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.

Rib spreaders allow doctors the ability to get inside the human chest and fix the internal organs. However, these devices, created in the 1930s, can do a great deal of damage to ribs, nerves and ligaments. Hugh Crenshaw and Charles Pell, co-founders of the medical technology company Physcient wanted to change that, so they designed a new kind of rib spreader, one that spares the patient the needless agony caused by old models. Host Frank Stasio talks to Crenshaw and Pell about their medical innovation.

Bull City

May 29, 2012

In Stuart Albright's new novel, "Bull City" (McKinnon Press/2012), protagonist Sid Ellison is a high-school teacher living peacefully in Appalachia. But when a crime hits close to home, he is forced to return to Durham, NC and confront an unresolved past.

Special: The Monti American Graduate

May 28, 2012

The Monti - American Graduate Special is an hour of true stories from the front lines of North Carolina’s high school drop out crisis. It's hosted by Jeff Polish. He's the founder of The Monti, a local non-profit whose stated mission is to create community through the story-telling. For this collaboration with WUNC, Jeff sought out North Carolinians with personal stories to tell about the struggles that get in the way of a successful high school education.

The Fracas over Fracking

May 25, 2012

Just a few years ago North Carolina state geologists began reporting that prehistoric geologic formations beneath our feet may be good candidates for shale and gas deposits. The only way to release such deposits is through hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Other states like Pennsylvania and New York have legalized fracking in recent years, but have had to retroactively enact regulations on the practice. North Carolina wants to do it differently.

White Flour

May 25, 2012

Five years ago, the Ku Klux Klan held a rally in the town square of Knoxville, TN. Instead of responding to hatred with hatred, a group called the Coup Clutz Clowns responded with humor. When Klan members yelled, "White Power!” the clowns yelled back, "White Flour!".

Jule Brown

May 25, 2012

Mark Holland and his twin brother Michael found success in the music industry with the band Jennyanykind. They were signed to a major label in the mid-90s and in 1994, Mark created Jule Brown, a southern blues and rock persona to serve as a solo side-act to Jennyanykind.

Last month, a conference in Greensboro brought together more than 70 attorneys, activists and average citizens to talk about human and civil rights violations at the hands of law enforcement. Among the issues discussed were racial profiling, police brutality, mass incarceration, torture and rendition. The event was a call to action and the message was that every member of society is responsible for speaking out about abuses of state power.

The changing needs of today's workforce are transforming our system of higher education. For-profit colleges are an integral part of that change, but controversy plagues them, including worries over low graduation rates and the high volume of federal loans for its students. How is higher education going to continue to transform in the future, and what role will for-profit colleges play?

The North Carolina Hops & Roots Festival brings together local music, local beer, and food grown on local farms.

Angeline Echeverría grew up the daughter of two Cuban immigrants, but it wasn't until she came to the South that she truly learned about racism. Her exposure to racial injustice led her to a life of social activism that has taken her to Arkansas, Costa Rica and New York. In April, she became the executive director of the Latino advocacy organization El Pueblo in North Carolina.

As the John Edwards trial winds down, North Carolina sits back to watch the final act of a Greek tragedy: the rise and fall of one of its native sons. Edwards is charged with using more than a million dollars of political donations to hide his extramarital affair. If convicted, he faces more than 30 years in jail. Host Frank Stasio gets an update on the trial from WUNC reporter Jeff Tiberii.

For the past 25 years, North Carolina’s once-vibrant furniture industry has been dwindling. Factories have moved abroad and thousands of jobs have been lost. But now, things might be turning around. As countries like China develop a higher standard of living, it's no longer cheaper for companies to move there. Some businesses are finding it cheaper to operate in the U.S. where, conveniently, there already are empty factories and a trained workforce.

On the album "Muse and Bones," Crystal Bright's voice is clear and theatrical. She plays accordion, saw, keyboards, adungu, concertina, and bombo.

The Woodwright's Shop

May 17, 2012

Roy Underhill has been host of “The Woodwright's Shop” on PBS since 1979, making his show the network’s longest running “how-to” program. Underhill’s show is designed to reconnect us with our woodworking roots and he offers strategies on how to make everything from book stands to full-size furniture.

Rosemary Thornton may have driven by your house a few times. She may have even slowed down, whipped out her camera and snapped a few pictures. But, she’s not casing the place. Thornton is documenting history. If she’s interested in your dwelling, it’s likely you live in a kit home, a mail-order house that could be purchased out of a catalog in the early 20th century.

Ntozake Shange’s 1977 choreopoem, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” rocked audiences when it was initially staged in California and later on Broadway. It has since been performed on stage countless times around the world and was recently adapted into a film directed by Tyler Perry.

Given the popularity of dual language immersion programs in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School District, the school board is considering establishing a dual language elementary magnet school. But where? Chapel Hill-Carrboro has never had a magnet school, but rapid growth is occasioning a new elementary school in the district. Whenever a new school is built, the board examines its programs and its service and considers how to do a better job. But the magnet school proposal could involve moving hundreds of kids around and upsetting parents in the process.

In a new News & Observer series, reporter Joe Neff uncovered tough, unethical tactics that hospitals use to make money. Neff writes that hospital CEOs get big paydays while poor patients are subject to ruthless harassment from bill collectors. Host Frank Stasio talks to Neff about how North Carolina hospitals are making big profits and driving up the costs of health care for everybody.

Wiley Cash's debut novel, "A Land More Kind than Home" (William Morrow/2012), captures the cadence and character of a small, western North Carolina town. After a dangerous preacher causes the death of one townsperson, tragedy strikes

If 6 Was 9

May 15, 2012

David Klein is obsessed with numbers. More specifically, he’s interested in songs with numbers in their titles. Klein has written a whole book about it, covering the numbers 1 through 33, and he plans to ultimately take this project all the way up to 100.

Singer-songwriter Tom Maxwell was an eyewitness to how the Chapel Hill, NC music scene changed in the 1990s after it was dubbed “the new Seattle” by music critics. Suddenly, local rock bands were being courted and exploited by major record labels and making music became less fun for Maxwell.

Alex Grant is Scottish, not Chinese. But he's long been fascinated by Chinese poetry from the 9th century. For his new book he created a 9th century Chinese poet and he tells his life story through a series of poems.

Jo Gore and The Alternative

May 11, 2012

It's no surprise that Jo Gore's got a thing for soul and jazz. She grew up singing in the choir at a Columbus County Baptist Church, and soul music was a regular sound in her house.

A group of Duke University undergraduates decided to fulfill the requirements for a group project by asking their peers on campus, "Who needs feminism?" To their surprise, the world answered them. Their project’s Tumblr blog has received more than 80,000 visits from 144 countries and 11,000 people have "liked" their page on Facebook.

Take a moment and consider how utterly amazing the mobile is. They hang over babies’ cribs, in classrooms, children’s museums, toy stores and candy shops. The whimsical moving sculptures that transform with the power of wind were invented by Alexander Calder in the 1930s.

Popular representations of World War II often portray the drama that took place overseas. But a battle between German U-Boats and American and British ships happened off the North Carolina coast as well. The Germans sunk nearly 400 ships, including the H.M.S. Bedfordshire.

Businesses in North Carolina with three or more employees are required by law to purchase workers’ compensation insurance if they can’t cover the cost of employees’ injuries outright. But, News & Observer reporter Mandy Locke discovered this law is seldom enforced and that thousands of employees are put at risk everyday on the job. 

Writer Marjorie Hudson is drawn to people who are lost, mostly because their journeys toward home fascinate her. She was lost herself once, living and working too hard in Washington D.C. When she came to visit a friend in the Triangle, she had a very visceral feeling of being found.

Techno-Classical

May 8, 2012

Alex Kotch is a student of classical composition in graduate school at Duke University, but he also has a love of techno beats. Kotch combined his music education with his passion for electronica in a dance-party dissertation at the Duke Coffeehouse in April.

Meet Joe Liles

May 7, 2012

On the Appalachian Trail, there’s a phenomenon that hikers call “trail magic.” It refers to acts of kindness and generosity that take place between strangers on the trail.

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