Shawn Wen

Associate Producer, "The State of Things"

Shawn Wen joined the staff of The State of Things in March 2012 and served as associate producer until February 2014.

She is a writer and multimedia artist. Her radio work has aired on This American Life, Studio 360, Marketplace, Freakonomics, and Rhode Island Public Radio.

Her video work has screened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Carpenter Center for Visual Art at Harvard University, and the Camden International Film Festival.

Shawn is the recipient of the Royce Fellowship and the Third Coast Scholarship. She graduated from Brown University with a degree in Literary Arts.

  Out of the varied horrors of the Holocaust, a body of literature survives.  The most famous voice belongs to Anne Frank.  At 15-years-old, she wrote, “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”  It's hard to believe that anyone, even a child, can be so big-hearted. 

Less well-known is the voice of an adult woman, Etty Hillesum.  And her writing is finally getting its day in the sun.

Jeffrey L. Cohen via

  Sir Walter Ralegh has never set foot in North Carolina. He’s certainly never seen the city that was named for him. But there he is. Airports and cemeteries bear his name; statues of his likeness are all around town. Why does Ralegh have such a hold on the popular imagination?

Host Frank Stasio will try to parse fact from fiction with his guest Christopher Armitage, a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Armitage is working on a book, “Literary and Visual Ralegh: Writings of and Visual Reproductions of Sir Walter Ralegh” (Manchester University Press).


The James B. Hunt Library at North Carolina State University is a revolution in information storage.

At the Hunt, robots fetch the books. Two million volumes are folded into one ninth of the space they would have taken up in a conventional library because room for humans to walk through the aisles is unnecessary.

 No grand bargain has been reached between the White House and Congress on a budget, leaving some North Carolinians wondering how hard the sequester will  hit the state.

Ron Rash's latest collection of short stories is 'Nothing Gold Can Stay.'
Harper Collins Publishers

  Author Ron Rash has been chronicling the Appalachian way of life for nearly two decades. His poetry and fiction have earned him wide acclaim and a position alongside other esteemed writers from western North Carolina. He joins host Isaac-Davy Aronson to discuss his latest book of short stories: “Nothing Gold Can Stay” (HarperCollins/2013).

What is this ability to step into someone else’s shoes? To imagine how they feel, to hurt for them or to be happy for them? 

Mental health is a focus of national dialogue in the wake of mass shootings around the country. What makes people kill, seemingly without remorse?

The Old Ceremony

Feb 15, 2013

The Old Ceremony is well-known to music lovers in the Triangle.

The band has been playing together for eight years and now their new album “Fairytales and Other Forms of Suicide” will receive an international release. Host Frank Stasio will be joined by the Old Ceremony as they talk about the evolution of their music over the years.

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act opened up a host of protections for people with disabilities. Amongst its gains, it banned workplace discrimination and forced government and commercial spaces to become more accessible.

  Is a teacher lecturing in front of a classroom effective?  Is it possible that the way we teach our children is outdated?

Rabbi Daniel Greyber

Rabbi Daniel Greyber has dedicated his life to God, but it is not an unquestioning devotion. Rather, his belief has been shaped by losses that led him to question and consider his faith.

Changes are coming to the Triad. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway recently bought the Greensboro News & Record. And a Greensboro Performing Arts Center could be going up at some point in the near future.

Host Frank Stasio talks to WUNC Greensboro Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii about the week’s news.

Sheryl Oring used to be a reporter, and though she still uses one of the instruments of old-school journalism, she considers herself an artist. She takes a manual typewriter, dresses up in 1960s garb and asks people to dictate to her messages for the president.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops

The Carolina Chocolate Drops have come a long way from their days of busking on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. They’ve already won one Grammy, and now they’re up for another.

Deborah Hicks  grew up in an Appalachian paper mill town she hoped to escape. Her education opened doors for her to leave and travel to other parts of a country, but she returned time and again to Appalachia as a teacher. Deborah has dedicated her life to educating those that need her most - focusing on young girls in poor neighborhoods. She is the founder and director of PAGE, Partnership for Appalachian Girls' Education, in Madison County.

What is this ability to step into someone else’s shoes? To imagine how they feel - and to hurt for them or be happy for them?  Host Frank Stasio is joined by a panel of experts to discuss empathy, the trait that makes us uniquely human.

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

In the wake of recent mass shootings, mental health has been a focus of our national dialogue. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is a professor of philosophy with an interest in mental illness, in particular psychopathy. He studies the brains of prison inmates to try to gain some insight into the condition. Host Frank Stasio talks with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, the Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the philosophy department at Duke University about his life and career, starting with the ethics of psychopathy.

Journalist Audra Ang spent seven years reporting from China.
Greg Baker

Audra Ang worked as a foreign correspondent for the AP in Beijing, China for seven years. And in her time there, she covered the devastating Sichuan earthquake, SARS, floods and political dissidents. But even in the most dire of moments, she always managed eat her way through. Audra Ang now lives in North Carolina. She joins host Frank Stasio to discuss her book about her experiences eating and reporting in China, “To the People, Food is Heaven: Stories of Food and Life in a Changing China” (Lyons Press/ 2012).

History Detectives

Several months ago, the PBS show “History Detectives” contacted Cynthia Greenlee-Donnell, a graduate student in American History at Duke. They wanted her help solving a historical mystery near her mother’s hometown in South Carolina. The History Detectives wanted to trace the life of an enslaved girl named Willoughby. Host Frank Stasio talks with Duke graduate student Cynthia Greenlee-Donnell about her journey uncovering the story of Willoughby and her own family history.

Meet Pam Spaulding

Dec 17, 2012

When Pam Spaulding first got into publishing, she used an X-Acto knife and cardboard. She stayed in the field by learning how to use a computer. And now her blog — Pam’s House Blend — is a popular activist website for gay rights.

Host Frank Stasio talks to Pam Spaulding about her life, work and gay rights activism.

In Davy Rothbart's writing, his brother Peter Rothbart often pops up as a straight-man or a sidekick. But on tour together, they are every bit equals, criss-crossing through the country one city at a time.

Peter Rothbart joins host Frank Stasio to tell stories and perform songs from his new album, "You Are What You Dream."

Davy Rothbart's new book, "My Heart is an Idiot" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/2012), chronicles a decade of his own life and adventures. Rothbart writes as though every stranger could be a new friend, every girl he meets may be his next love and the open road stretches on for miles.

Edvard Munch

Dec 13, 2012
The Scream

Edvard Munch’s most famous painting is “The Scream.” It depicts a skeletal figure holding his hands against his face in horror. This image has been reproduced and parodied the world over. But Edvard Munch's life and other works are largely unknown to the general public.

Nnenna Freelon

Grammy award winning singer Nnenna Freelon is called the “international voice of jazz.” And along with bassist and composer John Brown, she is changing the sound of Christmas. The two have put out a collaboration called, “Christmas.” They’ll be performing at the Carolina Theatre on December 21st. Host Frank Stasio talks to them about their collaboration.

In 1972, 10 young activists in Wilmington were convicted of arson and conspiracy related to racial violence. Their conviction immediately became a worldwide cause. Now, legal notes from the original prosecutor of the case raise more questions about the fairness of the trial. The Wilmington 10 are seeking to clear their names with a pardon from outgoing Gov. Bev Perdue.

The Blue Ribbon Healers
The Blue Ribbon Healers

Not long after Rob Pate went to see Cindy Rose perform, they became a couple and musical collaborators. They formed the bandThe Blue Ribbon Healers, and for four years now, they've traveled coast to coast making music together. The Blue Ribbon Healers will join host Frank Stasio in the studio to show off their self-described "swanky tonk" sound.

The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus

As Christmas draws nearer, we are flooded with images of Santa Claus. He is perhaps our most iconic symbol of the holiday. The modern Santa Claus is based on the legends of Saint Nicholas, or Nicholas of Myra from the 4th Century. Adam English is Associate Professor of Religion at Campbell University and author of “The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus” (Baylor University Press/ 2012). He joins host Frank Stasio to discuss the historical origins of Santa Claus.

Mad @ 60!

Nov 30, 2012
A recent Mad Magazine cover

Mad Magazine turns 60 this year. Since 1952, its offices on Madison Avenue have buzzed as writers and artists drew parodies, spoofs and takeoffs of the culture of the day. “Totally Mad: 60 Years of Humor, Satire, Stupidity and Stupidity” (Time Home Entertainment/2012) came out this fall to high sales.

South Carolina Broadcasters

When Ivy and David Sheppard chose a band name, they wanted something that referenced the old time music they played. Many American bands of the 1920s and ‘30s had words like “broadcasters” or “telecasters” in their names, since it was new technology at the time. So the Sheppards chose to go by The South Carolina Broadcasters. Along the way, they have picked up a third band member, Sarah Osborne.

Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement to partner with state and local police. Those officers are allowed to enforce federal immigration law. Critics say that the program leads to racial profiling of minorities and makes immigrants fearful of reporting crime in their own communities.