Susan Davis

Producer, The State of Things

Michael Franzak never had dreams of fighting for his country when he joined the Navy after high school, but he was desperate and had nowhere else to go.

Most of the managed wilderness in America is not national park but national forest. In North Carolina for instance, we have 4 of them, the Pisgah, Croatan, Uwharrie and the Nantahala, and together they are the size of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, more than a million acres.

Businessman Kevin Trapani will tell you that his company, Redwoods Group, does well by doing good. Redwoods Group recently won an award that validates his claim. B-Lab, an organization that certifies socially responsible companies known as B-corps,

Hiss Golden Messenger

Mar 9, 2012

Hiss Golden Messenger's music has been described as "mystical country" by David Bowie. Long a darling of the British rock press, the band is based in Durham, NC and is the brainchild of folklorist MC Taylor. Their latest album is called "Poor Moon.” Taylor joins host Frank Stasio in the studio to talk tunes and play some live.

In the mid-1990s, Shawn Rocco's job as a photojournalist for the News & Observer newspaper changed. Video was added to his duties and he often found himself on deadline, tangled in wire, with two different mediums demanding his attention. The pictures and the video were less than satisfying and, as an artist, he felt empty.

Like many young, lonely, bookish girls who had suffered personal heartbreak, Margot Livesey loved “Jane Eyre.” Charlotte Bronte’s classic story of a teenage governess who finds love by staying true to herself

Contraception, access to health care and representation in Congress are issues that motivated feminist activists in the early 1960s and, if Rush Limbaugh's recent time in the headlines is any indication, those issues persist. Women have been effecting social and political change across the South for more than a century, but, if you read the history of the women's movement in America, you'd think all of the action happened in the Northeast.

Vimala Rajendran

Vimala Rajendran is a crusader against domestic violence, a peace activist and a darn good cook. She opened Vimala’s Curryblossom Café in Chapel Hill, NC after years of creating donation-based meals out of her home. At Vimala’s restaurant, everybody eats, whether they can pay for their food or not.

Colman Andrews is largely considered one of America's foremost food writers. He founded Savuer Magazine, the landmark publication that put food in its cultural and historical context. He's lately been particularly interested in the changing culinary landscape of North Carolina. He comes to town this weekend for a special dinner whose courses are made from his different cookbooks. But first he stops by the studio to speak with host Frank Stasio and "The State of Things" resident foodie Kelly Alexander.

Meet Steve Sager

Feb 27, 2012
Rabbi Steve Sager arrived at Congregation Beth El in Durham over 30 years ago.

Rabbi Steve Sager arrived at Congregation Beth El in Durham over 30 years ago. He was 27 years old, trained in the Reconstructionist tradition of Judaism and new to North Carolina. His academic bent and his interest in conversation made the move a good fit. Sager retired last year from the pulpit. Now he has started a new venture that's called Sicha, which means conversation. He wants to help people embrace ancient texts and traditions while deepening their modern lives. Rabbi Steve Sager joins host Frank Stasio in the studio today to talk about his new spiritual chapter.

Nido Qubein

Since Nido Qubein took over as president of High Point University in 2005, the small private school, has gone from a regional college to a regional university, doubling in size and stature. Qubein is not your typical college president. He's authored a dozen books including "How To Be a Great Sales Professional" (High Point University Press/2006) and "Stairway to Success: The Complete Blueprint for Personal and Professional Achievement" (Wiley/1997). Has his businessman's approach to running the university paid off? Has running the university altered his point of view as a businessman?


Feb 21, 2012

Is political gridlock in Washington worse than ever? Duke University professors David Schanzer and Don Taylor, of the Sanford School of Public Policy, think so. They are teaching a class in the hopes of raising awareness among young people about the troubles facing our country. If compromise doesn't make a comeback, could the United States face total collapse?

Courtesy Michael McFee

Michael McFee has been teaching poetry at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill for decades and by his own admission that makes him one lucky guy. Growing up outside of Asheville, McFee never expected to be a poet, let alone a tenured professor of English at his alma mater. But his 10th volume of verse attests to his longevity and importance.

The 5th Annual Writers for Readers events take place in Chapel Hill, NC this weekend. The events are designed to raise awareness about literacy and raise funds for the Orange County Literacy Council. Local literary legend Lee Smith and writers Marisa de los Santos, Kevin Wilson and Robert Goolrick are featured at the upcoming festivities.

The Upside of Irrationality

Feb 16, 2012
Dan Ariely explores the limits of logic and what we have to learn from human irrationality.

We all do irrational things. Perhaps the strangest thing of all is convincing ourselves that we don’t. What if we embraced the irrationality of human decisions? Would we find that there are advantages to making illogical decisions? Duke University Professor Dan Ariely thinks so. In his book, “The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home” (Harper/ 2010), he shows how logic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Guest host Isaac-Davy Aronson talks about the limits of logic with Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke.

George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were born in the same year and came of age during the Viet Nam War. They took different roads to avoid fighting in the conflict, but that didn't hurt their presidential campaigns or their ability to lead. Every U.S. president since Nixon has been affected by the American involvement in Viet Nam. Legendary journalist Marvin Kalb and his daughter, Deborah Kalb, examine the relationship between the war and the American presidency in their new book, "Haunting Legacy: Viet Nam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama" (Brookings Institution Press/2011). The Kalbs join host Frank Stasio to discuss why the legacy of the Viet Nam War endures and what it means for the current war in Afghanistan.

Jeffrey Beam is a well known poet around the Triangle and for 35 years he was a librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Bernard Thomas

Jeffrey Beam is a well known poet around the Triangle and for 35 years he was a librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His love for the people of that institution and its campus is reflected in his work. Beam retired from the university in November. On Thursday, February 9th, he will give a special reading called “Carolina Valentine” at Historic Playmakers Theater on the campus of UNC.


Feb 3, 2012

“Cymbeline” is unanimously considered Shakespeare’s most difficult play to stage. That might be because it’s incredibly hard to follow on the page, even with the help of color-coded flow charts. The play includes a war, a decapitated head, poison, mistaken identity, the appearance of a Roman god and an ending scene with 17 revelations in a row. The Fiasco Theater Company of New York has fearlessly staged “Cymbeline” to rave reviews. The six-member ensemble brings their production to the campus of Duke University this weekend.

Sea Cow

Feb 3, 2012

The Durham-based band Sea Cow describes their sound as, “rocked out pop” or “pop with an edge.” They say they love to harmonize vocally. They love loud guitars. And, according to them, “their songs tend to have a sardonic, occasionally humorous touch, mixed with neurosis and self loathing.”

Washed in the Blood

When Lisa Alther finds herself confused about a topic, she sits down and writes a novel about it. So when it came to light that her ancestors were Native American and Portugese, she decided to write her way into understanding how she could be connected to them. The result is a series of linked novellas called "Washed in the Blood" (Mercer University press/2011). In the book, Diego Martin and Daniel Hunter, a Spaniard and a Quaker, come to Appalachia to change the place and wind up changed themselves. The stories of their descendants and the changes to the landscape make "Washed in the Blood" a sweeping Southern epic.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is hearing arguments today from attorneys on two sides of a case involving schools and segregation. This case involves Pitt County, North Carolina, a district that was formed when the Greenville and Pitt County Schools merged in 1985. Both districts were under court order from the 1970s to desegregate – an order that still exists today. Last year, the district enacted a new student assignment policy.

Design in Nature

Jan 26, 2012

Adrian Bejan is a professor of mechanical engineering at Duke University who is particularly interested in how to make things more efficient. Not long ago, he discovered what he calls the constructal law in nature. This law basically says that for a flow system to persist in time, it must evolve to provide greater and better flow. For instance, a river basin changes over time to ensure that the water from one body flows more efficiently into the water of another body. It sounds simple, but it’s actually quite revolutionary.

Jo Rae Wright

Jo Rae Wright was a cell biologist, professor, dean, beloved friend and mentor at Duke University for more than 17 years. When she died earlier this month after battling breast cancer, the university lowered its flags in her honor. Peter Lange, Provost of Duke and Sally Kornbluth, Vice Dean for Basic Science and a Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke’s School of Medicine, were friends of Wright. They join host Frank Stasio to remember their colleague and detail her legacy to Duke.

Poet and writer Alan Shapiro expected to be a basketball star, not a literary star, but an injury took him off the court and left him alone with his grief. He found his way into verse and never left. Shapiro is the author of ten books of poems, two memoirs, a collection of criticism and now the novel "Broadway Baby," which was just released by Algonquin Books. He also has a new collection of poetry out called "Night of the Republic" (Houghton Mifflin/2012).

Why is Durham, NC called the City of Medicine? What’s the first publicly supported liberal arts college for African-Americans in the nation? What was the original name of Duke University? What did explorer John Lawson call Durham when he chronicled the region in 1701? The answers to these and other questions about the Bull City will all be answered by the proposed Museum of Durham History, which is one step closer to existence with the recent hire of co-directors. One of them, Katie Spencer, joins host Frank Stasio, along with Tom Krakauer, the past chairman of the museum’s board and the current CEO, to talk about the city's big plans to archive and exhibit its history.

Between 1976 and 1983 close to 30,000 Argentineans were kidnapped, tortured and murdered by their own government. The military dictatorship rounded up everyone with any possible connection to the left wing. Their plight came to international attention through the weekly demonstrations of a group of women known as “the mothers of the disappeared”. Charlie Tuggle is a professor of broadcast journalism at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been traveling to Argentina to teach every summer for many years, and in 2009 his two daughters, Brynne and Bethany, joined him there.

Mipso Trio

Jan 13, 2012
Mipso Trio

Mipso is a made-up word. If you ask the guys in the band Mipso Trio what it means they might answer with “What do you want it to mean?” When the three University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill juniors came up with the name for their bluegrass inspired band they were just trying to avoid being called anything involving mountains and boys — no grass mountain boys, or steep mountain boys… you get the idea. They take the stage at Cat’s Cradle tomorrow night but first Joseph Terrell on guitar, Jacob Sharp on mandolin and Wood Robinson on the stand up bass join host Frank Stasio in the studio for a live performance.

Fracking Music

Jan 12, 2012

Mark Little, known in the world of music as MGL, will present a new sound composition inspired by the Ackland Museum's new exhibition, "The Spectacular of Vernacular." In keeping with the spirit of the collection, this new work seeks to make art out of the mundane.

 Cynthia Bulik

As a seasoned researcher, the author of two previous books on eating disorders and the director of the University of North Carolina’s Eating Disorders Program, Cynthia Bulik was deeply familiar with the psychology of women between adolescence and menopause. Those are her patients as well as the subjects of her writing. But two encounters in locker rooms led her to worry about girls and older women. She was with some 6- to 8-year-old girls while they were changing to go swimming and she heard them complain about their bellies and being fat. Then she was with some women in their 70s and 80s in the locker room of a retirement facility and those women were also complaining about being fat and considering plastic surgery. And Cynthia realized that body image issues plague women from the cradle to grave. Her new book is an attempt to address this affliction. It's called,“The Woman in the Mirror: How to Stop Confusing What You Look Like With Who You Are” (Walker & Company/2011).

Orin Starn

Orin Starn’s first experience with a culture different from that of his parents came when his father, a historian of the Italian Renaissance, moved the family to Florence. Orin went to public elementary school there, learning about Catholicism, cigarettes and girls. Orin did everything he could to avoid getting a university education, including dropping out of two different colleges in the 1970s before wandering onto a Native-American reservation 
and working as a janitor and cook. His natural inquisitiveness about other people, their communities, rituals and customs, sent him back to school and into anthropology because it was the path of least resistance. As he learned about anthropology, his love for the science grew, and eventually he decided he wanted to be a part of a generation of anthropologists combining intensive study with engagement and action. He has since turned his anthropologist’s eye on political unrest in the Andes and Native-American issues in the United States. His newest book is called “The Passion of Tiger Woods: An Anthropologist Reports on Golf, Race, and Celebrity Scandal” (Duke University Press/2012) He reads tonight at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, but first he joins host Frank Stasio to talk about sports, the cultures of sports and the new age of anthropology.