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Happy Trails, Frank Stasio and The State of Things

Frank Stasio hosts The State of Things

Any time a media outlet shuts down, it hurts. Even more so when it’s a program that believed in the power of the written word; that believed new ideas have value; and that recognized the societal contributions of authors.

It’s with no small degree of sadness we’ll say goodbye to The State of Things with Frank Stasio at the end of 2020. WUNC 91.5 FM announced this week that the show will end with Stasio’s retirement.

It’s a fitting finale to what, overall, has been kind of a downer year, to say the least.

Countless North Carolina writers have appeared on WUNC 91.5 FM’s The State of Things with Frank Stasio over the years. The show was a champion of literature of all sorts, from sci fi to short fiction to off-beat literary magazines. They were generous to us as well, often interviewing NCWN conference faculty.

In an interview with The News & Observer, (WUNC President and General Manager Connie Walker) said Stasio’s retirement, along with examining audience trends, prompted the decision. There are also behind-the-scenes challenges, she said. The station is hiring a program director, and without that person in place, it would be hard to conduct a nationwide search for a new State of Things host.

Stasio’s last live show will be Wednesday, Nov. 5. WUNC producer Anita Rao will host new episodes through December.

Some of Stasio’s favorite State of Things conversations from his fourteen years as host will be rebroadcast on Tuesdays and Thursdays in December.

Various explanations for the show’s shuttering include drawing less listeners during the pandemic and the challenges of finding the right host to fill Stasio’s shoes. The rise of podcasting and, perhaps, people suffering from “news overload” might be to blame as well.

It’s hard to read between the lines here, so we’ll just accept this news at face value and try, for the next several weeks, to simply appreciate a radio show that was a cultural touchstone in this state for more than twenty years.

From all of us at the NC Writers’ Network, godspeed and good luck! And, thank you.