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

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.

Press Photo of Nicole Byer
Courtesy of Nicole Byer

If you're an aspiring culinary artist, there are plenty of shows to watch for inspiration — “Chopped,” “Master Chef” and “The Great British Bake Off” let viewers watch kitchen magic unfold. But Nicole Byer's Emmy-nominated series "Nailed It" is gaining traction for turning the premise of cooking competitions on its head. Instead of dishing up exquisite treats, its inexperienced competitors fail spectacularly.

Student Health are a local high school rock band with high professional ambitions.
Courtesy of Student Health

Beyond playing in the family garage and or playing at school, it can be hard for high school bands to find a foothold in the music world. The indie band Student Health are on that quest to get their music heard by a broader audience.

ICE Officers detain a man.
Charles Reed / AP

The coordinated immigration raids slated for this week did not take place at the scale announced by top administration officials.

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.

Wayne Lawrence / ProPublica

For generations, black landowners in the South relied on informal agreements, instead of wills, to keep property in the family. In a new article from investigative news outlet ProPublica, reporter Lizzie Presser investigated the story of a Carteret County family’s land loss and how African Americans across the country lost about 90% of their farmland between 1910 and 1997. Host Anita Rao talks with Lizzie Presser about the political, economic and emotional cost of black landholders losing their family property.

Promotional material for the podcast of Reema Khrais standing in front of a receipt reading 'This is Uncomfortable.'
Courtesy of Marketplace

Do you follow up with friends about money they owe you, or do you let it slide? Would you pay your romantic partner to do the dishes? How about asking your coworker how much they make? The subject of money is ever-present yet it’s often one of the toughest conversations to broach with friends, family and colleagues.
 

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.
 

Imam Shane Atkinson was raised in Jackson, Mississippi, in a working-class white family.
Courtesy of Shane Atkinson

One of Imam Shane Atkinson’s first face-to-face encounters with Muslims took place while he was working at a tannery in Sturgis, Mississippi.

President Trump is expected to use federal records to collect data on citizenship.
Noah Forston / NPR

The investigation into President Donald Trump continues as the House Judiciary Committee authorized subpoenas for several current and former Trump officials including son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kusher. The Democrats are in search of proof of obstruction of justice.

In 'Going To Graceland,' Moose compiles tales from 22 pilgrims visiting the home of their idol, Elvis.
Courtesy of Ruth Moose

A hairdresser, a secretary, a preacher and a wrestler stand in the sun in a line of fellow pilgrims. They come from small towns in every nook and cranny of the South, their home-cooked lunches in hand, to seek the counsel and blessings of their patron saint, St. Elvis of Tupelo. While they gather together at the gates of Graceland, the pilgrims swap stories – some poignant, some silly, and only a few related to Elvis – to pass the time.

Vidal draws upon the traditions of Samba Reggae in his musical style.
Courtesy of Caique Vidal

Caique Vidal’s voice is robust and unequivocal over driving percussion and horn sections. In harmony with his band Batuque, the sound is rambunctious yet precise. The melodies spiral until you smile, and dancing feels required.

Edited image via Wikivisual/ Creative Commons

What do North Carolina students learn in school about the birds and the bees and what should they learn? At local school board meetings and at the state Capitol, parents, government officials and advocacy groups all vie for control over curriculum and funding.

Photo of U.S. Women's Team holding cup
Francisco Seco / AP Photo

The U.S. Women’s National Team took home the cup on Sunday in the FIFA final showdown against the Netherlands. Megan Rapinoe earned the Golden Boot trophy and the team racked up their fourth FIFA World Cup Champion win. Throughout the tournament, the U.S. players battled for dominance on the pitch, but also for a greater goal: equal pay.

Urologist Greg Murphy beat pediatrician Joan Perry to serve as the Republican candidate in the runoff election to fill the 3rd Congressional District's seat in Washington.
Amy Townsend / WUNC

Republican voters in the 3rd Congressional District chose urologist Greg Murphy of Greenville over pediatrician Joan Perry in the runoff election prompted after the death of longtime North Carolina Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr.

Jeffrey Camarati / Courtesy of PNC

Renowned architect Phil Freelon has died after a three year battle with ALS.

A young woman stands in front of a lake holding two small rainbow pride flags.
Lilly Knoepp

Every year, members of the United Methodist Church gather for their annual Western North Carolina conference at Lake Junaluska in Haywood County. Top of mind at this year’s meeting was the Traditional Plan, a ruling enacted at the general conference in late February that enshrines punitive measures to reinforce the church’s ban on gay clergy and prohibition against gay weddings. The Traditional Plan has emphasized a growing divide between conservative and progressive camps within the United Methodist Church.

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.

'When They See Us' revisits the lives of the boys involved in the infamous 1989 'Central Park Five' trial.
Atsushi Nishijima / Netflix

A private recreation center in Wake County is under fire for what some are calling racist pool rules. The Outdoor Recreation Center in Wendell shared a post on Facebook earlier this month detailing its rules, which included: “no baggy pants, no dread-locks/weaves/extensions or revealing clothes will be permitted or you will be asked to leave.”


Mat Hayward / Courtesy of Mark Morris Dance Group

Acclaimed choreographer Mark Morris says that whether or not you love or hate The Beatles, his show “Pepperland” is for you. While that may be a bold way to encourage audience members to attend the performance, it is not too far from what critics themselves have to say.

Tamara Keith began covering the White House in 2014.
Courtesy of Tamara Keith

Tamara Keith has been covering the White House for NPR since 2014. In that time she has reported on the Obamas, spent countless hours on the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton and traveled on a surprise trip to Iraq with President Donald Trump.

NPR reporter Frank Langfitt stands next to the taxi he used to give free rides to strangers in Shanghai to investigate shifts in China's social and political paradigm.
Courtest of Frank Langfitt

Reporter Frank Langfitt was no stranger to China when he started the job of NPR Shanghai correspondent in 2011. Langfitt had worked for a newspaper in Beijing from 1997 to 2002, but the country he returned to on this new assignment was vastly different from the one he had lived in before.

Image of Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reacting to her election win.
Courtesy of Netflix

The richest black man in America pledged to pay off the student debt for all 2019 graduates of Morehouse College. Billionaire Robert F. Smith shared the news in a commencement speech at the historically black men's college earlier this month. His approximately $40 million gift has renewed the public conversation about America’s student debt crisis, which disproportionately impacts black students.

Image of Cherokee County Courthouse
J. Stephen Conn / Flickr, Creative Commons

For years, the Cherokee County Department of Social Services illegally removed dozens, and potentially even hundreds, of children from their homes. Instead of seeking an official court order from a judge, DSS workers instead instructed numerous families to sign custody and visitation agreements (CVAs) to authorize removal of their children.

Archival image of a flag in a field in Woodstock.
Lisa Law

Is it morally superior to be ironic than to be idealistic? This question and decades of lived experience as a musician and music novelist drive Lewis Shiner’s latest literary opus: “Outside The Gates of Eden” (Subterranean Press/2019)

NC Legislature
W Edward Callis III

Thursday marked the crossover deadline in the North Carolina General Assembly: a moment at which bills must receive approval from either chamber or likely remain dormant until the next cycle.

Illustrated graphic of Sonic South
Ginnie Hsu

The Southern Oral History Program is guided by the philosophy that “you don’t have to be famous for your life to be history.” Since 1973, it has collected 6,000 interviews that document the American South.

A photo of Tristan Parks in a performance
Unifyed Visuals

Artist Tristan Parks has spent so much time in communion with James Baldwin in the past year that he says he is “sure Baldwin is annoyed” with him at this point. Baldwin, of course, passed away more than three decades ago, but his spirit, words and philosophy are very much alive in Parks’ new performance-art piece, “They Do Not Know Harlem: In Communion with James Baldwin.”

Image of John Singleton
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File

Hollywood trailblazer John Singleton died earlier this week at the age of 51. The director is best known for his 1991 film "Boyz n' the Hood," for which he became the first African American and youngest person to receive an Oscar nomination for best director. Critics credit Singleton as one of the first filmmakers to document the humanity and complexity of life in South Central Los Angeles. Singleton died just one month after the murder of Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussle, another artist whose work was strongly rooted in South LA.

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