Lindsay Foster Thomas

Producer, "The State of Things"

Ways to Connect

The construction of an Islamic cultural center in one of Jade City’s least tolerant neighborhoods fuels hostility against the city’s Muslim community. Can superhero Herald MF Jones prevent anger from escalating into violence?

Every October, tens of thousands of people make a pilgrimage to Portobelo, a quiet fishing town in Panama’s Colon Province, to visit El Cristo Negro – the Black Christ. It’s a life-sized figure of Jesus carved from dark mahogany. That powerful symbol, which has been in Portobelo since the 17th century, represents both the proud spirit and spiritual identity of this unique Central American community. Host Frank Stasio talks about the people of Portobelo, the Black Christ figure and the annual festival that celebrates it with Renee Alexander Craft, a writer and assistant professor of communication studies and global studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This show originally aired on October 20, 2011. For a link to the audio, click here.

In 2002, theologian and writer Lauren Winner was feeling blessed to have found what felt like faith’s perfect fit in Christianity. She converted from Judaism and wrote about her spiritual transition in the best-selling memoir “Girl Meets God.” Two years after that book was published, Winner lost her mother to cancer. A few years later, she lost her marriage. She was in fear of losing her faith when she rediscovered her belief in God through civic engagement and community service. Winner’s new book, “Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis” (HarperCollins/2012) is a reflection on that difficult period in her life and an exploration on how to be an engaged Christian in times of personal crisis.

Malik Fraser, the alter ego of superhero Herald M.F. Jones, reveals romantic feelings for a well-read, sad-eyed beauty named Belinda Goodall. But when he discovers the dark secret behind the sadness in her green eyes, can he help her?

A new study about racial differences in academic performance at Duke University is creating controversy – and it isn’t even published yet. Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono and his colleagues reported that African-American students are more likely to change from being math and science majors to programs in the humanities or social sciences at a higher rate than their white counterparts.

Nia Wilson can’t remember a time she wasn’t surrounded by children - from her 7 siblings to the neighborhood kids that took advantage of her parents' open door policy in Norwalk, CT to her time spent as a child caregiver and in training as a pediatric nurse. When she relocated from the North to Durham, NC, Wilson brought her two children and her niece, who she had full custody of. Shortly after, she became involved in Spirit House, a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote social change through art and media. Spirit House’s youth program engages students from Durham Public Schools and educates them about society’s social injustices. But Wilson, who now serves as the organization’s executive director, says she’s the one who learns the most at Spirit House. She joins host Frank Stasio to talk about what the kids at Spirit House have taught her and about some of the creative projects they’re working on, including a new stage production about America’s prison system called “Collective Sun: Reshape the Mo(u)rning”.

Jon Shain

Musician Jon Shain has been hard at work since the release of his last CD, “Times Right Now.” Last summer, his band released a live album with songs recorded at the historic Durham Kress building, and he’s working on a forthcoming studio project of new material.

Heavy rains in Jade City ground superhero Herald M.F. Jones. During the downpour, he meets a new friend named Asphalt and meets up with an old friend from the Jade City Police Department expresses concern for his safety.

A recent Gallup poll reveals that 40% of Americans identify as independent voters. Still, politics center on Republicans and Democrats, the country’s two major parties. With the presidential election just months away, what do unaffiliated voters want? What will it take to have their voices heard? A planned public forum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro aims to tackle those questions and look at the history of African-Americans as political outsiders – or independents.

You can hear influences of some of the best soul artists in singer J Timber’s vocal style, but there was a time when the musician didn’t believe he was cut out for the spotlight. He was content as a drummer and backup singer until family, friends and fans persuaded him to open up and perform. He did and now the Greensboro vocalist is making a name for himself in North Carolina.

Areli Barrera is a 26-year-old graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she still hosts a radio program on the campus station, WXYZ. But this weekend, she will be transformed into La Sirenita de Tiajuana (The Little Mermaid of Tiajuana), the nickname she’ll go by in the ring when she wrestles at Luchadoras 2. That’s an event designed in the tradition of lucha libre, Mexico’s popular freestyle wrestling matches. On Saturday in Durham, Barrera and other amateur female wrestlers will battle it out with breathtaking maneuvers to entertain the audience and to raise awareness about the NC Dream Team, an organization that advocates on behalf of undocumented immigrants.

Nice Talk by The Hot at Nights
The Hot at Nights

Musician Chris Boerner traded his saxophone in to focus on playing the guitar at a young age. Back then, Boerner thought rock ‘n’ roll was his true calling, but after studying classical guitar at Duke University, he turned his attention to jazz. He founded a hip-hop jazz collective in 2004 and the next year, released “Incoming,” his first album as a bandleader. Boerner’s new ensemble is a jazz trio called The Hot at Nights. They recently released a new album called “Nice Talk” and an EP called “Shibuya Session.” The latter is a collaboration with Nicolay Rook, one half of the hip-hop/R&B duo The Foreign Exchange.

This year, the story of Biscuitville, a pair of baseball players and a Grammy-nominated band made the short list of “The State of Things” Managing Editor Lindsay Foster Thomas’ favorite segments of 2011. She joins host Frank Stasio to talk about why she especially loves fast food in North Carolina, athletes who also write books and The Foreign Exchange – the group that will go down in history for telling Stasio he has “swag.”

Even Jade City turns into a holly jolly place in the days leading up to Christmas. The Beef Cooka is quiet and Herald’s best friend, Supreme Intellect, is throwing the neighborhood’s hottest holiday party, but our superhero can’t bring himself to enjoy this time of year. Maybe a visit to his dear Aunt Margaret’s house will lift his spirits…

Supreme Intellect
Supreme Intellect

In the latest installment of our radio drama, The Jade City Pharaoh, Jade City’s city workers rally together in a peaceful demonstration against employee pension cuts…but it’s not peaceful for long when The Beef Cooka’s evil henchmen hit the scene.

In the music of Astanza Project, you will hear influences of Latin, jazz, rock, roots and more. The Greensboro-based band is known for blending cultures to develop their signature fusion sound. The four members join host Frank Stasio to perform live and talk about their forthcoming CD.

WUNC Greensboro Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii joins host Frank Stasio with an update on some headlines in the Triad, including news on Greensboro's new mayor and city council members and what a newly opened school of nanoscience could mean for education and employment opportunities in North Carolina.

John Brown

2011 was a stellar year for bass player John Brown. He had the opportunity to travel the state hosting educational workshops and performing community concerts for jazz lovers. His ensemble, the John Brown Jazz Orchestra, was featured in a documentary called “One Night in Kernersville,” a short film that won the Jury Award at this year’s Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Now Brown and his big band are jazzing up the holidays with a series of concerts that celebrate the music and spirit of the Christmas season. They join host Frank Stasio to share some musical merriment live in the studio.

Inbreeeding is nothing new in the world of insects, but researchers at North Carolina State University have found that when it comes to mating, bedbugs seem to have a genetic advantage over other creepy crawlies. Incest eventually depletes most populations, but the number of bedbugs has somehow managed to increase, even in infestations where forensic tests show evidence of inbreeding.

''Help us, Herald Jones!''
Jade City Pharaoh

Jade City’s hero Herald MF Jones comes to the rescue when an apartment building catches on fire. But was the fire an accident…or the work of The Beef Cooka?

''Help us, Herald Jones!''
Jade City Pharaoh


   Jade City’s hero Herald MF Jones comes to the rescue when an apartment building catches on fire. But was the fire an accident…or the work of The Beef Cooka?

Religion scholar Carl Ernst says he has witnessed how much anxiety the existence of the Qur’an can cause among non-Muslims. Ernst, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, began studying the holy text of Islamic faith in the late 1960s. In 2002, he watched the uproar in the national media over UNC’s decision to make the Qur’an required reading for that year’s incoming freshman class. Ernst says the Qur’an, like any spiritual text, is open to interpretation and he has created a guide to help make the book more accessible.

''That's one bad mutha...''
Jade City Pharaoh

In the pilot episode of the radio drama, “Jade City Pharaoh,” superhero Herald MF Jones’ snack break gets interrupted by the villainous antics of his archnemesis, The Beef Cooka.

Paul Swartzel

Contemporary composer Paul Swartzel certainly draws from the masters of classical music for inspiration. But in addition to Beethoven and Haydn, Swartzel studies commercially successful songs from the 1980s for lessons on how to write great music - and how to descriptively write about music for non-musicians. Host Frank Stasio talks with Swartzel, a graduate student in the Department of Music at Duke University, about how Milli Vanilli and Public Enemy can influence today’s classical composers and the course he teaches at Duke called “I Love the 80s.”

For writer Hillary Jordan, the lessons of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic, “The Scarlet Letter,” are relevant today. In her new book, “When She Woke” (Algonquin/2011), Jordan imagines that the skin tone of convicted criminals can be genetically altered to fit their misdeeds. Petty crimes are punished with yellow pigmentation, sex crimes with blue and criminals convicted of murder – like the book’s protagonist Hannah Payne – are turned bright red. Hannah, a devoutly religious young woman, is being punished for killing her unborn child. Her incarceration is also broadcast on reality TV.