Frank Stasio bids WUNC goodbye today as he hosts his last live show before retirement. Stasio hosted thousands of live conversations in his 14 years as permanent host of The State of Things, with guests ranging from politicians and musicians to academics and activists.
For the last live show, Stasio reconnects with two old friends to share memories and stories from his time as host. Rose Hoban was a reporter at WUNC before heading off into the digital journalism sphere. She founded and is now an editor and reporter for North Carolina Health News.
He is also joined by Howard Craft, a playwright and arts educator. Craft was a frequent guest of the show, and he and Frank jointly created the superhero audio drama “Jade City Pharoah.” After Stasio announced his retirement in September, listeners emailed and called WUNC with their stories and best wishes. As part of his last show, Stasio reflects on listeners’ recorded memories about their favorite parts of the program.
Stasio also talks with WUNC’s president and general manager Connie Walker about his retirement, the decision to end “The State of Things” and the future of programming at WUNC. The show will continue airing until Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. Rebroadcasts of Stasio’s favorite interviews from his time as host will play Tuesdays and Thursdays, and host Anita Rao will conduct new live interviews Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Today is Frank’s last live edition of The State of Things. We will air a pre-recorded conversation between him and writer Haven Kimmel this Friday, Nov. 27, and you will be hearing his favorites from the archives every Tuesday & Thursday in December. Anita Rao will be hosting live on Monday, Wednesday & Friday in December.
Walker describing the decision to cancel “The State of Things”:
Anytime we make a programming change, it’s always always somewhat controversial. ... We use a program that takes those [name ratings] ratings and dives deep into listener loyalty. ... We’re feeling a bit of financial insecurity right now. We looked at all of those factors and decided to put a pause on the show. … I didn’t want to put the staff under a huge burden trying to figure out the future.
Walker answering questions about a growing need for local news:
WUNC has always been a great station for local content. It’s been the heart and meat of what we do. … This is kind of a phase of experimentation. And at this point, we're planning to move the rest of “The State of Things” staff into other areas of local content production, maintaining some things about the show. At this point, I can't really discuss the details of what their positions will be. But we are looking toward where audiences are moving at this point. I see this as kind of a phase of experimentation. … For the short term, we want to figure out how to incorporate the team into other projects. And some of that might be podcasts, some reporting projects.
Walker’s view of the financial future of WUNC:
We're fortunate, actually, to not be in the position of many other public radio stations right now, which is sometimes ending shows purely for financial reasons — laying staff off, sometimes across the board. Some are furloughing people or cutting staff salaries. Even NPR has had to do some of that. My philosophy has always been to try not to lay people off. And we're fortunate to have enough listener support and cash reserves that we should be okay.