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WFAE's reporters, editors, producers and hosts worked tirelessly throughout 2021 to tell the stories that mattered most in the Charlotte area. Here's a look at some of our best work.

Here are some of WFAE’s best on-air interviews of 2021

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Radio — and audio in general — is a great medium for storytelling. But it’s also a great format for in-depth interviews.

Our “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” hosts have regular long-format interview series like BizWorthy, Fact Check and Time Out for Sports. But they also carve out time to record interviews about events that are driving the news cycle — or just about topics that are interesting enough to create those vaunted public radio “driveway moments” — those moments when you’ve arrived at your destination but feel compelled to stay in the car and listen to the rest of the story that’s on the radio.

Here are 10 of the best on-air interviews conducted by WFAE’s hosts this year.

Remembering the impact of Bobby Martin Sr. and the Big M Stable

When Bobby Martin Sr. died Sept. 27, Charlotte's Druid Hills community lost an icon. In Martin’s 86 years, he became not only an award-winning horse-rider but the owner of Big M Stables near uptown. He was known for sharing his expertise with others, especially African Americans and young people in the city. He held a free yearly event at his stables, and he was responsible for exposing many people in a rapidly growing urban area to horses. WFAE’s Gwendolyn Glenn talked to a few people who knew Martin well.

Gastonia native Maria Howell talks about a career of acting and music

Gastonia native Maria Howell has wowed audiences with her amazing voice around the country and internationally and she’s shared the stage with greats such as Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson and George Benson. And she’s particularly well known in Charlotte for her annual Christmas jazz show. But her acting abilities are more under the radar, though no less impressive with roles in series such as "Army Wives," "Criminal Minds" and "Delilah" as well as films like "The Blind Side," "Hunger Games" and "Hidden Figures." Gwendolyn Glenn caught up with Howell in November.

Cherry residents who’ve seen their neighborhood change want their historic Morgan School to remain

Charlotte's Cherry neighborhood has changed a lot in the last decade. Gentrification has changed what was once a predominantly Black neighborhood that was founded to promote homeownership for working-class African Americans to one that's now 60% white. Cherry residents have fought to save what’s left of their community — and the latest battle is over securing ownership of Morgan, the neighborhood's now-closed school. In October, Gwendolyn Glenn spoke to several of the people involved in the effort.

With her series ‘The Skillet,’ Emiene Wright shows that Black cuisine is American cuisine

The history of African American cuisine has connections to Africa, and how it's translated to American tables is receiving a lot of attention in the media these days. This year, Charlotte Five had "The Skillet: How Black Cuisine Became America's Supper." In June, Gwendolyn Glenn spoke to the host of that series, Emiene Wright, about Black cuisine and how its finding a place of prominence.

Analysis finds schools disproportionately call police on students of color and those with disabilities — including in the Carolinas

Across the U.S., nearly 230,000 students were referred to law enforcement during the 2017-18 school year. Black students and students with mental and physical disabilities were referred at nearly twice their share of the overall student population. That’s what a Center for Public Integrity analysis of U.S. Department of Education data found. In North Carolina and South Carolina, law enforcement was also brought in at higher rates when it came to Black and disabled students. In September, WFAE’s Marshall Terry spoke with the center’s Corey Mitchell, who was the lead reporter for that story.

A retired Davidson police officer reflects on being a 9/11 first responder

Vernon Siders Jr. was an officer with the New York Police Department when the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Later, he moved South and served on the Davidson police force. WFAE’s Nick de la Canal caught up with Siders, now retired and living in Mooresville, to look back on that monumental day 20 years ago and talk about how the experience changed him.

After daughters’ 5 years on ‘Sesame Street,’ this Hickory family has a lifetime of memories

In the early days of "Sesame Street," Hickory residents Arthur and Marie Hunt were living in New York City when someone approached them in a restaurant and asked if their daughters, Beverly and Pamela, could be on the revered children's television show. The Hunt sisters were on "Sesame Street" for five years. In August, Gwendolyn Glenn caught up with the Hunts to talk about some of those memories.

When you try to buy a new home in Charlotte, you’re probably competing with Wall Street

It’s no secret that Charlotte’s housing market is brutal. If you're a first-time homebuyer or looking for a small, single-family house in Charlotte, it's probably especially tough for you. That's partly because corporate landlords have significantly increased their share of the market. Ely Portillo of UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute looked into it, and in June, Marshall Terry reached out to him to learn more.

After a year of silence, musicians and music venues are ready to rock again

Sure, we’re not out of the woods yet with the pandemic, but life is a lot different than it was during the early parts of COVID-19. For starters, there are live events and performances again, albeit with safety precautions in many cases. For some, the era of dark stages and dimmed marquees might seem like a distant memory, but it’s been less than a year since venue owners were almost completely hobbled. In March, Marshall Terry talked to the co-owner of Charlotte venue Petra’s about how the area’s music scene adapted.

One year later: How one Charlotte restaurant survived COVID-19

Of course, the music and performing arts industries weren’t the only facets of the service and hospitality business to be set back by the pandemic. Restaurants had it tough, too. In March, as North Carolina marked one year since the start of COVID restrictions, Marshall Terry chatted with one longtime Charlotte restaurant owner about just how rough the last 12 months had been. Here’s the conversation with Clifton Freshwater of Freshwaters. And as a bonus, Terry checked back in with Freshwater just this month.

A note here: Those 10 interviews represent just a portion of the on-air interviews WFAE has produced this year. We’ll link a few more standout ones below.

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