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Anita Rao

Host, "Embodied" / Managing Editor, On-Demand Content

Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.

She has traveled the country recording interviews for the Peabody Award-winning StoryCorps production department, founded and launched a podcast about millennial feminism in the South, and served as the managing editor and regular host of "The State of Things," North Carolina Public Radio's flagship daily, live talk show. Anita was born in a small coal-mining town in Northeast England but spent most of her life growing up in Iowa and has a fond affection for the Midwest.

You can send Anita an e-mail at

  • ADHD is a common mental disorder among children and adolescents. But often symptoms continue into adulthood, where it is underdiagnosed and undertreated. A late-stage diagnosis can be life-changing.
  • Anita passes the mic to our friends at the feminist documentary podcast "Bodies" for an exploration of ADHD and identity. Producer Hannah Harris Green talks about how getting an ADHD diagnosis helped her release the shame she'd been carrying since childhood.
  • Nearly 40% of U.S. adults are single, and some choose not to look for a relationship or date. If singleness is common, why are single people treated unfairly?
  • A growing number of American adults have the same feeling about romantic partnerships: They don’t want one. Anita meets three people who have chosen singlehood: a scholar who examines the double standard of relationship status, a single mother of two by choice and a man shedding toxic masculinity to build a deliberately single life.
  • Kissing-like behaviors exist across the animal kingdom. But why? A scientist explains why humans are so drawn to each other's lips, and a photographer documents the power of a kiss.
  • Anita's highly-anticipated (and highly-awkward) first kiss was in eighth grade … but she remembers it like it was yesterday! A scientist tells her why our brains respond so strongly to kissing and how our kissing customs have changed over time. She also unpacks the power of a kiss with a photographer who documents queer Black love in public and three Gen-Zers school her on contemporary kissing culture.
  • Humans are the only animal to produce emotional tears. Asking questions about this behavior can help us better understand how we live our lives.
  • Anita usually feels better after a good, long cry. But why is that? She explores that question with a poet who spent years diving deeply into the science and culture of crying. And a forerunner of the "crying selfie" trend shares how he pushes back on toxic masculinity by embracing tears.
  • When it comes to addressing the mental health concerns of new parents, the most common response is silence.
  • Anita treasures sleep and moments of silence. So when she hears typical narratives of early parenthood that include unending cries and restless nights, she has concerns for the mental toll on new parents. But culturally there is a lot of silence around how challenging it can be and recognizing deteriorating mental health while caring for another person can be isolating. In part two of the postpartum series "Delivered," she meets a prolific artist whose experience with postpartum depression catalyzed a mental health journey and a diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder. She also talks to a couple about what folks should know about sex and relationships postpartum and why the mental health of non-birthing partners should be part of the postpartum conversation.