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.

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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.

A book cover
Princeton University Press

Since the beginning of a capitalist economy in the United States, business endeavors have been fraught with examples of fraud and deceit. In his new book, “Fraud: An American History From Barnum to Madoff” (Princeton University Press/2017), Edward Balleisen chronicles the history of fraud in the U.S., from mail-order scams in the 19th century to examples of corporate fraud in the late 20th and early 21st century. 

Mitch Prinstein / Penguin Random House/2017

Popularity is often a concern for teenagers, but research shows it also influences life outside the high school cafeteria. Children as young as four years old can identify their most popular peer, and one’s popularity growing up can even predict his or her lifespan.

In the new book “Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World” (Penguin Random House/2017), Mitch Prinstein teases apart the distinction between two different types of popularity: likability and status. 

Joan Marcus, 2016

Ariana DeBose has been moving up in the Broadway world by leaps and bounds. The North Carolina native got her start in showbiz with a role on the television show "So You Think You Can Dance" when she was only 18 years old. Just a few years later, she became one of the original ensemble cast members of the hip-hop Broadway sensation "Hamilton.”

Image of teacher Angie Scioli
At Large Productions

Teachers are a common subject in Hollywood films. Portrayals of teaching range from the unorthodox style of Robin Williams’ character in “Dead Poets Society” to the dull and droning econ teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” A new documentary film about a veteran North Carolina teacher explores how popular culture’s portrayals of the teaching profession are a far-cry from what happens in most classrooms around the country day-in and day-out.

Chuck Liddy / Charlotte Observer

A five-part series in the Charlotte Observer reveals the corruption and abuse that remains disturbingly commonplace in North Carolina’s state prisons. Reporters Ames Alexander and Gavin Off spent two years reporting on officers who smuggled cell phones and drugs into prisons, assaulted prisoners and perhaps even colluded with inmates on a homicide. 

Betsy Blake / American Friends Service Committee

Juana Luz Tobar Ortega is a mother of four and grandmother of two who has lived in Asheboro, North Carolina for more than 20 years. Tobar Ortega works, pays taxes, and is active in her local church. She is also undocumented. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ordered Tobar Ortega to return to her native Guatemala by the end of May 2017. Instead, Tobar Ortega made the radical decision to take refuge at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Greensboro, where the vestry voted to shelter her and protect her from deportation.

rapper 9th wonder on a stool
Creative Silence

Patrick Douthit has been making music as hip-hop producer 9th Wonder for nearly two decades. In the early 2000s Douthit gained recognition for his work with the North Carolina hip-hop group Little Brother. He went on to produce music for Jay-Z’s 2003 release “The Black Album” and Destiny’s Child’s 2004 album “Destiny Fulfilled.” He won a Grammy for his work on Mary J. Blige’s 2005 album “The Breakthrough.” Douthit grew up in Winston-Salem and remembers hearing his first hip-hop song in 1982 with Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock.” 

Image of young black kids in Chicago with a police officer.
Patricia Evans

In the mid ‘90s, writer Jamie Kalven became immersed in Stateway Gardens, an impoverished and embattled public housing community on the South Side of Chicago.

photo of Gigi Dover & the Big Love
Gigi Dover & the Big Love

For Gigi Dover & the Big Love, Americana isn't limited to American styles of music. The group hails from Charlotte and composes Southern folk using worldly instruments like the sitar and rebab.

Through its latest album, "Travelin' Thru," the band continues to strengthen the grassroots music scene in Charlotte.

North Carolina State Legislature
Dave Crosby / Flickr

The North Carolina House outlined a $22.9 billion spending plan that calls for about $350 million in tax cuts. It allots funding for pension adjustments for state retirees and $181 million for teacher raises. 

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.

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