carolina political history: February 7, 1984 was the filing deadline for the U.S. Senate seat sought by two Tar Heel State giants: Governor Jim Hunt (D) vs. Senator Jesse Helms (R), who was seeking his second term.  Helms would go on to win a narrow victory in the fall.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Political Junkie Ken Rudin about that epic face-off, Clay Aiken's shift from music to politics and the effects of the farm bill on North Carolina. Today at noon on The State of Things.

As scientists continue to study the effects of global climate change, environmentalists, farmers and researchers look for new solutions to the challenges created by these shifts.

In October 2012, the North Carolina Department of Transportation condemned a Concord property and demolished a vacant building to make way for a new parkway extension. Eleven months later, the DOT requested the court's permission. A federal judge has imposed punitive sanctions for the “blatant disregard” for the law shown by DOT attorneys.  Host Frank Stasio discusses the controversy with Bruce Siceloff, transportation reporter for the News and Observer.

Credit: Perry Deane Young


Journalist and writer Perry Deane Young has covered some of the biggest stories in recent decades. From the civil rights movement to the Vietnam War and from the Moral Majority to Moral Mondays, Young witnessed and documented key moments in American history. Host Frank Stasio talks with the North Carolina native about his life, his experiences and his writing.

The Jade City Pharaoh
Luis Franco /

Jade City Pharaoh was born of the imagination of playwright Howard Craft.  Originally constructed as a community play for the Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern, the concept morphed into a comic book. The State of Things host Frank Stasio saw the stage production and has turned it into a radio drama.

The main character, Herald M.F. Jones, protects the metropolis of Jade City, an American city with a strong resemblance to Durham, North Carolina.  Born and raised in the African-American neighborhood of Concrete Falls, Jones is a mortal with some exceptional abilities.


From May-December romance to a giant ape and a blonde he can hold in the palm of his hand, love stories on the big screen take many forms.

Just in time for Valentine's Day, North Carolina State film professor Marsha Gordon and North Carolina Museum of Art film curator Laura Boyes return to The State of Things to talk with host Frank Stasio about unexpected love in the movies.

Tom Cruise (left) and Jack Nicholson (right)
Official Movie Poster via Wikipedia

For many moviegoers, Jack Nicholson's famous line in A Few Good Men is one of the most memorable courtroom scenes ever.

"You can’t handle the truth! …Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom...  I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it."

Mallarme Chamber Players

The Mallarmé Chamber Players are bringing the North Carolina Historically Informed Performance, or HIP music festival to the Triangle this winter. The festival seeks to expose North Carolinians to the wealth of classical music created right in their backyard. Suzanne Rousso, artistic director; Stephen Jaffe, composer; Stephanie Vial, cellist; Andy Bonner, violinist; Joey McDonnell, violist speak with Host Frank Stasio about the HIP festival and classical music in the Triangle.

The field of contenders for the senate seat held by democrat Kay Hagan continues to grow. North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis leads the GOP primary competitors according to a new poll. And American Idol Clay Aiken considers a congressional bid against 2nd district incumbent Renee Ellmers. Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest campaign news and the upcoming State of the Union address.

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"You can't handle the truth!" For many moviegoers, Jack Nicholson's famous line in A Few Good Men is one of the most memorable courtroom scenes ever. But what other legal dramas from the silver screen stick in viewers minds? And why? 

Tony Geraci


Tony Geraci is best known as "Cafeteria Man." He is on a mission to transform menus at school cafeterias and give students healthier options. He launched a farm-to-school program in Contoocook N.H. Then he went on to make changes in larger school systems in Baltimore and Memphis.

Representative Mike McIntyre announced that he will not seek another term. The blue dog democrat likely faced a difficult battle to retain his seat in the state's 7th district which was redrawn by Republican legislators in 2011. Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the future for conservative democrats and other political topics in the state.