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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A group of women in red shirts holding blue letters, all together the letters spell out 'moms'
North Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

Money is flowing freely into politics, despite the global recession. Top donors, like Michael Bloomberg and Charles Koch, are targeting competitive elections. North Carolina is ripe with opportunity for either party. From the record-breaking U.S. Senate race down to the suburban state House districts, the deluge of ads is doing more than just affecting voters. 

A book cover, a light pink color with red text, there are red, blue, and gold lines randomly placed throughout the cover
Cordelia Calvert

Before tech companies like Google and Facebook, before algorithms became the norm for internet experiences, a mid-20th century company attempted to manipulate the future by simulating human behavior. The Simulmatics Corporation, founded in 1959, built a “People Machine” that modeled everything from how people might vote to what kind of dog food they might buy. The company’s clients included the Democratic National Committee, The New York Times and Department of Defense.

A young woman wearing a gray sweatshirt takes a photo of herself holding an 'I Voted' sticker.
Allie Folger, courtesy of Kamaya Truitt

Youth reporter Ellie Stevens hears a lot about what adults want out of the election. But the high school senior felt that she didn’t know what her peers wanted from the candidates running this year. 

Carteret County Shore Protection Office

It’s estimated that annual average temperatures in North Carolina will rise between 2 and 5 degrees by the middle of this century, and 2019 was the warmest year on record for the state. This heat has already had a significant impact on farmworkers, who have reported noticing both an increase in temperatures outdoors while working and afterwards, in lodging that does not offer relief from evenings that are trending increasingly warmer. 

Adams Wood

What’s the difference between committing the same non-violent crime in one North Carolina county and another? For Daniel Noell, a homeless man convicted of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and drug trafficking in Buncombe and Yancey counties, the difference was vast: he was sentenced to 30 months of probation in Buncombe County and nearly six years in prison in Yancey County. 

A painting of a Black masculine face covered in leaf print, with roses coming up his neck.
Courtesy of Being seen

How much does it matter to see people who look and identify like you in the media that you consume? In the new podcast "Being Seen" host Darnell Moore examines what it means to have culturally accurate and responsible depictions of the Black, male, queer experience. He joins host Frank Stasio and popular culture experts Natalie Bullock Brown and Mark Anthony Neal on this edition of #BackChannel, a series connecting culture and context, to talk about his interviews with artists, writers and others. 

Grant Holub-Moorman

While North Carolinians requested nearly 1.4 million absentee ballots, fewer than half of those have been returned and accepted. Government and watchdog experts continue to express public confidence that mail-in votes are safe and will be counted if filled out properly. 

A photo of the Durham County Jail: a large silver building.
Laura Candler/WUNC

COVID-19 is spreading more quickly throughout North Carolina's population: public health metrics in the last week have some experts worried the state is heading in the wrong direction. Research shows the virus spreads more quickly indoors and when people have prolonged close contact with one another — something that's almost unavoidable in places like jails and prisons. 

Cari Grindem-Corbett

Burning Coal Theatre Company’s only in-person performance this fall opened last week to a rapt audience of...four. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the live production of “A Hundred Words for Snow” is being performed before drastically-reduced audience sizes, creating an intimate atmosphere. 

A Black man in a black shirt smiling. He has his hands behind his head
Courtesy of Phonte Coleman

Raleigh-born, Greensboro-raised musician Phonte Coleman has traveled all over the world, but there’s no other place he can imagine living than North Carolina. A founding member of the rap group Little Brother, as well as a member of the genre-bending music group The Foreign Exchange, Coleman appreciates the quiet, lowkey community he’s built in the state and the focus on his craft that it affords him.

A picture of the map of North Carolina with different shades of red to show the number of confirmed cases in each county
Creative Commons

North Carolina hit its highest one-day case count of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,684 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, and shared that hospitalizations are also creeping back up. 

Contributed by Hassan Pitts

Many people know the role that Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King Jr. played in the fight for civil rights. But what about Willena Cannon, a student at North Carolina A&T University who was arrested after protesting to integrate Greensboro’s businesses? Or Reverend Steve Allen, who founded one of the first African American law firms in Greensboro in 1979? 

A green anthropomorphic depiction of Tara, a female buddha
Elisabeth Feldman

The Pachamama, La Virgen, Parvati, Ala, Hera, the Cailleach, and the White Buffalo Calf Woman. Devotion to a masculine god was not always as widespread as in contemporary faith traditions, nor were feminine deities always relegated to gender roles we consider traditional today.

An aircraft carrier in open ocean pictured from the top from left
US Navy

Voting by mail is nothing new for military service members. Deployed worldwide at any of the nearly 800 foreign bases, military personnel are offered some exceptions during the elections. Some vote by fax from a battleship, and many sent their ballots weeks ago, after receiving them earlier than most voters, at least 45 days before the election. 

NC Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services

For over a century, Black farmers have faced challenges in securing federal and local funding to aid their farms in times of need and during crises. COVID-19 has been no different. From lack of access to information about coronavirus relief provisions for farmers to difficulty finding spaces to safely vend during the crisis, the pandemic has made obstacles even more stark.

Gragg stands in front of a pink quilt top with yellow and blue squares. She is wearing a large necklace, drop earrings and a blue shirt. Her coily hair has streaks of blue.
Dare Kumolo-Johnson

Mavis Gragg never thought her work would “take her to the trees,” but that is where she has found herself. 

Two white men, Rep. Joe Sam Queen on the left and Mike Calmpitt on the right. Clampitt has grey hair with grey facial hair and Queen has light grey hair. Both men are smiling  and wearing a suit and tie.
Blue Ridge Public Radio

One of the most competitive local races in the state is in District 119, which includes Jackson, Swain and Haywood Counties. Democratic Rep. Joe Sam Queen and his Republican challenger Mike Clampitt have vied for the same seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives since 2012. This is their fifth race against one another and its outcome will take Western North Carolina’s political temperature this election season. 

four pigs take off from the starting gates
Courtesy of Hogway Speedway

Pig racing, giant pumpkins and a tour of the old grist mill — with a free hushpuppy at the exit — are common traditions we all need badly this year. The rituals of the North Carolina State Fair connect disparate communities and celebrate traditional livelihoods. Host Frank Stasio hears from some of the characters, competitors and vendors who ensure that nothing could be finer. 

A white pregnancy test with two pink bars showing a positive test.
Flickr/CC

As the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett approach, abortion issues have been thrown into the spotlight once again. President Donald Trump nominated Judge Barrett after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month. Justice Ginsburg was a vocal advocate for women’s rights and endorsed abortion rights when questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee at her confirmation hearing in 1993. While Judge Barrett has not signed onto an official opinion cutting back on the rights guaranteed in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, she has disagreed with appeals courts who struck down laws that restrict abortion in her home state of Indiana.

A black and white photograph of a Black man in a beret kneeling over an injured man on the ground.
News & Record file

More than four decades after the Greensboro Massacre, the city formally apologizes for the role of city police. On Nov. 3, 1979, a caravan of Ku Klux Klansmen and American Nazi Party members pulled out weapons and killed five people protesting at an anti-Klan march in Greensboro. Ten people were injured, and the police were nowhere to be found — even though they knew a violent attack was coming. 

A red street sign saying 'danger due to misinformation' in what seems to be a city, there are headlights in the background
[Flickr]//Creative Commons

In the past decade, we’ve grown increasingly accustomed to a news cycle that operates at a breakneck pace and the ability to follow along with news updates on devices that fit into our pockets. But constant access to information does not necessarily make us more informed. The proliferation of social media and online information sites opened the doors to a less-regulated news economy, which means misinformation and hoaxes can often spread faster than the facts themselves. 

Headshots of both candidates side-by-side
Candidates' websites

If you had trouble keeping up with news over the weekend, you are not alone. Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham admitted to extramarital sexting, while his opponent, Republican incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis tested positive for the coronavirus. Not in the top headlines: the latest in the most competitive races for State Senate seats.

A map of North Carolina color-coded by districts.
North Carolina Legislature

The past 10 years have seen North Carolina’s legislative and congressional district maps drawn and redrawn, court-ordered resolutions to partisan and racial gerrymandering and the long-term impact of racial redistricting. The upcoming 2020 election will determine how the state’s communities will be represented for the next decade.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Were you horrified by the follow-up to your favorite movie? Or maybe they switched up the entire cast and the next one was actually an improvement. And then there are the franchises that they just keep milking. The sequels, spin-offs and cross-overs keep piling up as if it were a competition. ("Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Fast and Furious" are neck-and-neck.) 

Send in your pick for a chance to be on the next Movies on the Radio on October 28, 2020. Email us at sot@wunc.org, tweet at us with #sotmovie, join the conversation on Facebook or just comment below!

 

A Black man with brown curly hair in an afro wearing a black shirt with orange straps on his shoulders, standing in front of a boat that has a cage on it. The cage appears to be filled with oysters. The boat is white and has 'NC-4883-CJ' written on it.
Jeyhoun Allebaugh, courtesy Ryan Bethea

Ryan Bethea has a job to make many computer-bound office workers jealous. As an oyster farmer, his work takes him out into the waters of Westmouth Bay just off Harkers Island. Bethea farms on five acres and runs his business, Oysters Carolina, which sells fresh oysters to individuals, group events and one restaurant in Durham. 

Two White Men, President General Ford and Jimmy Carter, standing at wooden looking podiums on a stage
Flickr / Creative Commons

North Carolina voters had the opportunity to watch two high-profile debates this week: the first presidential debate in Cleveland and the final U.S. Senate debate in Raleigh. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden faced off Tuesday night in a contentious debate that left many voters feeling disappointed and disillusioned. Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and his Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham took the stage Thursday for the last of three scheduled debates.

White man wearing a mask directing a group of students to come forward with hand motions
Wake County School System

Wake, Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Guilford Counties are among the state’s public school districts that have announced mid-fall reopening plans for elementary and middle school students. Each district intends to implement reopening differently based on their community’s size, distinct challenges and specific concerns. The reopening decisions come as a relief to some parents who have struggled to balance the demands of work and remote instruction. 

Toni Murden McClure, a middle aged white woman with brown and grey hair standing next to Dawn Landes, a white woman with brown hair. Both are smiling and holding a boat figurine
Courtesy: Dawn Landes

In 1998, Tori Murden McClure set off in a boat she made herself to become the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She did not make it. Eighty-five days into her journey, Hurricane Danielle capsized her boat more times than she could count. 

A Black woman holding a megaphone and wearing a crown in New York City
Courtesy of SX Noir

Working from home looks a little different for sex workers. With most strip clubs closed and dancers excluded from larger pots of money in the coronavirus relief package, the sex trade has  largely gone online. From strippers to erotic masseuses to full service workers, virtual sex work required innovation. 

A movie poster saying a fascinating adventure into the unknown! There is a yellow tiger being poked by a small white man next to a large pair of scissors, matches, and white sewing thread
Flickr / Creative Commons

One of the truest forms of horror Hollywood ever depicts is the story of mankind abandoned, disoriented or forgotten. Whether it’s a film about being lost at sea like Robert Zemeckis’ “Cast Away” or one about being so miniscule that your spouse believes you’ve been eaten by the family cat — as was the case in the 1957 sci-fi film “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” — movies about isolation force viewers to confront some of their worst fears.

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