Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Perry Deane Young
Courtesy of Perry Deane Young

Perry Deane Young died on New Year’s Day at 77 years old. The North Carolina-based writer and reporter landed in Vietnam on the first day of the Tet Offensive in 1968. He befriended a group of journalists determined to go beyond the official U.S. government story to tell a more nuanced version of the unfolding war. 

Thomas Rain Crowe reading at the San Francisco Poetry Festival
Courtesy of Joe Provenzano

The stories of beat poets helped define a generation. These poets spoke the language of the streets and defied the established literary canons. Poet and author Thomas Rain Crowe was in San Francisco in the 1970s, where he was mentored and inspired by the first generation of beat poets and was part of the “baby beat” generation. 

Hearing Voices

Jan 14, 2019
Braden Moran

Stanley Alpert relies on his hearing when he is kidnapped. Faith Ekienabor finds a brand new way to her college class. T Dixon discovers the power of her own voice. Anna Schuleit builds an unconventional instrument.

A picture of Mountain Man.
Elizabeth Weinberg

Songs We Love is a series and a podcast that looks at the stories behind some of the songs we're playing on our new music discovery station, WUNC Music.

On this episode Eric Hodge chats with the North Carolina based folk trio Mountain Man about their song 'Rang Tang Ring Toon' from their 2018 album 'Magic Ship.'

The song is a playful romp that the band says came about organically. It's gone on to become one of their favorites to perform live.

Listen to the episode here:

Nathan E. Bradshaw as Duke Vincentio and Rosemary Richards as Isabella in Shakespeare's 'Measure for Measure,' on stage in Raleigh January 11th - 27th.
Courtesy of Dennis Berfield

Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” has long been considered one of the Bard of Avon’s “problem plays”: It is neither a comedy nor a drama, and it touches on some especially contentious topics. Written in the early 1600s, the play depicts sexual assault and harassment, and it poses a particular set of challenges for directors and actors staging the production today: How can a modern version provide new insight into the conversation around consent? And what exactly was Shakespeare trying to say about sexual assault? 

Art created for the band Arrow Beach.
Courtesy of Arrow Beach

Singer John Ensslin vividly remembers his first concert: Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones in 1981. His next two live experiences were of David Byrne of Talking Heads and Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs. After watching the likes of Jagger, Ensslin knew he wanted to be a front man. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in art, but even back in school music was his primary passion, and he spent much of his time playing music with friends. 

How Thai food took over America

Jan 11, 2019

In the past 15 years the Thai population in America has doubled in size, and it’s a community opens a lot of restaurants. In fact, if you’re just looking at the ratio to a community’s population, there are ten times more Thai than Mexican restaurants in the United States. We wanted to know how Thai restaurants first became popular in the U.S. and what fueled their spread across the country. You might be surprised to find the Thai government and Hollywood had a lot to do with it.

In our recent episode The Food of Thailand, we explored the cuisines found in different regions of Thailand. But, we also wanted to hear about the food of Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city and home to 15 million people. If you look at pictures it’s all gleaming skyscrapers and golden royal temples, but Leela Punyaratabandhu has a closer perspective. She grew up there, in a house built by her great grandparents.

In our episode The Food of Thailand, we explored many regional cuisines of Thailand. One common theme throughout many dishes is the essential curry; there are hundreds of Thai curries. The most common ones you see in the U.S. are probably based on coconut milk, and probably named after a color. The color comes from a curry paste, a flavor bomb of spices and aromatics.

For a lot of fans of Thai food, it’s hard to imagine a world without coconut milk. But there are whole regions within Thailand that barely ever touch the stuff. Places, like in Northern Thailand, where some of the key flavors are numbing, Sichuan peppercorn-like spices, and curry pastes might be as simple as just garlic, shallots, and chilies pounded together.

America's Test Kitchen taste test: coconut milk

Jan 11, 2019

To many, coconut milk is considered one of cornerstone flavors of Thai cuisine. However, It can be surprisingly difficult to track down one of high quality, and is far too easy to buy one that doesn’t quite do the job. Thankfully, our friends at America’s Test Kitchen did a taste test of coconut milks that are more widely available and pick their favorites. Jack Bishop gave our Managing Producer Sally Swift the low-down on what makes a good coconut milk and shared their recommendations. See the full list below the interview.

This episode was originally broadcast in May 2016. Back in 1971, a 22-year-old journalist named Robert Rosenthal got a call from his boss at The New York Times. He told him to go to room 1111 of the Hilton Hotel, bring enough clothes for at least a month and not tell anyone.

Sometimes songs make a strong, memorable statement from the very first note. This week, to start off the new year, hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot share some of their favorite songs with iconic starts.

The 1960s was a time of great social change, and Frye Gaillard was there to capture it in his new book, 'A Hard Rain.'
Courtesy of Frye Gaillard

Prolific journalist and writer Frye Gaillard’s latest book takes readers back to a time of profound political and cultural change: the 1960s. Gaillard was a young teen in middle school at the start of the decade, and by the end he was working as a reporter. In those years he witnessed firsthand the power and dynamism of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., both of whom were assassinated in 1968. 

Peruvian Amazon, December 2011
Courtesy of Eloise Campbell

Panos Karan grew up with a piano in his home and a dad who loved to play on it for fun. At age 7, Karan asked for lessons, and while some would say it was the beginning of his road to becoming a concert pianist, his first piano teacher would disagree. She thought Karan had little potential, but he kept at it.

Various branches of the Dula family come together at the Dulatown gravesite.
Courtesy of Leslie Dula McKesson

Dula family reunions in western North Carolina include members of the black and white sides of the family. But for decades these two sides did not communicate or even acknowledge their relation. The two branches of the family started with a man named Alfred and a woman named Harriet. Before Harriet, Alfred had married a white woman and had six children, but his first wife died young. He then bought an enslaved woman named Harriet to help him with his family, and the two had eight more children.

Cover of the book, 'Sugar Run' by Mesha Maren.
Courtesy of Mesha Maren

How can you return to a place that was once home? That question is at the center of the new novel “Sugar Run” (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill/2019). Protagonist Jodi McCarty was sentenced to life in prison for manslaughter when she was 17. Eighteen years later, she returns to her home in the Appalachian Mountains after her release, and on her way home Jodi meets and falls in love with a young mother named Miranda. She brings Miranda back to West Virginia and tries to get a fresh start while grappling with her past. 

Favorite Movie Of 2018

Jan 8, 2019
poster photo of A Star is Born
courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

The Screen Actors Guild Award nominations are in! “A Star is Born” and “Black Panther” are among the films that will battle it out for best picture. But who cares what SAG thinks? For our next Movies On The Radio, we want your favorite movie of 2018.

Knowing How and When to Fight

Jan 7, 2019
Timothy Herbert

Hillary Boone and her mother scheme to save Vermont from hate. Maria Hodermarska fights for services for her son. Ed Mabaya finds himself in danger while visiting his girlfriend. Brad Lawrence and his sister work their mom's last nerve with their brawling. Angela Lush struggles to speak up.

Elyse Ribbons / WUNC

Vansana Nolintha was sent from Laos to live in the United States when he was just 12 years old. His parents wanted a better life for him and his sister Vanvisa who soon followed her brother to Greensboro, North Carolina. There were major hurdles right from the start. 

Austin McCombie and Sarah Osborne McCombie storytelling with strings and songs about North Carolina.
Courtesy of Kendall Atwater

Chatham County was once best known for its rabbits. The wild animals were so plentiful in the region at the turn of the 20th century that thousands were shipped out as cash crops each year. This piece of forgotten North Carolina history is just one story of many that inspires the new folk duo Sarah McCombie and Austin McCombie. 

Sound Opinions: Great Duets & Malcolm Gladwell

Jan 3, 2019

There’s something about two performers, sometimes from different styles and points of view, coming together and creating a musical moment. This week, hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot share some of their favorite duets. They'll also interview author Malcolm Gladwell and journalist Bruce Headlam from the Broken Record podcast.

Silencing Science

Jan 3, 2019

President Donald Trump says he doubts humans have much of a role in climate change. His administration has downplayed the science of climate change and sought to silence scientists working for the federal government. In this hour, Reveal’s Elizabeth Shogren details the pressures one researcher faced as she worked on a project for the National Park Service.

a photo of a cat and dog in front of a Christmas tree dressed in holiday clothing.

 “The State of Things” started 2018 with two new producers who brought an array of perspectives and talent to the show. One of them was Dana Terry: an entertainment industry veteran with years of experience producing for drivetime radio shows. This is her first foray into public radio, and she brought with her a number of entertainment industry contacts.


Graham parklet
Naomi Prioleau / WUNC

In the city of Graham in Alamance County, people are eating and talking in a dumpster.

headshot of Amanda Magnus
Ben McKeown

"The State of Things" staff reflects on 2018 by sharing their favorite segments from the last year. Amanda Magnus is one of two new producers on the show. She moved to North Carolina from Wisconsin last January, and she discovered a lot of new things about the state through the segments she produced.

Excerpt from Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll by Andrew Friedman

Jan 2, 2019

Writer Andrew Friedman was our guest on the Splendid Table Selects episode "Chefs, Drugs, and Rock & Roll." He shared this excerpt from his book by the same title.


We're going back in time, to the 1970’s and the beginning of the American restaurant revolution.  It was a time when young, talented chefs started opening restaurants that didn’t feel bound to tradition. It was when cooking first became cool, and writer Andrew Friedman says the energy at that time was palpable.

Courtesy of Cheetie Kumar

Cheetie Kumar grew up in Chandigarh, India with America on the mind. Her family talked often about moving overseas to pursue a fresh start in the United States. Her parents lived through Indian Partition in 1947, a bloody conflict during which Kumar’s mother lost both of her parents. For their family, moving to the U.S. was both about finding new opportunities and gaining distance from trauma. 

Almost anyone we talk to in the food world, if they know Mike Solomonov, they love Mike Solomonov; he's that kind of energetic guy who could be the mayor of any town he lives in. Solomonov is the chef at Zahav and other restaurants in Philadelphia, he’s got a new book called Israeli Soul, and he was also one of our favorite guests on The Splendid Table this year from our live "The Philly Special" episode.