Lindsay Foster Thomas

Producer, "The State of Things"

Ways to Connect

A recent report from the Department of Veteran Affairs revealed a stark truth: every 80 minutes, a veteran takes his or her own life. The risk of suicide is even greater for service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Jade City is buzzing about a rare TV appearance by superhero Herald M.F. Jones, although the reviews are mixed. But things really heat up when the evil Beef Cooka makes a very personal attack on Jones’ alter ego, Malik Fraser.

Almost all musicians claim to have to have a unique sound, but the members of experimental band Invisible make good on that claim by performing compositions written for new instruments. In their show “The New Obsolete,” there’s a typewriter configured to play the piano keys and a system of valves that releases drops of water to play notes.

Many of us know what it’s like to have a bad hair day, but the concept of “good hair” is something that has particular meaning for African-Americans. Good hair is used to express ideas about class, sexuality and education levels in the black community. This intrigued playwright Chaunesti Webb.

In the era of legalized segregation, an unlikely collaboration between two visionaries changed the state of public education for African-Americans in the rural South. Booker T. Washington, an educator and Black political leader, and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald coordinated the construction of more than 5,000 schoolhouses across the southeast. The buildings were erected to create spaces for Black students to receive a formalized education.

Superhero Herald MF Jones finds himself in the middle of a tense hostage situation when a mild-mannered Jade City citizen named Benjamin Macintosh decides to hold a bank loan officer against his will. What caused Macintosh to snap?

Will Allen is co-founder and director of Growing Power.

Will Allen grew up on a farm, but becoming a farmer was the furthest thing from his mind as a child. Allen was a basketball star and his athletic talent carried him through college and into professional leagues in the U.S. and abroad. During a stint in Belgium, Allen got back to his roots and started farming natural foods. He loved having his hands in the soil so much that when he returned to America, he started an urban farm to help members of his community gain access to healthy, organic produce. His hobby became a nonprofit called Growing Power, which is based in Milwaukee, WI with operations in Chicago, IL. But, Allen’s message has traveled worldwide: access to good food should be a basic, human right.

New Music by Reynolds Price

Writer Reynolds Price had the opportunity to see one of his plays, “August Snow,” performed at Greensboro’s Triad Stage back in 2003. The award-winning author was moved to tears by the production and its director, Preston Lane, promised Price that he would soon stage “Night Dance” and “Better Days,” the sequels to “August Snow.” Price died in 2011, but Lane remained true to his word. The trilogy of plays, called“New Music,” tells the story of a family from eastern North Carolina and all three are now on stage at Triad Stage in rotating repertory. Lane and actors Ginny Myers Lee and Matthew Delaney, join host Frank Stasio to talk about the timeless beauty of Reynolds Price’s prose.

Superhero Herald MF Jones finally comes face-to-face with his manipulative arch nemesis The Beef Cooka, who has a life-changing proposal for Jade City’s savior in exchange for the safe return of Kid Delight. Can Jones keep the upper hand and rescue Kid before The Beef Cooka cooks up any more trouble?

Fiddler Joe Thompson was the last of a generation of old-time string musicians who popularized black folk music that grew out of African traditions. Thompson grew up in Mebane, NC where he began playing the fiddle at the age of 8. In his long career, he earned a number of accolades, including a National Heritage Fellowship, and he mentored young African-American musicians who were interested in the style of music he was raised on. Thompson passed away on Monday at the age of 93.

Mary Annettes
Photo credit: D.L. Anderson

Following the Carolina Chocolate Drops big win at the 2010 Grammy Awards, founding member Justin Robinson left the band to take on new challenges. He enrolled in a graduate program, started a frozen dessert business and focused on making music with The Mary Annettes, a band he began working with while still with the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Their new CD, “Bones for Tinder,” has just been released and it’s an eclectic blend of country, soul, folk and R&B.

Superhero Herald M.F. Jones attempts to take a night off from crime fighting to make time with the beautiful Belinda Goodall and attend an art exhibit and as his alter ego, Malik Fraser. But Jade City villain The Beef Cooka has other ideas and before long Jones is donning his green cape to save an innocent citizen.

North Carolina had a cap on the number of charter schools allowed in the state until last year when state lawmakers lifted the ban. Now, local education leaders are concerned that more charter schools will mean fewer resources for traditional public schools.

Whitney Houston

The sudden death of singer Whitney Houston stunned family, friends and fans the world over. The Grammy Award-winning siren had one of the most celebrated voices in music history and became a pop culture icon for both her incomparable talent as an entertainer and her personal troubles.

Saxophonist Peter Lamb had little choice but to like jazz. He grew up in a household where jazz records substituted for TV as entertainment. Over the years, he’s played and recorded with musicians like Ben Folds and with bands like The Fleshtones and now Lamb is the bandleader on his own project for the first time. He brings his swinging, jazz influenced sound to the studio to play live for host Frank Stasio and talk about assembling his quintet called Peter Lamb and the Wolves.

The construction of an Islamic cultural center in one of Jade City’s least tolerant neighborhoods fuels hostility against the city’s Muslim community. Can superhero Herald MF Jones prevent anger from escalating into violence?

Every October, tens of thousands of people make a pilgrimage to Portobelo, a quiet fishing town in Panama’s Colon Province, to visit El Cristo Negro – the Black Christ. It’s a life-sized figure of Jesus carved from dark mahogany. That powerful symbol, which has been in Portobelo since the 17th century, represents both the proud spirit and spiritual identity of this unique Central American community. Host Frank Stasio talks about the people of Portobelo, the Black Christ figure and the annual festival that celebrates it with Renee Alexander Craft, a writer and assistant professor of communication studies and global studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This show originally aired on October 20, 2011. For a link to the audio, click here.

In 2002, theologian and writer Lauren Winner was feeling blessed to have found what felt like faith’s perfect fit in Christianity. She converted from Judaism and wrote about her spiritual transition in the best-selling memoir “Girl Meets God.” Two years after that book was published, Winner lost her mother to cancer. A few years later, she lost her marriage. She was in fear of losing her faith when she rediscovered her belief in God through civic engagement and community service. Winner’s new book, “Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis” (HarperCollins/2012) is a reflection on that difficult period in her life and an exploration on how to be an engaged Christian in times of personal crisis.

Malik Fraser, the alter ego of superhero Herald M.F. Jones, reveals romantic feelings for a well-read, sad-eyed beauty named Belinda Goodall. But when he discovers the dark secret behind the sadness in her green eyes, can he help her?

A new study about racial differences in academic performance at Duke University is creating controversy – and it isn’t even published yet. Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono and his colleagues reported that African-American students are more likely to change from being math and science majors to programs in the humanities or social sciences at a higher rate than their white counterparts.

Nia Wilson can’t remember a time she wasn’t surrounded by children - from her 7 siblings to the neighborhood kids that took advantage of her parents' open door policy in Norwalk, CT to her time spent as a child caregiver and in training as a pediatric nurse. When she relocated from the North to Durham, NC, Wilson brought her two children and her niece, who she had full custody of. Shortly after, she became involved in Spirit House, a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote social change through art and media. Spirit House’s youth program engages students from Durham Public Schools and educates them about society’s social injustices. But Wilson, who now serves as the organization’s executive director, says she’s the one who learns the most at Spirit House. She joins host Frank Stasio to talk about what the kids at Spirit House have taught her and about some of the creative projects they’re working on, including a new stage production about America’s prison system called “Collective Sun: Reshape the Mo(u)rning”.

Jon Shain

Musician Jon Shain has been hard at work since the release of his last CD, “Times Right Now.” Last summer, his band released a live album with songs recorded at the historic Durham Kress building, and he’s working on a forthcoming studio project of new material.

Heavy rains in Jade City ground superhero Herald M.F. Jones. During the downpour, he meets a new friend named Asphalt and meets up with an old friend from the Jade City Police Department expresses concern for his safety.

A recent Gallup poll reveals that 40% of Americans identify as independent voters. Still, politics center on Republicans and Democrats, the country’s two major parties. With the presidential election just months away, what do unaffiliated voters want? What will it take to have their voices heard? A planned public forum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro aims to tackle those questions and look at the history of African-Americans as political outsiders – or independents.

You can hear influences of some of the best soul artists in singer J Timber’s vocal style, but there was a time when the musician didn’t believe he was cut out for the spotlight. He was content as a drummer and backup singer until family, friends and fans persuaded him to open up and perform. He did and now the Greensboro vocalist is making a name for himself in North Carolina.

Areli Barrera is a 26-year-old graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she still hosts a radio program on the campus station, WXYZ. But this weekend, she will be transformed into La Sirenita de Tiajuana (The Little Mermaid of Tiajuana), the nickname she’ll go by in the ring when she wrestles at Luchadoras 2. That’s an event designed in the tradition of lucha libre, Mexico’s popular freestyle wrestling matches. On Saturday in Durham, Barrera and other amateur female wrestlers will battle it out with breathtaking maneuvers to entertain the audience and to raise awareness about the NC Dream Team, an organization that advocates on behalf of undocumented immigrants.

Nice Talk by The Hot at Nights
The Hot at Nights

Musician Chris Boerner traded his saxophone in to focus on playing the guitar at a young age. Back then, Boerner thought rock ‘n’ roll was his true calling, but after studying classical guitar at Duke University, he turned his attention to jazz. He founded a hip-hop jazz collective in 2004 and the next year, released “Incoming,” his first album as a bandleader. Boerner’s new ensemble is a jazz trio called The Hot at Nights. They recently released a new album called “Nice Talk” and an EP called “Shibuya Session.” The latter is a collaboration with Nicolay Rook, one half of the hip-hop/R&B duo The Foreign Exchange.

This year, the story of Biscuitville, a pair of baseball players and a Grammy-nominated band made the short list of “The State of Things” Managing Editor Lindsay Foster Thomas’ favorite segments of 2011. She joins host Frank Stasio to talk about why she especially loves fast food in North Carolina, athletes who also write books and The Foreign Exchange – the group that will go down in history for telling Stasio he has “swag.”

Even Jade City turns into a holly jolly place in the days leading up to Christmas. The Beef Cooka is quiet and Herald’s best friend, Supreme Intellect, is throwing the neighborhood’s hottest holiday party, but our superhero can’t bring himself to enjoy this time of year. Maybe a visit to his dear Aunt Margaret’s house will lift his spirits…

Supreme Intellect
Supreme Intellect

In the latest installment of our radio drama, The Jade City Pharaoh, Jade City’s city workers rally together in a peaceful demonstration against employee pension cuts…but it’s not peaceful for long when The Beef Cooka’s evil henchmen hit the scene.