The State of Things

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Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

Senate Republicans released their plan to roll back the Affordable Care Act this week. The measure was drafted in secret and comes after the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own version of a health bill last month. The bill is expected to come to the Senate floor next week.


Picture of Margaret Maron
Bob Witchger / Margart Maron

In 1981, Margaret Maron published a mystery novel about NYPD homicide detective Sigrid Harald and her investigation of a poisoning. More than 35 years and 31 titles later, Maron felt she had one more story to tell before retiring from novel writing.


Loamlands

Kym Register and Will Hackney are Loamlands, a folk-rock band whose often dark lyrics focus on local stories like urban development in Durham and overlooked queer history. The title track off their newest album, “Sweet High Rise,” is a direct reflection on watching the One City Center on Main Street in Durham climbs upward, forever changing the city skyline. Register’s thoughtful lyrics are supported and sometimes played off against contrasting layers of Hackney’s arrangements.


Soldier training with firearm
Edward Johnson / Flickr - Creative Commons

We often think of the battlefield as a place of chaos, where the explosive sounds of gunfire ring out over commands. But the technology of warfare is changing and so is the sound.


Cover of 'Bohemian South: Creating Countercultures, from Poe to Punk.'
UNC Press

When it comes to bohemian art scenes and creative subcultures, the South has often been overshadowed – or sometimes even dismissed – in favor of metropolitan areas like New York or San Francisco. But a new book seeks to highlight the creative thinkers and diverse art scenes that influenced culture in the South, as well as those that permeated into the art, literary, and food scenes in northern states.


Cover of 'The Whole Way Home' by Sarah Creech
William Morrow/2017 / William Morrow/2017

Over the years, country music has seen iconic women like Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn become legends in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Nevertheless, country music remains a boy’s club for many artists. In her new novel “The Whole Way Home” (William Morrow/2017), writer Sarah Creech tells the story of one woman’s road to country music stardom.


 Gal Gadot arrives at the world premiere of "Wonder Woman" in Los Angeles.
Jordan Strauss/Invision / AP - 2017

Superheroes have captured the American imagination since the 1930s. Characters including Superman, Batman and Spiderman represented men of strength and moral fiber who inspired as they fought the forces of evil. It was an easy jump to the silver screen, where today, multiple superhero films are released every year, blowing up box office records as often as they do the bad guys.


House and Senate Republicans detailed parts of their compromise spending plan on Monday, June 19, 2017.
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

Yesterday evening, the North Carolina Senate and House leaders reached an agreement over how to spend and raise state funds. The compromise deal lays out a 3.3 percent increase in teacher pay for the coming year, and raises pay for most other state employees by $1,000. 


Cover of 'Be Free Or Die,' written by Cate Lineberry
St. Martin's Press - 2017 / St. Martin's Press - 2017

 In May 1862, Robert Smalls became a Union hero overnight when he stole a Confederate steamer from the Charleston harbor. Smalls had been enslaved his whole life and decided to free himself and his family by stealing the Planter and piloting it to the Union fleet outside Charleston, South Carolina. 


A plate of Soul Food
Laylah Amatullah Barrayn / Byron Hurt

Soul food has been a culinary tradition for centuries. While it remains an important source of community for many African-Americans, the way certain soul foods are prepared can increase chances of cancer and other health issues. In his documentary “Soul Food Junkies” (2012), filmmaker Byron Hurt examines his family’s history with soul food and the impact of the cuisine’s traditions.


Photo of Tom Barrack, real estate mogul
Evan Vucci / Associated Press

Thomas Barrack is a real estate mogul and President Donald Trump’s good friend. He built a housing empire by swooping in and purchasing foreclosed homes during the recession.

Photo of Becky Holmes
Becky Holmes

 

Becky Holmes grew up eating the bread and processed foods her family could get from food pantries. They struggled with obesity, mental illness and other ailments that made Becky realize what you eat matters. She vowed to break the cycle of poverty and be the one to give back.  


Newspaper, image enhanced to highlight word, 'truth'
PDPics / Pixabay, Creative Commons

Most fact-checkers aim to stay out of politics. But the way in which partisan news sites use fact-checking is a different story. A study from the Duke Reporter’s Lab says there is a partisan divide over how fact-checking is referenced in liberal and conservative news sites. 

Brett Williams as Kate Monster and Aaron Boles as Princeton
Areon Mobasher​ / Avenue Q

“Everyone’s a little bit racist,” according to the characters in the musical “Avenue Q.” The humorous show stars humans and puppets who are grappling with the realities of being imperfect adults in an imperfect world. It involves drinking, harsh language and nude puppets. Raleigh Little Theatre brings the show to the stage with a performance featuring a local cast and original puppets. 

Artist Kate Rhudy
Kendall Bailey / Kate Rhudy

Raleigh-based singer-songwriter Kate Rhudy picked up a violin when she was just a kid. She spent her childhood at fiddler’s conventions and regularly played folk music at home with her family. Now she has channeled her reflections on relationships, romance, and life on the road in her debut album “Rock N’ Roll Ain’t For Me.” 

There Goes The Sun

Jun 15, 2017
This image shows how the Sun would look at the extreme ultraviolet wavelength end of the spectrum.
Solar Dynamic Observatory, NASA / NASA

This August communities across the United States will witness a total solar eclipse for the first time almost 100 years. This event is both a visual spectacle for sky watchers and a significant scientific event. 

Photo of Dr. Charmaine Royal
Charmaine Royal / North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

With the rise of a competitive market for personal gene testing, the tool is becoming more available and affordable to the public. People can now swab their cheek, send the sample off to a lab, and wait patiently for a private company with a massive gene database to tell them where in the world their genes are from. But what do these tests reveal about personal identity and what do they imply about race? 

Photo of author, David Gessner
Debi Lorenc / David Gessner

Today millions of people play Ultimate Frisbee. But in the 1980s, when David Gessner first picked up a frisbee, the sport was still relatively unknown.

Cape Fear River, NC, at Raven Rock Park
Blipperman / Wikimedia Commons

A chemical compound found in the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) water supply is garnering the attention of local officials. The contaminant GenX is manufactured by the Chemours Company at its Fayetteville Works plant. GenX is a replacement for a hazardous ingredient in Teflon. GenX is a relatively new compound and has yet to be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Little data exists about the chemical’s health effects. Host Frank Stasio talks with Vince Winkel, reporter for WHQR in Wilmington, and Larry Cahoon, professor of biology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, about the effects of GenX and how officials are responding to the contaminants in the water supply. 

Picture of author, John Grisham
Billy Hunt / Grisham Publicity

 

John Grisham is a masterful and prolific storyteller best known for his courtroom dramas. But in his latest book, “Camino Island” (Doubleday/2017), Grisham breaks from the courtroom and brings readers into the underworld of rare and stolen books. 

Photo of author, Richard Russo
Elena Ceibert / Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo started thinking a lot more about the trajectory of his life once he turned 50. In his new book, his characters are going through a similar process.   

Man holding hand gun
Peretz Partensky / Flickr - Creative Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed with a lower court ruling stating that 28 legislative districts in North Carolina are gerrymandered along racial lines. A three-judge panel is now contemplating the next steps, including when and how the state can rectify these unconstitutional districts.

Cover of 'Guantanamo Diary' by Mohamedou Ould Slahi
Little Brown-2015 / Little Brown-2015

Mohamedou Ould Slahi is an innocent man who spent 14 years detained and tortured in Guantanamo Bay.

Cover of 'No Bull'
Ron Morris / Baseball America-2017

The Durham Bulls are one of the most well-known teams in minor league baseball, in part because of the hit movie “Bull Durham.” But the team was a success on the field and in the stands before the film.

Image of Lisa Hightown-Weidman and her family
Courtesy of Lisa Hightow-Weidman

Lisa Hightow-Weidman grew up with her nose always in a book. She majored in English in college and had aspirations of becoming a writer.

the.myrmldon / Flickr/Creative Commons

Any military veteran who commits a crime must do the time. But veterans who are not U.S. citizens face a special sentence: deportation. Even after serving their sentence, they may be kicked out of the country they served. Some find their way to a makeshift shelter and support center in Tijuana, Mexico that was set up by another deported veteran.

Picture of Nina Riggs
Toni Tronu

Nina Riggs was not surprised when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. She knew the disease ran in her family, and she’d spent years watching her mother battle cancer. Once Riggs’ cancer turned metastatic and incurable, she decided to reflect through writing.

Shana Tucker poses with her cello
Lei Rivera Photography

For cellist and singer-songwriter Shana Tucker, the last two years have been a whirlwind. She has been busy promoting her first album "Shine" which received widespread recognition for its original songwriting and distinctive sounds. Tucker recently left her job performing with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas to pursue new opportunities in her independent career.

Jordan Green / Triad City Beat

Triad City Beat Senior Editor Jordan Green spent a year investigating housing ownership in lower income neighborhoods of High Point, North Carolina.

Host Frank Stasio speaks with Green about the racial lines of poverty in lower income neighborhoods, and how nearly more than 80 years of racial economic housing policies has limited access to loans and squashed opportunities for upward mobility for many African-Americans in High Point. 

Courtesy Rob Dunn

The banana is always in season and always available at the grocery store. A new book explores how the prevalence of the popular fruit is a model for the dangers of a food system that is increasingly dependent on fewer food staples.

“Never Out Of Season” (Little, Brown, and Company/2017) by biologist Rob Dunn, a professor in the department of applied ecology at North Carolina State University, walks readers through the precarious corporate food system and explains how diversity is crucial to crop survival.

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