Susan Davis

Producer, The State of Things

Cookbooks are a lone shining light in all of publishing at the moment. Last year, more than 60 million of them were sold, but many of the bestselling titles were written by celebrities. What are we getting from our cookbooks? Do we read cookbooks to actually learn something or to live a vicarious life? Cookbook author Michael Ruhlman and food writer Kelly Alexander join host Frank Stasio to ponder those questions and talk about how America eats. Ruhlman, a writer and cook, recently released “Ruhlman’s Twenty” (Chronicle Books/2011) and Alexander contributed the introduction to “The Great American Cookbook” (Rizzoli/2011), a reissue of Clementine Paddleford’s classic cookbook from 1960.


Oct 25, 2011

John Jeremiah Sullivan is a journalist, but not the kind who gathers the facts. His long form magazine pieces start with his personal obsessions and branch out from there. He has covered Michael Jackson, Axl Rose, post-Katrina New Orleans and his own house in Wilmington, North Carolina, which served a location for the popular teen TV melodrama "One Tree Hill." Sullivan’s work has been collected in a new book called "Pulphead" (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux/2011) and he joins host Frank Stasio today to talk music, television and other high parts of middle brow culture.

The publication of Anita Hill's new book, “Reimagining Equality,” has refocused the media spotlight on the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that took place on the floor of the U.S. Senate 20 years ago. In 1991, Hill, a former attorney-adviser to Thomas, publicly alleged that the judge sexually harassed her on many occasions during their time working together.

The Guerrilla Girls

In the mid-1980s there were two kinds of feminist art: works by women shown inside museums and clever protests staged by activists outside of museums. The Guerrilla Girls invented the latter. But these days, they struggle with being part of the former. The Guerrilla Girls are a rotating group of masked female artists who call attention to discrimination against female artists and artists of color in the art world. But in the last decade, The Guerrilla Girls have come inside the museum. Their work has been featured in many group and solo shows around the world. They are a cornerstone of the exhibit currently on display at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University called “The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973 to 1991.” The Guerrilla Girls assume the names of famous dead women artists and today Frida Kahlo and Kathe Kollwitz join host Frank Stasio to talk about their art and their activism.

Joanna Catherine Scott

When writers publish a novel, their greatest hope is that it will touch readers’ hearts and minds. But author Joanna Catherine Scott never expected to hear from a guy on death row about one of her novels. When she was contacted by inmate John Lee Conaway about her book, “The Road from Chapel Hill,” (Berkeley Trade/2006), she was taken aback. Scott knew nothing of America’s prisons, but her instincts as a mother and former teacher steeled her and she went to see Conaway in Central Prison in Raleigh. And she kept going, nearly every week for five years. Today, she and Conaway are family; she has adopted him as her seventh child. And they have collaborated on her newest book, a collection of poems called “An Innocent in the House of the Dead” (Main Street Rag/2011). Scott joins host Frank Stasio in the studio today to talk about writing, empathy and learning about life in prison.

W. S. Merwin
Shabda Khan

When W.S. Merwin handed over his U.S. Poet Laureate wreath to Philip Levine, Merwin returned to his solar powered house and lush gardens on the island of Maui. Merwin is known to live a quiet life. He has said that when he is in the city he misses the country all of the time and when he is in the country he misses the city some of the time, so he lives in the country and visits the city. As a poet, Merwin is revered for the quiet majesty of his language, his attention to the natural would and the music of his punctuation-free form. He has authored more than three dozen books and won every award an American poet and translator can win, including the Pulitzer Prize – twice. And he balances his quiet life with regular public appearances. On Monday, October 17th he’ll read at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. W.S. Merwin joins host Frank Stasio from his home in Hawai’i to talk about his long career.


When Diali Cissokho met Hillary Stewart in his native Senegal he didn't know he'd soon be moving to North Carolina with her to play his kora and start a band. But his life in North Carolina has been fruitful musically and personally. His band Kairaba plays the Shakori Hills festival this weekend, but first they play live in our studio. Kairaba is Diali Cissokho on the kora, John Westmoreland on the guitar, Jonathan Henderson on the bass, and Will Ridenour and Austin McCall on percussion.

Occupy Durham

Protestors have been camped out in New York City's financial district for a few weeks now calling for radical changes to everything from the financial system to immigration policy. The movement has gotten worldwide media attention and spread to 65 other cities across the country including several in North Carolina. Host Frank Stasio speaks to Tom Maxwell, a musician and gadfly who is in lower Manhattan attending the protests; and Jillian Johnson a Durham activist helping to organize one of the upcoming protests in the Triangle.

Ndem, Senegal
Sed Miles

The last time Durham-based photographer Sed Miles was on “The State of Things,” he was preparing to pack up and leave the country, headed out on a dream assignment to see the world. Since then, he’s been to Mexico, Brazil, several European countries and West Africa. Miles has been documenting his travels on a photography blog he calls “The Wanderlust Files.”

HIV & Sex

Aug 9, 2011

Dr. Myron Cohen presented a paper at this summer's Global AIDS Conference in Rome that caused a sensation. Cohen, a Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology and Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, displayed a new treatment that would allow people with HIV to have normal sex lives without worrying about infecting their partners.

Last Motel

Aug 9, 2011

If you tune into WUNC on Sunday nights at 6 p.m., you'll hear Eric Hodge's familiar voice talking to you about his favorite subject: music. After seven years of anchoring the news during “Morning Edition,” on North Carolina Public Radio, Hodge is adding a nighttime groove to his repertoire. His show, “Last Motel,” features music about and inspired by the American South.

Jon Herington

Jon Herington has played with Steely Dan for 11 years. His guitar stylings are masterful interpretations of the famous rock band's iconic songs. He appears with Steely Dan tonight in Durham, but first he joins host Frank Stasio in our studio to play some original compositions from his solo CD “Shine, Shine, Shine” and discuss how a guy who grew up on jazz keeps a legendary rock sound going.

North Carolina’s legislature has enacted some of the most stringent requirements in the nation for women seeking abortions. How the bill will affect medical practice in the state? What legal challenges is it likely to face? Host Frank Stasio finds out what's in the bill and how this new state law fits into the convoluted history of family planning in America with WRAL Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie; Senator Warren Daniel (R-Burke & Caldwell), who is a primary sponsor of the bill; Dr.

Dolly Parton is an American icon. Her skills as a singer, songwriter, musician, actress, performer and businesswoman are legendary. She brings her rhinestone-studded road show to The Durham Performing Arts Center tonight, so we're taking some time today to sing her praises. Host Frank Stasio is joined by Cecelia Tichi, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English at Vanderbilt University. She’s the author of the books “Reading Country Music: Steel Guitars, Opry Stars, and Honky-Tonk Bars" (Duke University Press, 1998) and “High Lonesome: The American Culture of Country Music,” (The University of North Carolina Press,1994.); Also joining us will be Daniel Boner, Director of Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies at East Tennessee State University.

While North Carolina State University fans uncovered plagiarism on the part of a football player from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it was the News & Observer that double checked the story and gave it mainstream media play. UNC journalism professor Adam Hochberg says that this combination of citizen and professional journalists has its pros and cons. Hochberg and WUNC reporter Dave DeWitt join guest host Isaac-Davy Aronson to consider whether we are better for it when citizens become journalists and journalists carry on the work of those citizens.

Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter’s popular Americana music is the product of his childhood spent in the small western town of Moscow, Idaho and his years as a student of American History and Scottish folk traditions. His strength as a narrator and balladeer has drawn comparisons to Bob Dylan and acclaim from both the mainstream press and indie music magazines. He’s released close to a dozen albums and EPs and played at Radio City Music Hall. So what does a guy in his 30s with that much success do for an encore? He writes a novel of course. Ritter’s debut work of fiction is called “Bright’s Passage” (Random House, 2011). It’s the story of a World War I veteran and his talking horse. Ritter calls it a comedy but reviewers have called it “tender, touching, moving and genuine.” He joins guest host Isaac-Davy Aronson in the studio today to talk about writing fiction and to perform a live preview of his concert tonight at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro.

Economists say the recession is officially over, but many people remain out of work and the unemployed are still feeling the effects of the down economy. But new research suggests that those who never lost their jobs are also still suffering. Some took on twice the responsibilities for no new pay or reduced pay. The effect of that kind of pressure has yet to be studied but experts suspect we will feel the strain at work and at home for years to come.


Jun 22, 2011

Our early encounters with romantic infatuation, love and heartbreak help define who we are as adult partners, lovers and friends. Andrea N. Richesin is a writer and editor who wanted to explore the resonant effects of first crushes and first loves. The result is the new anthology, “Crush: 26 Real-Life Tales of First Love” (Harlequin/2011).

Budget Cuts & The Public Sector

Jun 22, 2011

North Carolina's new budget cuts an estimated 2,203 state jobs, a number that doesn't include local jobs funded in whole or in part by state support. Analysts say that the jobs lost represent critical functions in local communities including community development planners, chaplains at minimum and medium prisons and specialists in well water maintenance. In addition, state agencies have estimated that 3,700 faculty positions in the University of North Carolina system and at community colleges will be lost.

More Americans marked at least two boxes for “race” on the 2010 Census than ever before. The country may not be increasingly multiracial but it certainly is increasingly conscious of its multiracial identity. In Northeastern North Carolina there is a community that is historically mixed race. Landowning free people of color have lived together in The Winton Triangle for 260 years. Their ancestors include people who moved from the Chesapeake Bay area as well as Chowanoke, Meherrin, and Tuscarora Indians, Africans and East Indians.

The Civil War is often referred to as the last war fought on American soil. Since then, we fight wars over seas and we watch the battles play out on TV or the Internet. For black and white women living in the American South, the Civil War was fought all around them, but the true enemies were poverty, hunger and despair. For those women, the battlefront was not a distant idea because the battlefront was the homefront. As part of our series, “North Carolina Voices: The Civil War,” Thavolia Glymph and Laura Edwards join host Frank Stasio to discuss what life was like for women in North Carolina during the war.

Did you know that Quakers were the first organized non-native religious group in the Carolinas? In the late 1600s, the governor and assembly of North Carolina were majority Quaker. Today, the Piedmont Triad has the largest concentration of Quakers in North America. But leading up to the Civil War, Quakers left the state in droves because of their opposition to slavery. During the war, their pacifism sent them north and west to free states. Greensboro’s Guilford College was first established as a boarding school in 1837 in order to maintain some Quaker presence in the state.

Michael Gerhardt

The 14th Amendment may be the most hotly debated 2,000 words in American history. It was adopted on July 9, 1868 and is considered the most important of the “Reconstruction Amendments.” Those amendments - the 13th, 14th and 15th - reconfigure the relationship between the states and the federal government. Among other things, they put the federal government in the position of monitoring the way states protect civil rights.

American Dance Festival

Jun 9, 2011

Every summer, over 300 professional dancers, choreographers and dance students flock to Durham. They come for the American Dance Festival. It’s a summer school and a series of world-class performances open to the public. This summer's theme is "Something New, Something Treasured" and features the work of established choreographers like Bill T. Jones and Paul Taylor, as well as emerging talents like Rosie Herrera. The festival starts June 9 and runs through July 23.

Human Rights At Abbey Court

Jun 2, 2011

A few years ago, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Sociology Professor Judith Blau and her teaching assistant Rafael Gallegos were at Abbey Court Apartments complex in Carrboro, NC. They were passing out flyers on behalf of the Latino cultural organization El Centro when they were nearly run off by the police. The irony of the situation – that the Abbey Court neighborhood has a high density of immigrants who need support and services and that Abbey Court had the highest crime rate in Carrboro and a hostile relationship with the police department – was not lost on Blau.

Nearly every school child on both sides of the pond can recite the opening lines of “The Tiger” by William Blake. The poem is part of the collection “Songs of Experience” and is among William Blake’s best known works. There’s a companion collection called “Songs of Innocence,” and together they explore the duality of good and evil existent in everyone.

Tom LaGarde was literally skating through his life after basketball stardom when he met his wife Heather. Tom played for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the mid 1970s, won an Olympic gold medal in 1976 and finished the decade in the NBA. He was running a program for at-risk kids in New York City that involved playing basketball while Rollerblading. Heather was in the crowd at one of these roller basketball games, their eyes met across the crowded court and they've been together ever since.

Fan Modine

May 20, 2011

Gordon Zacharias has been writing songs and playing under the name Fan Modine for more than 15 years. He was happily at work on a new album in New York City when 9/11 changed everything. No longer feeling at home in the Big Apple, Zacharias decamped to Chapel Hill, NC, where the music scene embraced him.

Ari Picker's novelistic childhood and difficult life story has been at the heart of his music since he started writing songs. He describes his band, Lost in the Trees, as making orchestral folk music, combining the passion and pathos of symphonic music with the intimacy and searching of classic folk music. The band's album "All Alone in an Empty House" has had more than one incarnation including the newest, released last summer.

A Weaverly Path

May 12, 2011

Silvia Heyden has had a thriving career as a weaver, creating tapestries on commission in her native Switzerland before moving with her family to Durham, NC in 1966. She continues to weave, forging a new abstract tapestry form that is inspired, in large part, by the Eno River. Kenny Dalsheimer's new film, "A Weaverly Path," documents Heyden's long and colorful journey with the yarn, the loom and the river.