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.

Female and queer artists will make up a majority of the lineup at this year’s Moogfest in downtown Durham. It’s a roster that pushes back against the prominence of men as the creators, performers and promoters in the electronic music industry.

In 2014, former President Barack Obama’s health care law gave states the option to expand Medicaid. North Carolina was among 18 states who chose not to expand the program. At the time, many officials in those states expressed concern over how much expansion would cost.

Nearly 40 school districts in North Carolina will close schools on Wednesday, May 16. That is the opening day for the legislative session, and thousands of teachers from around the state plan to protest in Raleigh for better pay and working conditions. The demonstration comes as teachers strike and walk out in other states around the country, like Arizona, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

Greensboro will host its first-ever literary festival this weekend. 50 planned events will feature more than 80 writers who are as diverse as the topics they cover, including authors who are undocumented, gender fluid, and from a range of other religious and ethnic backgrounds.

Under the umbrella of “alternative country,” you will find the music of Farewell Friend. Guitarist and vocalist Tom Troyer, guitarist Mark Byerly, and upright bass player Evan Campfield perform live at the Triad Stage’s Upstage Cabaret in Greensboro.

Candis Cox was working as a representative with American Airlines at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport when she was thrust into the role of political activist. Cox is a transgender woman, and after the passage of North Carolina House Bill 2, she was told she could no longer use the bathroom that aligned with her gender identity.

Waffle House has become embroiled in a new public scandal, and African-American activists are calling for a boycott. Early this week, a video went viral of 22-year-old Anthony Wall getting choked by a police officer outside of a Waffle House in Warsaw, North Carolina.

Two weeks ago, 10 Bladen county residents were awarded $5 million each in punitive damages after winning a hog nuisance lawsuit against Murphy-Brown/Smithfield Foods. This week U.S. District Judge Earl Britt severely cut the award. Instead of the millions they were expecting, the plaintiffs will each get only $250,000.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the North Carolina Arts Council, the state agency decided to profile 50 artists with North Carolina roots. The project is called “50 for 50,” and it includes artists from bestselling-author David Sedaris to poet and musician Shirlette Ammons.

This year is the 50th anniversary of mandolin player Tony Williamson’s recording career. Throughout the years, he has played with bluegrass legends like Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs and Sam Bush. But in the 1980s, Williamson suffered a series of accidents and injuries, and a surgeon told him he would never play the mandolin again. He went through a long transition that included experimenting with Chinese medicine, a spiritual awakening and trying to look at the world a little differently.

The highest rent prices in the nation can be found in metropolitan areas like Manhattan or San Francisco. So why is it that Greensboro has some of the highest eviction rates in the country? Greensboro is ranked seventh on the list of the top evicting large cities in the U.S., according to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. 

In Steven Burke and Randy Campbell’s Hillsborough home, 1,200 miniature buildings are on display. The extensive collection of American folk art buildings represent everything from movie theatres, to gas stations, to family homes, and they reflect a wide swath of American architecture.

Many of writer Ariel Dorfman’s works explore power dynamics in a post-colonial world. His latest novel is no exception. “Darwin’s Ghosts” (Seven Stories Press/2018) centers on a man whose life is changed on his 14th birthday when his father takes a Polaroid picture of him. However, in the photo protagonist Fitzroy Foster’s face is not his own. Instead, his face is that of a stranger.

North Carolinians had their say at the polls Tuesday in the 2018 primary election. There were primary challenges in almost every Congressional district, and Democrats running for every legislative seat in the state.

At an Easter dinner gathering in 2016, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s teenage son and his grandfather began to butt heads. The topic was the upcoming election and then-candidate Donald Trump. While his conservative, Christian grandfather supported the idea of “Making America Great Again,” his black son questioned whether or not his grandfather understood what that meant. In an attempt to reconcile these worlds Wilson-Hartgrove wrote “Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion” (IVP Books/2018).

At the arts celebration “A Series of Fortunate Events,” actors, visual artists, and musicians with disabilities showcase their creations and their talent. But the event goes beyond representing art, it is also a platform for artists to advocate for their own place in the North Carolina arts economy.

The Trump administration’s new refugee restrictions have drastically cut the rate of refugees arriving in the United States and in North Carolina. In 2016, more than 3,000 refugees were resettled in the state. In 2017 there were fewer than 2,000 – the lowest rate in at least a decade. With the new stricter federal vetting policies in place, North Carolina is set to admit fewer than 900 refugees by the end of 2018.

Across North Carolina, police departments in urban and rural areas are getting into the drone game. A statewide de facto moratorium on law enforcement drone use ended in 2015. Since then the technology has become more affordable and police departments are purchasing the aerial tools for a range of reasons – from chasing down suspects to showing off to kids at community events.

One in 57 8-year-old children in North Carolina is diagnosed with autism, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But new reporting from North Carolina Health News and EdNC shows many families around the state are struggling to access specialized treatments that could transform how their children with autism behave.

For more than two decades, Charles Johnson was the lead singer for the Durham-based gospel quartet The Sensational Nightingales. His hit single, “It’s Gonna Rain” spent dozens of weeks on the Billboard gospel charts. The album of the same name reportedly sold one million copies.

The 2018 midterm election is shaping up to be one of the most important in recent memory, and much of what happens in November will be determined tomorrow in primary elections around the state. There are no statewide races on the ballot, but there are primary challenges in almost every Congressional district, Democrats running for every legislative seat in the state, and many contentious local races for positions like sheriff and county attorney.

Luis Carlos Serapio crossed the border from Mexico as an undocumented immigrant in the early 1990s. He was looking for a better life. He moved around, from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Utah, and then to the East Coast. After visiting Asheville for a wedding, he and his first wife fell in love with the city. They soon decided to take a leap of faith and just move there.

Rudolph Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York City and now member of President Donald Trump’s legal team, told Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Wednesday that Trump repaid the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump followed up on Twitter the next morning and backed up some of what Giuliani stated adding “money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll (sic) in this transaction.” The repayment claim goes against what Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen have previously said.

When Andy Fisher co-founded the Community Food Security Coalition in 1994, he had a clear goal of advocating for food security. During his 17 years working in conjunction with leaders of the anti-hunger movement, he observed the systems and practices that are holding the movement back.

It was like a fairy tale. Renowned flutist Julius Baker was in town and 11-year-old Mimi Stillman got to meet him. Then he asked the question every orchestral musician wants to hear: do you know any Mozart? Of course she knew Mozart. Though Stillman had only been playing flute for a couple of years, she managed to impress one of the best and was launched into the spotlight and eventually had a full-fledged career as a solo flutist.

In 1983, an 11-year-old girl was raped and killed in Red Springs, North Carolina. Half brothers Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, teenagers at the time, initially confessed to the crime, but later recanted saying they were coerced. They spent 31 years in prison until DNA from the crime scene proved them innocent.

For author Eryk Pruitt the podcast “Serial” was more than just a riveting crime drama. It was the type of suspenseful story he aspired to create. After joining forces with journalist Drew Adamek, he found his own gripping crime to explore, and it took place in a location in Durham he passed every day.

In 1931, Willie Peterson was arrested for the attack of three white women in Birmingham, Alabama. He did not match the description that the sole survivor of the attack gave police, other than the fact that he was black. He was convicted and sentenced to death.

In the middle of a landmass in the Northern Hemisphere bordered by oceans, people call themselves Americans. According to both their own laws and broader international ones, they are members of a group known as a nation-state – in this case the United States of America.

A federal jury awarded more than $50 million in damages to 10 neighbors of a 15,000-head hog operation in Eastern North Carolina. The residents said the stench and noise from the hog farm made living in their rural homes unenjoyable.

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