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:

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Photo of Sylvia Gray outside her surplus store turned thrift shop

Sylvia Gray was an entrepreneur of ephemera. Decades after she and her husband opened a surplus store in downtown Greensboro, she turned the business into a three-story thrift shop that she filled by taking twice-daily trips to the local Salvation Army.

Photo of Andy Eversole with his banjo in Tiananmen Square
Ben Singer

Musician Andy Eversole has always wanted to travel the world and make music, and last year an unfortunate incident gave him the push he needed to make a long-time dream a reality.

Ken Rudin

A federal court declared North Carolina's drawing of election lines unconstitutional.

The three-judge panel said the districts must be redrawn because they are racially gerrymandered. The court will allow the election in November to proceed under the old maps.

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the decision, its consequences and other political news.

Photo of Oscar Charleston's baseball card
Ryan Christoff

Durham and baseball are intimately connected in the minds of many Americans because of the movie "Bull Durham." But the relationship between the city of Durham and the sport dates back to more than a century before the film.

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.

The state epidemiologist in the division of public health resigned yesterday in protest over the McCrory administration’s handling of a controversy stemming from Duke Energy's handling of well water surrounding coal ash sites.

Photo of a girl with red tape over her mouth / Pexels

North Carolina is among the top 10 states with the highest number of reported human trafficking cases, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Experts say the number of major interstates that cross through the state, the large agricultural population, and the state’s strategic location along the East Coast contribute to the issue.

Megan Davies

State Epidemiologist Megan Davies has resigned her position, effectively immediately. It is the latest twist in an ongoing dispute over coal ash contamination of home water wells and an inter-departmental fight within Governor Pat McCrory's administration. 

Image of US Capitol
ttarasiuk / Flickr Creative Commons

When Sen. Richard Burr declared his re-election bid last year, his odds looked good; he had had a large war chest and no clear opponent. But now, Democratic challenger Deborah Ross has emerged as a strong contender and polls show the two in a hot race.

Analysts are watching the race closely as it will play a significant role in determining which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii about the latest on the race.

Still from "Deep Run"
Courtesy of producer Chris Talbott

There are tens of thousands of transgender individuals living in North Carolina.

House Bill 2 sparked a national conversation about one particular aspect of their lives, but the North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival aims to paint a broader picture.

One of the documentaries featured this year "Deep Run," is a verite portrait of a trans man named Cole Ray Davis living in Deep Run, N.C., a rural town outside of Kinston.

In 1866, communities across western North Carolina were forced to pick up the pieces left by the Civil War. Residents had ties to the Confederacy and the Union. As a result, the region was scattered with divided homes and hostile relations.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, a 20-year old African American man was shot to death in North Raleigh. Tapes of the 911 calls  feature the accused shooter, Chad Cameron Copley, declaring himself a member of neighborhood watch who fired what he called warning shots that hit Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas. Copley said there were "hoodlums" on his street and told the 911 operator that he was going out to "secure" the neighborhood. Copley has been charged with first-degree murder. Host Frank Stasio talks with News and Observer reporter Ron Gallagher about the latest.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

A federal court ruling created uncertainty in North Carolina's election process when it overturned the state's controversial voting regulations. The law would have required photo identification, reduced early voting days and eliminated same day registration.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that measure violates the U.S. constitution, because it discriminates against African-American and Latino voters. Local Board of Elections are now making changes that advocates say do not comply with the ruling.

Photo of Curly Seckler and Charlie Monroe
Curly Seckler

Curly Seckler grew up a farming kid in the tiny town of China Grove, NC and liked to listen to the Monroe Brothers on the radio.

Eventually, he became one of the forebearers of bluegrass music as a part of the Foggy Mountain Boys. Seckler's iconic mandolin style and tenor harmonies carved a music career that spanned more than 50 years.

"All The Missing Girls" by Megan Miranda
Megan Miranda

Four years ago the novel "Gone Girl" took the world by storm. The book invoked a familiar thriller novel premise—a sudden mysterious disappearance—but also explored deep psychological and emotional themes.

Critics say the new novel "All The Missing Girls" (Simon & Schuster/2016) from North Carolina author Megan Miranda follows in the tradition of "Gone Girl."

headshot of Whitney Way Thore
Deborah Feingold

This is a rebroadcast of a program that originally aired on June 27, 2016.

Whitney Way Thore knows how much she has weighed at every point in her life.

And for decades, deconstructing the size and shape of her body consumed much of her mental and emotional energy. She struggled with an eating disorder, compulsive exercise, and eventually was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome.  

photo from 'The Little Rascals'
Photo Courtesy Bronwen Dickey

Note: this segment originally aired June 1, 2016.

Writer Bronwen Dickey grew up with the impression of pit bulls that dominates popular discourse: they are mean, aggressive, and dangerous dogs. But after a freelance writing piece put her in an environment with a sweet and gentle pit bull, she began to wonder whether there was more to the stereotype.

******Photo of Kyrie Irving
Marcio Jose Sanchez / ASSOCIATED PRESS

The 2016 Summer Olympics kick off in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil tomorrow.

This year, dozens of athletes with connections to North Carolina are competing in events ranging from basketball, track, and swimming to air rifle and canoe slalom.

Basketball players Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving are part of the star-studded men’s basketball team coached by Duke University’s Mike Krzyzewski, and women’s soccer player Tobin Heath will be playing with the hopes of winning a third gold medal.

Willy Somma

Durham native Heather Havrilesky has spent most of her professional life as a social commentator of sorts. 

She has written online cartoons about the absurdity of life, reviews of crappy TV reality shows, and columns about why we love crappy TV reality shows.

It is perhaps no wonder that she has become a successful advice columnist.

Havrilesky is the writer behind "Ask Polly," a weekly column in New York magazine in which she guides readers through existential questions.

Photo of Mike Pence and Pat McCrory
Evan Vucci / AP

With a little more than three months until the 2016 elections, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is facing strong backlash—even from some fellow Republicans—​against his latest verbal onslaught, in which he attacked the parents of a fallen soldier.

The controversy comes as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton opens a sizable post-convention lead in most polls. Will this latest controversy affect Trump's chances in North Carolina? And what effect could it have on Gov. Pat McCrory, who has campaigned with Trump in the state?

More than two decades ago Father Greg Boyle (middle) founded 'Homeboy Industries,' the largest gang-internvention program in the country. Here he is on Thanksgiving day in 2012 at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.
Homeboy Industries

Note: This segment originally aired February 2, 2016.

In 1986, Jesuit priest Father Greg Boyle was appointed to a poor parish in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Abandoned farmhouse western North Carolina
Julia Franks

Eight years ago, Julia Franks and her husband bought a farm in western North Carolina. At the time, the 1800s farmhouse on the land was still standing and when they walked in the doors, they were greeted by dozens of odd artifacts, including animal bones, locks of hair, insect hives, and even a jar with a fingernail in it. Franks is a high school literature teacher and lover of writing, so it was hard for her to not let her imagination run wild.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

North Carolina’s so-called bathroom bill, House Bill 2, was challenged in court Monday. U.S. district judge Thomas Schroeder heard arguments on a temporary injunction motion. He did not make a ruling on the measure.

And on Friday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down North Carolina’s controversial voter identification law on grounds of racial discrimination.

Photo of P.T. Deutermann
Cynthia Brann

For more than 20 years, P.T. Deutermann has channeled his experiences in the military into fiction writing. He has written 19 novels that have been inspired by his time as a Navy captain and an arms-control specialist in the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Photo of Mamie Neugent
David Spear

​In the late 1980s and early 90s, North Carolina photographer David Spear spent several years documenting the lives of his neighbors, the Neugents.

The family owned a tobacco farm in Rockingham County, and his photos depicted their attempts to keep their tobacco farm alive at a time when many others were dying. He described the Neugents as "fabulous people" who "raise hell, and they don't try to hide it."