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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Since January, activists, journalists, non-profit workers and others have traveled around North Carolina to meet the state’s impoverished families. The idea behind the “Truth and Hope Putting a Face on Poverty in North Carolina Tour” is to understand those who live below the poverty line as people, rather than as statistics, and to hear their stories. The tour traveled 2000 miles and visited 27 different communities.

“Hate” is one of those words that gets thrown around recklessly in everyday conversation, but sometimes when we say it, we mean it. What is hatred and why do we feel it? Is it an emotion unique to humans? And why does hatred often lead to violence?

After years covering crime, investigative journalist Mark Pinsky had had enough of murder.  He made the transition to religion reporting and became a well-respected columnist and author by writing about spirituality in contemporary society and popular culture.

John Coltrane’s music blossomed during his time in Philadelphia and New York, but his roots are in High Point, NC where he played music at church and in the high school band.

Meet Al Buehler

Aug 27, 2012

Today, Duke University’s athletics program is world famous for basketball, but back in 1955 when Al Buehler came to Duke to coach the cross country team, football was the school’s big sport. The teams were all men and all white.

Our justice system is sometimes referred to as “retributive justice,” meaning when someone commits a crime, the response is to punish them. Now imagine a system where the focus is on healing, rather than punishment, one that allows the victim of a crime to experience a legal process that is interactive and engaging. That is the mission of restorative justice.

In the aftermath of the 2008 economic collapse, the public clamored for criminal prosecution of those responsible. While some corporations and banks have paid out big fines, few executives have gone to prison. Host Frank Stasio talks to Rick Rothacker, a Reuters banking reporter, about why many criminal corporations have gone unpunished.

Minority communities have always been aware of the problem of racial profiling, but by the late 1990s, it was at the forefront of public consciousness. By 1999, the New York Times was writing an average of three articles on racial profiling a week. The state of North Carolina took note, passing a law requiring police officers to fill out a form including information on the motorist's race at each traffic stop. More than ten years and 13 million traffic stops later, experts have analyzed the data.

There are many ways technology aids in the prevention of crime, but Elon University Law Professor Michael Rich has pondered how far should those methods go. What if software, computers and other digital equipment could actually prevent behavior leading up to a criminal act? Rich joins host Frank Stasio to talk about the social and moral implications of using technology at the risk of impeding on free will.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina says there are potentially thousands of inmates who have been wrongfully convicted because of a problem with structured sentencing unique to North Carolina. Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, joins host Frank Stasio to discuss how firearms possession and a change in sentencing laws have countless men and women serving undeserved stints in prison.

No matter how small the crime, having a conviction on your record can have a lingering impact on your life long after you’ve paid your debt to society.

LaMonte Armstrong was a graduate of North Carolina A&T University and a basketball coach before he became known as a murderer.  In 1995, he was convicted of killing his former college professor and family friend Ernestine Compton. Armstrong has maintained his innocence ever since, and he was finally released this year after two defense attorneys successfully presented evidence of wrongful conviction. Host Frank Stasio talks about the case with LaMonte Armstrong and his attorney Theresa Newman, co-director of Duke's Wrongful Convictions Clinic.

Meet Jon Powell

Aug 20, 2012

Growing up in Garner, Jon Powell stayed out of trouble.  His first encounter with the criminal justice system was as an attorney representing kids. The same kids, over and over again. After a while, his faith in the juvenile justice system to rehabilitate offenders was so low he turned to his religious faith to find a new path.

Just a year after an NCAA investigation into improper academic and financial benefits for members of the University of North Carolina’s football team, the school is under suspicion of academic fraud again. The first scandal resulted in the firing of Coach Butch Davis and the accelerated retirement of Athletic Director Dick Baddour. The latest probe involves student athletes and UNC’s Afro-American Studies program. WUNC Education Reporter Dave DeWitt joins host Frank Stasio for a look at the latest trouble brewing for UNC athletics.

The Old Ceremony

Aug 17, 2012

The Old Ceremony is well-known to music lovers in the Triangle. 

The band has been playing together for eight years and now their new album “Fairytales and Other Forms of Suicide” will receive an international release. Host Frank Stasio will be joined by the Old Ceremony as they talk about the evolution of their music over the years.

In 2010, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art had to return 16 silver cups and bowls to a little town in Sicily called Morgantina.

In 1950, World War II veteran Hoover Adams scored a $15,000 loan from his father-in-law to start a newspaper in Dunn, North Carolina.  He called it The Daily Record and from the start, the paper’s mission was to feature hyperlocal coverage of Harnett County. Church meetings, civic club activities and hog killings took precedence over political elections, plane crashes and national events that happened hundred of miles away from the paper’s home base. Adams’ news model was a success.

The Elopement

Aug 16, 2012

Dipika Kohli married her college sweetheart on New Year's Day in 2001.   The two eloped in Japan, his home country, then moved to Ireland to start life in a place unfamiliar to both of them. In doing so, she boldly walked away from the hopes her parents had for her.

Recent high-profile shootings in Colorado, Wisconsin and Texas are spurring public conversations about gun control, but is tougher regulations on our right to keep and bear arms an effective method for curtailing gun deaths?

From Cronkite to Colbert

Aug 14, 2012

Americans used to turn to veteran journalists like Walter Cronkite for political coverage. These days, late-night comedians like Stephen Colbert are the most important political journalists in the country, according to author Geoffrey Baym.

"The Jew Store" (Algonquin Books/1998) is Stella Suberman's bestselling memoir about growing up in a small town in Tennessee where her parents ran the dry goods market. The Great Depression sent Suberman's family back to New York and eventually to Miami where she found a larger community of Jews including her future husband. Her subsequent two books, including her latest, "The GI Bill Boys" (University of Tenneesee Press/2012), chronicle the better part of the 20th century. The Chapel Hill-based author joins host Frank Stasio to talk about her life’s journey.

To prepare for his new role in “The Campaign” as a small-town conservative in a no-holds-barred congressional race, comedian Zach Galifianakis looked to the past. 

It's hard to start a business, but a model of support has emerged to help entrepreneurs get their foot in the door. Business incubators give fledgling start-ups the resources and infrastructure they need to get off the ground. Host Frank Stasio talks about giving new businesses what they need to succeed with JT Vaughn, the founder of a green technology incubator called The Cherokee Challenge, and Adam Klein, chief strategist for the American Underground.

Ai Weiwei is a prominent Chinese contemporary artist who gets press attention for his politics as much as for his art work.

The American Tobacco Factory shut down manufacturing in Durham in 1987. For years this space sat idle and deteriorating.

Meet Pam Gutlon

Aug 6, 2012

Pam Gutlon owns Outsider Art & Collectibles in Durham, but her work is beyond bringing artists and their paintings into her gallery.

Teacher Josh Gondelman’s observations about what goes on in his pre-school classroom have turned out to be good fodder for comedy material. His new CD, "Everything's the Best" uses that life experience to entertain audiences. Gondelman is now traveling with comedian Chip Chantry on the School's Out for Summer comedy tour, which lands at DSI Comedy Theater in Carrboro tonight. He and Chantry join host Frank Stasio to trade some laughs.

Chimera

Aug 3, 2012

T.C. McCarthy was deterred from his dream of writing at every step. A commencement speaker told him to ditch it and a college creative writing program laughed at his attempts to write science fiction. McCarthy eventually did abandon English for science, but he never gave up his dream of being an author. After working for the U.S. Patent Office and the CIA, his dream finally came true.

The Duke Street Dogs have been a Durham institution in one form or another for decades.

Their unique blend of genres consistently draws crowds to the Blue Note Grill on Friday nights. The band joins host Frank Stasio to talk about their music and to play live in the studio.

Cheese, Please

Aug 2, 2012

Everything's better with cheese on it. Just ask the thousands of people gathered in Raleigh this week for the 29th annual conference of the American Cheese Society. Activities include a keynote address by author Temple Grandin,

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