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A lot happened this year. The COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 presidential election. This summer’s protests and a reckoning for racial justice. WFAE has been there reporting on everything from President Donald Trump’s impeachment in January to the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines in December. Our staff of editors, producers and reporters selected some of the most important stories, Charlotte Talks shows and podcasts from the year.

WFAE's Top Series Stories And Podcast Episodes In 2020


A lot happened in 2020. The coronavirus and all its domino-effect challenges, the election, racial injustice and protests over systemic racism and more.

At WFAE, we sought to cover the unprecedented (that word that keeps appearing in 2020!) year through a mix of series and podcasts that went in-depth on the biggest topics we covered.

In Social Distancing, WFAE’s Sarah Delia looked at how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we live, work, learn and connect with each other. She talked to everyone from a grocery store worker in the early days of shutdowns when toilet paper was scarce to a therapist who has had to learn how to counsel patients via a computer screen.

In The High Cost Of COVID-19, reporters Maria Ramirez Uribe, Gracyn Doctor and David Boraks are looking at the disproportionate financial toll of COVID-19 on Black and Latino communities, including how it has affected individuals, families and businesses.

Meanwhile, the podcast Inside Politics began with reporters Steve Harrison and Lisa Worf covering the setup to the Republican National Convention in Charlotte … and ended up telling the story of how it all relocated.

FAQ City hosts Nick de la Canal and Claire Donnelly answered listener questions about the coronavirus, skyscrapers and a hidden volcano. And a limited-series podcast, Work It, was the winner in WFAE’s Queen City PodQuest.

Below are a selection of some of our staff favorites from those series and podcasts from the year.

Social Distancing: 'This Can't Be Happening To Us.'
Michele Nichols of Weddington learned in April that the Indiana nursing home where her 86-year-old father lived had been exposed to the coronavirus. Shortly after that notice her dad, Joseph, started to show symptoms. Her father was taken to the hospital. He spent about a week there before dying.

Jay Thomas
Jay and Paige's arms side by side.

Social Distancing: ‘That’s My Girl. She Was Something Else.’
Film and television editor Jay Thomas tells the story of how his wife, Paige Johnston Thomas, chose to spend the last few weeks of her life after losing her battle with cancer during the pandemic. "You know Lord Alfred Tennyson, ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all’ is something I keep coming back to," Thomas said. "Knowing what the outcome was, I still would have done it exactly the same way. She was the most wonderful person I had ever met."

Social Distancing: Healing Trauma Through The Screen
When the pandemic first hit, 39-year-old Justin Perry of Perry Counseling Healing and Recovery says that business initially slowed down. That was back when we all thought social distancing would be more of a fun, two-week vacation. But when people realized the coronavirus wasn’t going anywhere, his phone started to ring. Both new and old clients needed to schedule sessions to help manage the stresses of 2020. He had to manage it all through a computer screen.


The High Cost Of COVID-19: Quinceañeras In Quarantine: Businesses And Dreams Threatened By COVID-19
When Latino families across North Carolina had to cancel large social gatherings this year, that included canceling quinceañeras. These elaborate coming-of-age celebrations have created a profitable industry. But the coronavirus pandemic forced both young girls and the industry to adjust their plans.

The High Cost Of COVID-19: Fear Of Getting COVID-19 Launches A North Carolina Latino Family Into A New Career
A group of textile workers launched a mask-making business after quitting their factory jobs reupholstering furniture when they realized other workers were choosing not to wear masks at work.

Inside Politics: With Coronavirus Pandemic, The President Can't Have Rallies. But He's Still In The Spotlight
A look at how the pandemic upended the presidential campaign, wiping out any traditional campaign events by Joe Biden, and MAGA rallies too. Plus, how
the crisis affected President Trump's approval ratings – and those of past presidents in other crises.

Fred Watkins/ABC
The 2016 RNC in Cleveland was packed.

Inside Politics: Moving The RNC? Cities Aren't Raising Their Hands
Back in late-May, President Trump gave Gov. Roy Cooper an ultimatum on Twitter. He said Cooper, a Democrat, is in a “Shutdown Mood” and that Republicans “must be immediately given an answer … as to whether or not the space (The Spectrum Center) will be allowed to be fully occupied.” If the state doesn’t give the GOP that assurance, Trump said, “we will be reluctantly forced to find another site.” But other cities weren't exactly clamoring to take over the convention.

FAQ City: Fact Or Fiction? Local Legend Says Concord, NC, Is Built Atop Ancient Volcano
For years, people in Concord have heard tale that the city is built on a volcano. An ancient volcano, actually, that once spewed molten lava across the prehistoric piedmont. Turns out variations of this story have been going around for decades. The earliest reference reporter Nick de la Canal could find was an article printed in 1985.

Moira Quinn / Charlotte Center City Partners
The Charlotte skyline illuminated green in 2019 to honor the victims of a shooting on the UNC Charlotte campus.

FAQ City: Who Coordinates The Lights On Charlotte's Skyscrapers?
If you’ve ever looked at the Charlotte skyline at night, you might have noticed that sometimes all of the buildings are lit up the same color — all red for Valentine’s Day or all blue for a Panthers game. Who coordinates the lights on Charlotte’s skyscrapers?

Work It: Passion (Or Obsession)
On the fourth episode of the Work It podcast, we introduce you to a software engineer and a day trader who have an intense love for their work ... which may even border on obsession.