The State of Things | Blue Ridge Public Radio

M - F Noon - 1PM

The State of Things host Frank Statio
Credit WUNC-FM

WUNC’s flagship program, “The State of Things” covers many diverse issues and topics in North Carolina. Host Frank Stasio talks with authors, musicians, politicians, policymakers and everyday citizens about subjects that matter to North Carolinians. The program can now be heard in Western North Carolina, M - F from noon to 1, thanks to an ongoing partnership between Blue Ridge Public Radio and WUNC, headquartered in Chapel Hill.

The State of Things is a live show that welcomes comments, feedback and questions from listeners. Call 1.877.962.9862, email sot@wunc.org, or tweet @state_of_things. Follow The State of Things on Facebook or Tumblr.

Get a daily show update, and special news.

Or, join the live audience for remote broadcasts from Greensboro's Triad Stage and Raleigh's Museum of Natural Sciences. And you can listen to Political Junkie Ken Rudin Fridays on the program.

  The Appalachian region is an expansive stretch of hundreds of thousands of miles from the mountains of New York to Mississippi. It is home to more than 25 million people who celebrate diverse cultural traditions, yet its stereotype as a region filled with poor, white farmers still looms large. In the 90s, writer Frank X Walker coined the term “Affrilachia,” to chip away at those stereotypes and render visible the life and work of a more diverse array of residents.

The band Natural Born Leaders describes its sound as “the Fugees meets Black Sabbath.” The Asheville-based group is comprised of five members whose musical styles and influences range from metal and hard rock to hip-hop and folk.

Asheville may be tucked away in the mountains, but it is quickly building a reputation as “climate city,” a home for researchers, scientific entrepreneurs and nonprofit and governmental organizations working to address climate change.

A highway expansion project in Asheville is set to destroy several homes in a historically black community for the third time. Parts of the Burton Street Neighborhood in West Asheville were demolished by state highway projects in the 1950s and 1960s. Now the proposed Interstate 26 connection project will go through the neighborhood again.

The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit investigative news organization based in Washington, DC. This story is part of the Center for Public Integrity’s “Abandoned in America” series, profiling communities connected by their profound needs and sense of political abandonment at a time when President Donald Trump’s administration has declared the nation’s war on poverty “largely over and a success.”

Racial segregation persists in American neighborhoods, and there is an enduring belief that the divide stems from factors like wealth, personal prejudice, and the decision to live among one’s own. In his latest book, housing policy expert Richard Rothstein rips aparts that belief. Instead, he argues decades of deliberate U.S. government policies created the racially-divided neighborhoods that exist across the country today.

Rothstein explains the long term effects of discriminatory housing policies that have led to the wealth and education gaps between white and black Americans. Host Frank Stasio interviews Rothstein about his book “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” (Liveright Publishing/2017).


  Days before Hurricane Florence hit, rural Jones County ordered a mandatory evacuation for all residents. Left were behind dozens of migrant farm workers who woke up on Sept.15 to find waist-high deep water and property floating away.

 Tena Clark may not be a household name, but most people have heard her music. She has written and produced for legends like Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle and Leann Rimes. She won a Grammy for her work with Natalie Cole, and contributed to the soundtracks for hit movies like “Hope Floats” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

Ana Nuñez was nine years old before she ever stepped foot inside a grocery store or tasted an apple. Nuñez grew up in Cuba with intermittent access to food and medicine and abundant electricity shortages. In 1991 her father defected to the United States, and a couple years later the family followed.

Millions of Americans were glued to their screens last Thursday when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford told her story of sexual assault to the Senate Judiciary Committee and an angry Brett Kavanaugh defended his name against the allegations. A similar battle played out more than two decades ago during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.

Selective taxes on items like cigarettes and alcohol are often imposed by the U.S. government to help consumers make better choices. But according to economist Todd Nesbit, these so-called “sin taxes” can have unintended consequences that thwart this mission.

Two years ago, the Afrofuturist digital makerspace in Durham started offering hip-hop workshops. Local students gathered at Blackspace to learn about writing and met each Friday night in a public park to rap and make beats. Out of those gatherings, a group of students – who call themselves the Blackspace Afronauts – put together their first album: “Revenge Of The Afronauts.”

The man once known fondly as “America’s Dad” now faces three to 10 years in state prison. 81-year-old Bill Cosby was sentenced last week for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, one of more than 60 women who has come forward with assault allegations against Cosby.

As Hurricane Florence flood waters continue to recede, thousands of students are still out of school in North Carolina. Estimates show this storm caused three times as much damage to the state’s schools as Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Mirsad Hadzikadic left his home of Yugoslavia in 1984 to earn a Ph.D. in the United States. He spent more than three decades as a professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina Charlotte but never forgot his roots.

Kitchens in America’s top-rated restaurants have long been a boys club in which men hold the positions of power and women have to play by their rules, even when they cross the line. However, the reaction to allegations against top chefs and media darlings like Mario Batali show that the tides may be turning as the #MeToo movement enters the kitchen.

State lawmakers hold a special session Tuesday to discuss the response to Hurricane Florence. Legislators will decide how much money to appropriate for disaster relief while citizens and state agencies are still trying to tally up the damages.

When writer Jo Maeder’s parents split up, she vividly remembers her dad announcing: I’m retiring and moving to Miami. Who is coming with me? She was eager to pick up her life and start anew and spent her late high school and early college years under her father’s supervision. But despite the time they spent together, Maeder feels like she did not really get to know her father until after he passed away.

Scholar Lawrence Grossberg has spent decades documenting the rise of the political right. In his latest book, he places the rise of President Trump within the historical timeline of American conservatism.

“Under The Cover Of Chaos: Trump and the Battle for the American Right” (Pluto Press/ 2018) digs into how the turmoil of the Trump presidency has spurred an “explosion of vital and diverse forms of organizing” on the left, but also how that organizing has bypassed real conversations that acknowledge the core of political disagreements and develop long-term strategy.

When Melina Kibbe took the helm of the department of surgery at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in 2016, she was only the 15th woman in the country in that role. Beyond carving a path as a woman in a top spot in the medical world, Kibbe is also on a mission for sex equity in research.

Most horror movies are meant to be spooky and scary...but bad acting or cheap special effects can turn a terrifying tale into campy one. The classic example is “Evil Dead” or a B movie like “Plan 9 From Outer Space.”

Some films blend horror with humor, two genres that some would call opposites. “Shaun of the Dead” and “Young Frankenstein” are two well-known comedy-horror movies.

The sounds of bluegrass have taken over the streets and venues of Raleigh. The International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass is a five-day event that strings together free downtown shows, ticketed showcases, a business of bluegrass conference and the illustrious annual International Bluegrass Music Awards

Many subgenres of bluegrass can be quickly traced back to Christian values and ideals, but that is not the case for the music of Nefesh Mountain. The husband and wife team fuse traditional bluegrass music with elements of their own Jewish heritage and traditions. They were recognized for this approach during a panel discussion about diversity and inclusion at this year’s International Bluegrass Music Association business conference. 

 Bluegrass has been a part of Becky Buller’s life since she was five years old. She grew up as the fiddler in her family band in Minnesota, received classical violin lessons and learned about bluegrass fiddling from other musicians at various music festivals. 

 The historic flooding from Florence has eased, but communities and environmentalists are just beginning to take stock of the damage it caused.

Marie Antoinette’s biggest crime was being born to a family of wealth and privilege during a time of political upheaval. She was executed by guillotine. 

In his new book, political science professor Patrick Deneen calls on readers to take a long, hard look at America’s oft-exalted liberal ideology.

What happens when the world of fine art and the world of filmmaking meet? This month on Movies on the Radio, The State of Things is not tackling the art of movie-making, but rather the art of making movies about art. 

Do large-scale hog farms make their neighbors sick? A new study from Duke University researchers show residents who live close to industrial hog farms have a higher risk of potentially deadly diseases. 

There are over 2.2 billion people who use Facebook at least once a month. The social networking site is one of the largest companies in the world and Forbes has ranked Facebook as one of the most valuable brands. 

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