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

Check out what NPR reporters had to say  during live analysis and fact checks of the candidates' remarks during Thursday night's 2nd Democratic Presidential debate.


RALEIGH -- A new report examining the status of women in North Carolina shows improvement in some areas but work needed in others. The 2019 Status of Women in North Carolina Health and Wellness Report had some good news about women’s health. A press release from the Governor’s Office said the report found decreases in mortality rates for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and breast cancer since the last report in 2013. But the report also highlighted areas in need of improvement. North Carolina has the 9th highest rate of stroke mortality among women.

Sea Grant North Carolina

Scientists are forecasting a lower probability of fish kills on the Neuse River this summer. A model produced by scientists at North Carolina State and UNC-Chapel Hill is predicting higher levels of dissolved oxygen this summer in the Neuse River Estuary. That could mean fewer stresses to the Neuse’s ecosystem, including fish kills. The model last year successfully predicted unusually low levels of dissolved oxygen in the Neuse.  The critical factor in the model is predictions of dissolved oxygen in the estuary’s lowest three feet.

The final round of hurricane assistance checks for fishermen is on its way. A final group of 1176 checks totaling $450,000 was mailed Thursday (June 13) to eligible fishermen through the. In total $11.6 million was distributed to commercial fishermen and shellfish harvesters adversely effected by Hurricane Florence.  The vast majority of that money was dispensed by May 20 but some funds were set aside to cover any late filers and those with questions about their harvests. In all, checks were written to fishermen in 39 counties.

A press release from the Governor’s Office says the juvenile crime rate is at its lowest since the state started tracking juvenile crime. The Juvenile Justice Section recently released its 2018 Annual Report, which tracks juvenile crime trends dating back to 2010. It says the juvenile crime rate has fallen by 41% since 2010, from 27.55 complaints per every 1000 kids to 16.18 per 1000 last year.  The number of children admitted to juvenile detention centers fell 62% during the period.

NC Aquariums

Delayed by Hurricane Florence, a habitat for a pair of flightless bald eagles opens next month at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pink Knoll Shores. The habitat was scheduled to open Memorial Day, but a delay in getting materials and labor in because of the hurricane slowed the process down. Aquarium curator Clint Taylor says the habitat was completed by Memorial Day but time was needed to acclimate the two bald eagles to their new home. The two birds are flightless.

ECU’s interim chancellor has weighed in on a fight between the state and Vidant Health over appointments to Vidant’s board. East Carolina University released a letter signed by interim chancellor Dan Gerlach and Brody School of Medicine Dean Dr. Mark Stacy about the controversy. The Pitt County Board of Commissioners in May approved action that would end the UNC system’s nine appointments to the 20 member Vidant Health Medical Board. The state reacted, with the UNC system filing a lawsuit and a proposed state budget that would lower Medicaid reimbursement rates to the hospital.

The Onslow Water and Sewer Authority is asking customers to conserve water where possible as dry conditions and abnormal heat reduce water stores. A press release from the Authority says every month this year has seen well below normal rainfall. That along with abnormally high usage has prompted their request for customers to watch their water usage. They note water demand on Memorial Day was 13.5 million gallons.

With hurricane season underway June 1, the Federal Emergency Management Agency says now is the time to purchase flood insurance. It takes 30 days from the day you purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program for the policy to take effect, so FEMA suggests thinking about your flood insurance purchase now. While FEMA home repair grants provide basic, emergency assistance, flood insurance covers much more.

Visitor spending in North Carolina set a new record last year. A press release from the Governor’s Office reports record visitor spending during 2018 of $25.3 billion. That’s a 5.6 percent increase from 2017’s total. Those visits generated about $3.9 billion in federal, state and local taxes, up 4.8 percent from the prior year. About $1.3 billion of that was state taxes. The state hosted over 51 million visitors last year. Tourism industry-supported employment also set a record last year, increasing 2.2 percent to 230,560 jobs.

NC Department of Transportation

The last of road closures attributed to Hurricane Florence last September has re-opened. Zion Church Road, a two-lane stretch east of Mount Olive, re-opened to traffic last week following inspection of a new bridge on the road and adjustments to a new guardrail. The Wayne County road was the last of about 2500 road closure sites reported during the storm to re-open. A press release from the state Department of Transportation said Zion Church Road was one of many roads that were re-opened with improvements in order to be more resilient in future storms.

GREENVILLE – Officials with the city of Greenville believe the city’s computer network has been infected with a ransomware virus. A press release from the city says they have shut down the majority of their servers, but plan to bring them back online gradually to determine the impact of the virus so they can determine options to remedy the situation.

ORIENTAL – People are slowly returning to the town of Oriental as recovery efforts from Hurricane Florence continue. Town Manager Diane Miller says it appears all of Oriental has power again following a flash re-build of electrical infrastructure by Duke Energy. She was informed earlier this week that 80 power polls were damaged or destroyed along with miles of line. She described work done by Duke as having occurred at a “frantic pace” with power being restored earlier this morning (Thursday).  Customers of Tideland EMC had their power restored by yesterday.

The Neuse River through Lenoir County is expected to continue rising through Saturday morning when forecasters predict it will crest at 25 feet. Forecasters predict it will stay that way for 12-to-24 hours before slowly receding. As of this morning, the water had risen to almost 23 feet. At a press conference this morning, county emergency services director Roger Dail told reporters officials expect rising floodwaters to eventually block access to Highway 258…

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It was a record year in terms of tourism for North Carolina in 2017.


The public is quickly adapting to a new form of ID issued by the state Division of Motor Vehicles.


A lawsuit pertaining to construction of the U-S 70 Havelock Bypass is expected to be dismissed following signing of a settlement agreement. A press release from the state Department of Transportation says a settlement agreement has been signed by D-O-T and the Sierra Club, allowing the Department to proceed with the U-S 70 Havelock bypass.

A national assessment examining 4th and 8th grade math and reading skills shows little change in North Carolina over two years.

Plans are being made to convert a Greene County prison to house high security male prisoners. The state Division of Prisons says changes will be made to prisons in three counties to help them address safety, security and operational needs. Among the changes will be converting the Eastern Correctional Institution in Maury which currently houses female inmates into a facility for close custody male inmates who require the highest level of supervision within state prisons.

A pharmaceutical packaging manufacturer will locate its first U-S manufacturing plant in Wilson County. 

Recent declines in gas prices aren’t expected to continue. The Charlotte-based motorclub AAA Carolinas expects prices this spring to rise to levels not seen since the summer of 2015 when Americans were paying an average of $2.81 a gallon for regular. Prices in North Carolina have declined each of the last three weeks, standing currently at $2.41 a gallon. AAA says drivers will start to see prices spike upward in early April, a time when refineries finish maintenance and start to switch over to more expensive summer-blend gasolines.

A new business coming to Beaufort County will bring a $2.7 million investment to the area. The Governor’s Office has announced that InterMarket Technology Inc. will locate its corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility to Washington. InterMarket manufactures point-of-purchase displays for such companies as Nestle, Coke, Pepsi and Dollar General as well as recycling bins. Operations in Washington will create 57 jobs over the next three years.

The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame has announced their 2018 inductees.

New laws affecting drone usage in the state take effect December 1, 2017. One of two new laws prohibits drone usage within a 500 foot horizontal distance or a 250 foot vertical distance of a prison, jail or any correction or containment facility. The other law clarifies that state drone laws also apply to model aircraft as well, though model aircraft remain exempt from the state’s permitting requirements for drones.

Gov. Roy Cooper has proclaimed Friday, Dec. 1 as World AIDS Day in North Carolina. A press release from the state Department of Health and Human Services says the Department is joining with the Governor on the proclamation. A press release from the Department report that as of December 2016 there were an estimated 36,700 people living with HIV or AIDS in North Carolina with approximately 2600 of them unaware of their infection. According to the most recent North Carolina HIV/STD Surveillance Report, 1399 adults and adolescents were diagnosed with HIV in the state in 2016.

INTRO – On September 3, 1991 North Carolina experienced its worst industrial disaster when a fire broke out at a chicken processing plant in the Richmond County town of Hamlet, killing 25. The view at the time was that spendthrift owners neglected safety to save a buck. But a new book theorizes that the plant fire was the end result of a changing relationship between government, industry and people. George Olsen has more.

When Bryant Simon began his research into events surrounding the Hamlet Imperial Foods plant fire there was no wiggle room in where blame for the tragedy lay.

NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

A celebration of one of the state’s most famous self-taught artists takes place in Wilson Thursday, Nov. 2 with the official dedication of a park featuring his unique structures.

Drivers are warned to exercise caution on the roads with increased deer activity. Deer activity increases between October and December with mating and hunting seasons, increasing the likelihood of animal related automotive collisions. A press release from the state Department of Transportation says there were 17,901 animal related crashes in 2016… slightly below 2015’s total by 136. Over the past three years there have been close to 54,000 collisions, with 14 people dying during those collisions and 3356 injuries, 51 being serious.

The state’s infant mortality rate was down slightly in 2016. The state Department of Health and Human Services reports the state infant mortality rate for 2016 was 7.2 deaths per 1000 births, down 1.4 percent from the 2015 rate of 7.3 infant deaths. A press release from the department says the infant mortality rate seems to have plateaued, noting the rate was 7 in 2010, the state’s lowest ever rate.  There is a wide disparity in infant mortality among racial groups. White women had an infant mortality rate of 5 in 2016 while the rate for African American women was 13.4 per 1000 births.