Will Michaels

Producer, "The State of Things"

Will Michaels is a fan of news, sound and story. He started as an intern at WUNC when he was a student at the University of North Carolina. As a part of his internship, he worked for a semester on the daily national show, The Story with Dick Gordon. Will concentrated on radio while at college, studying under veteran NPR reporter Adam Hochberg. He began as a reporter for Carolina Connection, UNC's radio news magazine, and then became an anchor and managing editor for the program in 2009, when it was named the best college radio news program in the country by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Will came back to WUNC in 2010 as the producer for Morning Edition for a couple of years, rising before the sun to help morning host Eric Hodge gather and present the news. In 2014, he produced WUNC's My Teacher series, part of the North Carolina Teacher Project. He is now a producer for The State of Things.

Ways to Connect

Perils And Promise, Rural Education, Vance Public Schools
Leoneda Inge

Rural areas of North Carolina are not seeing the benefits of the economic recovery that are apparent in places like the Triangle, Triad or Charlotte.

The same is true for rural school districts. Their dropout rates are significantly higher than their urban counterparts, and their surrounding communities have higher rates of unemployment. 

WUNC recently examined one rural district, Vance County Schools, to understand how it is preparing students for higher education and the changing workforce. 

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The North Carolina Republican party leadership is in a state of disarray as the central committee casts a vote of no-confidence in the chairman, Hasan Harnett.

The leader has been at odds with other members of the party over the upcoming convention. Party leaders allege Harnett violated eight internal rules. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC Capitol Bureau chief Jeff Tiberii about the latest.

There are signs that transgender people could serve openly in the United States military within the next year.
The U.S. Army / Flickr Creative Commons

A report from the Department of Defense says more service members are being diagnosed with eating disorders.

The stresses of combat and the military's physical requirements have driven some troops to anorexic and bulimic behaviors. Some of them say the military offers little help, and many do not report their conditions. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with KUOW military reporter Patricia Murphy about her reporting as part of the American Homefront Project.

John Shelton Reed did not think of himself as a southerner until his classmates at MIT pointed it out.

The Tennessee native was going to school in the northeast just as the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s took off. It was the beginning of a career dedicated to the study of southern culture.

He came to it as a kind of outsider in his own home but quickly returned to his roots, helped create the Center for the Study of the American South at UNC-Chapel Hill, and has become one of the preeminent voices on the "correct" way to make North Carolina barbecue. 

An image of a person typing on a keyboard
Wikipedia Creative Commons / Public Domain

State agencies in North Carolina agree that emails sent through private accounts are subject to public records law if they have to do with public business. But they do not agree on how to retrieve those records. 

In most cases, it is left up to the employee as to whether an email sent through a private account qualifies as a public record. The subject got nationwide attention last year when it was revealed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a private email account to conduct public service.

Wikipedia Commons/ Hkeely

 In an era where many consumers get their news from Twitter feeds and Facebook posts, how do complex stories of corruption, crime and power get told? And what are the challenges facing today’s shrinking cohort of investigative reporters? 

Image of football players
Creative Commons/ stnorbert

The NCAA reports college athletes suffer more than 10,000 concussions a year, but perhaps more alarming is the fact that about three-quarters of these cases are not reported to coaches or team doctors.

Two public health experts at UNC-Greensboro have received grants from the Department of Defense and NCAA to help encourage these players report their injuries and change the culture of concussions. 

Image of Meredith Sawyer, early childhood educator in Greensboro who earns less than a living wage
Duke Center for Documentary Studies

An estimated 20 percent of North Carolinians earn less than a "living wage."

Advocates refer to that term as the household income needed to cover housing, food, child care, healthcare, transportation, taxes and other necessities.

A new interactive video exhibit from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University tells the stories of these workers and explores the options for new policies that might help them. 

A picture of lights on a police car.
Alejandro Mejía Greene/JubiloHaku / Flickr Creative Commons

The Wake County District Attorney says the preliminary autopsy report for Akiel Denkins shows that he was shot four times; once in the chest, once in each arm, and once in the right shoulder. 

Denkins, who is black, was shot and killed by Raleigh Police Officer D.C. Twiddy, who is white, on Monday. Police say Twiddy pursued Denkins on foot, they struggled, and Denkins drew a gun before Twiddy fired his own weapon. 

The reports conflict with initial statements from eyewitnesses, which claimed that police shot Denkins several times in the back as he was running away.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is known as the primary carrier of the Zika virus.
U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Wake County Health Department confirmed another case of the Zika virus this week.

It is the fifth confirmed case in North Carolina since the outbreak in Brazil. But scientists here say differences in mosquito species, climate and lifestyle make it much more difficult for the virus to spread. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Michael Reiskind, entomology professor at North Carolina State University, about why he thinks a Zika outbreak in North Carolina is not likely.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrest.
Wikimedia Commons

Riverside high school senior Wildin David Guillen Acosta was headed to school on a typical morning in January when Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers detained him and took him into custody.

Acosta is being held in a facility in Georgia, awaiting deportation to his native Honduras. Acosta says he came to the United States to escape the ultimatum of a violent gang: join us or we will kill you.

John Feinstein's new book 'The Legends Club' looks at the friendship between Triangle basketball legends Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Valvano.
Christine Bauch Feinstein

Sports rivalries around the globe are fierce. But perhaps none is as intense as the basketball rivalries between North Carolina State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The longtime coaches of each of those institutions have legendary status for many in the Tar Heel State.

Image of police tape
Tony Webster / Flickr Creative Commons

Residents of southeast Raleigh are raising questions about the circumstances around a Raleigh officer fatally shooting 24-year-old Akiel Denkins.

Eyewitnesses say the white officer shot Denkins as he fled on foot. Police say the officer was trying to serve a warrant related to drug charges, and found a firearm near Denkins' body. Community members gathered last night for a march and vigil.  

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC reporter Jorge Valencia about the shooting and community response.

Image of voting booths
eyspahn / Flickr Creative Commons

The results from Super Tuesday are in and Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are leading the pack. Early voting begins tomorrow in North Carolina and the primary is less than two weeks away.

Do Tuesday's results strengthen or weaken the state's impact on the race for the White House? 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Michael Bitzer, political science professor at Catawba College, about what the results from Super Tuesday mean for North Carolina.

ATHD
Dave DeWitt

Updated February 25 at 7:00 a.m.: Strong winds damaged 10 buildings in Granville County yesterday afternoon and overnight. Trees fell on some homes in Northern Durham County. A roof was blown off a mobile home in Wayne County.

Photo: A camera pinned on a police uniform
cops.usdoj.gov

Police body cameras are slowly catching on in North Carolina as a way to hold both police and civilians accountable for their actions. But body cameras also raise questions about the privacy of the people they record.

Should that footage be public record? And will body cameras be the answer for communities that have lost trust in their police force?

Image of the agave plant, used in tequila production
Amante Darmanin / Flickr Creative Commons

In the early 2000s, a shortage of the agave plant used to make tequila prompted producers to partner with Mexican farmers in an effort to harvest more crops. But those agreements heavily favored tequila companies and have had lasting impacts on small farms. 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield has said it might remove some of its health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act.
Jed Record / Flickr Creative Commons

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina CEO Brad Wilson recently told the News and Observer that the company might have to consider pulling some of its health insurance policies offered under the Affordable Care Act.

Wilson cited financial losses of more than $100 million in the first year of ACA coverage.

Image of black hole jets.Scientists have proven Einstein's theory of relativity by capturing the sound of gravitational waves from black holes collding.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Scientists with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) recently announced that they had detected elusive gravitational waves.

The phenomenon was predicted by Albert Einstein in his infamous theory of relativity, but was never proven until now. The breakthrough findings prove that space and time are indeed interconnected, and opens up a new way of observing the universe and its origins.

The death of conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has sparked a political battle in Washington.
Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is being remembered as a conservative justice known for his sharp dissents from the bench.

Scalia died Saturday at the age of 79. And his death almost immediately started a political battle in Washington. Senate Republican leaders say they will refuse to vote on a nominee to replace Scalia while President Obama is still in office.

Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC
Howard Arnoff / Flickr

The Rev. Clementa Pinckney preached peace and reconciliation as the pastor of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

He and eight others were killed in last year's attack on the church which sparked national conversations about race and violence. Today, his friends and family are carrying on his teachings. 

Sarah Razak / Flickr Creative Commons

Water contamination in Flint, Mich., is perhaps the most prominent minority health crisis in America right now. It is affecting a majority African-American city, and raising questions about whether state leaders disproportionately distributed resources.

This type of intersection between public health and social justice is the theme of this year's Minority Health Conference at UNC-Chapel Hill. 

New York Times reporter Adam Liptak discusses his career covering the Supreme Court of the United States.
Supermac1961 / Flickr Creative Commons

It takes a certain kind of reporter to cover the Supreme Court of the United States. Interpreting the Constitution is one thing, and interpreting complicated legal decisions is another. 

Adam Liptak of The New York Times has made a career out of dissecting SCOTUS, including the decades of legal battles over same-sex marriage and the court's place in the judicial systems of other developed countries. 

A drawing of a sick tree.
Julienne Alexander / ThisIsCriminal.com

An iconic oak tree is the subject of this week's Criminal podcast, produced at WUNC. The program tells the stories of people who have done wrong, been wronged or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.

John Giedraitis was the city forester in Austin, Texas in 1989, when a beloved live oak tree there got sick.

"I proposed to my wife underneath the tree, because it's a big, strong, important tree that symbolizes timelessness, endurance, strength and that sort of stuff," Giedraitis says.

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