The Tar Heel Traveler takes us to fascinating places across the state and into the lives of memorable characters.
At times, the Traveler will even tread onto controversial turf, putting a human face to heartfelt issues.
Look for thoughtful stories that are poignant, witty, interesting and inspiring, crafted with photography that is beautiful and compelling.
Watch the Tar Heel Traveler Mondays through Thursdays at 5:55 p.m. on WRAL News.
Know any fascinating places and people across the state that you'd like to see featured on WRAL? Email the Tar Heel Traveler, Scott Mason at SMason@WRAL.com.
Bring the Tar Heel Traveler home
To mark the Tar Heel Traveler's first 1,000 stories, WRAL-TV has compiled a select few into an hour-long DVD or Blue Ray disc. Net proceeds from sales of the special benefit Friends of the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that sustains memorial and educational programming honoring World War II veterans and all who serve.
Lubin Prevatt is a certified barbecue judge and longtime pork enthusiast. He was in Raleigh recently, judging the Wolfpack Club BBQ Bowl at NC State.
Ten years ago, a church group in Rutherford County decided to repair a roof for a person who couldn't afford to pay for the work. When the work day arrived, only the women volunteers showed up - their husbands stayed at home. The women climbed on the roof anyway and completed the work. Since then, the female volunteers have roofed 67 homes for disadvantaged people and have become minor celebrities. People magazine recently featured them.
When Chris White became president of what was then Chowan College, the little school in Murfreesboro was on the brink of closing. Ten years later, Chowan University is the fastest-growing private college in North Carolina. Perhaps that's because of White. He markets the school to "average high school students." He's also an accomplished pianist who has raised about $50,000 from the sale of his CDs to pay for student scholarships.
Bob Baillie of Southern Pines was a golfer and skier who led an active life until a complication from heart bypass surgery left him blind. He thought his life was over until he went to Canada to train with a guide dog. The trip changed his life, and Baillie now hopes to build a similar training facility at home. His mission is to make free guide dogs available to blind children.
When engineers created Lake Lure, they flooded the land and drove away the snakes. All those snakes slithered their way to a nearby island, a place meant for luxury homes and a fancy yacht club. Developers were horrified and hauled in pigs to eat the snakes. That did the trick, but Snake Island then became known as Pig Island - and that yacht club never materialized.
A homemade recipe and personal service are hallmarks of a Lexington market.
Abraham Lincoln wasn't born in a log cabin in Kentucky. At least that's what some folks in Rutherford County believe. They are convinced the 16th president was born near the small North Carolina town of Bostic. As the story goes, his mother had an affair with a gangly, 6-foot tall, prominent businessman named Abraham Enloe, then fled in shame to Kentucky with the baby.
WRAL's Tar Heel Traveler visits Cleve Wagstaff, a longtime stone mason in Roxboro.
The Troll Store in Wilmington sells trolls hand made by a 93-year-old artist from Finland.
Blossom the opossum is a popular critter at the Clark Park Nature Center in Fayetteville.
Mickey and Connie Holland raise white doves that they release at funerals, weddings and other special occasions. The doves always find their way back to the couple's Erwin home.
Elmer Hunt started taking photos in 1939, when he was 20 years old. He continued the hobby through his life and teaching career at UNC-Pembroke. Today, more than 20 years after his death, the university houses his enormous collection of 53,000 pictures - a photographic history of the Lumbee people in Robeson County.
If you find your way to Prospect Hill in Caswell along N.C. Highway 86, then you've come to the miniature village Shangri-La. WRAL's Tar Heel Traveler visited the hidden treasure recently.
Jordan's Jewelers, a landmark jewelry store in Dunn, is celebrating 125 years in business. WRAL's Tar Heel Traveler recently visited the store and talked to the two gems who run it.
People from all over the world are in Louisburg this week for the annual International Whistlers Convention.
WRAL's Tar Heel Traveler shares some of his favorite musical segments in this 30-minute special.
Amedeo's, an Italian place as famous for its food as its North Carolina State University sports memorabilia, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Sunday marks the anniversary of the Titanic disaster, when the unsinkable ship struck an iceberg and slipped beneath the frigid waters of the Atlantic. Julie Hedgepeth Williams, who grew up in Raleigh, fondly remembers the stories her great uncle told about surviving the disaster. Her book includes her late uncle Albert Caldwell's vivid account of that infamous night.
Sculpting pottery, planting blueberries and building bluebird homes are all in a day's work for Dan Finch of Bailey.
Charles McLaurin, mayor of the Cumberland County town of Eastover, is also a wildlife artist. He paints watercolors and makes wood carvings.
Dick Taylor, a former track star at UNC, is the Rolls Royce of car collectors.
Nash County customers love the down-home country cooking, friendly staff and beautiful teapot collection at Bailey Cafe.
The S.P. Gentry Grocery in Roxboro is full of character, in large part because of the good ol' colorful character who owns it.
They share the same state, county and claim to fame - they're all pioneers in the transportation industry. A Lumberton museum is displaying these famous local faces in a special exhibit.
Harnett County is rich in history, and an enthusiastic group of locals is making it come alive on video. The residents are producing a series of short historical dramas called "River Town," which was once the nickname of Averasboro. These online-only dramas are garnering a global following, with folks around the world logging on to watch.
Shorty's is a legendary hot dog dive in Wake Forest that's been owned by the same family and which has been serving customers for generations. Famous customers include golf figure Arnold Palmer and actor Carroll O'Connor.
A 200-year-old house in Edenton is a repository of intriguing history, including documents tied to German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler.
P.M. Terrell is a Lumberton mystery writer whose thrillers draw inspiration from her surroundings. The black water of the Lumber River gave rise to her Black Swamp Mysteries series. Terrell's father was an FBI agent, so intrigue is in her blood. But she didn't start out writing mysteries. She began her career writing computer manuals.
Bob and Betty Gardner were married for 64 years, 10 months and 28 days. After Betty died in July 2012, Bob found an old black notebook filled with his wife's love poems. He recently published them in the book "Love Poems and Letters."
Megan and Barton Cutter, married for 8 years, are both writers. Barton was born with cerebral palsy, so "it's kind of like a disconnected phone line," his wife said. But through words and the act of writing, the Cutters connect. Together, they recently wrote a book, "Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll."
Mix 101.5's Bill Jordan, who has risen at 3:20 a.m. for the last 32 years, will do so for the last time March 15.
Dave Kellner, of Cary, is a retired New York City police detective who collects law enforcement memorabilia. He has hats, helmets, badges, patches, and uniforms from all over the world.
Owners John and Carol Monahan have about 30 flavors of peanuts for all the "hot, sweet and salty people that come in."
Check here for more Tar Heel Traveler stories.
Every once in a while, we air a 30-minute special of some of Scott Mason's most memorable and most interesting Tar Heel Traveler reports.