FAQ City

Calling all WFAE listeners - help us investigate stories that matter to you!

We're accepting listener questions about anything and everything in the Charlotte region. No question is too broad, or too narrow; too silly, or too unusual. The only requirement is it is must relate in some way to Charlotte or the surrounding area.

Submissions can be made at any time. Every other week (with some exceptions), WFAE editors will select their favorite three or four questions and put them to an online vote. The winning question will get a full investigation that's featured both on air and on the podcast.

New FAQ City episodes are released every other Tuesday, and are typically heard on air during Here and Now in the 12 p.m. hour.

Wait - where do I enter my own submission? Good question! Write your question in the box below, and we may be in touch.


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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management team members are seen in the previous Emergency Operations Center in 2018.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management

This year’s hurricane season has been one of the most active on record. Scientists blew through the planned list of 21 tropical storm names -- from Arthur to Wilfred -- and now they’ve started using the Greek alphabet. How does North Carolina prepare when a storm is heading its way?

Concord, North Carolina, roughly located in the purple shape on this map showing rock formations in the Carolinas, is said to be on an ancient volcano. Geologists help set the record straight.
Nick de la Canal / WFAE

Editor's note: A version of this story was originally published in January 2020.

For years, people in Concord have heard a tale that the city is built on an ancient volcano that once spewed molten lava across the prehistoric Piedmont.

One WFAE listener, Ben Kesterson, wrote to FAQ City wanting to know if the story is just an urban legend, or if there's any truth to it.

A satellite image of Hurricane Isaias as it approached the East Coast on August 3.

It’s hurricane season in the Atlantic, and scientists say this year could be one of the busiest on record. We’ve already had a record number of named storms -- from Arthur to Marco -- and at least five people were killed as Hurricane Isaias swept up the East Coast several weeks ago.

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


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. 


“I noticed -- probably along I-77 when I was driving -- that the lights all seemed to be coordinated. So I was curious about how or why that happened,” said Jamie Brown, of Mooresville, adding that she probably first noticed the color coordination when the Panthers went to the Super Bowl in 2016.


Protesters demonstrate near the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department headquarters on May 30, 2020.
Jesse Steinmetz / WFAE

It’s been about two months since protests first erupted in Charlotte over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Here, across the U.S. and the world, people took to the streets to demonstrate against police brutality and the mistreatment of Black people. We’ll take a look back at those protests and answer your questions about policing and protesting.

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE


Schools in Charlotte and across North Carolina have been closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus. Online classes became the new norm. Many in-person graduations, sporting events and proms were canceled. Now, state health officials say North Carolina’s coronavirus trends are moving in the wrong direction. As fall draws closer, what’s next for schools? Will buildings reopen?

Jodie Valade / WFAE



People in North Carolina are now required to wear face masks in many public places. It’s part of an executive order issued by Gov. Roy Cooper that takes effect at 5 p.m. Friday, June 26. When and where do you have to wear a mask? Can you get a ticket for not wearing one? We answer those questions and others.


Courtesy of PLCMC, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Observer Collection.

Few Charlotteans may remember Earle Village, the public housing community built in First Ward just outside uptown. It was a bustling community that stretched from 6th Street to 10th Street, roughly bordered by Myers Street and Caldwell Street. It was the place where 400 of the city's poorest families resided — until the village was condemned to demolition in the 1990s.

Protesters demonstrated near Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department headquarters Saturday night.
Jesse Steinmetz / WFAE



This weekend... this week... this month... has been a lot.

Monday night marked the fourth night of protests in Charlotte as a wave of nationwide protests continue in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. Throughout the weekend, thousands of protesters have expressed a range of emotions in Charlotte.


Which is why FAQ City wants to hear from you.


open sign
Photo by Kevin Bidwell from Pexels

Gov. Roy Cooper has begun gradually reopening North Carolina in a series of three phases. If you're not sure what to expect under each of those three phases, don't worry! You're not alone. Lots of WFAE listeners have been writing in with questions, and we're here to help.

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

For decades, a four-foot gold statue has stood at the intersection of Queens and Providence roads in Charlotte, his right index finger extended. Sometimes he's dressed up for sporting events or weddings at the Methodist church next door. For an extended period beginning September 2017, he disappeared from the intersection, leaving only a few patches of monkey grass where his pedestal stood.


We're now more than a month into the coronavirus crisis in North Carolina with still no end in sight, and the number of people out of work continues to climb higher and higher. According to some estimates, the U.S. unemployment rate could touch 16% by July -- higher than at any point since the Great Depression.

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

Hard to believe that just a month ago, the Charlotte area was still gearing up for all the usual springtime events. Our kitchen calendars still had spaces blocked off for college commencement, spring break, and opening day at the ballpark. Perhaps you were planning to hit the gym or the hair salon to look good for summer.

Now, that's all out the window amid a fast-moving pandemic and a statewide stay-at-home order issued by North Carolina's governor.

Coronavirus graphic

The tumult caused by the coronavirus this week has many WFAE listeners writing into our newsroom with questions about the unfolding pandemic. For instance, "Why do news anchors alternate between saying coronavirus and COVID-19?" "Is there a difference between quarentine and isolation?" "What should I do if I think I have the coronavirus?"

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

Maybe you've seen one in a parking lot at Walmart, or outside the mall during the holidays. A keen-eyed television viewer might spot them among the crowd at the Super Bowl, or in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

Living near the city can be loud. Really loud. Even though we can tune the noise out after a while, the constant racket can have serious effects on our health and our environment. That might be why WFAE listener Katrina Lee wrote to FAQ City asking where she might find might Mecklenburg County's quietest outdoor spot.

David B. Smith of Charlotte Department of Transportation points out a Verizon Wireless 5G tower in Southpark. He oversees permits for communications companies that want to use city rights-of-way.
David Boraks / WFAE

A crop of new utility poles and wires is starting to appear around Charlotte. You've probably sped right by them and barely noticed. These poles are black metal, about the size of a wooden utility pole, with a strange cylinder on top. And those wires — you see them hanging from utility poles, or sticking up out of the grass along the roadside. What could all this work be?

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

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.


When was the last time you booked a flight out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport? How much did you pay? It's great to have a busy airport, where you can get a direct flight to just about anywhere. But sometimes it can be tough on your pocketbook.

NC Department of Cultural Resources

How do you respond to tragedies? We all face them periodically over the course of our lives. Sometimes there's little we can do to remedy the situation. Other times, we're given the opportunity to fight back.

This week on the FAQ City podcast, we examine the story of how one small North Carolina town faced the threat of a polio epidemic in the 1940s, and turned the moment into a story of small town solidarity.

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

It’s wild to think "FAQ City" is approaching its two-year birthday in January. To date, we’ve received more than 600 listener questions and produced full-fledged answers to about 40 of those listener queries. I’m constantly impressed with all the creative and curious questions people are coming up with, and I only wish we had time to answer more.

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

If you do a lot of walking in Charlotte, perhaps you've had this experience before: You're strolling along the side of the road, the kids are in the stroller or perhaps Fido is tugging on the leash, and suddenly, the pavement beneath your feet comes to an abrupt stop. Where did the sidewalk go?

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

We get it: Recycling can be confusing. Do you keep the bottle caps on plastic water bottles or take them off? Should you break down cardboard boxes before putting them in the bin? What about office paper with staples? Do you have to take the staples out?

Spokeswoman Jean LeierChief Operating Officer David Hannon of I-77 Mobility Partners, on the ramp from I-77 S to I-277 inner loop.

The Interstate 77 Express Lanes have been under construction for four years north of Charlotte. The toll lanes are now open on all 26 miles between Interstate 277 and Exit 36 in Mooresville, and drivers have all kinds of questions about how they work. 

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

Editor's note: A version of this story was originally published in April 2019.

So you've finally binged all of "The Great British Baking Show" on Netflix, and now you're left wondering how to get some of those scrumptious-looking baked goods. But what bakery in Charlotte carries hazelnut dacquoise or kouign-amann?

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

Editor's note: A version of this story was originally published in October 2018. 

Not long ago, two of our listeners wrote in wondering about paranormal hotspots in the Charlotte area. Does Charlotte have local ghosts? Is the city haunted by the supernatural? According to some students and longtime faculty at Queens University, the answer might be yes.

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

Editor's note: A version of this story was originally published in December, 2018.  

WFAE listener Chappy Garner has been mountain biking for about five years, and one of his favorite spots in Charlotte is the Backyard Trails — a 12-mile network of twisty, turvey paths winding through 140 acres of woods in south Charlotte.


Editor's note: A version of this story was originally published in March 2019.

Many Charlotte residents have long heard tales of abandoned gold mines left buried beneath uptown. Aaron Hopping, a WFAE listener, wanted to know more. Like, where are they? What happened to them? And are any still accessible?

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

Waking up is hard. Even harder when you're a teenager who has to be at the bus stop at 6 a.m.

One WFAE listener, Jennifer Morell, wrote in to "FAQ City" wondering why our high schools start so early in the morning, and if our kids might be better served if we pushed back the opening bell.


Native Charlotteans are sometimes described as unicorns — so rare they also seem mystical. Transplants, on the other hand, seem far more common, and one WFAE listener says it feels like their numbers have grown considerably in the last decade.