The State of Things

M-F 12 Noon, M-Th 8p, Sat 6a

We bring the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you. We are a live show, and we want to hear from listeners. Call 1-877-962-9862, email sot@wunc.org, or tweet @state_of_things. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Or join our live audience for remote broadcasts from Greensboro's Triad Stage and Raleigh's Museum of Natural Sciences. And you can listen to Political Junkie Ken Rudin Fridays on the program.

Get a daily show update and special news. Subscribe to our podcast on Google Play or iTunes.  

Check out our #BackChannel series.

Image of pills spilling out over money.
TaxRebate.org.uk / Flickr Creative Commons

The biggest healthcare provider in Western North Carolina and the largest insurer in the state have reached a deal over reimbursement rates. 

people marching with confederate flags in Washington, D.C.
Elvert Barnes / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/ye6c21

Alderman Ralph Hamlett wants symbols of hate and racism to be banned from parades in his town of Canton, North Carolina.

Marchers and singers at the Poor People's Campaign, Washington DC. May-June 1968, Jimmy Collier is on the left, & Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick on right.
Smithsonian Folkways / Smithsonian - Folkways - http://s.si.edu/2B1fejh

Music as a form of protest has a long history in the U.S. Activists have used songs to guide countless movements, from the abolition fight in the 1700s to anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and beyond.

child and man playing chess outdoors
Frankie Torres / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/agWs9r

Human beings have been learning long before schoolhouse walls were ever built, bubble tests invented and recess bells rung. So why is there still so much confusion and debate about the purpose of school, the goals of education and the best ways to empower students to succeed in life? 

Still from 'Lady and the Tramp'
Cozinhando Fantasias / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/kELGJv

Animation has come a long way, from the hand-painted drawings of The Walt Disney Company’s 1937 feature film “Snow White” to today’s dazzling computer-generated imagery. 

gavel at courtroom
William Johnson / US Airforce Photo

A new law that took effect last week makes it more difficult for judges to waive fines and fees for people who cannot afford to pay them. Now a judge must issue a 15-day notice to all agencies involved before granting  a waiver. Critics argue this will cause a logistical backlog for the courts and ultimately result in more low-income people going to jail. Proponents say the courts rely on these fees, and the new law will help generate revenue. This law was not directly sponsored by any member of the General Assembly, so it is difficult to distinguish its political supporters.

man in handcuffs
houstondwiphotos / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/nQGa3o

Almost one in 20 people jailed in Mecklenburg County last year were held on failure to pay court fines or fees. Now, a new program supported by the MacArthur Foundation is modeling an evidence-based approach to criminal justice reform that changes the way people are assessed, held and released. 

The founders of the Found Footage Festival, Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett.
Courtesy of Nick Prueher / Joe Pickett (left) and Nick Prueher (right

Friends Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett’s fascination with VHS tapes started in elementary school. The two would scour garage sales and thrift stores for odd and entertaining videos and then head home to host viewing parties for their friends. 

white supremacists
Anthony Crider / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/WvMgaC

In the play “The Millennium Boy,” 17-year-old Johnny Reinhofer is radicalized by an “alt-right” group that declares hateful messages of white supremacy. 

Courtesy of Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Gabrielle Calvocoressi was born with nystagmus, a visual condition where the eyes are constantly in spasm. It took Calvocoressi a while to learn how to walk and balance, so the young child spent a lot of time sitting on the floor, daydreaming and observing the world. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., center, joins Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other GOP lawmakers to talk about the GOP tax plan.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

The U.S. Senate is busy debating its tax overhaul bill. A vote on the measure is expected later today. The bill has moved swiftly to the Senate floor, and Republican leaders say they are confident there are enough votes to pass it. 

man sitting at computer, stressed.
Time Gouw / Pexels commons

The Republican tax overhaul is a $1.5 trillion package that features a wave of tax cuts with the goal of spurring the economy. GOP leaders said the plan would pay for itself, but new analysis out yesterday shows otherwise. 

Courtesy of Professor Tune

Durham rapper Professor Toon has spent years performing music in the city. He has watched the hip-hop scene grow in the Triangle as he has continued to challenge himself as an artist.

The Dan River bank with residual dark grey coal ash.
Steven Alexander / USFWS

Duke Energy argued this week in hearings before the North Carolina Utilities Commission that the cost of cleaning up coal ash spills should be passed on to consumers. 

red wolf and pup
Brooke Gilley, US Forest Service / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/rT5zJf

In 1980 red wolves were declared extinct in the wild, but a special program to preserve the population helped stop the species from dying out. Now U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina is asking the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to terminate the program, and he is not alone in his desire. 

sun beams
fdecomite / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/rbz9L

Near-death experiences are undeniably difficult to study. And yet a passionate few scientists have dedicated their careers to understanding this phenomenon experiencers say creates an immediate and lifelong transformation. 

John Darnielle and Joseph Fink
Jeremy Lange/Nina Subin

Writer Joseph Fink is a big fan of the Durham-based band The Mountain Goats. Fink is the co-creator of hit podcasts like “Welcome to Night Vale” and “Alice Isn’t Dead” and says The Mountain Goats influences his creative process. For his new podcast, Fink wanted to explore the stories behind The Mountain Goats’ music, so he invited bandleader John Darnielle to dissect songs one at a time.

Naval History and Heritage Command

Starting in at least the 1920s, the U.S. Army recruited soldiers to test the effects of dangerous and powerful chemicals. 

Courtesy of Jeffrey Crow

The history of North Carolina goes back centuries, so how have the history books shaped our understanding of the state and its residents? 

geralt / Pixabay Commons

In 2015 the Federal Communications Commission solidified network neutrality rules that prevent internet service providers from blocking, slowing down or interfering with web traffic. Last week FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced a repeal of these rules, which would usher in a new era of the internet. 

Public Domain Pictures / Pixabay Commons

Scientists and researchers from major labs are putting their minds and grant dollars into gene editing tools like CRISPR, which enables humans to modify genetic code. 

Cover of 'Lending Power' by Howard Covington
Courtesy of Howard Covington

When founders Martin Eakes and Bonnie Wright started the Center for Community Self-Help in 1980, they did so with the fundamental belief that low and middle-income homeowners and small business owners would not only be a safe investment, but also a profitable one. 

Laura Pellicer / WUNC

Sijal Nasralla grew up hearing stories about the bucolic hills his father used to roam as a shepherd in Palestine. He also learned early on about efforts his family members had made to preserve access to land they had lived on for hundreds of years.

Jason Thrasher

John T. Edge is a James Beard award-winning writer and author of the new book “The Potlikker Papers” (Penguin Press/ 2017). Edge grew up in rural Georgia eating biscuits and drinking sweet tea. He spent his career amassing stories of Southern food and the people who cook it.

Steven Diaz of Mountain Lions
Courtesy of Steven Diaz

Singer-songwriter Steven Diaz allows the natural world to both sooth and inspire him. Under the name Mountain Lions, Diaz creates intimate and introspective songs that reflect familiar people and places. In his debut EP “Calm Wind, Starry Night,” Diaz explores motifs of nature and personal identity. 

Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert Brazzell / Wikimedia Commons -2017

Two-thirds of states used chronic absenteeism as a metric for school evaluation in recently submitted federal plans.

Actress Rose McGowan stands with Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo Campaign.
Paul Sancya / AP Photo

The number of women coming forward with accounts of sexual assault and harassment continues to grow.  The recent surge in allegations has put toxic masculinity in the spotlight, but many questions remain, such as: are black and white accusers are treated differently.

RuPaul Charles accepts the award for outstanding host for a reality or reality-competition program for "RuPaul's Drag Race" during night two of the Television Academy's 2016 Creative Arts Emmy Awards in 2016.
Phil McCarten / AP Photo

In art and pop culture effeminate men are cast in very different light. Some are revered, like artist Liberace or drag queen and TV star RuPaul Andre Charles. But other times, effeminate men are seen as simultaneously fascinating and grotesque.

When Connsuela Bautista got to school for her first morning class at Southeastern Randolph Middle School, she says she was immediately called to the principal's office. When she arrived, she saw sheriff’s deputies waiting for her. 

Women walking down a street.
Isaiah Rice

Isaiah Rice spent decades working as a beverage delivery man in his native city of Asheville, but around town he often went by another name: the picture man.

Pages