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Raleigh Authors Give 27 Views Of The Capital City

27 Views of Raleigh


Host Frank Stasio talked with four of them during the State of Things today. 

Writer Scott Huler and his wife June Spence both have contributions in the volume. Huler has lived here a long time but isn’t native, while Spence and her family have called the city home for generations. Both of them wax nostalgic about the city they love, though June revealed the dangerous side that boredom brought for children like her father in the following excerpt she read from her contribution, "Intersections."

"My father roamed Five Points throughout the Forties and Fifties with his older brother and a group of boys who called themselves the Northside Gang, when it was still Raleigh's north side. Boys as young as five and six tagged along with the older boys to throw rocks, smoke cigarettes, explore the storm-water tunnels, and smash the bottles of grape pop that remained in heaps by an abandoned plant, after first prying off the caps and drinking the contents."

Huler reminisced on the community that he has found so comforting in his decades in Raleigh.

“Whether it’s the book stores or the radio station your listening to... Raleigh is, thrillingly to me, a very local city,” Huler said.

Huler’s essay follows one of his favorite local bands: The Backsliders. 

Shelia Smith McCoy, director of the African American Cultural Center at North Carolina State University, told a story that captured some of the racial undertones of the city in her contribution to the book. She talks about a local radio station, WLLE, that played jazz and blues, but only at night.

“You have to think that when WLLE was in its heyday, it was during the civil rights movement,” she said. 

She goes on in her short story to say that the FCC and city leaders shut the station down during the day "for the common good," but at night, all citizens of Raleigh "black, white, and indiscriminate" joined together on the radio waves to listen to the music. 

John Kessel, an English professor at NC State, excerpted from his apocalyptic novel set in Raleigh. 

"It's a science fiction piece, so it's a little bit different in the sense that in science fiction you create things that aren't there," Kessel said. "Science fiction is also about change... if I'm going to have something that hasn't happened...I'll put it in a context that is familiar." 

Contributors to the book will be appearing at area book stores throughout the month. Go here for more information.

Audio for this segment will be up by 3 p.m.

Alex Granados joined The State of Things in July 2010. He got his start in radio as an intern for the show in 2005 and loved it so much that after trying his hand as a government reporter, reader liaison, features, copy and editorial page editor at a small newspaper in Manassas, Virginia, he returned to WUNC. Born in Baltimore but raised in Morgantown, West Virginia, Alex moved to Raleigh in time to do third grade twice and adjust to public school after having spent years in the sheltered confines of a Christian elementary education. Alex received a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also has a minor in philosophy, which basically means that he used to think he was really smart but realized he wasn’t in time to switch majors. Fishing, reading science fiction, watching crazy movies, writing bad short stories, and shooting pool are some of his favorite things to do. Alex still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up, but he is holding out for astronaut.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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