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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Chapel Hill writer Terry Roberts goes back to his Appalachian roots with his new novel, "A Short Time to Stay Here" (High Country Publishers/2012). The book is a work of historical fiction that transports readers to the summer of 1917 with a character named Stephen, the proprietor of a luxury resort,

Waste Not

Jul 10, 2012

Tate Rogers never expected to enter the world of waste management, but when presented with the challenge of finding a way to safely extract human waste from latrines in third-world countries, this environmental engineering student found himself struck with a brilliant idea. The idea was so simple, Rogers figured it had already been invented. It hadn't. He received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop his waste removal technology.

North Carolina native Robert Lee Vann was a pioneer of journalism during his lifetime. He served as editor of "The Pittsburgh Courier" which was the largest black newspaper in circulation until Vann’s death in 1940. He was recently commemorated in his hometown of Ahoskie, NC with a long-earned historical marker. Marvin Jones of the Chowan Discovery Group and Cash Michaels, editor of The Carolinian, join host Frank Stasio to talk about both Vann's legacy and the legacy of the black press.

Businessman Kevin Trapani will tell you that his company, Redwoods Group, does well by doing good.  Redwoods Group recently won an award that validates his claim. B-Lab, an organization that certifies socially responsible companies known as B-corps, named it one of the “Best Companies for the World.”

Hal Kwalwasser's examination of successful American school districts continues today with a look at Watauga County in western North Carolina. Kwalwasser documented the dedication of Watauga's teachers and how they work with families to make sure that students thrive in school in his book, “Renewal: Remaking America's Schools for the 21st Century” (R & L Education/2012). He joins host Frank Stasio again for the second part of our conversation on education reform.

Hal Kwalwasser was an anti-trust lawyer before becoming counsel to the Los Angeles Unified School District. He applied his legal skills to America's educational policy to break down the problems and find the solutions recorded in his new book, “Renewal: Remaking America's Schools for the 21st Century” (R & L Education/2012).

Xiu Xiu Always

Jul 5, 2012

The experimental pop band Xiu Xiu has been a fixture on the indie music scene for the past ten years. While they are not famous in the conventional sense, they have a strong cult following. Xiu Xiu has toured the world over and produced eight critically acclaimed albums, including their newest "Always.”

Poet Peter Cole is known for his translations of Hebrew literature and medieval Hebrew poetry, but in his latest translation, "Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition" (Yale University Press/2012),  he explores the spiritual side of Jewish faith.

What did Chapel Hill look like during the Civil Rights Movement? Photographer Jim Wallace captured images for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s student newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel. But Wallace didn’t see fire hoses or police dogs turned on protesters.

Legendary actor and North Carolina native son Andy Griffith has died. Griffith passed away in his home in Dare County this morning at the age of 86.  He was famous for playing iconic TV roles like Ben Matlock and Sheriff Andy Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show.” WUNC reporter Dave DeWitt and host Frank Stasio look back on Griffith’s life and storied career.

NC at the World Saxophone Congress

Jun 29, 2012

Wayne Leechford is a classical baritone saxophonist. Most people haven't heard of classical saxophone, and it is difficult to find classical music specifically written for that instrument. Therefore, Wayne personally commissioned composers to write music for his new album, “Works of Art.”

What becomes of the artifacts a literary lion leaves behind? When writer Reynolds Price died last year, his brother and niece sorted his property which included real estate holdings, an art collection and extensive correspondences with Eudora Welty, William Styron, W. H. Auden and Toni Morrison among other luminaries. Bill and Memsy Price join host Frank Stasio to discuss Reynolds Price's estate and his posthumously published unfinished memoir, "Midstream" (Scribner/2012)

Fresh off of an international tour with Grammy-nominated duo The Foreign Exchange, vocalist Jeanne Jolly is hard at work on her full-length solo debut. The Raleigh native draws inspiration for her songs from the country music classics she grew up listening to, her hometown roots and the grief she’s experienced over losing her mother to cancer.

How much do politics and theater have in common? The stage has long been a place for social critique of political ideologies. And when a politician says something unexpected these days, we call it “going off-script,” reflecting the highly-produced quality of politics.

Solve Locally

Jun 26, 2012

The Independent Weekly recently launched a new series of crossword puzzles called Solve Locally. These are puzzles using local themes and constructed by people who live in the Triangle.

In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act to avoid the Florida controversy during the 2000 election. North Carolina had some $4 million in federal funds coming to it from the HAVA, but the state needed to provide an extra $600,000 in its own voting budget to release those funds. Last week, the House and Senate chose to hold back the $600,000.

Eric Wilson is interested in visionaries like William Blake, the human obsession with calamity and romance literature. It’s a radical departure for the young man who grew up aspiring to become a pro quarterback during his childhood in Taylorsville, North Carolina.

Liz Seymour was in her 50s when she found herself divorced, living in a group house with her foster son and dumpster diving for food. She had left her comfortable, middle class existence willingly in order to find what she calls her "right-sized life." She became an anarchist and activist. Today she is the executive director of the Interactive Resource Center, Greensboro's only day center for people managing homelessness. Liz Seymour joins host Frank Stasio to discuss her journey from orderliness into happy chaos.

Rising Tides

Jun 21, 2012

North Carolina lawmakers are considering a bill that would use historical record rather than scientific methodology to predict rising sea levels. It’s in response to a report released by the North Carolina Coastal Resource Commission, predicting that the sea level will rise 39 inches by 2100.

The Moth

Jun 21, 2012

Al Letson never meant to get into radio. But after the playwright and poet won the Public Radio Talent Quest, he launched onto the public radio airwaves with the show “State of the Re:Union.”

A recent study at North Carolina State University highlights how deceptive advertising affects the brains of consumers. This could have implications for aging and injured brains and how they are able to vet advertising for falsehoods. Host Frank Stasio talks about the study with Stacy Wood, Langdon Distinguished Professor of Marketing at N.C. State University’s Poole College of Management.

Neuropsychologist Mark Solomon didn’t know what he was missing until one day in 1999 when a 1955 bottle of port opened his eyes to the complexity of wine. He soon embarked on a journey that would end with him leaving his career behind to become a wine auctioneer. Host Frank Stasio talks to Mark Solomon, fine wine director at Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales in Hillsborough, about his journey from neuropsychology to wine aficionado.

“One Man…Two Titanium Legs…100 Chickens.” That’s the tag line for a forthcoming documentary called “The Farmer Veteran Project” produced by Vittles Films. The movie centers around the story of Alex Sutton, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who was seriously injured on his final tour of duty.

Logan Mehl-Laituri joined the military before September 11th. After the towers fell, he served in Afghanistan and Iraq doing dangerous work as a forward observer in the Army. He then joined the Air Force, and there he had a powerful religious epiphany that led him to stop serving as he had before. Mehl-Laituri is now a student at Duke Divinity School and the author of a new book “Reborn on the 4th of July” (Intervarsity Press/2012), which details his experience in the military and his ideas about spiritual faith. He joins host Frank Stasio to talk about the book.

So Rich, So Poor

Jun 19, 2012

More than 20 million people in the United States are living in extreme poverty at this moment. That means that the income for a family of 4 is half below the poverty line, or $11,000. Six million people’s incomes consist only of food stamps.

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