Anita Rao

Managing Editor, "The State of Things"

Anita Rao is the Managing Editor and regular host for The State of Things, WUNC's daily, live talk show that features the issues, personalities and places of North Carolina. She hosts the recurring series "Embodied: Conversations about Sex, Relationships & Your Health."

She fell in love with interviewing and storytelling as a Women's Studies and International Studies major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and began her radio career at WUNC as an intern for the nationally distributed public radio program The Story. From 2011 - 2014, she worked for the Peabody Award-winning StoryCorps Production department, where she pitched, edited and produced conversations from across the nation--from Chicago, IL to Pineville, North Carolina.  

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. In her spare time she also co-hosts and produces a podcast and radio show about millennial feminism called "She and Her."

Ways to Connect

Rhodes will her guitar.
Courtesy of Lisa Rhodes

Lisa Rhodes was born in a small town outside a small city on the Gulf Coast of Texas and as a lesbian aspiring musician, she could not wait to get out of dodge. Rhodes would spend much of her younger years in Austin where she wanted to be a rock star.

Cummings headshot.
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In a time of great political upheaval, the country has lost a formidable force. Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings passed away last week at the age of 68.

Graphic of a bed.
WikiHow

A solid eight hours can be hard to come by in our non-stop, tech-saturated world. But the modern science of sleep shows that shut-eye is just as critical as diet and exercise in shaping both mental and physical health.

Stock photo of a football helmet on the field.
Pixabay

A report from sports media outlet The Athletic calls into question concussion research that was conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and headed by now-Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz.

a headshot of Ann Patchett at her bookstore, Parnassus Books in Nashville
Heidi Ross/Harper Collins

Everyone has particular childhood memories that stand out and shape the story of who they are. But how reliable are these memories, and when should we let them go? These are some of the questions plaguing siblings Danny and Maeve Conroy, the two central characters in author Ann Patchett’s new novel, “The Dutch House” (Harper/2019).

A baboon and Tung look at each other.
Susan Alberts

When the MacArthur Foundation notified Jenny Tung that she is a 2019 “genius grant” recipient, she was honored and humbled. The new mom has spent much of her career studying primates and how their early life impacts their overall health, life expectancy and even affects their offspring.

Managing Editor Anita Rao joined The State of Things as a producer in 2014. Since then, she has produced a wide range of conversations for the show and led the team’s efforts to broaden the program's scope and diversity of voices.

Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff at a press conference.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Impeachment is once again at the center of this week’s newscycle. Now Congress has text messages from U.S. diplomats discussing President Donald Trump’s interactions with the Ukraine.

Courtesy of Dr. Chris Kelly

When did you last look up your symptoms online? Medical tomes and doctors visits were once necessary for diagnosis; now the internet makes medical knowledge — both amateur and professional — available to the masses.

Ross and Ruiz-Lopez headshot.
Courtesy of Violet Bell

When North Carolina duo Violet Bell started recording their debut album, they planned to feature band members Lizzy Ross and Omar Ruiz-Lopez plus a drummer. But once the tape started rolling, Ross and Ruiz-Lopez realized the music warranted a bigger sound.

Rapsody posed for a headshot.
(Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

Billy Porter made Emmy history Sunday when he became the first openly gay black man to win lead actor in a drama category for his role in the FX series “Pose.”

Wikimedia

Hippocrates, the Greek father of medicine, wrote “all diseases begin in the gut.” He continued the line with the famous advice: “let medicine be thy food and food thy medicine.” New research confirms Hippocrates’ thinking, showing the human gut does much more than just process food.

Toni Morrison passed away August 5, 2019.
Wikimedia Commons

Last month, President Donald Trump called Baltimore a “rat and rodent-infested mess” and told four Democratic Congresswomen of color to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” These are just the latest examples of a repeated tactic: the president denigrates women and people of color who oppose him and his policies. What power do his words have and how do they affect the people and the cities he attacks? Popular culture experts Mark Anthony Neal and Natalie Bullock Brown take on that topic with host Frank Stasio in the latest installment of #BackChannel, The State of Things’ recurring series connecting culture and context.

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 man rides a tractor on his farm.
Courtesy of Charity Moretz

In the summer, roadside stands full of seasonal produce and signs pointing to “pick-your-own berry” fields line North Carolina country roads. Hayrides and pumpkin patches are a fall staple. These farm activities make for a fun Saturday with the family or a bucolic addition to an Instagram grid. For many farmers, however, they are the legs they stand on. Agriculture is a big industry in North Carolina, yet an increasing number of small farms cannot afford to engage in only crop or livestock farming.

Press photo of Shay Martin Lovette
Courtesy of Shay Martin Lovette

Shay Martin Lovette grew up paddling and playing soccer in Wilkesboro with his brother Chad. Every spring, Lovette watched musicians and their followers flood his little mountain town for Merlefest, the popular roots music festival. More and more came each year as the festival grew. Lovette took notes from legends like Doc Watson and young arrivals like the Avett Brothers. He also listened to his father strum, and decided to pick up a guitar himself.

An older couple holds hands.
Pxphere

The myths and realities of aging have created an industry rich with people offering a fix to stop or slow down the inevitable. Inevitably, the body changes and so too do relationships. On this episode of the series “Embodied: Sex, Relationships and Your Health,” The State of Things guest host Anita Rao explores the impact aging has on intimacy, and offers a decade by decade look at shifts in bodies, relationships and attitudes.  

Diagram of a pet-related ethical dilemma.
Photo used with permission of Azim Sharif / MIT Media Lab

A self-driving car hurtles toward an individual and their dog. The car’s brake-lines are cut and the machine must decide — kill the person or the pet. What would you do? What if the dog were yours and the person were a stranger?

Book cover of "What The Dog Knows."
Courtesy of Cat Warren

Humans have associated dogs with death for millennia. Ancient Persians believed a dog’s stare drove the demon Nasu out of a corpse. Some Mayan traditions say a black dog carries the newly deceased to the land of the dead.

Fort Bragg provides an ideal environment for the St. Francis Satry, a critically endangered species of butterfly.
Courtesy of Nick Haddad

Of all federal agencies, the Department of Defense manages the highest density of threatened and endangered species, more than even the National Park Service. The special relationship between the Pentagon and environmentalist organizations originates at Fort Bragg.

Darwin, Sinke & van Tongeren

Taxidermists can have a hard time finding a date. Stereotypes and disgust surround the practice, however Asheville film director Erin Derham doesn’t think that judgment is deserved. True, she was repulsed when a colleague initially pitched the idea of a documentary about taxidermy (Derham is vegan), but her reaction soon transformed into a deep respect for the field and its practitioners. Her journey led her down the rabbit hole to animal rescues and safaris where she discovered the significance of taxidermy in conservation efforts.

David Bjorgen

State Treasurer Dale Folwell wants to move the State Health Plan to a government-priced model he calls the Clear Pricing Project. As the debate escalates, the more than 727,000 North Carolinians on the State Health Plan face uncertain healthcare coverage and costs in the new year.

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?

Old photograph of women sitting together playing cards.
Courtesty of the Ocean City Beach Citizens Council

Ocean City Beach sits along a one-mile stretch of land on Topsail Island. A coalition of interracial business owners founded the community in 1949 as a vacation spot for black North Carolinians. Its establishment created the first beachfront town where people of color could purchase or build property in North Carolina. 

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.

Creative Commons / https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1019274

Many people learn the basics in sex education classes — how men and women procreate and how to avoid contracting sexually transmitted infections. However, the science of sex goes well beyond basic textbook diagrams. In recent decades, researchers have developed a deeper understanding of the interplay between our brains and our bodies and about the mechanics of sexual desire.

Courtesy of Dan Ariely

Summer is filled with temptation. We know that fresh fruit is a healthier choice than ice cream. A ripe watermelon can be just as sweet, but often times we pass it by for a double scoop in a waffle cone. The barrage of pool parties and cookouts combined with summer vacation may leave many struggling to make and keep health commitments.

courtesy of Jennifer Dasal

It can be as difficult to explain why an artist is driven to paint or sculpt as it is to define what makes great art. But for some of the highest-achieving artists the motivation to create is clear: competition.

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