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’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.

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.

Early in-person voting is underway in two U-S Congressional Districts. The elections will fill seats in the 3rd and 9th U-S Congressional Districts. The 3rd district seat became vacant with the death of Congressman Walter Jones Jr. in February. The 9th district seat has been vacant following the state Board of Elections calling for a re-do of the November 2018 election over possible absentee ballot fraud involving a contractor for Republican Mark Harris’ campaign.

Many North Carolina counties with higher-than-average opioid prescription rates also have higher-than-average rates of grandparents raising grandchildren. Carolina Demography looked at 2017 data for their study. Statewide, 1.6% of grandparents care for their grandchildren, above the national average of 1.3%.

RALEIGH – The Governor’s Office has announced a manufacturer will expand its operation in Pasquotank County, creating 75 jobs. Telephonics Corporation designs and manufactures radar and communications systems for the military and aviation industry. The company is currently operating at the Elizabeth City Regional Airport. It will expand into a new facility also in Elizabeth City, investing $5.5 million. Wages will vary by position, but the average wage will be nearly $65,000, well above Pasquotank’s average annual wage of nearly $35,000.

North Carolina last week became the 35th state to pass a law limiting female genital mutilation. The measure Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law becomes effective Oct. 1. The bill introduced in the Senate by Mecklenburg County state Senator Joyce Krawiec passed both chambers of the legislature with no members voting against it. Effective Oct. 1 the practice of female genital mutilation, or FGM, on those under the age of 18 will be a Class C felony punishable by a 44-to-182 month prison sentence.

A new report says the health of swimmers at many beaches in North Carolina was put at risk last year because of water contamination. A new report by Environment North Carolina says 127 beaches and waterways across the state had water pollution levels that put swimmers at risk of getting sick on at least one occasion. The report looked at fecal bacterial levels at 213 beaches across the state.  Fecal contamination can cause gastrointestinal illness as well as respiratory disease, ear and eye infections and skin rash.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order involving a controversial practice known as conversion therapy. The Governor on Friday signed Executive Order No. 97 that directs the state Department of Health and Human Services to take the appropriate steps needed to ensure no taxpayer dollars are used for conversion therapy for minors. Conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Major medical organizations including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have come out against the practice.

A bill governing ride-sharing services got final legislative approval today. The Passenger Protection Act cleared the House by a 100-to-0 vote. The bill introduced by Wayne County Rep. John Bell requires rideshare drivers to display easily viewed company logos and have a printed license plate on the front of their vehicles. It also creates a new criminal penalty for impersonating a rideshare driver and makes it a misdemeanor to assault a rideshare driver.

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores was unexpectedly closed today (Tuesday) due to cooling issues. The building’s chiller controls building and habitat temperatures. Mechanical issues with the chiller made normal operations unsafe to open to the public. The Aquariums’s staff is monitoring habitat water temperatures and is implementing safety protocols as needed. A re-open date and time has not yet been set.

UPDATE -- The Aquarium re-opened Friday, July 26.


Col. Amy Ebitz will assume command of Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East at Camp LeJeune at Friday, July 19 at 10:00 am. Her husband will be there. Then at 2:00 pm Col. Curtis Ebitz will assume command of Marine Corps Air Station New River. His wife will be there. It will be a busy day for Colonels Curtis and Amy Ebitz who have been married since 2003. They have two children ages 12 and 8 who will also have busy days as they’ll attend both command ceremonies.  The Colonels Ebitz come to the region after recent assignments in Washington D.C.

A 25% cut in your daily caloric intake could cut your risk from some deadly ailments. A two-year Duke Health trial indicated cutting around 300 calories from your daily caloric intake reduced study participants risk for ailments such as diabetes and heart disease. A press release from Duke Health said that’s roughly the equivalent of eating six Oreo cookies. The study involved adults under age 50. While participants were asked to maintain the 25 percent daily calorie reduction, the average calorie reduction was actually about 12 percent.

The feasibility of elevating homes in the historic town of Princeville to protect them from future flooding will be studied. The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a grant of over $1.1 million to determine which of 75 homes in Princeville can be raised to protect them. The town experienced severe flooding after 1999’s Hurricane Floyd and 2016’s Hurricane Matthew. The money will cover an engineering and feasibility study on which homes can be raised. There is concern about the structural integrity of many of the homes.

North Carolina Coastal Federation

The final phase of a Pamlico Sound oyster sanctuary is expected to be completed next week. Work on a 40-acre oyster reef in Pamlico Sound got underway in the spring of 2017. Each spring and summer since work has been done to strategically place thousands of tons of limestone marl and granite to build new oyster habitat. The Swan Island Oyster Sanctuary is open to hook and line fishing but not open to harvest. A press release from the North Carolina Coastal Federation says when oysters at the sanctuary reach maturity, they repopulate, sending baby oysters to nearby harvested reefs.

RALEIGH – A three-judge Superior Court panel has upheld Greenville’s Red Light Safety Camera Program as constitutional. The program was approved by the General Assembly in 2016. A lawsuit against the program said it was unconstitutional as it was “related to health” in violation of the state Constitution’s prohibition on local acts passed by the General Assembly related to health. The panel disagreed. Civil penalties related to the red light cameras went into effect in November 2017. The cameras operate at five intersections in Greenville.

A veteran of the Korean War will be laid to rest in New Bern after his remains were identified last year. Army Corporal Stephen P. Nemec of Cleveland, Ohio was killed in action during heavy fighting on November 2, 1950 near Unsan, North Korea. He was buried at a United Nations cemetery in Pyongyang but as conditions worsened in North Korea those buried there could not be recovered. Following the war more than 4000 sets of remains were turned over to the UN, none of which could be associated with Cpl. Nemec.