Take Note

Fridays at 1pm and Sundays at 7am

Listen to conversations about issues that matter. WPSU’s weekly community affairs radio program features in-depth interviews with central Pennsylvania newsmakers.

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  Joe Valente is a self-identified superhero; he’s using the proverbial pen to fight the good fight by spreading a simple message: deaf people are not disabled. Valente is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Penn State and co-Director of Penn State’s Center for Disability Studies. Deaf since infancy, he was “mainstreamed” as a child and didn't have the opportunity to spend time with deaf peers, which is why he finds his research work with schools for the deaf so fulfilling.

Shoba Wadhia, author of "Beyond Deportation"
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

Under U.S. immigration law, one of the most widely used but misunderstood concepts is prosecutorial discretion. Simply put, that’s the influence immigration officials have on the outcome of a deportation case. It allows authorities to grant “non-priority” status to some illegal immigrants – hoping to use their limited resources to target the more dangerous individuals.

Getting through the physical and emotional hurdles of cancer is hard enough--but then there’s the financial burden.  The Bob Perks Cancer Assistance Fund was started in 2006 to help local cancer patients struggling to pay their bills during their treatment. The fund has distributed more than $1 million dollars and lightened the load for more than 1,000 local families battling cancer in Blair, Centre, Clearfield and Huntingdon Counties.  To find our more, we’ve asked Doreen Perks to join us.  She started the Fund in honor of her late husband. 

High on the list of collaborations that have to work if a film is to be successful is that of director and cinematographer.  It’s the lucky director who finds the perfect partner to realize his ideas visually - through color, composition, lighting and camera movement.  We talked with two young filmmakers who made it work.  Josef Wladyka is the director of “Manos Sucias”, a film that won him the Best New Narrative Director award at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival.  And Alan Blanco is the man who shot it.  Alan graduated from Penn State in 2005 with a degree in film and video.

Paula Kerger is president and CEO of PBS.  She's been included on the Hollywood Reporters Women in Entertainment Power 100 List for the past eight years.  We talked with her about the latest developments at PBS, about the importance of the PBS mission in our communities, and about PBS after Downton Abbey.

Cathy Willis Spraetz is President & CEO of Chimp Haven, the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Keithville, Louisiana. We talked with her about our long history of exploitation of chimpanzees, about major changes in the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research, and about why these great apes, who have given so much to humans, deserve to retire in comfort and freedom. 


The Canadian author Margaret Atwood is considered to be one of the most important and influential writers alive today. She has more than 50 books to her credit, including poetry, short stories, children’s fiction, and 14 novels. The best known works are The Handmaid’s Tale and The Blind Assassin. We'll talk with her about her life as a writer, the difference between speculative fiction and science fiction, and about the manuscript she wrote for the Future Library Project; readers won't see the book for 100 years!  


WPSU’s Greg Petersen interviewers Pennsylvania State Senator and Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre County) who talks about the prospects for an on-time budget, pension reform, state liquor reform, his support for a higher minimum wage in the Commonwealth, and work to close a tax loophole that currently allows hundreds of Marcellus Shale companies to avoid taxes by registering in Delaware.

This past March, Take Note went on the road, to Penn State's HUB Robeson Center's Freeman Auditorium, to talk with New York Times' bestselling author, Jess Walter.  His 2012 masterpiece Beautiful Ruins was this year's Centre County Reads selection.  NPR's Fresh Air called the book "A literary miracle." Salon called it "Damn near perfect."

You may not know the name Alan Blanco, but something tells me you soon will!  This young filmmaker and Penn State graduate is making a name for himself.  His debut feature film, Manos Sucias, with first-time director Josef Wladyka has made the film festival rounds to critical acclaim.  Blanco co-wrote and shot the film, which was executive produced by Spike Lee. The deeply affecting story is set, and shot, in a part of the world we rarely see on screen: the drug underworld of Buenaventura, Columbia. 


Carol Sanford
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Carol Sanford is a business consultant who has worked with organizations from Google to DuPont to Colgate Palmolive. She’s the author of “The Responsible Business” and, most recently, “The Responsible Entrepreneur.” She spoke with WPSU about what it means to be a responsible entrepreneur and how that’s actually better for business. 

Ai-Jen Poo is interested in the work that makes all other work possible.   We’re talking about nannies, housekeepers and caregivers for the elderly who go into other people’s homes every day to make it possible for them to go out into the world and do what they do.  Her goal is to bring dignity and respect to that work.  Poo is director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-director of Caring Across Generations. Her new book is The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America

Megan Maas is a certified sexuality educator and doctoral student at Penn State. Her research ranges from sexual socialization to teen dating violence prevention to adolescent pornography use. She works with parents, teachers, and other education professionals to help them navigate the changing landscape of sexual health and culture among teens and young adults.

According to recent research, nearly half of American jobs today could be automated in a decade or two.  What jobs will the robots take?  And what does this mean for higher education?  We explore the future of jobs and education with Dr. Kyle Peck, Professor of Education at Penn State and Co-Director of the Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL), and Dr. David Passmore, a Distinguished Professor of Education in the Workforce Education and Development academic program at Penn State and director of  Penn State's Institute for Training & Development. 

Susan Russell is many things: actor, playwright, author, and educator. She spent 25 years performing on and off-Broadway. In Act Two of her career, she’s an Associate Professor in Penn State’s School of Theatre, using her considerable energies to make social change. Meet the 2014-15 Penn State Laureate, Susan Russell.

HEAR MORE OF THIS INTERVIEW (Click the link below):

Kristine Allen

Actress and filmmaker Anna Martemucci grew up in State College.  She was a contestant on the STARZ reality show called “The Chair” which filmed her as she directed her own film, “Hollidaysburg.”  It’s about college freshmen from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania who come home for a Thanksgiving holiday.

WPSU’s Kristine Allen talks with Martemucci about her career, her film, and what it’s like to be on a reality show.

Although he didn’t coin the term microaggressions—that’s the word used to describe hurtful, often subtle racial and ethnic slights—Derald Wing Sue has literally written the book on the subject.  Sue is a professor of psychology and education at Columbia University and the author of Microaggressions in Everyday Life.  Sue visited Penn State to give a talk on microaggressions in higher education. 

Her radical ideas on remaking women's work earned her a place in TIME magazines list of the 100 most influential people in the world.  Ai Jen Poo talks with us about bringing respect and dignity to the work of caregivers, nannies and housekeepers.  Their work makes all other work possible.


Credit Daily News Photo by Melanie Bell


From our Take Note archives, our June 2012 interview with Mia Bloom, then a fellow at the International Center for the Study of Terrorism at Penn State.  She is now a professor of Security Studies at the University of MA, Lowell. 

She's a leading expert on suicide terrorism and a frequent consultant to the military, policy makers, and the media.  She is the author of "Dying to Kill," one of the pioneering works in the field.  Her most recent book is "Bombshell: Women and Terror." 

From the Take Note Archives:  Listen to our 2011 conversation with best-selling author Lisa Genova.  Her debut novel, "Still Alice," about a Harvard professor's journey through early-onset Alzheimer's disease, was a New York Times bestseller.  It's now a film, by the same name, starring Julianne Moore, who's been nominated for a Best Actress Oscar.

Frances Moore Lappé
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Frances Moore Lappé is the author of 18 books about food, hunger and democracy. She’s best known for her book “Diet for a Small Planet.” Lappé was named by Gourmet Magazine as one of 25 people – including “The Jungle” author Upton Sinclair and TV chef Julia Child -- whose work has changed the way America eats. Her new book, coming out later this year, is called “World Hunger: 10 Myths.” Frances Moore Lappé talks about the advances she’s seen in feeding the hungry and what’s left to be done. 

On Sept. 15, 1963, a bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.  Five girls were preparing for worship in the church basement; four were killed by the blast, but the fifth girl survived.  Her name is Sarah Collins Rudolph.  We talked with her about her physical and emotional scars, and about why her story is often overlooked in the larger discussions about the bombing and its role in energizing the Civil Rights Movement.  

George Packer, staff  writer for The New Yorker, talks with us about his book, "The Unwinding:  The Inner History of the New America."  The New York Times called it "something close to a nonfiction masterpiece." The award-winning, bestselling book paints an indelible picture of America in crisis.  

Recent Penn State graduate Remy Maisel and Penn State Professor Sophia McClennen.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Satirical media have been making headlines recently: Cyberhacking and threats shut down Sony’s satirical film “The Interview,” which is about two men trying to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jung Un. Then reaction to satire took a deadly turn when gunmen killed 12 at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Penn State professor Sophia McClennen and recent Penn State graduate Remy Maisel co-authored the book, “Is Satire Saving Our Nation?: Mockery and American Politics.”    

Before his retirement in January 2014, General Robert Kehler served as Commander of U.S. Strategic Command. He had direct responsibility to the President and Secretary of Defense.  He visited Penn State, his alma mater, in early December. We talked with him about national security in the 21st century, about today's nuclear arsenal, and about cyberspace and outer space as potential areas of conflict. 

Jonathan Jansen is the first black president of the University of the Free State in South Africa. A gifted speaker and writer, he’s earned a formidable reputation for his commitment to reconciliation in a racially divided society. We’ll talk with him about the notorious Reitz video that sent shock waves throughout the world, about reconciliation and about the future of Mandela’s rainbow nation.   

More on Jonathan Jansen

University of the Free State: Jonathan Jansen

Fifteen thousand children were imprisoned at the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Inge Auerbacher was part of the meager one percent who survived. For years, she suffered from tuberculosis as a result of the terrible conditions during her captivity.

Whitehurst photo from rollingout.com; Gray image by Kate Lao Shaffner/WPSU

In August, Terrell Jones, Penn State’s Vice Provost for Educational Equity and a well-known expert on diversity issues, passed away after a bout with cancer. Marcus Whitehurst, who worked with Jones for many years, was appointed the Acting Vice Provost for Educational Equity. We talked with Whitehurst about the legacy that Jones left behind for Penn State, diversity and equity issues, and Terrell Jones as a mentor. For the second half of our show, we talked to Penn State Senior Vice President for Finance and Business David Gray about Penn State health care.

On today's Take Note, we'll talk with bird researcher and Pulitzer Prize nominated author Scott Weidensaul. The eastern Pennsylvania based writer was in town for BookFestPA and talked with WPSU’s Emily Reddy before his visit about his best-known book, Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds. Then WPSU's Patty Satalia will interview ClearWater Conservancy's Katie Ombalski and landowner Sally Rothwell about a stream restoration project on the Rothwell Farm in Centre County. Ombalski says the improvements impact water quality all the way to the Chesapeake Bay.