Amanda Magnus

Producer, "The State of Things"

Amanda Magnus grew up in Maryland and went to high school in Baltimore. She became interested in radio after an elective course in the NYU journalism department. She got her start at Sirius XM Satellite Radio, but she knew public radio was for her when she interned at WNYC.  She later moved to Madison, where she worked at Wisconsin Public Radio for six years. In her time there, she helped create an afternoon drive news magazine show, called Central Time. She also produced several series, including one on Native American life in Wisconsin. She spends her free time running, hiking, and roller skating. She also loves scary movies. 

Solar panels convert solar energy to usable engergy.
Pxhere

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality recently released a plan to significantly reduce greenhouse gases from electricity production over the next decade. The goal is to get to zero emissions by 2050, starting with a 60 to 70% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030.

Pickett measures her patient's height.
Courtesy of UNC Greensboro

When Stephanie Pickett was a nurse at Duke University Medical Center, more than 90% of the patients she saw with kidney failure were black. This shocking racial health disparity both bewildered her and inspired her to take action.

Cecil sits on a stool playing his guitar and sings into a mic.
Courtesy of David Ray Cecil

Singer and guitarist Dave Ray Cecil began writing music when he was six years old. As a child, he strung notes together on the piano and secretly used his brother’s guitar to write songs.

Image of the North Carolina State Legislature Building in Raleigh.
Wikimedia Commons

A disagreement over who should control settlement money from Volkswagen could cost North Carolinians $92 million. Volkswagen agreed to pay the state that money for selling cars that cheated on emissions tests, but both Governor Roy Cooper and the Republican-led legislature are claiming the right to dole out the funds. 

A black and white photo of the cast of The Wizard of Oz in costume.
Library of Congress

Somewhere over the rainbow, The State of Things is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the film adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz.” The 1939 movie is best known for its hit musical numbers, fantastical plotline and use of Technicolor. Judy Garland’s career took off after she portrayed Dorothy Gale on her journey through the magical land of Oz, and the film has since become an American cultural touchstone.

Image of the Appalachian Mountains.
Flickr Creative Commons

Many Americans spend more time looking at screens than they spend outside — or even looking out a window. This increased disconnect between humans and nature comes at a time when scientists warn that the environment is especially vulnerable: the recent National Climate Estimate estimates that annual average temperatures in the U.S. are expected to rise by about 2.5°F in the next few decades. A new collection of nature writing from Appalachia aims to bring readers closer to nature through stories about both the splendor of the mountain region and clear examples of how humans are changing the planet.

A woman holds a black-and-white photo of her grandmother.
Courtesy of Digital Diaspora Family Reunion LLC

Family pictures often illustrate everyday milestones — like birthday parties, weddings or family reunions. But they can also illuminate deep and complex stories about communities, values and identity. The new three-part PBS documentary series “Family Pictures USA” follows people from southwest Florida, Detroit and North Carolina as they search to discover what surprising things they can learn from stashed-away images.

Ernest Grant standing at a podium.
Courtesy of the American Nurses Association

As a boy Ernest Grant was enchanted by the nurses who attended his church in Swannanoa, a small area in western North Carolina. He often overheard them talking about their work at a local tuberculosis sanitarium and vividly remembers their stories of caring for patients.

A closed group home for children with mental disabilities originally run by New Horizon Group Home LLC in Lumber Bridge.
Greg Clark / WRAL

The federal government has awarded billions of dollars to nonprofits and businesses across the nation to house the overflow of migrant children coming into the country. Data reporting from the investigative news publication Sludge revealed the only company in North Carolina that received one of these grants is New Horizon Group Home LLC.

A child looks out a window at Knightdale High School, which has been converted into an evacuation shelter for people affected by Hurricane Florence in Knightdale, N.C., Sunday, Sep. 16, 2018.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

It’s been nearly a year since Hurricane Florence slammed into North Carolina’s coast. After a major storm, the focus is often on the material needs of communities: food, shelter and clothing. But what about how these communities are grieving and coping with natural disasters?

a colorful artists' rendering of the greenhouse effect
Jaime Van Wart

Eleanor Spicer Rice spent her childhood fascinated by ants, flies, maggots, bones and other natural curiosities. Her family encouraged that inquisitiveness — her father would take her on walks in the swamps near their Goldsboro home, and her parents never told her the bugs that enchanted her were gross.

Robert Mueller testifies before Congress.
Andrew Harnik / AP

What is the impact of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony in Congress this week? Since the seven hours of testimony on Wednesday, five more Democratic U.S. representatives endorsed the idea of impeachment: including Reps. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, Andre Carson of Indiana, Lori Trahan of Massachusetts, Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware.

Press photo of Carrboro-based band Dissimilar South.
Hayes Potter

The Carrboro-based band Dissimilar South is focused on transitions right now. Their recent debut EP, “Treehouse,” tracks the bittersweet flavors of change as a relationship ends. It contrasts the desire for nostalgia with dreams of the future. All of the band members have recently graduated from college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where they met and began the band.

An illustrated mural showing Jesus with children on the left, a migrant housing facility in the middle, and the Virgin Mary on the right with a child.
Courtesy of Sarah Cornette

A giant, globe-trotting mural is linking displaced children from two different continents, across vastly different cultures, languages and experiences. “Same Difference: The Mural” is a 36-foot canvas with four different panels spearheaded by art educator Sarah Cornette. Four groups of children, from Chapel Hill; Thessaloniki and Samos, Greece; and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, put paintbrush to canvas and depicted stories from their own experiences of travel and trauma.

Cartoon image of fertilization.
Flickr Creative Commons

Infertility is a disease that affects millions of people in the United States but is rarely discussed openly. Twelve percent of married women between the ages of 15 and 44 experienced infertility, along with just over nine percent of men in that age group, according to a 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those numbers translate to about one in eight couples who have trouble getting or staying pregnant. There are a variety of treatments for infertility, but they can be costly and are not accessible to everyone.

Julie Scott / Wikimedia Commons

Tommy Wiseau’s film “The Room” is a textbook example of a cult movie. It made less than $2000 when it first opened in Los Angeles in 2003, got terrible reviews, and is dubbed by some the “Citizen Kane of bad movies.” Yet years later it became a huge hit.

Event dates are available on her website.
Deborah Triplett / Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

In the new young adult novel “Something Like Gravity” (Margaret K. McElderry Books/2019), author Amber Smith approaches the classic theme of first love, through a dark lens.
 

Pooja Mehta wants to break the taboo around mental illness in the South Asian community.
Courtesy of Pooja Mehta.

One in five adults in the United States experience a mental illness, regardless of culture, race or gender. But there are cultural differences when it comes to seeking treatment: African Americans use mental health services at about one-half the rate of white Americans. Asian Americans seek treatment at about one-third of the rate of white Americans. What are the barriers to seeking help?

Michele Lamping holds three sea turtle hatchlings out on the beach.
Courtesy of North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

Hundreds of sea turtles climb onto North Carolina’s shores to lay eggs each year. The state has about 330 miles of ocean-facing beach that is potential nesting habitat for sea turtles. Four different species commonly nest in North Carolina: the loggerhead, green turtle, Kemp’s ridley and leatherbacks. All seven of the global species of sea turtles are listed as endangered or threatened. These turtles face many predators in the wild — and humans also pose a great threat.

Sarah Dessen is a North Carolina native and UNC alum.
Seth Abel

North Carolina native and author Sarah Dessen reads the obituaries in The News & Observer every day. Over the last few years she noticed more young people showing up in those pages with no explanations about the cause of death.

A photo showing a bird's eye view of the student dig
Charles Ewen/ECU

Brunswick Town was once a thriving British port before the Revolutionary War. It was one of the first successful European settlements in the Cape Fear region until the British burned it down in 1776. Archeologists have been exploring the ruins for decades with the help of a map created in 1769, but recent findings are raising new questions about the town’s history.

the graphic for the project 'On The Margins'
WFDD

As of 2016, Greensboro and Winston-Salem had the highest rates of evictions in all of North Carolina. 

A yearlong collaborative reporting project dove into the topic: exploring how evictions create a ripple effect in people’s lives, the role the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem plays in evictions there and a look at one redlined community in Greensboro. 

The majority opinion states that the drawing of electoral maps is too political for federal courts to get involved.
SUPERMAC1961 / Flickr Creative Commons

A conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal courts have no role to play in deciding partisan gerrymandering cases.

The earliest stages of gentrification in North Carolina can be traced to the redevelopment of city centers.
Flickr

Word is getting out that North Carolina is a great place to live. The state has been readily attracting people from other parts of the country in recent years, but the rising tide has not lifted all boats.

Okra is a seed-to-stem plant, meaning that every part of the organism is edible.
Peter Taylor

Writing off okra as a slimy pod is a great injustice, according to Chris Smith. The garden writer and seed saver is an okra aficionado who asserts that while the vegetable may have a unique texture, it is a surprisingly versatile piece of produce.

All of the former workers involved in the complaint are immigrants from Mexico, which they cite as a reason for their unfair treatment
Bob Karp / Indy Week

Five former employees of the Hampton Inn in Mebane filed a complaint in Guilford County Superior Court alleging wage theft totalling $24,681. They assert that money is from unpaid bonuses and vacation time, mileage reimbursement, a malfunctioning time clock and more.

Those housed by UYCS are placed in dingy apartments and run-down hotels plagued by mold, pests, and drug abuse.
Courtesy of Jordan Green

A Triad City Beat investigative piece reveals troubling accusations against United Youth Care Services (UYCS), an agency that provides substance abuse treatment tied to housing for those enrolled in Medicaid.

Courtesy of Keyetta Mangum

Television shows like “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “The Beverly Hillbillies” exemplified the country stereotype in American culture. Characters were uneducated, naive and often had a strong affinity for guns. North Carolina native Keyetta Mangum grew up in a rural area and is fiercely proud of her country roots, but also finds that most popular culture representations of rural life are tired, cliche and problematic.

Carolyn Coleman serves on the NAACP National Board of Directors and as the First Vice President of the North Carolina NAACP
NAACP

Carolyn Coleman got her first taste of community activism as a young girl in a segregated community in Savannah, Georgia. She and her mother went door-to-door collecting signatures to advocate for neighborhood improvements. She continued to work for civil rights and social justice for close to six decades.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that she will step down as press secretary by the end of June 2019.
Evan Vucci / AP

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be stepping down at the end of June, as announced through tweets from President Donald Trump. Sanders has been in Trump’s press office since his 2016 presidential campaign.

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