Frank Stasio

Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.

From there he went to National Public Radio, where he rose from associate producer to newscaster for All Things Considered. He left that job in 1990 to help start an alternative school in Washington, DC. Frank returned to NPR as a freelance news anchor, guest host of Talk of The Nation and other national programs, and host of special news coverage.

He also presents audio theater workshops for children and teachers and conducts radio journalism workshops for broadcasters in former Soviet-bloc countries. He lives in Durham.

In their budget, Republican state lawmakers proposed $2.6 million in funding for crisis pregnancy centers and anti-abortion organizations. This funding would quadruple the amount given to one particular nonprofit, despite a report from the state Department of Health and Human Services that does not recommend expanding the program.

More than 500,000 American veterans were exposed to nuclear weapons tests from the 1940s to the early 1990s. These so-called “atomic veterans” were not permitted to speak about their participation in the tests until 1996 when the Nuclear Radiation and Secrecy Agreements Laws were repealed. Now the veterans who were exposed to the radiation from the weapons program will be offered a certificate marking their contribution.

Artist Sonny Miles is on a journey back to himself. After a year spent refining mixtape collaborations, he is dropping a new EP: “Gamma.” It is a return to his roots in acoustic soul and pays homage to the last three years he spent learning beat making and hip-hop performance.

Last month, President Donald Trump called Baltimore a “rat and rodent-infested mess” and told four Democratic Congresswomen of color to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” These are just the latest examples of a repeated tactic: the president denigrates women and people of color who oppose him and his policies. What power do his words have and how do they affect the people and the cities he attacks? Popular culture experts Mark Anthony Neal and Natalie Bullock Brown take on that topic with host Frank Stasio in the latest installment of #BackChannel, The State of Things’ recurring series connecting culture and context.

What lessons can the now-deceased Harper Lee teach a modern-day investigative journalist? Writer Casey Cep retraced Lee’s footsteps to a small town in Alabama to find out. She reopened a 1970s murder case that Lee had once obsessively followed: a rural preacher named Reverend Willie Maxwell who was accused of killing five of his family members for insurance money.

Orrin Pilkey was sounding the alarm about climate change and sea level rise long before the topics were part of public consciousness. As an early whistleblower, his work was not always well received, but he pressed on and has authored and edited dozens of books about the environment in the past few decades. His latest book, co-authored with his son Keith, takes a look at some of the unexpected ways climate-related sea level rise will affect the lives and livelihoods of people across the United States.

The opioid epidemic has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans in the past few decades. A newly-released Drug Enforcement Administration database provides insight into how and why this might be happening. The database tracks 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills distributed from 2006 through 2012, and new analysis from The Washington Post draws connections between the number of pills shipped to a particular area and opioid overdose deaths.

More than 40 days have gone by since the North Carolina budget was supposed to be enacted. Since the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, negotiations between Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Roy Cooper have barely budged. Cooper vetoed the latest Republican House budget citing low pay increases for teachers and the absence of Medicaid expansion.

Sankofa Farms was originally supposed to be a school garden in which middle school students could get away from the pressures of the classroom and get their hands dirty in the soil. After the proposal was rejected by the school’s principal, middle-school science teacher Kamal Bell made a much bigger investment in the idea.

The musical legacy of Nina Simone is celebrated throughout the world, but to North Carolina she is a special treasure. Simone was born in the town of Tryon, where efforts are underway to turn her childhood home into a space that reflects her dynamic, complex legacy. Last year the National Trust for Historic Preservation officially designated it a “National Treasure.”

Martha Mobley just cannot stay away from the farm. She grew up on a 1,000 acre livestock operation in Franklin County started by her grandfather in the early 1900s. Some of her earliest memories are of joining her father to deliver sows in a building still standing behind their house.

Ralph Snyderman is known as “The Father of Personalized Medicine.” He used to oversee the selection of medical students at Duke University in his role as chancellor for health affairs at Duke University and Dean of the Duke School of Medicine. He focused on admitting students who showed a clear desire for empathy and to serve the needs of others.

With the nation still in shock and mourning over back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio last weekend, political leaders are being forced to address gun control. President Donald Trump spent the week speaking out against hate and visiting the impacted areas while also attacking any naysayers on Twitter.

WUNC’s Youth Reporting Institute wraps up its summer program this week and the offerings from this year’s cohort reflect many of the complex problems our nation has been grappling with — immigration, LGBTQ rights and mass shootings.

Ocracoke Health Center CEO Cheryl Ballance estimates that anywhere from 8,000-10,000 people visit Ocracoke Island on any given summer weekend. Many visitors catch a ferry back to Cape Hatteras after less than a day, but hundreds of vacation rentals and hotel rooms are consistently filled from late spring to early fall. During those months, the staff of the tiny clinic are stretched to their limits.

A disagreement over who should control settlement money from Volkswagen could cost North Carolinians $92 million. Volkswagen agreed to pay the state that money for selling cars that cheated on emissions tests, but both Governor Roy Cooper and the Republican-led legislature are claiming the right to dole out the funds. 

Somewhere over the rainbow, The State of Things is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the film adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz.” The 1939 movie is best known for its hit musical numbers, fantastical plotline and use of Technicolor. Judy Garland’s career took off after she portrayed Dorothy Gale on her journey through the magical land of Oz, and the film has since become an American cultural touchstone.

Many Americans spend more time looking at screens than they spend outside — or even looking out a window. This increased disconnect between humans and nature comes at a time when scientists warn that the environment is especially vulnerable: the recent National Climate Estimate estimates that annual average temperatures in the U.S. are expected to rise by about 2.5°F in the next few decades. A new collection of nature writing from Appalachia aims to bring readers closer to nature through stories about both the splendor of the mountain region and clear examples of how humans are changing the planet.

After two mass shootings this past weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and President Donald Trump joined in support of states passing “red flag” laws. These laws allow a judge to order a temporary removal of firearms from a person threatening violence against themselves or others.

The number of black farmers in the United States has dropped exponentially since the beginning of the 20th century.  2017 data from the Department of Agriculture shows African Americans make up less than 2 percent of the country’s 3.4 million farmers. That year, there were just over 2,000 black farmers in North Carolina.

More than thirty years after his death, James Baldwin is recapturing the American imagination in politics and popular culture. Black Lives Matter, “Moonlight,” “Between the World and Me,” and Raoul Peck’s Oscar-nominated documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” all resurrect Baldwin’s voice. The major themes of his writing are also evident throughout today’s headlines: police malfeasance, expansive sexuality, class struggle, and the marginalization of black Americans. Baldwin drew on his struggle of overlapping marginalization in his writing — in one interview he described being born poor, black, and gay as “hitting the jackpot” for sourcing material. But his intersectional politics made it hard for the author to find a home with the political movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Baldwin was an exile who remained intensely realistic, patient and hopeful about his country’s transformation.

Family pictures often illustrate everyday milestones — like birthday parties, weddings or family reunions. But they can also illuminate deep and complex stories about communities, values and identity. The new three-part PBS documentary series “Family Pictures USA” follows people from southwest Florida, Detroit and North Carolina as they search to discover what surprising things they can learn from stashed-away images.

The response to mass shootings in Texas and Ohio this weekend illuminated stark differences in state and national political candidates’ stances on gun reform. Among those were Dan McCready and Dan Bishop, two men running in a special election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.

Brunswick Town was once a thriving British port before the Revolutionary War. It was one of the first successful European settlements in the Cape Fear region until the British burned it down in 1776. Archeologists have been exploring the ruins for decades with the help of a map created in 1769, but recent findings are raising new questions about the town’s history.

Man versus wild is an enduring theme in film that continues to draw movie-goers to the box office. From the 1998 IMAX epic “Everest” to the solo-survival story in “Cast Away,” movies about nature probe how experiences in nature shape human’s understanding of their own capabilities.

As of 2016, Greensboro and Winston-Salem had the highest rates of evictions in all of North Carolina. 

A yearlong collaborative reporting project dove into the topic: exploring how evictions create a ripple effect in people’s lives, the role the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem plays in evictions there and a look at one redlined community in Greensboro. 

Recently-released FBI files on Martin Luther King Jr. put his extramarital affairs back into the limelight. But a woman named Dorothy Cotton, who many only know as King’s “other wife,” deserves much more than the label of mistress, according to scholar Jason Miller, professor of English at North Carolina State University. She is a native of Goldsboro, North Carolina whose commitment to grassroots organizing led her from serving as a housekeeper to becoming the only female director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She was charged with running the SCLC's education initiative, the Citizenship Education Program. Two years before her death in 2018, Cotton sat down for an extended interview with Miller.

 

  1. Long before he was CEO of Office Depot, Bruce Nelson was a young kid who had to work to earn his keep.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that political gerrymandering is beyond the reach of federal courts. Is this good news for Democrats or Republicans? Political Junkie Ken Rudin weighs in on what the gerrymandering decision means for North Carolina in particular.

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