Kaia Findlay

Producer, "The State of Things"

Kaia Findlay is a producer for The State of Things, WUNC's daily, live talk show. Kaia grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in a household filled with teachers and storytellers. In elementary school, she usually fell asleep listening to recordings of 1950s radio comedy programs. After a semester of writing for her high school newspaper, she decided she hated journalism. While pursuing her bachelor’s in environmental studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, she got talked back into it. Kaia received a master’s degree from the UNC Hussman School of Journalism, where she focused on reporting and science communication. She has published stories with Our State Magazine, Indy Week, and HuffPost. She most recently worked as the manager for a podcast on environmental sustainability and higher education. Her reporting passions include climate and the environment, health and science, food and women’s issues. When not working at WUNC, Kaia goes pebble-wrestling, takes long bike rides, and reads while hammocking.
 

A photo of a sign saying 'Vote' with an arrow on a pole.
hjl // Flickr

While going to the ballot box on Election Day is an important ritual for many voters, the coronavirus pandemic has introduced a change in routine. As of Tuesday, Sept. 28, the North Carolina State Board of Elections has received more than a million absentee ballot requests. At this time in 2016, the Board of Elections had received just over 100,000. While some voters hope to stay healthy by avoiding the polls, mail-in voting still presents some anxiety and uncertainty, especially for historically disenfranchised voters like African Americans and Latinos.

wileydoc / Flickr

North Carolina State University announced a return to in-person classes and on-campus living for the spring semester yesterday. The school closed in late August after a rise in COVID-19 cases. School reopenings led to spikes in cases across the country, according to a new study co-authored by two North Carolina-based professors — as many as 3,000 cases per day. 

Seal of the North Carolina Judicial Branch
The North Carolina Judicial Branch

Races for executive and legislative positions in North Carolina are in full swing — but what about the third branch of government? There are 190 judicial seats up for election this year, most notably three seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court. 

Headshots of Tessie Castillo, Lyle May and three other co-authors of "Crimson Letters"
Tessie Castillo

The criminal justice system puts prisoners out of sight and out of mind for the public. But the recently published book “Crimson Letters: Voices from Death Row” (Black Rose Writing/2020) aims to draw back the veil on the people and realities that make up North Carolina’s death row. 

Brendan Campbell/Flickr

 

President Donald Trump announced a 10-year moratorium on offshore drilling off the coasts of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina last week. It appears on the surface to be a win for concerned environmentalists, but citizens in North Carolina are left wondering: Why were North Carolina coasts left unprotected?   

Laura Bratton

Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Sept. 14, 2018. Two years later, homes and livelihoods are still on the mend. In Craven County, where the city of New Bern was devastated by flooding from the hurricane, disaster recovery groups are still trying to get assistance to nearly 1,400 households affected by the storm. A podcast series called “Storm Stories” focuses on the people and places who may never be the same after the hurricane.

Incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham faced off last night in the first of three televised debates. This race is one of the most closely watched in the country as it is considered a true toss up. 

Abundant psilocybin mushrooms growing in a tupperware inside a tidy home
Dana Saxon

The world of psychedelics is painted with neon colors and smiling, white hippies with long hair who use hallucinogenic substances for wild, recreational trips. But psychedelics like LSD, MDMA (also known as molly or ecstasy) and psilocybin (also known as magic mushrooms) have a much richer history in their use as therapeutic medicines, which existed in Indigenous communities long before Western culture and medicine discovered them. 

A photo split between a torso-up shot of candidate Madison Cawthorn and candidate Moe Davis, both holding microphones
Cory Vaillancourt

Republican Madison Cawthorn and Democrat Moe Davis are in a close race for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District seat, which represents most of western North Carolina. The two faced off in a two-day forum this weekend addressing issues ranging from police reform to the numerous unsolved cases of missing and murdered indigenous women. 

Author Carole Boston Weatherford reads to students
Carole Boston Weatherford

Carole Boston Weatherford wrote her first poem in first grade. She dictated it to her mother on the way home from elementary school in Baltimore. 

Headshot of Sherrill Roland, an African-American man wearing a green ball cap and black T-shirt
Sherrill Roland

Visual artist Sherrill Roland spent 10 months in prison for a crime he did not commit. What kept him going was a quest to fulfill his dream of going to art school.

Grant Baldwin / Flickr / CC

Last night marked the close of the most unusual political conventions in American history. Both the Republican and Democratic national conventions looked radically different this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. For the Democrats, roll call was a virtual parade of state and territory landmarks, including Rhode Island’s trademark calamari. 

A woman wearing earrings and a white dress looks wearily at the camera. Behind her, a mirror shows her profile.
Library of Congress

Some of the most popular films in our nation’s cinematic history are about the life, culture and customs of the American South. “Gone With the Wind” — the story of Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara and her love life set against the backdrop of the Civil War and Reconstruction — remains one of the highest-grossing films to date. And the first film to ever be screened in the White House was the 1915 silent film “Birth of a Nation,” a film set in Civil War and Reconstruction-era South Carolina that glorifies the Ku Klux Klan. 

StarsApart/Flickr/CC

The North Carolina Supreme Court banned the state from reinstating the death sentence on a Black man named Marcus Robinson last Friday. Robinson was removed from death row in 2012  and sentenced to life without parole after a North Carolina judge found that his trial was influenced by racial discrimination in the jury. At Robinson’s original trial, the prosecution removed half of qualified Black jurors from serving — but only 15% of white jurors. 

A graphic showing seven different photographs of faces.
Alex Aguilar/Children's Theater of Charlotte

When Ingrid Chen McCarthy tried to talk with her 5-year-old daughter about what happened to George Floyd, she quickly found herself in an awkward and difficult conversation. She inundates her children with messages about treating others with kindness. Simply saying that a Black man was killed by a police officer because of his skin color did not cut it for her daughter. So, how do you explain something like the systematic dehumanization of Black people to kids?

Andrea Lingle with four children
Andrea Lingle

How do you heal from losing a child before getting the chance to meet them? The answer to this question is told in the painful experiences of 1 in 100 pregnancies affected by stillbirth each year in the United States. The loss can feel isolating. The grief can lie underneath the surface even on good days. For some people, the best medicine is in sharing their story.

a girl standing outside a straw-roofed bakery with two gryphons
Geneva Bowers

Geneva Bowers grew up watching animé television shows like “Sailor Moon” into the wee hours of the morning. The interest bled into another of her hobbies, drawing, and she began creating her own cartoon characters. As she honed her drawing skills, she noticed several patterns: Her characters were always thin, and they were always white.

Two women smiling together. Mother on the left, daughter on the right.
Kathleen Burkinshaw

Seventy-five years ago this week, the United States bombed two Japanese cities with nuclear weapons. The United States detonated the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and the second over Nagasaki three days later, killing tens of thousands of Japanese civilians. This event is more than just a page in a history textbook for Japanese American author Kathleen Burkinshaw.

A film poster with a man and a woman in a passionate embrace
Armando Seguso // Heritage Auctions

Our next Movies on the Radio hits close to home. This month, we will discuss how the South gets portrayed in film. Whether it is Mississippi in the 1930s in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” or the Louisiana bayou in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” we will explore how the big screen takes on the South’s history, symbols, caricatures and critiques. And as conversations about systemic racism across the country evolve, what context do we need to give to “Gone With the Wind”?

A Graham storefront featuring works of art.
Renee' Russell

Businesses across North Carolina boarded up windows and storefronts in recent months amid ongoing protests against the police killing of George Floyd. For artists in cities like Asheville, Durham, Charlotte and Greensboro, these plywood panels were blank canvases, ripe for colorful street murals and visual statements of protest. These works of public art help communities and artists visualize what work still needs to be done to amplify Black voices — in the art world and beyond.

Lightner and his mom.
Courtesy of Kai Lightner

The climbing started with baby gates and wooden balconies. As a kid, professional rock climber Kai Lightner had a lot of energy and a love for scrambling up anything he could find. 

Map of North Carolina that shows the rate of sterilization in NC counties.
North Carolina Justice For Sterilization Victims Foundation

Between 1929 and 1974, North Carolina officials sterilized an estimated 7,600 people, many by force or coercion. The state’s eugenics program targeted people deemed “feebleminded,” sick or living with a disability. 

GoodFreePhotos//CC

North Carolina taxpayers channel billions of dollars into state agencies every year — agencies that, in turn, spend that money with private businesses in the state for anything from building construction to office supplies. But not every business benefits from the state dollars. 

Red and ominous lettering reads WUNC Presents Creep amongst a forest floor.
Matthew Scott

Creeping, crawling, thriving, surviving … no matter where we look, animal species are living in our midst. Some survive despite the challenges and hazards human life imposes, while others thrive because of it. 

Protester holds up a sign that reads: End systemic racism.
Pikist

Tens of thousands of workers in more than 25 cities are expected to participate in a full-day strike today as part of the “Strike for Black Lives.” Those who cannot strike for the full day are encouraged to walk away from their positions for about eight minutes — the amount of time a white police officer held his knee on George Floyd’s neck in Minneapolis. 

NC DHHS

North Carolina hit a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations this week, a day after Gov. Roy Cooper announced a three-week extension of Phase 2. 

Side photo of a North Carolina Public Schools bus.
NCDOT Communications

North Carolina public schools will open this fall with a mix of in-person and remote-learning options, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday. 

Woman sits in the shower shaving her legs
Credit: Betsssssy//Flickr//CC

Women’s war with body hair has claimed many casualties since hair removal and femininity became linked in the late 1800s. 

Lyndsey Gilpin

Dominion Energy and Duke Energy announced the cancellation of the controversial 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline Sunday. 

Cars at a drive-in movie
Cpl. Ali Azimi

Social distancing guidelines are pushing many social interactions outdoors — so why not the movies? Drive-in theaters had their heyday in the 1950s and ‘60s, with showings of family classics, kitschy horror films, sci-fi wonders and — ahem — “adults-only” flicks. The coronavirus pandemic has sparked a resurgence of interest in the iconic activity. 
 

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