The Story

Photo: Idris Brewster and Seun Summers
American Promise film

Over the course of 13 years, Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson filmed their son's progress through the elite New York City prep school called Dalton. As an African-American family in a predominantly white school, the years were challenging for everyone.

Their documentary American Promise airs on  UNC-TV Thursday 2/6/14 at 10 p.m.

A year ago, Dick Gordon talked with Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson when they were in Durham N.C. for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

Photo: Mohammed, Mais and little Lamees wait in the airport in Amman to come to the U.S.
Ahmed Fadaam

In the last show of WUNC's The Story, we check in with guests who came on the program at moments when their lives were in transition.

When Deyanira Chavez was first on the show, she’d come to the United States from Mexico, undocumented, and was about to begin studying architecture in college.  Today, after much difficulty, we find her back in Mexico.

Dick Gordon, host of the The Story
Indaia Whitcombe

Friday is the last day for The Story on WUNC.  The program's host, Dick Gordon, is leaving the station after eight years with the nationally distributed show.  He spoke with Morning Edition's Eric Hodge one last time Friday morning.

ERIC HODGE: Good morning Dick.


HODGE: So, why the move, Mr. Gordon?

Rachel McCarthy (left) & Carol Jackson with Dick Gordon
Jorge Valencia / The Story

New evening time for State of Things, debut of On Being and Q as The Story broadcasts end on WUNC 

Illustration: 'Lady Madonna' single cover
Capitol Records

When Michael Humphrey was growing up, he would sometimes hear his father telling strangers a story about how the Beatles stole a song he wrote. People would almost always be confused and bewildered – and Michael would wish he weren’t there. “It didn’t matter to me whether it was true or not. It was just embarrassing that something so outrageous was being said,” he remembers. In this conversation, Humphrey tells host Dick Gordon how he eventually looked into his father’s claim that the Beatles stole the composition for “Lady Madonna.” Humphrey interviewed his father, and set out to find sheet music and anyone close to Paul McCartney who would speak to him.

Photo: Nate Kalichman and Paula Givan
Paula Givan

Nate Kalichman was 90 and Paula Givan was 67 when they got married. Sit with them and it seems like their love is brand new and like they’ve been married for years. In this 2012 conversation with host Dick Gordon, they share their stories of finding love late in life and making plans.

Also in this show: Tending Monet’s Garden, and Judy Garland’s flight attendant on a cross-country flight.

In A Classroom, Two Longtime Rivals Meet

Oct 7, 2013
Photo: Michael Wilder and Yafinceio Harris
Peace During War

When Yafinceio Harris and Michael Wilder were growing up in a tough neighborhood of Kalamazoo, Mich., they were members of rivaling crews that often came close to armed confrontation. Once, Harris, also known as "Big B," followed Wilder, known as "Too Short," and almost killed him in a street fight. They both spent time in prison, and eventually had a meeting neither expected – in the classroom of a community college.

Looking To Clean India’s Holy Ganges River

Oct 3, 2013
Photo: A girl by the Ganges River in the city of Varanasi
Indaia Whitcombe

The Ganges, the 1,500-mile river flowing through Northern India, is one of the holiest yet most polluted places in the country. It is a place where people pray, and a place where people wash and bathe. Producer Phoebe Judge travels to the city of Varanasi, on the river’s left bank, where she meets people who live along the Ganges and want to clean it up the sewage that pours into it every day.

Life On The Chicken Processing Line

Oct 2, 2013
Photo: A woman working in chicken processing plant
Frontier Centre For Public Policy

Photo: A grizzly at Glacier National Park near St. Mary Lake, Mont.
Flickr user Mario Quevedo

Joe Williams was a 20-year-old looking for adventure on his first day working at Glacier National Park when he and a friend spotted a female grizzly bear. Williams got tangled with the bear, getting mauled and fighting back, while his friend was able to run for help. Williams recounts the event to host Dick Gordon in this conversation and explains what the event has come to mean to him in the years since.

Growing Up In The White House

Sep 30, 2013
Photo: Former President Lyndon B. Johnson and First Lady Lady Bird Johnson with their daughters Lynda Bird Johnson, left, and Luci Baines Johnson in this Nov. 30, 1963, family photo.
LBJ Library Photo by Yoichi Okamoto

Luci Baines Johnson was a teenager in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed and her father, Lyndon Johnson, was thrust into the presidency. That year, the family moved into the White House, and Luci was fully aware of the tragic reason for their move. In this conversation with host Dick Gordon, she talks about the day she became the first daughter.

Photo: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Cananda, 2009
Annie Leibovitz from 'Pilgramage.' 2011

Photographer Annie Leibovitz started shooting celebrity portraits for Rolling Stone in 1970, and today she regularly shoots the covers for magazines like Vanity Fair and Vogue. After the loss of her partner, Susan Sontag, and a significant financial upheaval , Leibovitz needed to get out of the studio.

She wanted to shoot whatever she liked, whenever she liked. Traveling to a series of historic locations, including Emily Dickinson's house, Thoreau's cabin, and Virginia Woolf's writing room, she photographed objects and places. The photos, lit only by natural light, show us a very different side of Leibovitz's work.  Guest host Phoebe Judge asks Leibovitz about her new collection.

After The Lebanese Civil War, An Apology

Sep 26, 2013
Photo: Assaad Chaftari walking through an exhibition of people who disappeared during the Lebanese Civil War.
Sleepless Nights documentary

During the Lebanese Civil War of the 1970s and 1980s, Assaad Chaftari served as a soldier and an intelligence official for the Christian militia. He was responsible for the death of many Lebanese Muslims, and it wasn’t until years after the war ended and he heard his son making disparaging remarks about Muslims that he decided to repent publicly for his actions. He sent a letter to a local news agency and received some surprising responses.

Photo: Sheila (left) and her sister Kathleen before their parents sent them to Boston
Sheila Hutton

As rumblings of the war were heard in England in the late 1930s, thousands of families began sending their children to countries they thought would be safer. So when Sheila Hutton was 7, her parents shipped her from her home in an English coastal town to Boston. Six years later, when the war had ended and she’d become a teenager, she returned and had only a navy blue head scarf for her mother to recognize her.

Photo: 'Lookaway, Lookaway' book cover
St. Martin's Press

When Wilton Barnhardt graduated from high school in North Carolina, he left for college with no plans to return. He went on what would become a two-decade tour of New York City, Oxford, New Orleans and Los Angeles. Then, even though he’d bet he’d never go back home, he ended up teaching in Raleigh, N.C.

For Accused Witches In West Africa, A Last Resort

Sep 19, 2013
Photo: A 'Witch Camp' in Kukuo, a small community near the Oti river in the northern region of Ghana.
Leo Igwe

When Leo Igwe was a child in Nigeria, he saw his father get beaten for being accused of witchcraft. Igwe has made it his life’s work to help people accused of being witches and visits the camps where they take refuge.

Also in this show: For the last five years, photographer Murray Ballard has followed the practice of cryogenics and the people who choose to freeze themselves after death in the hopes that technology will allow them to come back to life.

Photo: Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist
All Eyes Media

About eight years ago, long-time musicians and partners Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler moved from their native Cincinnati to an 1830s brick farm house in rural Ohio. The latest album their band Over the Rhine put out is inspired by the place they live, and is a love letter and an ode to the joy of home. They speak with host Dick Gordon about the place they call “Nowhere Farm” and their album “Meet Me At The Edge Of The World.”

Photo: Paul Corby
Karen Corby

Paul Corby is a 24-year old Pennsylvania man in need of a new heart, but he has not been placed on a transplant list. Paul is autistic and doctors have deemed him ineligible. His mother Karen Corby tells host Dick Gordon how she’s been fighting for two years to get Paul a new heart. She says time is running out.

A Soldier's Eye: Rediscovered Photos From Vietnam

Sep 13, 2013
A portrait of Charlie Haughey
Charlie Haughey

Charlie Haughey returned home from Vietnam with almost 2000 photo negatives of his fellow soldiers.  He put them in a box and left them there for 45 years, untouched, until a friend encouraged him to digitize them. Charlie says seeing them brings back the war, and "things I did not take pictures of. And there are some that are, to me, just the scariest pictures in the world."

Vivian Howard, Chef and the Farmer
Vivian Howard

Working in famous New York City restaurants, Vivian Howard swore she’d never move back to her home state of North Carolina.  Then, in 2005, when she decided to open her restaurant, her family offered financial help with a catch: She had to open the restaurant near her home town.

"I was against it," she remembers.

But Howard and her husband Ben Knight wound up moving to the 20,000-population city of Kinston, N.C., and opened an upscale restaurant.

Photo: A Boeing CH-47 Chinook
U.S. Department of Defense

Carina Roselli faced enemy fire in Iraq while flying helicopters to move soldiers and cargo between bases. She never stepped foot in the rest of the country – until this summer when she returned as a civilian environmental worker and found herself having candid and surprising conversations with Iraqis about violence in their country.

Photo: A child in a camp for Syrian refugees
Deb Barry

Deb Barry of Save The Children has been working in one of the refugee camps for Syrians, in Erbil, Iraq. She says the smallest things, like an ink pen and notebook, bring a small measure of normalcy to children’s’ lives.

Terry Tempest Williams

Western writer Terry Tempest Williams was given a gift by her mother as she was dying: her journals - three shelves of them. When she sat down to read them, she found that they were all blank. Terry Tempest Williams has spent 25 years sorting out the message her mother meant to give her.

Also in this show: Photographer Charlotte Dumas likes to photograph working animals, and spent time at night in the stables of Arlington National Cemetery.

Dessa’s Parts of Speech

Sep 5, 2013
Photo: Portrait of Dessa
Shore Fire Media

She uses just the one name, but don’t be fooled by that brevity. Dessa, a rapper from Minneapolis, has earned a following with her song-writing skills and her work as the only female member of the hip hop collective Doomtree. In this conversation with host Dick Gordon, she talks about her path from philosophy student to poet to rapper.