Anita Rao

Managing Editor, "The State of Things"/ Host, "Embodied" Series

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

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.

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.

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