Rachel Lewis Hilburn

CoastLine Host, Senior Reporter

Rachel hosts WHQR's local public affairs show, CoastLine, which she helped to create.  She also reports on issues affecting southeastern North Carolina.  Before joining WHQR, Rachel wrote and produced local TV newscasts for the Wilmington ABC-TV affiliate. She also wrote and produced a 30-minute TV special program for the Cape Fear Museum showcasing its renovation and new exhibits, and she independently wrote and produced a documentary on the lingering effects of the 1898 coup d'etat in Wilmington.   

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Creative Commons / Pixnio

The exuberance of spring is axiomatic, but as every spring has its own theme, so does the spring of 2021.  New life and longer days and warmer air and the riotous generosity of nature explode in stark contrast to the rigid stricture of six feet apart, masks, disinfectant, solitude. 

 Experts say about 50% of renters are cost-burdened – which puts people at higher risk of homelessness. So who are all these people living beyond their actual means?  You probably interact with them far more often than you know. 

NC League of Conservation Voters Foundation

Deborah Dicks Maxwell was born in Wilmington, North Carolina and calls it home, but she’s lived and traveled around the world. 

The Superfund site in Navassa is about to see its first segment transfer to the Town for ownership. 

Norma Mortenson / Pexels

When North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a statewide Emergency Declaration a year ago -- on March 10th, 2020 -- some residents called it overreach; some thought it good pandemic policy.  Whether the broad-based business and school closures were necessary to slow the spread of Covid-19 is also a point of contention. WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn talks with some local residents about how they view the policies of the last year – and explores what a year’s worth of data reveals about what works. 

Catch / Keith Rhodes

Wilmington Chef Keith Rhodes has gained national recognition over the past decade for his promotion of fresh, local and seasonal food.  His flagship restaurant, Catch, offers modern seafood that he describes as having an international flair.  But when the Covid pandemic hit North Carolina, the bottom fell out for his business and for the local farmers and fishermen who supply his restaurant. 

Attributed to Frederick Kemmelmeyer
Public Domain, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

America was born out of violence in a battle against taxation without representation.  After winning a bloody eight-year war against Great Britain, Americans created the first modern constitutional democracy.   

Johnson & Johnson

A third vaccine against Covid-19 joins North Carolina’s arsenal starting Wednesday, March 3rd.

Brayton Willis / Brunswick County NAACP

Former First Lady Michelle Obama.  Comedian Chris Rock.  Basketball superstar Michael Jordan.  The Godfather of Soul James Brown.  These are just a few of the well-known Americans who are descendants of the Gullah Geechee people. 

Creative Commons

The mask mandate is not about to change in North Carolina.  But as Covid metrics are declining on all fronts, and Governor Roy Cooper is ready to ease some restrictions.  


The Creekwood community in Wilmington, a housing project often referred to as part of the inner city, is still somewhat isolated. 

LINC, Inc.

Imagine having a brother who is addicted heroin.  He keeps winding up in prison.  You're younger, but you know better.  And so you build your life without him. 

David Woo / Flickr

North Carolina is moving to the next phase of Covid-19 vaccine distribution soon.  But Group 3 is going to get the shot in phases.  


North Carolina will get 5% more of the Covid-19 vaccine starting next week.  But there’s still not enough vaccine available, and it’s even worse for those in minority communities. 

Wilmington Morning Star

Saturday, February 6th, marks the 50th anniversary of the firebombing of Mike’s Grocery Store in Wilmington, North Carolina. 

The Wilmington Ten:  nine men and one woman – wrongly accused and convicted of arson and conspiracy.   Each of the ten serving substantial prison time for crimes they did not commit.  The nine men were African-American.  The woman was white.  The violence that erupted in Wilmington fifty years ago, in early February 1971, was fomented by racial tension, desegregation, and active white supremacist groups facing off against black activists who were demanding equal rights and equal educational opportunities. 


Every school district in North Carolina should reopen for in-person learning as soon as possible.  That’s the message from Governor Roy Cooper. 

Wikimedia Commons / Marc Nozell - Merrimac, NH

When you first heard about a horde of protestors storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, who did you believe was responsible? 

Has the responsible party changed in your mind since you first heard the news? 


The highly contagious COVID-19 variant, first detected in the United Kingdom last month, is now present in North Carolina. While the vaccine is not yet widely available, the state still has a mask mandate -- just one of the steps Governor Roy Cooper has taken to stem the tide of the virus. 

It’s a special holiday edition of CoastLine with two original stories of the season.  

Zelda Lockhart is a Visiting Associate Professor in the Creative Writing Department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.  She is the 2010 winner of the Piedmont Laureate for Literature.   And she is the author of three novels, including Fifth Born and Fifth Born 2:  The Hundredth Turtle.

Ricky Meeks

Sheila Boles played for the first women’s basketball team at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.  She won the first women’s basketball scholarship the next year, and she became the team’s first MVP. 


The recent Covid-19 spike in North Carolina has state officials using words such as “dire”, “alarming”, “shocking”, “life and death”, and “upon us with a rapid viciousness.”  80% of counties in the state are now coded orange and red. 

The debate over reparations for African-Americans, descendants of those brought to the United States as enslaved people, has existed since the very end of the Civil War.  It’s taken various forms ranging from the idea of 40 acres and a mule to monetary payments.  But from 1861 to 2020, the idea has never gained serious traction in state legislatures or on Capitol Hill. 


As the number of people hospitalized in North Carolina hits a record high for the fourth day in a row, state officials are rolling out their plan for distribution of the Covid vaccine.  

During the pandemic of 2020, parents are working from home, many people have lost their jobs, and business owners and employees are wondering how they’ll get their financial heads above water again.  Anxiety about venturing out plagues those who are more vulnerable, and those who are vigilant about mask-wearing are bothered by those who are not.  

Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise at concerning levels across North Carolina.  For that reason, Governor Roy Cooper is extending restrictions on gatherings and tightening requirements on mask-wearing.  And as Pender County becomes one of 21 counties with substantial community spread, state officials hope local governments will follow Greensboro’s example. 


North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein says DuPont company officials have known for four decades that its chemicals are harmful to humans.  The allegation is part of a lawsuit filed last month by the state Department of Justice.  

Vince Winkel

PFAS, a class of manmade chemicals in the drinking water supply of the Cape Fear region, are unregulated, likely carcinogenic and otherwise toxic to humans, and are still entering the air and water in southeastern North Carolina. 

Same Page Pictures

Two filmmakers from the Cape Fear region will get to see their first full-length feature film on the big screen for the first time Saturday night.  It’s part of the 2020 Cucalorus Film Festival, and as WHQR learned, Drought was born in a series of downpours.

More than a week has passed since the 2020 Election.  President-Elect Joe Biden is moving forward with his transition plans, key Republican leaders are quiet, and there are questions about whether the American public is as divided as it’s ever been.  In North Carolina, Republicans head into the next legislative session with an as-yet unofficial 70-50 majority in the House and a 29-21 majority in the Senate.