The State of Things

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We bring the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you. We're 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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John Prine Headshot
Oh Boy Records & Jim Shea

Legendary singer-songwriter John Prine is best known for writing "Angel from Montgomery," "Sam Stone," and "Paradise." 

His musical career began humbly in the late 1960s while he was still working as a mailman in Illinois. Five decades later, Prine is a Nashville icon who has won a litany of awards, including two Grammys and a lifetime achievement award for songwriting from the Americana Music Association

Headshot of North Carolina Native Rising Opera Star Jill Gardner
Jill Gardner

  North Carolina native and nationally-recognized opera singer Jill Gardner has been attracting attention for her strong vocal and acting talent.

She received her master’s in vocal performance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and has performed in operas around the country, primarily in the title role of Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca.” Gardner will be live in concert on Friday, March 20 as part of the Music Academy of North Carolina’s 6th Annual Vocal Festival at UNC-Greensboro School of Music, Theatre and Dance Recital Hall.

Wiliam Henry Curry joins us to talk about his life and career.
ncsymphony.org

When he was only 14 years old, William Henry Curry's music teacher handed him a small wooden baton and said, "I think you'd make a good conductor."

But Curry already knew he was born to be a conductor. In the more than four decades since, he has conducted more than 40 orchestras and some of the world's most renowned symphonies. 

  Host Frank Stasio talks with Curry about his career, facing racial challenges, the difficulties of composing orchestral music and his 19 years conducting the North Carolina Symphony. 

Kenan Memorial Stadium, where the Tar Heels have played since 1927
wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Jeick

    

Former University of North Carolina football star Ryan Hoffman was once a giant. 

  The 6-foot-5-inch, 287-pound left tackle for UNC's 1997 football team helped guide the Tarheels to an 11-1 record. But Hoffman looks like a different person today. He is homeless and most likely dealing with brain trauma from his years on the football field.

Guest host Phoebe Judge talks with reporter Juliet Macur who tracked down Hoffman for a New York Times profile.

UNC and Duke are hosting edit-a-thons in hopes of diversifying Wikipedia's edting pool.
screenshot from wikipedia.org

Women have their fingerprints all over the history of mankind, but men have had a larger role in filling the pages of history books. 

Fire Pink Trio recently released their first album, "Poetry in Motion."
Melanie Hatton / Firepinktrio.com

The classical music group Fire Pink Trio gets its name from the vibrant mountain wildflower that grows throughout North America.

They bring the same energy and creative force to their work, from the classics of Brahms to the contemporary pieces of North Carolina composer Dan Locklair. And their experience as educators allows them to pass on the sound to the next generation of classical musicians. The trio released a debut album last month: Poetry in Motion: Music for Flute, Viola, and Harp. 

A picture of a coal ash pond.
Waterkeeper Alliance

    

This week, Duke Energy has paid $171 million to shareholders and the state of North Carolina.

The first bill was for $146 million to settle a lawsuit that claimed the company misled shareholders when it agreed to a merger with Progress Energy in 2012. The other $25 million was a fine from the state for spilling coal ash at a power plant in Wilmington.

Meanwhile, the conversation continues about how to dispose of the coal ash sitting at 14 sites across the state.

Guest host Phoebe Judge gets an update from WUNC environment reporter Dave DeWitt.

J.B. Buxton
J.B. Buxton

    

J.B. Buxton began his career in education in an unlikely place: South Africa.

As a Morehead Scholar from UNC, Buxton taught in a South African school as apartheid began to crumble. The experience shaped Buxton's perspective on education and launched his long career in education policy.

He served as education advisor to Governor Easley and as Deputy State Superintendent of the North Carolina Schools. Buxton now leads the move for a charter school to serve Southeast Raleigh's neediest students.

Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology Christine Drea upclose with a hyena
Kathy Moorhouse / http://dukemagazine.duke.edu

Some of the world’s top animal behaviorists are leading a groundbreaking study of lions and hyenas for the Smithsonian Channel series Killer IQ: Lions vs. Hyena.

David Joy's new book tells the story of a young man working for his father's meth ring in rural North Carolina.
David-Joy.com

Jacob McNeely grew up in the mountains of North Carolina.

A life of crime as an employee of his father's meth ring is the only one he has ever known. But a violent event and a reunion with his first love offer McNeely the possibility of escape. 

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