The State of Things

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Host Frank Stasio.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

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Lauren Hodge is an unapologetic fan of the television show “Glee.” She cheers whenever those plucky kids decide to put on a show and she thinks the show's success is based on the sense of community and belonging that kids feel when they work together to stage a performance. Hodge’s enthusiasm for young people working in concert also drives her newest effort called the Community Chorus Project. She and her collaborators, Terry Rhodes and Pat Parker join host Frank Stasio to talk about the magic of group performance.

Raleigh will get a little bit hipper this weekend when the Contemporary Art Museum - CAM Raleigh - opens in the downtown warehouse district. The organization behind the museum has been around for a couple of decades, but their new building marks a new era.

Scientists are predicting up to 16 major storms this hurricane season. But what happens once a hurricane does develop is much more difficult for scientists to predict. Gary M. Lackmann, a professor in the Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences at North Carolina State University has found a way to calculate the severity of a hurricane using a sophisticated forecast system that gives more details about the eye of the storm.

Just after midnight on a winter’s day in 1961, an Air Force plane crashed in Faro, North Carolina. Aboard the B-52 were eight military crewmembers and two nuclear weapons, which fell to the ground from thousands of feet in the air. Fortunately, the weapons caused no damage, but some of the nuclear remnants remain buried in the town of Faro, just outside Goldsboro. Michael Rouse was a young reporter for the Goldsboro News-Argus in 1961.

The Future Of Nuclear

Apr 27, 2011

Twenty-five years after the devastating nuclear accident at Chernobyl, the world’s attention is again focused on nuclear energy and the risks associated with nuclear technology. The massive damage to Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant is contributing to growing fears over the safety of such facilities. But are those fears misplaced? How safe is nuclear power? Experts remain divided over the risks and benefits.

This morning, longtime Raleigh mayor Charles Meeker announced that he will not be running for re-election. Meeker’s retirement could signal the start of a new political era for North Carolina’s rapidly-growing capital city. In other retirement news, Woody Durham, “The Voice of the Tar Heels,” stepped down as Carolina’s play-by-play announcer after 40 years of calling UNC’s football and basketball games.

Mentally ill residents in North Carolina don't have a lot of housing options if they can't make it on their own. There is a good chance they will end up in an adult care home. These facilities are usually reserved for the elderly, and they don’t offer mentally ill residents much in the way of services or rehabilitation. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating North Carolina to see if its reliance on adult care homes violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

When Joan Didion suddenly lost her husband in 2003, she chronicled the experience in her memoir "The Year of Magical Thinking." Before the book was even published, her daughter, Quintana, died. In Didion's adapted play, "The Year of Magcial Thinking," she takes the audience on a journey through her sometimes surreal grieving process. Chapel Hill’s PlayMakers Repertory Company is staging the production from April 27th -May 1st.

Meet Lou Lipsitz

Apr 25, 2011
Lou Lipsitz

Lou Lipsitz spent 30 years as a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and several more as a psychotherapist. Lipsitz is also a poet, often combining the art of teaching and counseling with his writing. His new collection of poems is called “if this world falls apart” (Lynx House Press/2011).

Chris Hondros

Photojournalist Chris Hondros was killed in Libya on Wednesday along with Tim Hetherington, the Oscar-nominated director of the war documentary "Restrepo." Hondros grew up in Fayetteville, graduated from North Carolina State University and worked for a time at the Fayetteville Observer. After Hondros left North Carolina, he became an acclaimed war photographer, winning numerous awards and becoming a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2004.

Aaron Burr, Vice President for Thomas Jefferson’s cabinet, fathered only one child that survived past infancy. Her name was Theodosia Burr Alston, a well-educated and accomplished woman who was highly respected in her time. In the winter of 1812, Theodosia mysteriously disappeared on a ship voyage from South Carolina to New York.

Humble Tripe

Apr 22, 2011

Durham-based band Humble Tripe is the musical project of Shawn Luby. After years spent playing classical guitar in competitions, Luby retired from the world of music at the age of 20. He moved from Kansas to North Carolina, working first at a nonprofit, then as a clinical lab scientist. Once he entered his 30s, his desire to play music returned and he formed Humble Tripe with his friends.

Andrea Reusing's Chapel Hill restaurant Lantern is loved and respected by sophisticated foodies from around the world. So it's a bit of a surprise that her first cookbook is not full of recipes from Lantern’s menu. Instead, the book is a seasonal guide to a year's worth of unintimidating, easy-to-shop for, easy-to-make, fresh, local meals.

Just about every bluegrass musician has been directly or indirectly influenced by Wade Mainer. Mainer, a master of the banjo, taught himself to play his instrument of choice as a child and developed an innovative two-finger picking style. That style, combined with Mainer’s strong vocals earned him popularity as a performer and recording artist in the 1930s and 1940s.

North Carolina is home to a variety of interesting dialects, but none is quite so unique as the one found along the Outer Banks. Sometimes called the Ocracoke Brogue, the dialect is often mistaken for British, and it is rapidly declining as tourism inundates the area with a more diverse array of speakers. Walt Wolfram, North Carolina State University English professor and Director of the North Carolina Language and Life Project, has been studying the Outer Banks dialect for almost 20 years.

The State Of Water

Apr 20, 2011

North Carolinians are no strangers to drought but there are many other factors that lead to water insecurity. Water pollution, contamination, rainfall levels and population growth all dictate the amount of water that is available to a community. Charles Fishman, author of the new book, “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water” (Free Press/2011), says we should be prepared for the day when water will no longer be inclusively cheap, clean and plentiful.

North Carolina halted executions about five years  ago. Capital punishment is still legal in the state, but a dispute over the lethal injection process led to a de facto moratorium on the death penalty. Since then, the state’s murder rate has fallen, and investigations of the State Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab have
exposed mishandling of evidence in criminal cases. Matthew Robinson, a professor of government and justice studies at Appalachian State University, has been researching those facts and other data about the death penalty in North Carolina. His findings reveal that capital punishment is more costly than life imprisonment and that race and gender frequently factor into death penalty sentencing.


What are the advantages and disadvantages of being labeled an “African-American artist”? That question is at the heart of a new exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art. It features the works of 31 contemporary artists - photography, video, sculpture and more – with each piece revealing a bit about the experience of blacks in America.

Durham writer Frances O'Roark Dowell tackles the awkwardness of high school in her new young adult novel "Ten Miles Past Normal" (Atheneum/2011). The main character is Janie, a ninth-grader who once thought living on a farm would be great. She proposed the idea to her parents when she was in elementary school, and they embraced it. Now she is an outcast who sometimes goes to school with hay in her hair or goat droppings on her shoes.

Donald Davis

Donald Davis was born and raised in Waynesville, North Carolina. His people go back in Haywood County to the 1700s on both sides. He left home to attend Davidson College and Duke Divinity School. He was a Methodist minister for years before retiring to become a full time storyteller. He now lives on Ocracoke Island and spends most of the year traveling the country visiting festivals and leading workshops in the fine art of oral communication. Davis has committed some of his stories to paper in the new book, "Tales From a Free-Range Childhood" (John F. Blair/2011).

Mount Moriah

Apr 15, 2011

Mount Moriah is a Southern folk music band based in Durham, North Carolina. Their self-titled debut CD has rich lyrics that tackle themes such as reconciliation, religious symbolism and gender identity.

Staying Blue

Apr 15, 2011

Raleigh-based poet Gibbons Ruark grew up the son of a United Methodist minister, moving from town to town in eastern North Carolina. He graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received his master's degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He taught at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro before settling into a position at the University of Delaware for 37 years, but he never stopped writing about his North Carolina home. His work immortalizes hybrid magnolias and sun lit porches. Ruark is the award-winning author of eight books of poetry, including the most recent, "Staying Blue" (Lost Hill Books/2008).

Simon Estes was part of the first generation of African-Americans to break into opera. He's performed for numerous presidents and prominent religious figures, and he's worked with every major international opera company there is. Estes is the guest speaker this Saturday at World Voice Day, sponsored by the Duke Voice Care Center.

The audio play "The Witches of Lublin" transports listeners to 18th century Poland. Rivke is the matriarch of a family of female klezmer musicians who get themselves into trouble when the local nobleman, Count Sobieski, demands they play at his son's name day celebration. Klezmer music is traditionally male dominated, and Rivke knows that the Jews of Lublin will consider it a scandal if she plays for the Count. But denying him could have serious consequences. Host Frank Stasio will talk about the radio drama and how it tackles topics like anti-Semitism and misogyny with Sue Zizza, co-producer and director of "The Witches of Lublin"; playwright Ellen Kushner; and playwright and composer Yale Strom.

Sir Walter Raleigh never hoisted the English flag on the coast of North Carolina. He did not throw his cloak across a puddle for Queen Elizabeth I. And though he liked to smoke, he did not introduce either tobacco or potatoes to Europe from the New World. Though history has misconstrued much of the story of Sir Walter Raleigh, for whom North Carolina's capital is named, he was a compelling character nonetheless. Host Frank Stasio talks about this explorer, historian, poet, courtier and self-made man with Mark Nicholls, co-author of “Sir Walter Raleigh: Life and Legend" (Continuum International Publishing Group/2011).

Starting today, film-makers and film lovers descend on Durham, North Carolina for the annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Participants can feast their eyes on over 100 films, listen to panel discussions and partake of Durham’s abundant Southern hospitality. Full Frame is one of the only festivals in the world dedicated to nonfiction films. It started in Durham 14 years ago and has grown to international prominence. Deirdre Haj, the festival’s executive director, and Sadie Tillery, director of Full Frame’s programming, join host Frank Stasio in the studio.

Viridiana Martinez of the N.C. Dream Team recently traveled to Georgia to protest efforts there to block undocumented immigrants from receiving higher education. Martinez was arrested for her efforts and faced deportation, though she ultimately was released and returned to North Carolina. Here, she faces similar efforts to stop undocumented immigrants from attending public colleges and universities. Two bills in the North Carolina House tackle the subject, and one of them also strengthens state enforcement of  federal immigration laws. Host Frank Stasio will talk about efforts in North Carolina to crackdown on undocumented immigrants with Viridiana Martinez, co-founder and community organizer for the N.C. Dream Team; and William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.

The Raconteur Of Jazz

Apr 13, 2011

German-born musician Marty Grosz first picked up the guitar over 70 years ago at the age of eight and hasn’t put it down since. Now he is one of today’s foremost jazz rhythm guitarists and chord soloists. Grosz has enjoyed a long career playing in big bands, trios and as a solo artist. He is also well-known for his comedic storytelling and engaging stage presence. Grosz joins host Frank Stasio to share some stories and songs from his impressive career.

The media are all over today’s 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, but a group of journalism students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have been spending time studying how reporters covered the war during the four years of conflict. Frank Fee, associate professor of journalism and mass communications at UNC, and UNC students Caitie Forde-Smith and Jessica Hayes join host Frank Stasio to share what they found out about media production and usage during the Civil War.

A team of local library archivists are taking on a lengthy digital project to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Every day for the next four years, they will contribute written content to a blog that features artifacts, photographs and documents related to the war. Online users can visit the Web site called “The Civil War Day-By-Day” to see what was happening during the war on a particular day and everything available to view on the blog is housed in the Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.