The State of Things

M-F 12 Noon, M-Th 8p, Sat 6a

Host Frank Stasio.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

We bring the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you. We are a live show, and we want to hear from listeners. Call 1-877-962-9862, email sot@wunc.org, or tweet @state_of_things. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Or join our live audience for monthly remote broadcasts from Greensboro's Triad Stage. Check out our special recurring series: #BackChannel, Movies On The Radio and Embodied. You can also listen to Political Junkie Ken Rudin Fridays on the program.

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Flickr/Phil Roeder

What insight do the polls hold less than 90 days away from the November elections? North Carolina has remained a bright purple target in the Electoral College and has received increased attention from presidential candidates in the 21st century. Former Vice President Joe Biden currently holds the lead in the Old North State, with four percentage points over President Donald Trump in a CBS Battleground Tracker Poll published on Aug. 2.

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.

Allison Swaim

Each summer, WUNC reporters share the coffee station with high school students. The dozen or so youth mingle with our staff and dip their toes into audio storytelling and the weird world of public radio. This year, with our offices closed and the coffee only flowing at home, the Youth Reporting Institute had to shake things up, so they hopped on social media.

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”?

N.A.H. Addresses COVID-19 Inequities With Community-Driven Solutions

Aug 6, 2020
Bahby Banks stands behind the letters N-A-H
Bahby Banks

Public health expert Bahby Banks has been hearing about COVID-19 since before the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic back in March. 

Man sits on the left, sharing food with woman sitting on the right as part of the Netflix show 'Indian Matchmaking'
Netflix

In the new Netflix docuseries, “Indian Matchmaking,” affluent Indian singles look for love and marriage with the help of a professional matchmaker. Based on criteria they provide, clients are matched with ostensibly compatible dates, but they soon find that the goal of marriage is more difficult to attain that they had hoped — even with a matchmaker who consults biological data profiles, astrologers and face readers. 

Back To School In NC: Keeping COVID-19 Out Of Classrooms

Aug 5, 2020
The words 'Back to School In North Carolina: A Statewide Special' over lockers.
Brooke Bust-Webber/WUNC

Families across North Carolina are preparing to start a new school year in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Most public school students are starting school online, but each school district around the state is doing things a little bit differently under guidelines released by Gov. Roy Cooper in July.

An empty rocking chair on a porch.
Public Domain

Nursing homes have weathered more than 100 outbreaks of COVID-19 in North Carolina. More than 40% of the state’s deaths from the virus are from residents at those facilities. Some of those facilities are state-run nursing homes for veterans, and there is now scrutiny over government accountability amidst ongoing outbreaks.

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.

Carrie Knowles in front of a microphone
Courtesy of Carrie Knowles

Writing has been a central part of Carrie Knowles’ life since she was a young girl. She pursued creative writing as her major in college, even though it went against her father’s wishes.

Wallpaper Flare

Gun violence is back on the rise in North Carolina and around the country. After a lull during the stay-at-home orders, shootings surged over recent weeks. 

Football field at UNC-Chapel Hill
Flickr / William Yeung

The Atlantic Coast Conference Board of Directors voted to push back the start of their fall college sports to Sept. 10 and implement new rules to keep student athletes and coaching staff safe. But is that enough to prevent outbreaks? And if sports are canceled, what does that mean for the future of athletics departments — and for the student athletes?

Herpetologist Nick Massimo holding a snake, with his son on the left
Nick Massimo

Free time from quarantine has given way to more wandering in backyards, and sometimes people encounter a critter that scares them. That is where Nick Massimo comes in. 

North Carolina Public School bus.
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Over half of the students enrolled in North Carolina public schools will be starting their school year at home this fall. Gov. Roy Cooper announced earlier this month that public schools can open through a Plan B or hybrid model, with some in-home and some face-to-face instruction, or with a Plan C model, with remote-only instruction. 

Stethoscope lying on papers with a pen in background
Pxhere

Organizations publish ranked lists of the country’s best hospitals every year in an effort to guide patients to high-quality care. One of the most visible, U.S. News and World, released their 2020-21 Best Hospitals Honor Roll on Tuesday.

The book jacket for "Adverse Effects"
NYU Press

 

Before a pharmaceutical treatment can hit the pharmacy shelves, manufacturers must prove the product’s safety through a series of trials. Phase I trials are on healthy participants to find the best dosage with the fewest side effects and to prove the treatment is not unsafe.

Four people standing under the words' Black AF'
Carolina Waves

Lena Jackson, Tagem, 2FLY KNG and Jooselord join verses about the systemic violence against Black bodies in “Black AF,” a raw black-and-white lyric video released by Carolina Waves.

Jacob Fields, right, plays walks with his son Roan, left, in a wooded area adjacent to Murdoch Developmental Center in Butner, N.C. on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

For families with special needs children, putting kids into institutional care is often a desperate act of last resort. Many parents and caregivers prefer to keep their children at home where they can give them as much love and attention as possible, but they need help to do so. Families of children with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities are eligible for assistance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services through a portion of Medicaid called the Innovations Waiver.

Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Orrin Pilkey was sounding the alarm about climate change and sea level rise long before the topics were part of public consciousness. As an early whistleblower, his work was not always well received, but he pressed on and has authored and edited dozens of books about the environment in the past few decades. His latest book, co-authored with his son Keith, takes a look at some of the unexpected ways climate-related sea level rise will affect the lives and livelihoods of people across the United States.

Image of Harper Lee at a desk.
Donald Uhrbrock / The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

What lessons can the now-deceased Harper Lee teach a modern-day investigative journalist? Writer Casey Cep retraced Lee’s footsteps to a small town in Alabama to find out. She reopened a 1970s murder case that Lee had once obsessively followed: a rural preacher named Reverend Willie Maxwell who was accused of killing five of his family members for insurance money.

Absentee voter ballot envelope
Flickr / Nadya Peek

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many North Carolina voters are choosing to cast their ballot via mail. Over 90,000 North Carolinians have requested a mail-in absentee ballot so far, nearly five times as many requests as this time in 2016. 

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. 

Waynesville police car.
Smoky Mountain News

The price of local law enforcement is coming under increased scrutiny amidst nationwide calls to defund or abolish the police. Smoky Mountain News took a deep dive into the implications and possibilities for reallocating funding for law enforcement in four counties in Western North Carolina. 

Bus seats with "seat closed" signs.
Wikimedia Commons

The North Carolina General Assembly cut hundreds of millions from the state’s transportation budget in late June. While the funding bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in both the Senate and House, one item raised some controversy: completely cutting the $51.2 billion allocated to programs at local transit departments.

StoryCorps

StoryCorps has been traveling around the country, collecting oral histories in person for years. The impact of COVID-19 means that the archival organization has to get creative. 

Friedman and Sow leaned against eachother and laughing outside.
Milan Zrnic

Friendships carry us through the high and lows of life. From celebrating our successes to helping salve the sting of rejection, the people we choose to surround ourselves with offer an unparalleled kind of support. But there is not much structural guidance on how to nurture our platonic, intimate relationships. 

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. 

Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill

In an email to leaders at all 17 UNC System campuses, UNC Board of Governors Chairman Randall Ramsey asked each chancellor to prepare a proposal that reflects a budget cut of up to 50 percent. 

Book cover reads: The Future of Feeling: Building Empathy in a Tech-Obsessed World.
Little A Publishing

Do you say please and thank you to your smart speaker? With each update, technology inches closer towards a greater understanding of the human condition. Empathy remains a trait exclusive to people, but that could change.

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. 

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