The State of Things

WUNC's The State of Things brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you.  The State of Things Podcast presents new stories every weekday with topics from our show.  To subscribe:Get a daily show update and special news. Subscribe to our podcast on Google Play or iTunes.  Or, use the links at the right.Visit the main SOT page.

photo of a person operating a tractor in a tobacco field
Larry Lamb / Flickr Creative Commons

Weeks ago Donald Trump announced a tariff on steel that will impact China. In response, China plans to increase tariffs on several popular American exports including pork. Veteran Winston-Salem Journal reporter Richard Craver believes both countries will pay the price. From North Carolina beer brewers to major construction companies, local business are concerned, but there may also be some winners when the smoke clears. He joins host Frank Stasio to talk about the local impact of the steel tariff.

photo of a young person in a mouth-covering mask in front of a closed theater. the sign says 'all theatres closed until further notice at request of mayor.'
Courtesy of UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

2018 marks the one-hundred-year anniversary of a flu pandemic that killed 50 to 100 million people and infected hundreds of millions around the world. Host Frank Stasio talks to James Leloudis, a history professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, about why the 1918 influenza was so deadly, and what impact it had on public health.

book cover picturing a women jumping into the ocean
Crown Publishing

Women of a certain age are frequently treated like the best moments of their lives are over.  But that is not the case for the protagonists in Frances Mayes’ novels, or Mayes herself. She was a professor and little-known poet until the release of “Under the Tuscan Sun” (Broadway Books/1997) which catapulted her career. Mayes was well into her 50s at the time, and still lit with her own personal fire and passion, she has continued to send her characters on a journey to find the success that eluded them in their youth.

Remington's corporate headquarters in Madison, North Carolina.
Keri Brown / WFDD

One of the oldest gun manufacturers in the country has filed for bankruptcy. Remington Outdoor Company, based in Madison, North Carolina, has racked up nearly a billion dollars of debt and faced several lawsuits, including one moving through the courts related to the use of its AR-15-style weapon in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Actors Carlos Alcala, Sarita Ocón, Kathryn Hunter-Williams, Samuel Ray Gates, and Alex Givens pose by a brick wall in a promo picture for the play 'Leaving Eden'
HuthPhoto / Courtesy Playmakers Repertory Company

What does it feel like to be excluded? Minority communities in North Carolina have experienced economic and political exclusion at various points throughout history, and the new Playmakers Repertory Company production “Leaving Eden” brings that familiar story to light.

Photo of Edna Lewis smiling
John T. Hill

Edna Lewis changed the perception of Southern food in American culture with her cookbook, “The Taste of Country Cooking” (Knopf/1976). She touted the use of fresh, local ingredients before the farm-to-table movement began. But many people know very little about the chef and cookbook author, despite her many contributions to food culture.

photo of John Hedley holding his book Saddle Up.
John Hedley

On his desk sits a bumper sticker that reads “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.” For John Hedley this statement is personal, not political. He vividly remembers coming home from Vietnam to angry crowds who branded him and his fellow service members “potheads, murderers and nutjobs.” His solution? Showing first-hand support for the next generation of soldiers.

Aerial image of Lake Lure, North Carolina
David Dugan / Creative Commons

Lake Lure is high on Hollywood’s call list. The small town in Rutherford County has been the site for blockbuster movies including the 1987 film “Dirty Dancing.” But the community is now facing a critical situation. The dam that makes Lake Lure the idyllic spot that it is, is in urgent need of repairs that may cost up to $5 million.

a photo of astronaut Mae Jemison in her suit holding her helmet.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya

Marie Curie is a double-Nobel Prize winning scientist and often the first name mentioned when the topic of women in science comes up.  Neuroscientist-turned-designer Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya admits even she struggled to think of female scientists beyond Marie Curie, but there are plenty of women the history books forgot about.

photo of Emily Musolino and her guitar
Courtesy of Emily Musolino

Emily Musolino is more than a singer-songwriter. She is the owner and operator of Blue Moose Studios in Durham. She is invested in creating a collective for female artists, and she has had her own share of struggles, including growing up LGBT in North Carolina and bouts of alcoholism. She brings all of this into her music.

photo of john bolton speaking at a podium
Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Former President Jimmy Carter called John Bolton a “war-like” figure who has advocated for attacks against Iraq, Iran and a pre-emptive strike against North Korea. He considers Donald Trump’s choice for national security adviser “a disaster for our country.”

 

photo of the entrance to the 12 x 12 exhibit, detailing the artists and their work
Courtesy of SECCA

Music is the first thing visitors experience at the 12X12 exhibition at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem. They hear one note played over and over again. This singular sound sets the tone for “12X12: 12 Artists from the 12th State,” an exhibition that brings together a group of artists from various backgrounds and artistic practices with one thing in common: North Carolina.

photo of three men playing horns for a huge crowd
Courtesy of the Louis Armstrong House Museum

During the Cold War, the U.S. Department of State sent jazz musicians around the world to sell the American way of life. This initiative took place in the 1950s, during segregation and the beginning of the civil rights movement. Jazz was gaining popularity on the international stage partly because of a Voice of America program hosted by Willis Conover, and partly because jazz musicians, like Louis Armstrong, played international tours.

photo of ava duvernay signing posters for fans
Alex J. Berliner / ABImages

With the new Disney release “A Wrinkle In Time,” Ava DuVernay became the first African-American woman to direct a film with a budget over $100 million. She notes the accomplishment but calls it bittersweet, because it has taken Hollywood until 2018 to support women of color in these roles. 

A barbed wire fence stock image
Pxhere / Public Domain

Staffing and safety issues inside North Carolina prisons are at a perilous point. In 2017, five corrections officers were killed in violent incidents at Bertie and Pasquotank Correctional Institutions. And according to new reports, the deaths are a symptom of a bigger problem.

photo of Levelle Moton and a referee in action
Courtesy of LeVelle Moton

College basketball is part of North Carolina’s lifeblood, and team allegiances are not taken lightly. Yet the head coach of North Carolina Central University’s men’s basketball team is deeply respected by both those who wear the Eagles jersey and those who compete against it.

photo of brian hogan on the front steps of his home
Kathy Kmonicek / AP Photo

According to a report by The Associated Press, the Cherokee Department of Social Services has been systematically and illegally removing children from their homes for years. The actions may have started more than a decade ago and affect at least 100 families.

photo of the 1963 loyola basketball team with coaches. some of the team are white and some are african american.
Loyola University Archives / http://www.lib.luc.edu/specialcollections/items/show/225

When Mark Mehler and Charles Paikert first met to watch their favorite college basketball teams duke it out, they had no idea it would become a tradition. But year after year the two continued to meet at the same local bar, often times cheering for opposing teams. Journalism was their trade, but college hoops was their passion.

photo of elayna jean playing guitar and signing at a microphone
John Guerin

Many of the songs Cosmic Punk performs are rooted in angsty, teenage feelings. Elayna Jean, the band’s guitarist and vocalist, says that is because she wrote a lot of those songs while she was still in high school.

Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis shake hands after the debate at UNC-TV Wednesday night.
Mike Oniffrey / UNC-TV

Facebook’s stock plummeted at the news that 50 million user accounts had been breached and used to create profiles of prospective voters. Since then the company behind the breach, Cambridge Analytica, has been suspended from Facebook. The damage in North Carolina has already been done.

photo of a group of people posing for a picture
Courtesy of SNCC Digital Gateway.

Duke University has teamed up with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Legacy Project to connect today’s young organizers with activists of the civil rights era. The project is called “SNCC Digital Gateway,” and its aim is to pass on informational wealth from the organizers of SNCC to the young people of today, to help inform their activism. Instead of solely taking information from the SNCC activists, researchers treated the activists as partners and fellow scholars in their collaboration on this project.

photo of a man holding a card that says 'asheville is climate city'
Courtesy of The Collider

This month Asheville hosted the first ClimateCon, a conference to explore innovations and business solutions to combat the effects of climate change. The nine-day conference included a business of climate forum, a summit for emerging climate leaders, and community-wide events.

photo of a young boy with electronics
Courtesy Kelly Hinchcliffe / WRAL

More than 100 public schools in North Carolina have applied and been granted approval to participate in a scholastic experiment called Restart. The Restart program allows low-performing schools to operate like charter programs without having charter status.

photo of Barbara and Zachariah Claypole White
Courtesy of Barbara Claypole White

Barbara Claypole White always wanted to be a writer. But she put her passion aside when her young son was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

photo of the back of an african american woman's head, facing a white woman across a table who is out of focus
Derrick Beasley

Throughout modern history the work of African-American artists has often been appropriated for the financial and cultural gain of those outside the black community. Black artists bare their souls to create provocative art, but their work is sometimes tokenized or categorized as being just "black art." At the Bullcity Black Theater Festival in Durham, black artists are challenging perceptions of their work through performances and community conversations. 

Zainab Antepli, a junior at Chapel Hill High School, calls for tougher gun laws in front of a large crowd at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

Since the mass school shooting in Columbine, America has seemed almost powerless against rogue gunmen attacking defenseless suburban schools. After the tragic killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, many declared that if America did not make changes after Newtown it never would. 

photo of Tutu Alicante
Courtesy of Tutu Alicante

Tutu Alicante grew up in Equatorial Guinea, a small nation on the western coast of Central Africa. The country is one of the largest oil producers in sub-Saharan Africa, yet many of its citizens live in extreme poverty. The oil profits stay within the government, and long-serving President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo uses intimidation tactics like imprisonment or even execution to silence his critics.

Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

The special election in Pennsylvania this week turned a reliably red district blue. Democratic candidate Conor Lamb beat Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. Is this a wake-up call for the Republican party?

photo of krish mohan
Courtesy of Krish Mohan

Krish Mohan has been a comedian since his teenage years when he won a talent contest at high school. Looking for a way to finetune his craft, he wound up at a local club practicing his jokes between sets for rock bands. His early humor revolved around being from an immigrant family who moved from India to Pittsburgh when he was just 8 years old. 

Ned Ferm, The Jazzy Country Boy

Mar 16, 2018
photo of ned ferm
Esta Frosch

Ned Ferm was only 4 years old when he decided to pursue a career in music. He grew up on a farm on Mount Desert Island near the coast of Maine and says he is a country boy at heart. But his knack for playing almost any instrument would eventually lead him to perform in New York City alongside renowned jazz icons like Roswell Rudd. Later, Ferm would study jazz at William Paterson University and the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Denmark, where he earned the equivalent to a doctoral degree in saxophone performance.

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