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

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.

As technology advances, certain jobs will be lost to machines and automation in the future. Some fast food restaurants are already using more self-serve kiosks instead of cashiers.
Beau Giles / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina is home to a growing number of startup companies that are trying to stay ahead of today's constant need for innovation.

The upside of that innovation is business opportunity. Cities and states across this region are redirecting investments to try and claim the title of Silicon Valley of the South. 

Robert Lawson / North Carolina Central University

Elvira Green's prolific career as an opera singer catapulted her from the choir room at her church in Greensboro to the chambers of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

She was one of the few African-American women to break into a permanent spot at the Met during the 1970s, and her success as a mezzo-soprano has taken her all over the world.

She performed her signature role as Maria in the opera "Porgy and Bess." 

This month's edition of 'Movies on the Radio' looks at movies about food or movies with food scenes.
Eric McGregor / Flickr Creative Commons

Chefs are fond of saying "we eat with our eyes," but that phrase takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to movies about food.

Films like the classic "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" or Stanley Tucci's "Big Night" have had stomachs rumbling for decades. But more recent movies like the animated "Ratatouille" or Jon Favreau's "Chef" have also been material for aspiring chefs and foodies. 

National Weather Service / NOAA

Updated 6:53 p.m.

Meteorologists say another line of precipitation will add a little more ice and freezing rain to the wintry mix tonight.

The National Weather Service says the heaviest ice accumulation overnight will stretch along a line across central North Carolina from Moore County in the Sandhills to Granville County along the Virginia border. Within that range are Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham Counties. The forecast says there could be another quarter-inch's worth of ice by morning.

Val Kerry / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama has repeatedly called for the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but this month marks 14 years since the first detainees landed on Cuban shores.

Several detainees have participated in hunger strikes in protest of their imprisonment. A federal judge has ordered the release of videos showing guards force-feeding detainees but the government has until Friday to appeal the ruling.

Host Frank Stasio talks with VICE News reporter Jason Leopold about the latest.

Image of US Capitol
ttarasiuk / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama gave his final State of the Union address last night. He outlined his vision for the coming year and detailed what he sees as the biggest challenges for the nation moving forward.

Host Frank Stasio gets a recap and analysis from Geoff Bennett, Washington reporter for Time Warner Cable News, and Political Junkie Ken Rudin.

An image of the Greensboro city skyline
Turboknowledge / Wiki creative commons

The Triad region was a case study for many of North Carolina's top news stories in 2015. Greensboro is part of the lawsuit against the latest round of redistricting in the state. The merger between Reynolds American Inc. and the Lorillard Tobacco Company rocked the local economy. Many of the effects of the 2015 events will carry into the new year. 

The debate over gun control continues after President Obama's executive action this week designed to curb gun violence.
Peretz Partensky / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama issued an executive action this week designed to curb gun violence. The president said this country's routine mass shootings compelled him to act.

Republican members of Congress swiftly responded with promises to defend Americans' constitutional right to bear arms. But it's not yet clear whether the president's action will change the culture of gun ownership in the United States or where it fits into the national conversation about gun laws. 

A picture of a coal ash pond.
Waterkeeper Alliance

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality says Duke Energy will have to excavate most of its coal ash pits in North Carolina.

A new report says 20 pits have to be cleaned up rather than covered, but environmental groups think that number should be higher and point to an earlier draft report that identified 27 pits for excavation. 

There are mixed reviews over the North Carolina Department of Transportation's new recommendations for bicycle safety.
Daniel Oines / Flickr Creative Commons

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is getting mixed reviews on its new recommendations for bicycle safety rules.

Cyclists’ groups support a proposal that would require cars to give them more room when passing, but they oppose another that would restrict them to one side of the lane.

North Carolina NAACP

The Chapel Hill NAACP is holding a prayer service in honor of Maleah Williams, the 1-year-old who was shot on Christmas Day, and died of her injuries.

Veteran journalist Chuck Lewis says investigative journalism has declined over the years as newsrooms shrink and costs of longer, in-depth reporting grow.
Roger H. Goun / Flickr Creative Commons

Note: This is a rebroadcast from earlier this year.

Chuck Lewis has had a long career as an investigative journalist. He has worked for national news shows, including CBS News' "60 Minutes," and he helped to create the Center for Public Integrity. 

But in the decades since he started digging for the truth, the reporting industry has suffered a serious decline in investigative reporting.

multiple choice test
Alberto G. / Flickr Creative Commons

This is a rebroadcast of a show that aired earlier this year.

College athletics programs are under a lot of pressure to make money for their schools. That means, among other things, keeping players academically eligible.

Jeanmarie Schubach

As the new year approaches, “The State of Things” takes a moment to reflect on the highlights of 2015 with the program’s producers.

Some of producer Will Michaels’ favorite segments include conversations with behavioral economist Dan Ariely and U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). 

He also chose segments with Dudley Flood, the man who helped to desegregate every one of the state’s public schools and the story of Robert Brown who was a human bridge between corporate America and the civil rights movement. 

Movies on the Radio
Keith Weston / WUNC

For the next "Movies on the Radio" show, The State of Things wants to know about your favorite movie in which food is one of the leading characters.

From Stanley Tucci's "Big Night" to the animated "Ratatouille" or the classic "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," these are movies that make your stomach rumble.

Send an email to sot@wunc.org with your favorite food movie, and you could be a part of our next Movies on the Radio program.

Margaret Spellings, former U.S. Secretary of Education under George W. Bush, has been tabbed as the next UNC system president.
LBJ Foundation / Flickr Creative Commons

The controversial hiring of Margaret Spellings as the new UNC system president has received national attention for its political implications.

Some professors say her background as Secretary of Education under the George W. Bush administration is a signal of more divestment in higher education.

But some of Spellings' former colleagues say she is just what the UNC system needs to connect with a Republican legislature.

John Williams is fond of saying that he does not have problem children, but children with problems.

Williams is the principal of Phoenix Academy High School in Chapel Hill, an alternative school that has no school resource officers.

In the last three years, Phoenix Academy has become a model high school for other alternative institutions in North Carolina.

Image of wood pellets, which are causing an environmental controversy in North Carolina. Though the energy source is carbon neutral in theory, that's not always true in practice.
Andrew_Writer / Flickr Creative Commons

The wood pellet industry is booming in North Carolina, thanks in part to high demand from Europe. Power plants burn the wood product to create energy, but wood pellet companies are cutting down trees at a higher rate than anticipated, raising questions about whether the practice really is carbon neutral.

NC A&T

Harold Martin is the first former student of North Carolina A&T State University to lead his alma mater.

During Martin's tenure, the school gained the distinction as one of the top universities for land grant scholarships in the country and third in the UNC system in sponsored research funding.

Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC)
United States Government

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) broke ranks with his Republican colleagues to vote against a proposal that would restrict the country's intake of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Jones said he would not vote for a measure that provides any funding for the program that allows those refugees to resettle in the United States.

A drawing of a bank bag and money before a Texas flag.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

Bank robbery is an American criminal tradition, with heists laying the scene for some of Hollywood's most exciting movies.

In this week's Criminal podcast, host Phoebe Judge talks with Clay Tumey, a Houston man who became a real-life bank robber. That's the subject of this week's episode of Criminal, a podcast recorded at WUNC.

Clay Tumey had always been fascinated by bank robber: For him, it was a romantic, exciting crime. His friend Audrey Fernandez recalls Tumey chatting about plans to rob a bank, even as a teenager.

Concertina wire surrounding a prison
Kate Ter Harr / Flickr Creative Commons

Researchers and advocates refer to the school-to-prison pipeline as a combination of laws and policies that push students out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system.

But educators point to the underlying issues of race, class and gender as other contributors to the process.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Javonte Carver, a student at Durham Technical Community College, about his experience in Durham Public Schools and the broad issues that connect to the school-to-prison pipeline. 

The von Trapps
Ben Moon

Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and August von Trapp are descendants of the family made famous by the beloved musical, "The Sound of Music."

Their grandfather, Werner von Trapp, taught them Austrian folk songs as children, and it was during their childhood that they realized their voices blended perfectly in classical choral music. Today, with their legacy in mind, The von Trapps have created their own version of folk music with a touch of indie rock.

Blue Ridge Mountains
Christopher Sessums / Flickr Creative Commons

Duke Energy has scrapped a proposal to build new transmission lines in western North Carolina.

The decision comes after environmental groups raised concerns about the plans for 45 miles worth of towers from Asheville to South Carolina. The controversy attracted more than 9,000 public comments online.

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