Rachel Lewis Hilburn

News Director, All Things Considered Host, CoastLine Host & Producer

Rachel Lewis Hilburn came to WHQR in the spring of 2011.  After serving as back-up host for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Classical Music for a year, she was named News Director in July of 2012. 

She moved to Wilmington from Los Angeles, where she worked as a financial advisor for Morgan Stanley.  After joining the local ABC affiliate in Wilmington, she wrote and produced local TV newscasts, a 30-minute special program for the Cape Fear Museum showcasing its renovation and new exhibits, and independently wrote and produced a documentary on the lingering effects of the 1898 coup d'etat in Wilmington.   Before joining the staff, Rachel co-produced Stories, Wine, and Cheese - a series of local, live storytelling events which aired on WHQR.  

Ways to Connect

A letter full of racist invectives addressed to the Minister / Head Pastor arrived at Speaks Temple AME Zion Church late last month.  Postmarked February 14th from Charlotte, North Carolina, the same day as the Parkland, Florida school shooting and Valentine’s Day, no one seems to know who wrote the letter or why they sent it to a small church in Wilmington. 


There are now 173 charter schools in North Carolina.  After the General Assembly lifted the cap of 100 in 2010, the number of public charter schools soared.  In the past four years, four new charter schools opened in Wilmington alone putting the total at six.  If approved, a seventh, the Wilmington School of the Arts, will open in the fall of 2019.

Mitch Barrie from Reno, NV, USA / Wikimedia Commons

A 19-year-old gunman killed 17 people with an AR-15 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida about three weeks ago. 

Max Pixel

The kind of energy that human beings use to power their lives is shifting around the globe.  Renewable sources of energy are on the rise; the International Energy Agency expects renewable electricity generation to increase by more than a third over the next four years.  That’s according to CNBC. 

In the last 12 years, Charlotte-based Duke Energy has invested about six billion dollars in wind and solar energy, said company spokesman Randy Wheeless.  He identified North Carolina as second in the nation for solar energy. 

Samuel King, Jr. / U.S. Air Force

Active shooter situations are, by nature, unpredictable and evolve quickly. That’s the first observation officials with The Department of Homeland Security make before offering what tools and resources they have.  In many cases, DHS officials say, there is no pattern or method to the selection of victims by an active shooter.

So much of Michelle Rhinesmith’s journey so far was not part of the official plan.  From capturing the attention and becoming the mentee of a well-respected NPR veteran to counseling people diagnosed with potentially terminal cancer to grappling with her own bouts – yes, that’s plural – bouts with cancer – to losing her mother in December, her beloved dog, Chloe on February 15th and her grandmother the very next day, the ride has been anything but predictable and smooth. 

The Carousel Center

North Carolina’s latest child health report card, just out this week, gives the state an ‘F’ in “Housing and Economic Security” due to the high percentage of children living in low-income homes and neighborhoods. Children from families that are not financially secure, according to NC Child, fare worse in almost every indicator of health, including birth outcomes, access to care, health-risk behaviors, and mortality.

John N. Smith Cemetery Restoration and Preservation, Inc.

Archaeologists have determined that 900 graves lie unmarked at the John N. Smith Cemetery in Southport.  This African American Cemetery, located on Leonard Street in the heart of Southport, has stories both known and many that are yet to be uncovered.  The oldest headstone, with a date of death in 1874, belongs to John N. Smith himself.  


The prospect of drilling off the coast of North Carolina for oil and natural gas is a real one.  Last month, President Donald Trump proposed the opening of nearly all American waters to offshore drilling. This new five-year plan is scheduled to start in 2019.

So far North Carolina’s elected officials are split on whether to support drilling off the coast.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office

Seventy-seven people killed their intimate partner in North Carolina last year.   62% of those people used a firearm.  That’s according to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a  statewide nonprofit organization.

Wikimedia Commons

This year’s flu is the worst in nearly a decade.  So far this season, 63 elderly people have died in North Carolina alone from the flu.  25 people between the ages 50 to 64 have passed from the flu -- and four deaths fall into that low-risk category of people ages 25 to 49.  The total death toll in North Carolina from flu this season:  95.


If you’ve listened to WHQR for any length of time, you probably know Philip Gerard as one of the regular commentators.  But those three-and-a-half minute pieces are comparable to an amuse-bouche.  The other courses Philip Gerard serves up include his work as a Professor of Creative Writing and Creative Non-Fiction at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in both the BFA and MFA programs. 

Development-driller-3 Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelly / Wikimedia Commons

North Carolinians have one shot to voice their opinions in person about offshore drilling at a single public hearing.  So far, February 26th in Raleigh is the only scheduled “open house”.  But Democratic Governor Roy Cooper is asking Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke for a 60-day extension of the public comment period and three additional public hearings – all at the coast.  This comes after a weekend meeting that brought together coastal stakeholders, the Governor, and Secretary Zinke. 

Robert Parr

NASA ranks 2017 as the second hottest year on record behind 2016. The National Climate Assessment, a report published by the federal government in November of last year, states unequivocally that humans are causing climate change and the time to act is now. While there are no policy recommendations in this federal report, many state and municipal governments are taking their own steps to curb the impacts of climate change.

Good Shepherd Center

A third of the population in New Hanover County pays more than they can afford for housing.  That’s true for both homeowners and renters, but in the rental market, it’s worse.  Nearly half -- about 46% of people who rent in New Hanover County pay more than a third of their income for housing.  Some community leaders call that a clear sign of a shortage of affordable housing. 

Cape Fear Public Utility officials say they can no longer trust Chemours to control discharges from its site.  

In a statement issued early Wednesday evening, officials say North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality informed CFPUA that as late as December, regulators measured levels of GenX in the Cape Fear River near the plant at 2,300 parts per trillion.  That’s far higher than the established human health goal of 140 parts per trillion.

Gentrification is a loaded word.  It typically connotes a rise in property values in a traditionally low-income neigborhood.  Wealthier people move in.  Those who’ve lived there and are already struggling to pay bills from month to month can no longer afford to live there due to rising rents and property taxes. 

North Carolina General Assembly

The way judges wind up on the bench in North Carolina is changing this year.  For one thing, elections will be partisan thanks to the passage of House Bill 100 last March.  Governor Roy Cooper vetoed that bill, and the legislature easily overrode the veto the next day.  Supporters contend partisan races give voters more information; opponents say they further politicize the court.  

University of North Carolina

Update:  On Thursday, January 18th, the Supreme Court granted a stay so that legislators do not have to meet the lower court's deadline.  The Court is considering two other gerrymandering cases in Wisconsin and Maryland and offered no reason for its ruling. 

Villalobos, Horacio, Photographer / National Archives and Records Administration

Men are taking on more responsibility in the household today than they did a generation ago.  But according to the Pew Research Center, women are still doing the majority of the domestic work.  That’s true across the spectrum – including couples in which both people work full-time outside the home.  So what does this mean for a career professional who is female? 

Wikimedia Commons

 New Hanover County, following the trend of many other states and municipalities, filed a lawsuit last month against opioid manufacturers and distributors.  In the suit, the county alleges not just negligence by these huge drug companies; the county accuses  them of unfair and deceptive trade practices, civil conspiracy, fraud and racketeering.  Also in December, Brunswick County Commissioners passed a resolution indicating they might file their own suit in which they would seek damages from these companies for the public costs of the opioid epidemic.

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

The number of people who identify as Christian is declining  and a new category of ‘nones’, meaning “nothing in particular”, agnostic, and atheist, is growing.  That’s according to a study by the Pew Research Center from 2015 called the American Religious Landscape Study.   If the current trend stays the course, according to Pew, American society is likely to grow less religious even if today’s adults maintain their current level of commitment.

City of Wilmington

Thursday saw an encouraging degree of snow melt, as temperatures squeaked above freezing by a couple of degrees during the afternoon hours.  But officials say that doesn’t mean it’s safe to hit the roads on Friday.

Brunswick County Sheriff's Office

The snow has stopped falling, and the Cape Fear region is waking up Thursday morning to a winter wonderland.  Government offices, schools, morning flights, and many businesses are shut down for the second day in row.  Despite some optimism late Wednesday, with some organizations planning to re-open at 10 AM, including New Hanover County Government offices and the Battleship, officials reconsidered Thursday morning and are staying closed.

Brunswick County Sheriff's Office / Facebook

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency late Wednesday afternoon for all eastern and several central North Carolina counties.  A mix of freezing rain and sleet was already falling in the Cape Fear region, and the message from the Governor’s office as well as New Hanover County’s Director for Emergency Management, Steven Still, was the same. 

Stay off the roads.


The National Weather Service says the current arctic blast will bring two to four inches of snow to the region.  While the rare snowfall in southeastern North Carolina usually leaves a dusting of snow on rooftops and trees, meteorologists say the already-frozen ground and continuing arctic air will make roadways treacherous almost as soon as the precipitation begins.

Wikimedia Commons


December 21st marks the first official day of winter – and the winter solstice – the longest night of the year.  According to Rick Kline of the Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility at Cornell University, solstices and equinoxes denote either the beginnings of the seasons or the center points of them.  Kline tells USA Today that Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other holidays have arisen out of just these markings.


It’s a romp across the holiday table today – whether you’re one of those people who dreads the days-on-end slog in the kitchen as relatives eat you out of house and home or if you love the chance to throw dietary concerns aside and let your creativity fly, we’re going to have some ideas for you. 

David Woo / Flickr

North Carolina has a teacher shortage.  Enrollment in Schools of Education within the University of North Carolina system has dropped 30% since 2010.  And that, according to WRAL, is having a big impact on the number of teachers available to North Carolina schools.

GenX is in the local drinking water supply – albeit at significantly lower levels than six months ago.  What kind of impact that has had or could have or will have on the people who drink the local water is still unclear.