Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

photo of Alexander Fiterstein
Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

For clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein playing an instrument was like reading, writing, and arithmetic: it was a requirement, not a hobby. His parents insisted he play the piano from a young age, and many of his early memories revolve around music.

an old picture of Fayetteville Street
Courtesy of the Hayti Heritage Center

What was once the commercial and social hub of Durham’s African-American community now looks very different. The Hayti neighborhood was initially established in the years following the Civil War around St. Joseph’s Church. Black people from surrounding areas were drawn to Hayti to do their banking and business because of its proximity to Black Wall Street, and many black-owned businesses thrived in Hayti, including the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company.

Freight Train Blues Music Series
Music Maker Relief Foundation

Freight train, freight train, run so fast
Please don't tell what train I'm on
They won't know what route I've gone


Those are the opening lines to "Freight Train," a song written by young Elizabeth Cotten as she grew up in Carrboro, N.C., near the train depot that served as the town's early foundation. Railroads and Piedmont Blues are Carrboro traditions that continue to be celebrated in the annual Freight Train Blues Music Series.

students protesting with police officers in the foreground
Courtesy of the UNC-Chapel Hill University Libraries

Fifty years ago, food services workers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill went on strike for better wages and working conditions. The Black Student Movement supported the strike, which put a spotlight on labor and racial inequities at the university.

Image of writer Tayari Jones
Nina Subin

Tayari Jones is committed to writing about the South as she sees it. Her critically-acclaimed novels are all deeply rooted in Atlanta and explore the intersection of black family stories with the structures that define American life.

Movies On The Radio: Tearjerkers!

Mar 18, 2019
Flickr/Creative Commons

Oh, is there something in your eye? It’s not your fault. Some movies are simply designed to be tearjerkers. 

 Maybe you wailed as a tween over Jack Dawson’s cold “Titanic” death, or needed a tissue to get through a classic like “Steel Magnolias.” Did your lip tremble as Simba and Mufasa frolicked as father and son in “The Lion King” without knowing the tragedy in store? Or is it injustice that elicits sobs when you watch scenes from “The Green Mile” or “Precious?”  

REVEAL Fundraiser Episode Spring 2019

Mar 15, 2019

For the 2019 Fall fundraising season, here are three of our favorite Reveal stories from the past year.

Courtesy of Lachlan Watson

Raleigh-native Lachlan Watson got their start in acting by being at the right place at the right time. As the smart, quirky kid who hung out at Burning Coal Theatre while their mom worked front of house, Watson got called in to play all kinds of roles, from a child in the throes of the Enron scandal to a dog. Their acting chops earned them many future roles including the titular part in “Henry VI,” but it was the experience of playing such a wide swath of characters that Watson says helped them learn to express their identity in an authentic way. 

Photo courtesy of David Wimbish.

Singer-songwriter David Wimbish had a tumultuous couple of years. He weathered a lengthy divorce process with his ex-wife and former bandmate, saw multiple friends pick up and move to the west coast and struggled through the near-dissolution of his large and boisterous band, The Collection. But Wimbish decidedly chooses gratitude over grumpiness. He used his enduring spirituality and awe for the natural world to start writing songs that would become The Collection’s latest record, “Entropy,” released in Oct. 2018. 

Pizzagate: A Slice of Fake News

Mar 15, 2019

As the investigation into foreign influence in the 2016 election heats up, we bring you a story of how fake news starts, snowballs and sometimes erupts into gunfire. This story takes us into the world of right-wing Twitter trolls, pro-Trump political operatives and fake-news profiteers from St. Louis to Macedonia. This collaboration with Rolling Stone and Type Investigations was originally broadcast Nov. 18, 2017.

An image of John D. Loudermilk
UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries

We've teamed up with Come Hear NC on a podcast series that explores North Carolina music one song at a time. On this week's episode Rick Miller from the legendary Chapel Hill band Southern Culture On The Skids talks with Eric Hodge about John D. Loudermilk's 'Tobacco Road,' and the many, many times it has been covered. Be sure to stick around after the interview for a live version of Southern Culture on the Skids covering the song.

The Hopscotch Music Festival turns 10 this year! To help kick off festivities the fest will be celebrating with a Halfway To Hopscotch party at R&D Brewing on Saturday, March 23rd. WUNC Music will be there, plus we'll be live streaming the event.

More information about the party, including a full list of vendors can be found here. Stop by and say hello!

Sound Opinions: The Best of Sound Opinions Live

Mar 13, 2019

Over the years, Sound Opinions has seen many great performances from the talented artists and bands that appeared. Hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot share some of the biggest performances ever on the show, including artists like Wilco, Common and Cheap Trick.

a photo of the border wall at Progresso, Texas
Susan Harbage Page

Susan Harbage Page has been a border crosser since childhood. From traveling around Europe with her family in a Volkswagen bus to working in Palestine in the 90s, she has long wondered about the lines that divide us. Why do people on one side enjoy great wealth while those on the other side have less?

Two men smiling and laughing next to each other
Laura Frankstone

What happens when a painter and a poet start working together on the same idea? North Carolina poet Jeffery Beam found out when he started collaborating with Welsh painter Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Both men had collaborated with other artists before — but never as they were creating the work side-by-side.

Scott Huler

It seems young Englishman John Lawson wanted to leave his mark on a rapidly-changing world. In 1700 he journeyed to the port of Charleston, SC and later set off on a two-month voyage through what was then colonial Carolina. His notes and observations became one of the earliest and most important travel records of the area, though Lawson himself was killed in 1711. More than 300 years later, author Scott Huler decided to re-trace Lawson’s route and see what remained of the world he once documented. His own book, “A Delicious Country: Rediscovering the Carolinas along the Route of John Lawson's 1700 Expedition” (University of North Carolina Press/2019) emerged from that journey of discovery.

The cover features a house on fire
Courtesy of Belt Publishing

19th century writer Charles Chesnutt was once the most popular African-American author of his time. But everything changed after he published the 1901 book “The Marrow of Tradition” (Houghton, Mifflin and Company/1901). It was a fictionalized account of the 1898 race riot in Wilmington, North Carolina, and critics slammed the book. A high-profile editor even called it “bitter.”

a photo of Iris Yang
Iris Yang

Iris Yang grew up in China with two parents who were high-achieving educators. They wanted her to be a good student and successful woman, and their passion was biology. She aimed to please them and followed their suggested path.


Yang was one of a few students accepted to the China-United States Biochemistry Examination and Application program, and at 23, she was sent to America with a borrowed $500 and poor English. She went on to study molecular biology and worked with researchers at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She made her parents proud, but she could not let go of a deep-seated desire to pursue one of her first loves: literature.

 In this May 3, 1994, photo, Naomi Judd pinches the cheeks of Luke Perry after asking him about the title of his new movie, "8 Seconds," during the 29th Academy of Country Music Awards in Universal City, Calif.
Mark Terrill / AP

When actor Luke Perry died earlier this week, most of the world lost a popular actor and former teenage heartthrob, but Jerome Davis lost a friend.

Occasional Magic

Mar 8, 2019
Sofija Stefanovic
Allison Evans

Edgar Oliver propagates monsters in his backyard.
Chenjerai Kumanyika seeks protection through tradition and faith.
Matt McArthur witnesses rare beauty during an Arctic dive.
Sofija Stefonovic gets her first taste of capitalism.

An image of Randy Newman
Gijsbert Hanekroot / Getty Images

We've teamed up with Come Hear NC on a podcast series that explores North Carolina music one song at a time. On this week's episode Libby Rodenbough of the Chapel Hill band Mipso talks with Eric Hodge abour Randy Newman's 'The Great Debate.'

photo of Ben Phan holding a guitar
Ben Phan

Ben Phan remembers living in a van with his ex-girlfriend, bumming around the country and searching for a place to clean up his act and reinvent himself.

Persian power ingredients: pomegranate molasses and dried limes

Mar 8, 2019

We dedicated our entire episode Four Persian Cooks to the unique flavors of Persian cuisine, including two ingredients considered key to the Persian pantry, pomegranate molasses and dried limes. These ingredients lend a layer of complexity – think sweet and tart, or funky and acidic – to dishes in which they are used. For a deeper look, Managing Producer Sally Swift talked to Christie Morrison, editor of special projects and on-screen test cook at America’s Test Kitchen.

Last year, Naz Deravian came out with a terrific book called Bottom of the Pot: Persian Recipes and Stories. And if you know just one thing about Persian food, you probably know what that title is about; it's about the crispy part of the rice, called tahdig, that you find at the bottom of the pot or the top of the rice once it's flipped out of the pot and onto a serving plate or bowl.

Photo: Chef Behzad Jamshidi (right) with Francis Lam in Francis's home kitchen.

Photo: Najmieh Batmanglij (second from left) preparing
All-Green Shirazi Meatballs with Farangis Shahab and her family in Shiraz

For our episode Four Persian Cooks, we spoke with a wonderful group of Persian cooks including Samin Nosrat. You probably know her from her fantastic book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, or wildly popular Netflix show by the same name, through which she has taught millions of people how to see cooking in a new way.

Recipes to keep you warm on a late winter weekend

Mar 8, 2019

It's early March, the sky is blue and the weather is above 30 degrees for the first time in weeks. Just when you thought Old Man Winter was in the rear view mirror, the calendar reminds you that spring is here just yet. Surprise! An epic snowstorm is forecast to dump a foot of snow on your town over the next 48 hours. There's two ways of looking at this situation. One is with dread. It's going to be a long weekend bundled up and battling the snow with shovels, snowblowers, salt and scrapers.

This week, Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot unearth some Buried Treasures, musical gems that you may not have heard, but certainly should. Plus, the hosts review the latest releases from soul legend Chaka Khan and singer Solange.

Bitter Custody

Mar 7, 2019

A controversial theory is swaying family court judges to award custody to parents accused of harming kids. We trace the origins of “parental alienation” and learn how it has spawned a cottage industry of so-called family reunification camps that are making big profits from broken families.