George Olsen

Host of ATC; Producer of The Sound

George Olsen is a 1977 Havelock High School graduate. He received his B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of South Carolina in 1982 where he got his first taste of non-commercial radio working for their student station WUSC. After graduation he worked about five years in commercial radio before coming to work at Public Radio East where he has remained since outside of a nearly 3-year stint as jazz and operations coordinator at WUAL in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in the early 1990s. On his return to eastern North Carolina he hosted classical music for Public Radio East before moving into the Morning Edition host position and now can be heard on All Things Considered. He also hosts and produces The Sound, five hours of Americana, Roots Rock and Contemporary Folk weekday evenings on PRE Public Radio East News & Ideas,  and is a news and feature producer for Public Radio East.

Ways to Connect

North Carolina ranks near the nationwide average for lung cancer survival rates. The American Lung Association released its annual State of Lung Cancer report, which shows the nationwide five-year lung cancer survival rate at 21.7%, just slightly above North Carolina’s rate of 21.5%. Nationally survivor rates have improved 26% over the last decade.  The American Lung Association says early screening correlates to higher survival rates. Nationally only 21.5% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage, with North Carolina at the same rate.

Two-hundred-and-seven new jobs are on their way to Beaufort County. A press release from the Governor’s Office says Pamlico Yachtworks will open a new facility in Beaufort County. Pamlico Yachtworks is a new manufacturing division of MJM Yachts, which has been building yachts since 2002. The company plans to invest $12 million to operate the facility to be sited in Washington. While wages will vary depending on position, the average wage will be over $45,000, above Beaufort County’s average wage of nearly $38,000.

Liam James Doyle/NPR

The U.S. House of Representatives is holding open hearings in its impeachment inquiry into President Trump. PRE News & Ideas will carry live coverage and analysis of the proceedings. You can also watch action from the U-S House here at Proceedings are expected to begin Tuesday at 9:00 am. Additional sessions are expected Wednesday and Thursday at the same time.

Liam James Doyle/NPR

The U.S. House of Representatives is voting to formalize its ongoing impeachment inquiry. The resolution before lawmakers outlines the next steps in their investigation. Watch the debate and vote on the House floor live. Debate is expected to begin 9:00 am Thursday.

Top 40 CDs as heard on The Sound 2019 (as of 10/25/19)

Duke Health

The numbers of state residents with severe lung injury associated with e-cigarette use continues to rise. A press release from the state Department of Health and Human Services says there are now 61 cases of people with severe lung injury. Ages of the cases range from 13 to 72. It’s part of a problem occurring across the nation, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting 1604 cases and 34 deaths in the United States and the U-S Virgin Islands as of October 22. Most of those with lung injury report vaping THC infused product.

ECU Center for Survey Research

Polling indicates support for banning the sale of e-cigarette and vaping products in North Carolina, though there is a generational divide. Polling conducted by the Center for Survey Research at East Carolina University says 50% of registered voters polled support a statewide ban on the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products. Twenty-seven percent were opposed while 23% were undecided. However, support varied greatly by age group. While only 23% of those 25-years-of-age-and-older opposed a ban, that number went up to 56% for those 18-to-24.

ECU News Service - Rhett Butler

Research at East Carolina University indicates babies born to mothers who exercise during pregnancy are healthier. A press release from ECU says the research indicates children born to mothers who exercise during pregnancy have improved motor skills, heart function and body composition. Dr. Linda May, an associate professor at the ECU School of Dental Medicine’s Department of Foundational Sciences and Research, said there’s a “dose response” to exercise… babies whose mothers exercise a little get a little benefit, babies whose mothers exercise more get more benefit.

There was good news and bad news for Gov. Roy Cooper as he heads into his re-election efforts. A Civitas poll indicates the Democratic incumbent has leads outside the margin of error against three declared and possible Republican candidates. He had a 19-point edge over New Hanover County state Rep. Holly Grange, 10-points over Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and eight over former Gov. Pat McCrory, who has not declared his candidacy. Cooper defeated McCrory by less than half-a-percentage point in the 2016 general election. There was a large undecided camp in each race, ranging from 18-to-27 percent.

An advocacy group reports the leading cause of deaths in jails across North Carolina is suicide. Disability Rights North Carolina is calling for immediate action to address mental health treatment in jails. A report from the group says statistics over four years ending in 2016 indicated that of 111 deaths in jails, at least 51 were suicides. That’s a rate of 45.9%, which their report says exceeds the 2014 national average of 35% reported by the U-S Department of Justice.

Free download of Killer from the CD West by Jedd Hughes, currently featured on The Sound.  Find out more about the artist here.

RALEIGH – The Governor’s Office reports that the U-S Small Business Administration has granted Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for a disaster declaration for counties that suffered damage from Hurricane Dorian. The declaration will allow affected residents to apply for low interest SBA disaster loans. The Governor made the request after FEMA denied individual assistance for those affected by Dorian. The SBA request was described as the first step in in establishing a state relief program following FEMA’s denial.

A portion of Topsail Island listed for sale for nearly $8 million has limited development potential according to a local environmental group. A press release from the North Carolina Coastal Federation says their analysis of land use restrictions on the 110-acre parcel on the south end of Topsail Island shows very limited development potential.  Among limits to development is the town of Topsail Beach has zoned the parcel for conservation and local land use plans and ordinances prohibit almost all forms of development.

North Carolina’s status as a purple state politically appears to remain true according to a new ECU poll. After three straight close presidential races in the state, a fourth appears to be in the offing according to the poll conducted by faculty members of ECU’s Center for Survey Research.  In hypothetical November match-ups with five Democrats, President Donald Trump holds leads over three… Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg… though his lead in each case is within the plus-or-minus three percent margin of error. His biggest lead is 2.6% over Pete Buttigieg.

Twelve candidates take the stage for October's Democratic primary debate, which begins Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET. You can hear the debate on PRE News & Ideas at 89.3 across eastern North Carolina and in Greenville at 88.1 as well as here at on our News & Ideas webstream. Also, follow NPR reporters here as they post context and analysis in real time.


Over 1 million new voters could be casting ballots in North Carolina during the next Presidential election. A report from Carolina Demography says there have been 1.1 million voter registration forms filed since November 2016. That includes those turning 18 or gaining citizenship since 2016 and prior residents registering for the first time. And while 285,000 North Carolinians have left, 370,000 have moved in. The new voters are… officially, at least… largely non-partisan. Forty-three percent registered as unaffiliated voters, compared to 29% of prior registrants.

Coastal Land Trust

WILMINGTON – The Coastal Land Trust has announced the purchase of 247 acres of Jones County property. A press release from the land trust says their Island Creek purchase lies adjacent to a portion of the Croatan National Forest southwest of New Bern. It says flora found on the property includes many rare species as well as species typically only found in the state’s Piedmont and mountain regions.

City of Greenville

Greenville residents can enjoy a new city park for one day and one day only. A press release from the city of Greenville says the city will host a pop-up park Friday, October 4. Parking spaces at the Rose’s Parking lot at the corner of Evans and Fourth Streets will become an urban park, complete with performance stage, a pergola, benches, bistro tables, grass, trees and more. The pop-up park pops-up Friday at 11 and stays popped until 8:00 that night.  It’s a late recognition of PARK(ing) Day, typically the third Friday of September, which first popped-up in 2005.

REAL ID requirements go into effect in just under a year. A press release from the state Department of Transportation reports that Tuesday, October 1 marked the one-year milestone before the REAL ID Act will go into effect. On October 1st of 2020 a REAL ID, U-S passport or another form of federally-approved identification will be required to board commercial airlines and to enter federal buildings. REAL ID won’t be required in those instances but will make it easier. Other approved documentation can be used for flying or entering federal facilities.

Duke Health

A Duke Health study indicates a potential carcinogen is present in high levels in some e-cigarette and smokeless tobacco products. The study indicates that pulegone is contained in menthol and mint flavored e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. Pulegone was banned last year by the U-S Food and Drug Administration as a food additive because of its carcinogenic properties. The agency, however, does not regulate the chemical’s presence in e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

A statewide apprenticeship program is growing. A press release from the state Community College system says the number of people in the state’s apprenticeship program increased nearly one-third during fiscal year 2019. ApprenticeshipNC, which registers apprentices and pre-apprentices, had 11,399 people in the program during the fiscal year that ended June 30. The prior fiscal year saw 8679 people in the program, which was transferred to the community college system two years ago. Apprenticeship is an employer-driven training model that combines work with related classroom instruction.

September's Democratic presidential debate has been narrowed to one night only, as more candidates have called it quits altogether.

Ten candidates are on stage for three-hour event hosted by ABC News and Univision, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. It's the third debate of the campaign and the first time that former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are all together.

Who will be the main target, what does it mean and what do the candidates stand for? Follow NPR Politics reporters here for live analysis and fact checks.

The public will have the opportunity to see demonstrations of newly certified voting systems this month. A press release from the state Board of Elections says the demonstrations will take place at five locations across the state, beginning Thursday in Haywood County. Demonstrations later this month include next Tuesday in Leland in Brunswick County and then Wednesday the 18th at the Pitt County Agricultural Center in Greenville. There will also be demonstrations in Guilford and Mecklenburg Counties.

UNDATED – Permanent residents of Ocracoke Island will be allowed back effective Monday. To help speed the delivery of hurricane relief supplies to the island, the state Ferry Division will begin emergency ferry service between Hatteras and Ocracoke's Silver Lake Harbor, which bypasses closed sections of Highway 12 on the island. Only high clearance vehicles will be allowed on the Silver Lake route. Ferry operations from Swan Quarter and Cedar Island will be conducted as well. Re-entry restrictions for visitors remain in effect.


UNDATED – The National Weather Service office in Newport is reporting water is beginning to rise rapidly over the eastern part of the Pamlico Sound. The National Weather Service says the tide gauge at Ocracoke has risen six-feet in the last hour-and-a-half at 6 feet, 3 inches and rising. The Weather Service anticipates similar conditions in Hatteras. They advise anyone in those flood prone areas to seek higher ground immediately. A Flash Flood Emergency has just been issued for Hyde and Dare Counties. The National Weather Service reports water levels at Ocracoke as "historic."

RALEIGH – A transportation company plans to establish a new service center in Nash County, bring 96 new jobs to the region. The Governor’s Office announced FFE Transportation Services plans to invest $4.7 million in the new Rocky Mount facility. FFE is a temperature-controlled carrier that began transporting frozen food in 1946 and now ships plasma, pharmaceuticals and other perishable products. The company could receive up to $760,000 in state incentives based on meeting job creation and investment targets.

UPDATE (9/3/19) -- The SBI reports that agent Brian Joy was released from the Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill yesterday to continue his recovery at home. Agent Joy suffered third degree burns in the July explosion. Agent Tim Luper was released from hospitalization August 3 but returns to the hospital today for further surgery on his injured shoulder.

NOAA National Hurricane Center

Gov. Roy Cooper issued an order last week to aid farmers from possible impacts from Hurricane Dorian. A press release from the Governor’s Office said some farmers are already taking action to harvest and transfer crops to protect them from potential damage from Hurricane Dorian. The Governor last Friday issued an order that waives some transportation restrictions to help farmers as well as support relief efforts if needed. The Governor said he issued the order after consultation with Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. Gov.

Preliminary data from the state indicates opioid overdose deaths in North Carolina dropped in 2018 for the first time in five years. A press release from the Governor’s Office says the data collected by the state Department of Health and Human Services indicated there were 1785 deaths from opioid-related overdoses in 2018, compared to 1884 in 2017. That’s a drop of five percent. In 2017, deaths increased by 34 percent from the prior year. Emergency department visits for opioid related overdoses also fell in 2018, dropping 10 percent from 2017.

RALEIGH – A plant expansion in Pasquotank County will bring 90 new jobs to the facility. The state Commerce Department reports Hockmeyer Equipment Corporation will expand its operations in Elizabeth City. The process equipment maker will invest $6 million in a 35,000 square feet expansion of their current Elizabeth City facility where they have been operating since 1984. The company will be eligible for a $300,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund dependent on meeting job creation and capital investment targets.