Rebecca Martinez

Morning Producer

Rebecca Martinez produces WUNC’s broadcast of Morning Edition, and occasionally fills in as host.

Before coming to North Carolina, Rebecca was a reporter and host at Wyoming Public Radio, where she created the “Upstarts” entrepreneur profile series and reported on environmental and cultural issues. She won a PRNDI award for soft feature reporting in 2012 and has edited and produced several PRNDI award-winning stories and episodes of “Open Spaces.”

Rebecca has reported on agriculture and community issues at The News Leader in Staunton, VA. She spent two years cutting tape, booking interviews and running scripts at NPR’s Washington, DC headquarters. As an intern at Team Group Media in DC, she was charged with ordering stage blood and vintage furniture for a documentary that aired on A&E.

A New Jersey native, Rebecca is a graduate of James Madison University’s School of Media Arts and Design. She plays roller derby. Yes, really.

Ways To Connect

A picture of running tap water.
malla_mi / Flickr

Raleigh's Public Utilities Department wants the City Council to consider raising water rates to cover infrastructure upgrades.

But even though the area's population is growing, the city is not getting more revenue through water use. Carman says conservation minded citizens using more efficient appliances have cut household water use almost in half.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory
Wikipedia

The storm has passed, and Governor Pat McCrory has lifted the State of Emergency issued  earlier this week.

Last night, he thanked North Carolinians for staying off the roads yesterday. But he warned this week's winter weather isn't over.

The National Weather Service forecasts record lows tonight and tomorrow night.

"It's literally getting down to zero degrees and we could be in some very dangerous situations, so I do ask all counties to reassess their shelter needs, not because of the snow situation, but because of the cold weather situation," McCrory says.

A picture of shooting victims Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha.
Yousef Abu-Salha / facebook.com

The FBI announced last night that it will open its own inquiry into the Chapel Hill shootings this week that left three young people dead.  

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt told WUNC's Eric Hodge that he's grateful for the agency's help. He says it could be instrumental in determining whether the suspect, Craig Stephen Hicks, committed a hate crime.

"The motives of this individual are so foreign to all reasonable and peace-loving people. Its very difficult for any of us to understand how anyone could be motivated to behave in this way over any circumstance."

'Our Three Winners' Facebook page

Forty-six-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder for the killings of Deah Barakat, a second-year student in the UNC School of Dentistry and his wife, Yusor, who had planned to begin her dental studies at UNC in the fall. Yusor's sister, Razan, a student at NC State University, was also killed. We will continue to update this story as information becomes available.

Updated Monday, February 23, 10:15 a.m.

AtlantaMuslim.com has created a map of vigils and gatherings related to the shootings and the hashtag #OurThreeWinners

Updated Thursday, February 19 10:30 a.m.

President Obama includes the Chapel Hill shootings in an address at the White House during a summit on violent extremist. Here's a video of the full address:

Updated Thursday, February 19 7:00 a.m.

Much of the discussion about the motive behind the Chapel Hill shooting is whether it was a hate crime. Many in the Muslim community and on social media say it is, but police have not. Jorge Valencia filed this report today about the decision the police face, and the intricacies of a legal hate crime designation.

Updated Monday February 16 5:10 p.m.

A grand jury has indicted Craig Stephen Hicks in the murder of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, reports Jorge Valencia. Hicks turned himself into authorities last week, just hours after the shooting of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha and Razan Abu Salha. Now a grand jury believes there's enough evidence to pursue a felony case against Hicks. He's charged with first-degree murder and discharging a firearm into a dwelling. Chapel Hill police are still investigating and say Hicks may have been motivated by a parking dispute. Family and advocates around the world say Hicks was acting out of a bias against Muslims. 

Updated Monday February 16 10:50 a.m.

Qatar students and community hold solidarity walk for Chapel Hill victims. The march was Sunday and began at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University.

Read more about this march

Hear Phoebe Judge's conversation with a BBC news analyst about the Qatar march

Update Friday February 13 3 p.m.

The White House issued a statement by the President:

"Yesterday, the FBI opened an inquiry into the brutal and outrageous murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  In addition to the ongoing investigation by local authorities, the FBI is taking steps to determine whether federal laws were violated.  No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.  Michelle and I offer our condolences to the victims’ loved ones.  As we saw with the overwhelming presence at the funeral of these young Americans, we are all one American family.  Whenever anyone is taken from us before their time, we remember how they lived their lives – and the words of one of the victims should inspire the way we live ours."

“Growing up in America has been such a blessing,” Yusor said recently.  “It doesn’t matter where you come from.  There’s so many different people from so many different places, of different backgrounds and religions – but here, we’re all one.”

Thursday evening, the FBI announced it is looking into the murders. In a statement, the FBI said it has opened a "parallel preliminary inquiry". They're looking to determine if federal laws were violated. Agents will assist local police to process evidence from the triple-homicide.

Update Thursday February 12 2:58 p.m.

Frank Stasio joined Dr. Omid Safi, director of Duke University's Islamic Studies Center to talk about the events on the nationally syndicated program, The Takeaway. Listen to the audio here.

"If these acts happen in your community, then they are a part of your community, they are a part of your legacy." - Dr. Omid Safi

Update Thursday February 12 11:48 a.m.

The Islamic Association of Raleigh will lead funeral prayers for the three shooting victims today. The funeral prayer will follow the midday prayer at 1:35. NC State University will host a vigil at the Brickyard tonight at 6.

Update Thursday February 12 11:13 a.m.

Update Thursday February 12 10:49 a.m.

One of the victims of the shooting, Yusor Abu-Salha, came to the StoryCorps Mobile Booth when it visited Durham, NC last summer.  >> Listen

Update 8:51 a.m. Thursday Feb 12

Hundreds of people gathered at UNC Chapel Hill last night to remember the three Muslims killed in a nearby shooting, and to support their families.

Farris Barakat is the older brother of victim Deah Barakat. He spoke of the three at the vigil last night. He asked the big crowd to live in their legacy.

"That you share the good that you know of them, and take the message that my mom wanted to make public and 'do not fight fire with fire," Barakat said.

>>WUNC's Jorge Valencia and Reema Khrais both attended the event. Here are their reports.

Update Wednesday February 11 8:44 p.m.

Update Wednesday February 11 8:11 p.m.

"You can't see where the crowd ends" at the vigil to honor the three slain students, reports Jorge Valencia.

Update Wednesday February 11 6:00 p.m.

There is a vigil this evening at 6:30 p.m. at the UNC "Pit." Prior to the vigil, at 6 p.m., a prayer service will be held in the Great Hall of the Carolina Union. Parking will be available in the Bell Tower lot.

Update Wednesday February 11 5:31 p.m.

Nada Salem was best friends with the two young women who died. The 21-year-old Muslim woman told reporter Reema Khrais that she strongly believes the crime was motivated by hate.

Salem points to something that happened a few months ago. She had gone over to the couple's house for dinner.

After she went home, her friend Yusor texted to say that their neighbor, Hicks, had come by, complaining that that young people had been "really loud and disrespectful."

And then, Yusor texted, Hicks "pointed to his gun and his pocket and he said 'I don't want this to happen again.'"

Salem had plans to attend UNC School of Dentistry with Yusor. She says not too long ago the couple gave her her first Carolina Dentistry sweater. The two women wanted to wear the sweaters to school at the same time.

"So that we can be matching and we can tell everyone we got in together; and two days ago she texted me again with [the sweater] picture saying that she can't wait for us to start again…together at dental school," says Salem. "It's like a daze for me, personally, I just don't want to believe it."

Black Hawk helicopters land on training ranges during an air-assault, live-fire training exercise on Fort Bragg, N.C.
U.S. Army

The U.S. Army anticipates major cuts to brigade combat teams, which sets up the country's largest military base for a big hit. Now, Fort Bragg is considering what recommendations to make when downsizing. And they're opening the process up to  public input.

"At the end of the day, our responsibility is to make sure we have trained and prepared soldiers ready to go out the door, regardless of what decisions that might be made higher than here at Fort Bragg," says base spokesman Ben Abel.

Fort Bragg could stand to lose 16,000 jobs.

gloved hands holding blood packet and needle
Fotos GOVBA / Flickr/Creative Commons

Are you about to have a medical procedure? Have you chosen a provider yet? Before you do, you might consider taking a look at what the procedure will cost. Blue Cross-Blue Shield of North Carolina now has an easy online tool  to help you do just that.

We used the tool to search for a variety of common procedures. The user can enter a town or zip code, and the number of miles s/he is willing to travel.

Protesters crowd the capitol for a Moral Mondays protest.
Matthew Lenard

A report from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks North Carolina at the bottom nationally for labor union membership. 1.9 percent of workers in the state were in unions last year. That's down from 3 percent.

That doesn't surprise James Andrews, the president of the North Carolina AFL-CIO.

Andrews says North Carolina is a "right to work" state which doesn't give unions much clout, so they don't invest much organizing energy or money here.

A picture of a blood pressure cuff.
Medisave UK / Flickr

Doctors often start treating patients for high cholesterol after age 55. But new research from Duke University shows each previous decade of high cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease 39 percent.

Bio-statistician Michael Pencina is a lead author of the report.

“Higher level of cholesterol in the 30s and 40s, still leads to increased risk of cardiovascular disease at age 55.”

An artist rendering of the ATT bridge over I-40.
City of Durham

That pedestrian and bike bridge over I-40 near the Streets at Southpoint Mall has made a world of difference to the users of the American Tobacco Trail. That’s according to a before-and-after study by N.C. State University’s Institute for Transportation Research and Education.

Program manager Sarah O’Brien says from spring 2013 through spring 2014, the number of trips on the trail rose by 133 percent.

Varsity Theatre marquis
The Varsity Theatre

Update Monday 11:44 a.m.:

The Varsity Theatre has successfully made their goal to buy a new digital projector, and they still have 26 days to go in their Kickstarter campaign #GoDigitalOrGoDark. The building houses two theaters, but to try to keep the goal attainable, organizers asked for enough money to convert one to digital. Any additional funds raised in the final days of the campaign will go toward updating the second, larger theater.

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