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.

When Nadia Orton’s kidneys were failing, she sent letters to friends and relatives in the hopes that someone could be a donor or help defray the cost. Orton’s great-aunt Philgradore responded with money from her church. So a few years later, when Aunt Phil asked on her deathbed that her family not be forgotten, Orton knew she had to find a way to honor her ancestors. The problem was that she didn’t know who they were, or where to find them.

Tyrannosaurus Rex is one of the most beloved dinosaurs in American popular culture. But the tyrant king’s background was never entirely clear. A 70 million-year gap in the fossil record had left scientists wondering where the bone-crushing creature came from and how it rose to dominance. A new discovery by researchers at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University is helping paleontologists answer that question. 

Hollywood loves to feed us stories of good friendships and happy endings. At first glance, "The Best of Enemies" seems to fit that mold. The film tells the story of civil rights advocate Ann Atwater and Ku Klux Klan leader C. P. Ellis. The pair vehemently hated each other yet managed to gain respect for one another as they argued opposite sides of the school integration debate. Author Osha Gray Davidson, who wrote the book upon which the movie was based, explains how their story goes much deeper than an improbable friendship to examine the complex constructions of race and class in Southern society. 

Graham Nash is best known as a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer, songwriter and musician. A co-founder of the British pop group The Hollies, Nash went on to form a little group called Crosby, Stills & Nash. Both groups would get him inducted into the Hall of Fame, but his work with Crosby, Stills, Nash and later, Young, became the voice of a generation. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1969 with huge success in the U.S. and their legacy would include songs that remain part of American culture.

Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady is the latest to step down from the Department of Homeland Security. The week began with the departure of Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security secretary.

Most people think of white supremacy and racialized hate groups as being organized around beliefs. But author Kelly Baker points to their important use of things.

In her essay “The Artifacts of White Supremacy,” she reveals how the Klan appropriated Protestant imagery and objects to brand themselves, recruit members and attempt to gain legitimacy. She says the white supremacists’ use of the white robe, fiery cross and even the American flag was an attempt at making their beliefs more tangible and more performative.

Naval aviator Lt. Wes Van Dorn signed up to pilot MH-53E helicopters big, heavy single-rotor aircraft with assurances he’d be home on most days to have dinner with his family and tuck his son into bed at night.

But as the Greensboro native soon discovered, maintenance and supply issues often kept the choppers grounded, and maintainers and pilots like him at work. In 2014, Van Dorn was killed in a training exercise off the coast of Virginia along with two sailors, leaving his wife Nicole and two young boys behind.

North Carolina House Republicans touted a bill on Tuesday that would expand health coverage to more uninsured adults who make too much to qualify for Medicaid. 

Wendell Potter spent two decades in senior positions at major health insurance companies before he became a whistleblower. A crisis of conscience sprung up while he was publicly praising policies that he knew were contributing to the rising number of uninsured and underinsured people in the U.S.

The state Department of Environmental Quality ordered Duke Energy to excavate six coal ash ponds last week. Duke wanted to leave the ash in place and cover it, which is a much cheaper solution. The energy company estimates it will cost an additional $4 to $5 billion to clean up these six sites.

The searing and beautiful portraits in the collection “Blue Muse: Timothy Duffy’s Southern Photographs” seem born of a bygone era. Indeed Duffy made his pictures using a Civil War-era technique called the wet plate tintype that limited his shoots to just one or two frames per day. But his subjects, or collaborators as he calls them, are accustomed to sweating under bright lights and performing for an audience. They are the blues, gospel and roots musicians Duffy has been recording his entire career.

Hall of Fame University of North Carolina Women’s College Basketball Coach Sylvia Hatchell and her staff have been placed on paid leave as UNC-CH sorts through complaints by parents. The Washington Post reports the suspension emerged after a meeting between administrators and parents of current players who alleged Hatchell pushed injured team members to play through the pain, that players were not given proper medical care, and that she made racially insensitive comments to the team.

  

Shana Tucker remembers the day the Uptown String Quartet came to Howard University. There had been many jazz musicians who came to play and mentor students while she attended the school, but this was different.

 

The relationship between the United States and its territory of Puerto Rico is complicated — and Anabel Rosa is stuck right in the middle of it. When she was a girl growing up in Puerto Rico, she dreamed of living in the mainland U.S. As a teenager, she gave up her quinceañera for a trip to New York City.

A U.S. District Court indicted the chair of the North Carolina Republican Party Robin Hayes earlier this week on charges that include bribery, wire fraud and aiding and abetting. Hayes allegedly tried to funnel money to the reelection campaign of the state’s insurance commissioner. What does this indictment mean for the state’s Republican Party?

The North Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this week that would force county sheriff departments to assist with detaining immigrants or face a stiff fine. This bill comes in the wake of many sheriff departments around the state choosing to end their cooperation with  Immigrations and Customs Enforcement through both detainers and the 287 (g) program.

Singer-songwriter Abigail Dowd’s latest album reflects her years-long process of coming home. In 2009 the folk artist moved to Florence, Italy and then to Maine in search of herself. She swore she would never come back.

Legal Aid of North Carolina just released details of a $75,000 settlement involving three labor contractors who recruited 13 workers from Mexico to work in North Carolina through the federal H-2A visa program.

Juana Luz Tobar Ortega took sanctuary in a Greensboro church two years ago to avoid deportation back to Guatemala. She and her family hoped taking refuge there would be a short-term step. A documentary film captured her early weeks spent living in the church and stayed with her as the weeks turned to months. The film shows Juana as she tries to keep busy and stay positive, all the while showing the pain and sadness she and her family feel at living apart. 

Paula Vogel’s play “How I Learned to Drive” tells the story of Li’l Bit, a 35-year-old woman looking back at painful and humorous moments of her far-too-early sexual awakening at the deft and exploitative hands of her Uncle Peck. When it first hit the stage in 1997, it stealthily took audiences along for the ride as it revealed tightly-sealed truths about sexual abuse. Today’s #MeToo-era audiences will find the work just as searing as it adds to the conversations about sexual trauma and its long-lasting wounds. 

Women in North Carolina are likely aware that they make, on average, less than men do. New analysis from the National Partnership for Women & Families shows just how much and to what effect. Their new report reveals that women in North Carolina could afford nearly nine additional months of rent, close to a full year of child care, or more than five months of health insurance premiums if the gender wage gap was closed. 

In 1948, a plane deporting 28 migrant farmworkers crashed in Fresno County, California killing 32 people. In some of the press coverage, reporters omitted only the names of the migrants, while naming the flight crew and security.

Santiago Ramón y Cajal had dreams of becoming an artist, not a doctor. But he followed his father’s urging and went to medical school, later earning a Nobel prize for the way he furthered understanding of how messages are transmitted to, from and through the brain and nervous system. Cajal managed to merge science and art all along, however, through the meticulous and imaginative way he illustrated brain cells. 

The chair of the North Carolina Republican Party has been arrested on bribery and conspiracy charges. Robin Hayes, along with political donor Greg Lindberg and two others were indicted as part of an ongoing investigation into their alleged effort to influence the state insurance commissioner.

Poetry has always been at the center of the friendship between Alan Shapiro and Jonathan Farmer. They met when Farmer took a poetry class from Shapiro at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and in the early days they often argued about poetry. Today they agree more often but still have a lot to discuss with one another in their regular meetups.

Ruth Reichl’s first experience with Gourmet magazine was in a dusty bookstore when she was 8 years old. She found an old issue that captivated her and inspired her to try cooking at home. Those early experiences with food later inspired a career.

Tony Brown grew up in Walkertown, North Carolina in a home with no indoor plumbing and no television. His parents boiled water in a kettle to use for their baths, and the kids were not allowed to attend sporting events or movies.

The plan to establish a Durham-Orange Light Rail line is over. The GoTriangle board of trustees voted Wednesday to discontinue planning for the 18-mile line that would have connected the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and UNC Hospitals with Duke University and Duke Hospital and end at North Carolina Central University. 

The Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble may be a group of teenagers but they pack a serious musical punch. For the fourth year in a row, the ensemble made the cut to compete on stage at New York’s Lincoln Center as part of the Essentially Ellington Competition. More than 100 bands tried out for the competition with only the top 15 earning a spot.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first drug specifically designed to treat postpartum depression. Marketed as Zulresso, it is administered intravenously and reports results within 48 hours.

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