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

Image of singer Caitlin Linney
Caitlin Linney

Los Angeles-based artist Caitlin Linney grew up in an environment that could not be more different from Hollywood. Linney was raised on 10 acres of farmland in Efland and attended Carolina Friends School, where her imagination was nourished and her creativity encouraged. That environment fostered confidence and a passion to try things that today make her blush — like singing original songs in front of her whole school when she was just in sixth grade.

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. 

Durham Civil Rights, Civil Rights, Ann Atwater, The Best of Enemies
Leoneda Inge

 In 1971, C.P. Ellis and Ann Atwater were asked to sit down together to solve the problem of school desegregation in Durham, and at the time no signs pointed to that being a good idea. Ellis was a Ku Klux Klan leader, Atwater was a black community organizer, and the two were enemies.

Image of writer Tayari Jones
Nina Subin

Tayari Jones is committed to writing about the South as she sees it. Her critically-acclaimed novels are all deeply rooted in Atlanta and explore the intersection of black family stories with the structures that define American life.

Courtesy of Lachlan Watson

Raleigh-native Lachlan Watson got their start in acting by being at the right place at the right time. As the smart, quirky kid who hung out at Burning Coal Theatre while their mom worked front of house, Watson got called in to play all kinds of roles, from a child in the throes of the Enron scandal to a dog. Their acting chops earned them many future roles including the titular part in “Henry VI,” but it was the experience of playing such a wide swath of characters that Watson says helped them learn to express their identity in an authentic way. 

Spike Lee poses with the award for best adapted screenplay for 'BlacKkKlansman' in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Jordan Strauss / AP

Hollywood's biggest night of the year is over, and in the wake of all the glitz and glam there is both celebration and head scratching. Spike Lee won his first competitive Oscar for best adapted screenplay and jumped into presenter Samuel L. Jackson’s arms in one of the most emotive moments of the night. 

AP IMAGE
Juli Leonard/The News & Observer via AP, Pool / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Updated at 4:40 p.m

There will be a new election in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District. The unanimous decision from the North Carolina State Board of Elections comes after four days of dramatic hearings into suspected election fraud.

A table showing that North Carolina's uninsured rate is higher than the average U.S. rate.
North Carolina Justice Center

North Carolina is home to one of the largest uninsured populations in the country. The latest Census data indicates that of the more than one million people in North Carolina living without health insurance, many are employed workers. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showing the internet trolls that Congresspeople can dance.
Screenshot @AOC

California Sen. Kamala Harris joined the growing list of Democratic contenders for the 2020 presidential race earlier this week. How will her legacy as a prosecutor and her biracial identity impact her campaign and candidacy? It is one of many topics popular culture experts Mark Anthony Neal and Natalie Bullock Brown take on with host Frank Stasio in the latest installment of #BackChannel, The State of Things’ recurring series connecting culture and context. 

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? 

State of Things Managing Editor Anita Rao
Elie Gardner

It was a big year in North Carolina news. The man known to many as “America’s Pastor,” evangelist Billy Graham, passed away at the age of 99. Hurricane Florence tore through the state causing billions of dollars in damages, and protesters toppled the confederate Silent Sam statue on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks to the audience during a stop on her book tour for "Becoming," in Washington on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018.
Jose Luis Magana / AP Photo

The demand to #FreeCyntoiaBrown is growing. Celebrities and activists are joining forces to amplify the request for clemency for the 30-year-old sex trafficking victim. Brown is a Tennessee woman serving a life sentence for killing a man who hired her for sex. Outgoing Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says he is considering the clemency request and will make a decision before he leaves office in January.

Courtesy of Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Gabrielle Calvocoressi was born with nystagmus, a visual condition where the eyes are constantly in spasm. It took Calvocoressi a while to learn how to walk and balance, so the young child spent a lot of time sitting on the floor, daydreaming and observing the world. 

Evan Vucci / AP Photo

President Donald Trump has made no secret of his disdain for many members of the media. Last week his administration revoked the White House press pass for CNN’s Jim Acosta and threatened to retaliate against other reporters if they did not “treat the White House with respect.” His recent attacks on three female African-American reporters highlight what some analysts call an ongoing trend: Trump singles out women and minorities.

Natalie Rhea / Courtesy of Tish Hinojosa

Tish Hinojosa grew up with her feet in two worlds. Her parents are Mexican immigrants who raised her and 12 siblings in San Antonio, Texas. 

Courtesy of Elizabeth Gillispie McRae / Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library

The story of white supremacy in the United States is littered with the names of famous, white men who wielded power over influential institutions. But scholar Elizabeth Gillespie McRae argues that focusing solely on the dramatic acts of figures like George Wallace or David Duke obscures an important part of the narrative of white supremacy: the role of white women. 

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

The man once known fondly as “America’s Dad” now faces three to 10 years in state prison. 81-year-old Bill Cosby was sentenced last week for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, one of more than 60 women who has come forward with assault allegations against Cosby.

Image for stories to save lives
Southern Oral History Program / Center for the Study of the American South

Cardiologist Dr. Ross Simpson has spent years studying premature sudden death. He investigates why people between the ages of 18-64 with no pre-existing conditions are dying in North Carolina. 

Courtesy of Rachel Raimist

Hundreds of people lined up in Detroit this morning to bid farewell to Aretha Franklin at her public visitation. The singer’s outsized legacy has crystallized in the days since her death on Aug. 16, 2018. 

Courtesy of Wake Tech

Under the 15-year presidency of Stephen Scott, Wake Technical Community College grew by leaps and bounds. Full time enrollment more than doubled, the total budget more than quadrupled, and the college added five new campuses, including one in RTP that opened earlier this month. 

Andrew Dye / Winston-Salem Journal

A coalition of concerned community members and activists filed a federal discrimination complaint Monday against the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education and School System. It alleges that they mishandled concerns about mold and air quality at the elementary school Ashley Academy for Cultural & Global Studies, which serves a predominantly black and Latino population in eastern Winston-Salem.

MSMoody Photos

In hip-hop culture, the cypher is a circle in which people are rapping and beatboxing in a collective – a space that lays the foundation for the creation of community and music. 

Image of pipeline path
U.S. Energy Information Administration / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal judges rejected two key permits Monday in a move that may impede construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile project to transport natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina by way of Virginia. 

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey (center-right) listens while State Superintendent Mark Johnson gives his monthly address to the board.
Jess Clark / WUNC

On Thursday, State Board of Education Chair Bill Cobey submitted his resignation. His resignation will go into effect in September, six months before his term as chair was set to end. This move comes after State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson shared his reorganization of the State Department of Public Instruction. 

courtesy of Rodrigo Dorfman

Many cultures mark the end of childhood with a rite of passage. And for many Latinas, the transition from girlhood to womanhood often includes a giant party – the quinceanera. A growing number of Mexican families in the Triangle are keeping that tradition alive despite how costly these lavish events can be for low-wage workers. And for the teenagers being feted, the whole experience can make them feel both connected to their heritage and extended family, and like helpless victims of their mothers’ projections. 

Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

Japanese-American multi-instrumentalist Kaoru Ishibashi began classical violin training at around seven-years-old. After a brief stint as a metalhead in high school, Ishibashi tried his hand at electrical engineering at Cornell University, but found himself dedicating more time to his rock band than his textbooks. He ended up graduating from the Berklee College of Music with a degree in film scoring. 

Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Public hearings on environmental issues are often publicized in the back of the newspaper and roundly ignored. But amidst alarm over GenX and other contaminants in the Cape Fear River, Columbus County residents showed up in droves to two public meetings on the proposed use of methyl bromide in a local logging operation. 

Courtesy of Deondra Rose

Many people credit the feminist movement with the striking shift in gender dynamics in the United States over the second half of the 20th century. Women earn college degrees at higher rates than men, and they have also made large political and socioeconomic strides. 

Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

The word “rosé” may conjure up memories of cheap wine from boxes or bottles with screw caps. It used to be sweet, cheap and often passed over by serious wine drinkers. Today, rosé has become as much a lifestyle as it is a wine. Perhaps it’s the vibrant pink color or the change in the way rosé is produced, either way millennials are devoted to the beverage, creating hashtags, blogs and even playlists dedicated to the rosé experience. 

The state was in the heat of the trial of John Edwards when an unexpected ray of sunshine appeared – Rambo. He’s the Maltese-Yorkie mix who took his morning walk  past the news crews camped outside the courthouse. While the Edwards case played out inside, Rambo and his momager Courtney were outside building friendships with the press. Rambo got his first TV interview on WFMY, where he was deemed the unofficial mascot of the trial. 

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