The State of Things

M-F 12 Noon, M-Th 8p, Sat 6a

Host Frank Stasio.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

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Humans have an inconsistent relationship with animals. Some of them we invite into our homes and treat as family. Others we send to slaughter and happily eat. Still others we are content to let roam wild, unimpeded by human hands.

Michael Franzak never had dreams of fighting for his country when he joined the Navy after high school, but he was desperate and had nowhere else to go.

Karel Husa was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1921. As a young man, his city was occupied by Nazi Germany, which forced Husa to reconsider his career path. Instead of going to work in a factory, he decided to pursue music. That choice led him to study in Paris, then eventually become a professor of music at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. In 1969, Husa won the Pulitzer Prize for his composition, “String Quartet No. 3,” which featured viola and cello in key parts usually reserved for the violin.

Superhero Herald MF Jones faces off with the Beef Cooka’s deadliest henchman, Anvil Steel. Can the Jade City Pharaoh defeat a maniac made of metal?

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.

Most of the managed wilderness in America is not national park but national forest. In North Carolina for instance, we have 4 of them, the Pisgah, Croatan, Uwharrie and the Nantahala, and together they are the size of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, more than a million acres.

North Carolina is one of only two states where 16-year-old criminal suspects are automatically tried as adults. Proponents of raising the age to 18 have tried to get the law changed for years. This year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is trying to make it happen, but opponents of the change say we shouldn't try to do too much too fast.

The Missing Martyrs

Mar 14, 2012

In March 2006, a former Tarheel named Mohammad Taheri-Azar drove an SUV through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's campus during the busiest part of the day. The Iranian-American hoped to kill as many people as possible in the name of jihad. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured,

War crimes, violations of religion freedom and unfair labor practices are just a few of the many things considered by some to be violations of human rights. But what exactly is a human right?

When law professor Kenneth Broun began learning about the 1963 trial of Nelson Mandela, he was startled to discover the South African leader was expected to be put to death. Mandela spent 27 years in prison, but he eventually got out and became president.

Will Steacy is a photographer who realized that the photographs he didn't take were often as interesting as the ones he did. In talking to his photographer buddies, he discovered this was a common experience.

Businessman Kevin Trapani will tell you that his company, Redwoods Group, does well by doing good. Redwoods Group recently won an award that validates his claim. B-Lab, an organization that certifies socially responsible companies known as B-corps,

Three young poets traveled to Egypt and Tunisia last summer to document the revolutions sweeping the countries. They came back with a series of spoken-word pieces called "Poetic Portraits of a Revolution" that aired on WUNC in 2011. Those pieces have now become a stage show at the Carrboro ArtsCenter. Host Frank Stasio talks to Kane Smego and Will McInerney, the writers and poets that produced the play, and Joseph Megel, the director of “Poetic Portraits of a Revolution” on stage.

Hip-hop culture has long captivated America, changing the way we talk, think, dress and even treat one another.  The legacy of hip-hop is both positive and negative, and that's something that North Carolina State University wants the audience to consider at this year's

Hiss Golden Messenger

Mar 9, 2012

Hiss Golden Messenger's music has been described as "mystical country" by David Bowie. Long a darling of the British rock press, the band is based in Durham, NC and is the brainchild of folklorist MC Taylor. Their latest album is called "Poor Moon.” Taylor joins host Frank Stasio in the studio to talk tunes and play some live.

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.

In the mid-1990s, Shawn Rocco's job as a photojournalist for the News & Observer newspaper changed. Video was added to his duties and he often found himself on deadline, tangled in wire, with two different mediums demanding his attention. The pictures and the video were less than satisfying and, as an artist, he felt empty.

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.

Like many young, lonely, bookish girls who had suffered personal heartbreak, Margot Livesey loved “Jane Eyre.” Charlotte Bronte’s classic story of a teenage governess who finds love by staying true to herself

Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline spent the past month fighting off an attempt to remove her from office. The battle occurred because of disparaging remarks she made against a Durham Superior Court Judge named Orlando Hudson. Friday, a different judge ruled that because of Cline's behavior toward Hudson, she should no longer be DA. Cline has appealed the verdict.

No Way Out

Mar 7, 2012

Kevin Maurer is a journalist intimately familiar with the U.S. Army Special Forces. He has made of habit of embedding with them, and he chronicles one of their biggest misadventures in his latest book, "No Way Out: A Story of Valor in the Mountains of Afghanistan" (Berkley Hardcover/2012), co-written with journalist Mitch Weiss. It tells the story of a group of Green Berets sent into a treacherous area of Afghanistan to capture a terrorist leader. Instead, the troops walked into an ambush.

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.

Contraception, access to health care and representation in Congress are issues that motivated feminist activists in the early 1960s and, if Rush Limbaugh's recent time in the headlines is any indication, those issues persist. Women have been effecting social and political change across the South for more than a century, but, if you read the history of the women's movement in America, you'd think all of the action happened in the Northeast.

Vimala Rajendran

Vimala Rajendran is a crusader against domestic violence, a peace activist and a darn good cook. She opened Vimala’s Curryblossom Café in Chapel Hill, NC after years of creating donation-based meals out of her home. At Vimala’s restaurant, everybody eats, whether they can pay for their food or not.

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.

Colman Andrews is largely considered one of America's foremost food writers. He founded Savuer Magazine, the landmark publication that put food in its cultural and historical context. He's lately been particularly interested in the changing culinary landscape of North Carolina. He comes to town this weekend for a special dinner whose courses are made from his different cookbooks. But first he stops by the studio to speak with host Frank Stasio and "The State of Things" resident foodie Kelly Alexander.

Ghosts of the Old North State

Jeff Hart fell in love with ghost stories when he was in first grade, and he has never stopped thinking about them. There were the Brown Mountain Lights – strange lights at Brown Mountain in North Carolina that moved mysteriously up and down the mountain. And there was Lydia, the young girl whose ghost haunted the road where she died in a car accident. As an adult, Jeff became a musician, but he remembered his love for scary stories, and now he hearkens back to the tales of his youth with his new album, “Ghosts of the Old North State.”

Howard Morgen was a guitarist, an arranger and a beloved teacher. Among his students were Paul Simon, Edie Brickell, Christine Lavin and Carly Simon. He wrote regular columns for several music magazines and taught at the Guitar Study Center of the New School in Manhattan and the Jazz Studies Program at C.W.Post Campus, Long Island University. He retired to Chapel Hill from New York in 2002 and earlier this month, after a long and valiant struggle with leukemia, Morgen died at the age of 79.

Greenpeace, the national environmental organization, has set it sights on North Carolina's own Duke Energy. A number of protesters were arrested in separate incidents last month targeting Duke Energy for its rate hikes, a prospective merger with Progress Energy and its reliance on traditional fuels like coal and nuclear power.

For oppressed people forced to flee their native lands, textiles are often the last refuge of their artistic expression. An exhibit at the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at North Carolina State University highlights the work of exiles. It's called "Textiles of Exiles," and is running concurrently with another exhibit called "Barkcloth, Bras, and Bulletproof Cotton: The Powers of Costume." Host Frank Stasio talks about both exhibits with museum director Roger Manley.