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.  Have a story pitch?

Check out our #BackChannel series.

Radio Shangri-La

Feb 22, 2011

Journalist Lisa Napoli was burnt out. She was tired of living in Los Angeles, tired of working the overnight shift for Marketplace Radio and tired of feeling like she didn't have enough of what she wanted in life. Then she met a handsome stranger at a party who pointed her in the direction of Bhutan, the tiny Himalayan hamlet famous for being remote and blissful. There, success is measured, not in Gross National Product, but in Gross National Happiness. Napoli arrived in Bhutan to help set up the first non-government owned radio station when the king peacefully abdicated the throne and the country transitioned into a constitutional monarchy. Her new book, "Radio Shangri-La" (Crown/2011) documents her journey to Bhutan and happiness, Bhutan's journey to democracy and the journey of a friend who left Bhutan for America only to find out that happiness was back at home. Napoli joins host Frank Stasio to talk about her travels and being a reporter in a place with no bad news.

Meet Ping Fu

Feb 21, 2011

Growing up in China, Ping Fu watched soldiers murder two of her teachers, lost her parents to re-education camps and suffered rape for trying to rescue her sister from drowning. She survived her childhood only to be imprisoned during college for her research into China's history of infanticide. She was deported and made her way to the United States where she became the creator and CEO of Geomagic, a 3-D software company based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. Fu's technology is used by NASA, NASCAR and many others. 

The 1920s-era Murphey School in Orange County sat abandoned for years until Jay Miller, a philanthropist with a soft spot for historic properties, bought it and restored it. Now the school serves as an incubator space for small nonprofits associated with Miller’sShared Visions Project, while the auditorium serves as a community performance space. On Saturday night, Triangle area musicians and writers will gather to perform an old-time radio variety show in the school’s auditorium to raise money for local organizations. Among those participating will be accordion player Jay Cartwright.

Archie Randolph Ammons, known as "A.R." to his legions of devoted readers, was an award-winning poet who would have celebrated his 85th birthday today. He was born in Whiteville, North Carolina to a large family who farmed for their subsistence, sang in church and took in oddballs and strays. Ammons went on to serve in the Navy, attend Wake Forest University, and teach elementary school before joining the faculty of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. As a poet, he was honored for his work with two National Book Awards, a Library of Congress Prize for Poetry, a Frost Medal and a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, among many other prizes.

His poetic journey is actually many journeys from poems about rural North Carolina life to poems about science and engineering. And his story is actually many stories, from his early days on the farm to his later days in the rarefied world of poetic distinction.

As part of the occasional series, “North Carolina Literary Lights,” host Frank Stasio examines the life and work of A.R. Ammons with Alex Albright, a poet and an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at East Carolina University and the editor of several volumes of poetry including "The North Carolina Poems" by A.R. Ammons (Broadstone Press/2010). Also joining the conversation is Roger Gilbert, a professor of English at Cornell University who is currently working on a critical biography of Ammons.

Writer Ian Fleming created a British secret agent named James Bond in 1952. The character became a cultural phenomenon that continues to kill bad guys and bed beautiful women in books and on-screen. Chapel Hill resident Jeffery Deaver is the latest writer to take up the saga of “007.” His first Bond book, "Carte Blanche", is due out in the United States this summer. Frank Stasio will talk to Deaver about his plans for the suave spy.

Deadly Spin

Feb 17, 2011

Wendell Potter, former head of corporate communications for Humana and CIGNA, two major health insurers, has testified before Congress that the insurance business model fails most consumers. Potter is the author of a new book, “Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans”. He joins host Frank Stasio to talk about health reform and being a health insurance industry whistleblower.

Of the 600 million people who know how to play chess worldwide, Phiona Mutesi is one of the best. The 14-year-old Ugandan phenom recently competed in the Chess Olympiad, an international tournament that pits players against each other in strategic competition. A short time ago, Mutesi had never even heard of the game.

Chris Hondros - http://www.bagnewsnotes.com

Last week's toppling of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has drawn the attentions of the world to the unrest in the Middle East. As we wonder what will happen in the wake of the 30-year Mubarak regime, host Frank Stasio talks with experts, expatriates and observers about the possibilities.

When it comes to science, the public doesn't know what to think. Andrew Binder, a researcher at North Carolina State University, conducted a study on public opinion surveys of science. He found that people may say that a field of science, like nanotechnology, is too risky, but when asked specifics, their attitudes are often more favorable than they first appeared.

Jimmy Williams

The works of printmaker Chris Williams and photographerJimmy Williams offer two disparate examples of how music permeates visual art. Both artists are featured in a new exhibit called "Listenings," sponsored by the City of Raleigh Arts Commission. Host Frank Stasio talks with Jimmy Williams about how photographing blues musicians helps him see the world in a different way, and with Chris Williams about how the posters he creates for rock bands and events help reach listeners via their eyes.

Restrepo

Feb 15, 2011
scene from Restrepo
http://restrepothemovie.com/

Photojournalist Tim Hetherington wants you to experience war, and he put himself in harm’s way to do it. Hetherington went to one of the most dangerous outposts in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley and filmed 15 soldiers as they engaged in combat over the course of a year. The footage became an award-winning documentary called "Restrepo."

person
www.nccomedyarts.com

For more than 30 years, stand-up comedian Emo Philips has been entertaining audiences with his hilarious one-liners, unique fashion sense and child-like persona. The funny man brings his signature brand of wicked humor – one that’s influenced Jim Carrey, Demetri Martin and Mitch Hedberg – to the 10th annual North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival this week and stops by the studio to yuk it up with host Frank Stasio.

Nathan Garrett grew up in Durham, North Carolina during the 1930s where he witnessed economic prosperity in the city’s African-American neighborhoods as racial segregation spawned Black entrepreneurship. As an adult, Garrett, a descendant of slaves and slave owners, joined the Civil Rights Movement and helped integrate Durham’s institutions and businesses, in particular the movie theater.

Robert Griffin
Robert Griffin

Pianist Robert Griffin makes social commentary and sets it to music. He’s taken on corporate irresponsibility, corrupt government, genetically engineered foods and 24-hour cable news networks in his jazzy compositions. Griffin’s latest CD is called “Ain’t My Kind of Strange.” He joins host Frank Stasio to talk about his music and play a few songs live in the studio.

An eclectic mix of art pieces come together in Chapel Hill in the exhibition"Local Histories: The Ground We Walk On." Building on the idea that "place can not be global," more than 50 artists from across the United States created works about communities around the world. The exhibit includes artists’ perspectives on a UFO hunter in Puerto Rico, the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, and Michael Jordan’s childhood home. Host Frank Stasio talks with Elin O'Hara Slavick, curator of the exhibition, and Cici Stevens, a local artist with a piece in the show.

Durham Central Market
Durham Central Market

Durham Central Market, a community grocery store cooperative, lets local investors build social and financial capital in the construction of a downtown supermarket. Host Frank Stasio speaks with Project Manager Don Moffitt and Robin Arcus, a board member and Durham Central Market co-founder, about the co-op, which is scheduled to open in 2012.

Rigor Amortis

Feb 10, 2011

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. If you’re not sure how to make a successful romantic gesture to the one you love, you might want to consult with a zombie. Sure, they eat brains, but they’re capable of love, too – a love that can last forever. Host Frank Stasio talks with writer Jaym Gates about a new collection of zombie short stories she co-edited called "Rigor Amortis" (Absolute XPress/2010) that deals with love from beyond the grave.

Jeannette Walls
http://blogs.guilford.edu/bryanseries/

Jeannette Walls' parents didn't seem to worry about her and her three siblings much. Not when Jeannette set herself on fire cooking a hot dog when she was a preschooler, not when the family had to repeatedly flee home after home with creditors at their heels, not when she rummaged through the school garbage to find her lunch. But in her best-selling memoir, "The Glass Castle" (Scribner/2005), Walls offers gratitude for the lessons she learned growing up and for her parents' gifts of love. The author joins host Frank Stasio to talk about her memories of a hard-knock childhood.

Writer Langston Hughes is famous for uplifting poems like "I, Too" and lyrical poetry like “A Dream Deferred,” but North Carolina State Assistant Professor of English Jason Miller says that hidden within Hughes' works are powerful statements about the practice of lynching. Host Frank Stasio talks to Miller about his new book, "Langston Hughes and American Lynching Culture” (University Press of Florida/2011).

Book Cover: The Story of Forgetting
www.stefanmerrillblock.com

More than five million Americans have Alzheimer's disease. By mid-century, that number is expected to double, if not quadruple. Researchers are learning more about the progressive neurological disorder that affects memory and other functions of the brain, but there is still no treatment or cure. Writers have begun documenting the epidemic, creating fiction and nonfiction that renders the mysterious disease and how it uniquely changes the lives of patients and caregivers alike. The New York Times declared this writing a new genre, calling it "Alzheimer's Literature."

Spaulding family seal
spauldingfamily.com

About 700 members of the Spaulding family will descend on Raleigh, NC next week for the clan’s 18th bi-annual reunion. The Spauldings can trace their roots to Duplin County where Benjamin Spaulding, a freed slave, married Edith Delphi Jacobs, a Lumbee Indian, in the early 19th century. The Spauldings have ties to the founding and success of dozens of the state’s institutions like North Carolina Mutual Life insurance company, Mechanics & Farmers Bank and Lincoln Hospital.

Behind the Reporting: 'Tomorrow’s Energy'

Apr 20, 2010

If you’ve been tuned in to Morning Edition this past week or so, you’ve been hearing a series of reports about energy from WUNC’s reporters. The series, “North Carolina Voices: Tomorrow’s Energy,” addresses where North Carolinians currently get their power and where we’ll get it in the future. A lot of work goes into those six or seven-minute radio reports, which means a lot also gets left out. The melody of a coal-fired power plant and the sculptural beauty of a wind turbine are among the details of the reporting that didn’t make it on the air. On today’s show, we’ll talk with WUNC reporters Dave DeWitt, Leoneda Inge, Jessica Jones and Laura Leslie about what they took away from their reporting and what else is left to say about powering North Carolina’s future.

Drill in N.C., Baby, Drill

Apr 14, 2010

The White House unveiled a new and controversial plan to open up more than 160 million acres of ocean floor to drilling two weeks ago. Some states were omitted from the plan, but not North Carolina and its neighbors. We’ll find out why North Carolina politicians’ once vociferous opposition to offshore drilling seems to have fizzled. Plus, will the new drilling plan help land Obama a win on climate change legislation?

Voices of SNCC

Apr 13, 2010

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was founded at Shaw University in April of 1960. Hoping to harness the enthusiasm and willpower of young people to end segregation, founders Ella Baker, James Lawson and Julian Bond organized protests and actions across the south. SNCC was vital to the impact of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Don de Leaumont Plays Live In Studio

Nov 20, 2009
Don de Leaumont
dononthewb.com

Singer-songwriter Don de Leaumont’s music is part storytelling, part folksy warmth and insight. In October, he released his fifth solo album, called “Planes, Trains, Crickets and Central Air.” Now a resident of Atlanta, Georgia, Don returns to his longtime home of Chapel Hill for a gig at The Cave.

He joins host Frank Stasio in the studio to play some tunes and discuss how he broke his heavy metal addiction.

Picture of Russian Duo: Terry Boyarsky & Oleg Kruglyakov
russianduo.com

The balalaika is a traditional Russian instrument with three strings and a triangular body. Oleg Kruglyakov, a native of Omsk City, Siberia, has been playing the balalaika since he was seven years old. Now, he's devoted to educating other cultures about Russian folk music and testing the limits of his instrument by teaming up with pianist Terry Boyarsky.

Cassilhaus
Frank Konhaus and Ellen Cassilly

A love of collecting photography led Frank Konhaus and Ellen Cassilly to include an art gallery in their dream home. Then the couple decided that they wanted to do more than just display art. They wanted to build an in-home studio space for artists to create in. Cassilhaus, the name of Frank and Ellen's dwelling, fulfilled their dream. Now, invited artists from all over the world come to their home to write, paint, sculpt, dance or just generate ideas for upcoming projects.

Holy Smoke

Nov 12, 2008

Most traditions have plenty of people, history and folklore to back them up. Carolina barbecue is no different. A new book called, "Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue" explores the Tar Heel tradition - past and present.

Jazz artist Branford Marsalis
courtesy of the artist

Saxophone master and Durham resident Branford Marsalis has never shied away from a challenge when it comes to tackling music.  The jazz legend's latest undertaking incorporates his sax into the classical music traditions of South America in a show called "Marsalis Brasilianos: Villa Lobos, Milhaud and the New Worlds of Brazilian Modernism."  

Smithfield Foods and the United Food and Commercial Workers settled a federal racketeering lawsuit this week. Now the nearly five thousand workers at the plant in Tar Heel will have another chance to vote on union representation.

Pages