Take Note

Fridays at noon 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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Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor is an associate professor of history at Smith College, whose work includes the paper “The Etymology of the N-Word: Resistance, Language, and the Politics of Freedom in the Antebellum North.” She recently visited Penn State Altoona to speak about her research. And, she spoke with WPSU's Anne Danahy about the history of the N-word, how she discusses it with students and what it meant to her father, the comedian Richard Pryor. 

Bryan Stevenson is a renowned lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization that “is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.” The Equal Justice Initiative represents prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted, unfairly sentenced or otherwise mistreated by our criminal justice system.

courtesy of the McCourtney Institute at Penn State / McCourtney Institute

NPR Political Commentator E.J. Dionne is also a Washington Post Columnist, and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.  He is an author of 7 books, and most recently co-author of “One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported.”  Dionne says President Trump has flouted the norms of democracy and the presidency.  And he offers ideas about renewing civic engagement, and how the U.S. can move forward after the Trump era.

Srdja Popovic is an activist and author of the book “Blueprint for Revolution: how to use rice pudding, Lego men, and other non-violent techniques to galvanise communities, overthrow dictators, or simply change the world.” Popovic was a founder of the student movement “Otpor!” or “Resistance!” The movement helped oust the Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, who was later charged with war crimes. Popovic served in the Serbian parliament and in 2003 founded Canvas, a nonprofit focused on teaching the use of nonviolence to promote human rights and democracy.

State Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman
Min Xian / WPSU

WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman about issues ranging from recreational marijuana to the prospects of raising Pennsylvania's minimum wage. Corman represents the 34th district, which includes Centre, Mifflin and Juniata counties and parts of Huntingdon County. He has served in the Senate since 1999, and won reelection last year. In 2014, Corman became Senate majority leader, making him second in command in the Senate.

Jonathan Haidt
Jayne Riew

These days, political polarization is on the rise as support for democracy declines in the U.S. and around the world.

Why is it so hard for us to get along? And, what can we do about it?

We talked with social psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt about the moral foundations of politics and how our kids can play their way to a better democracy.  

John Champagne standing
Penn State

WPSU's Anne Danahy talks with John Champagne, a professor of English at Penn State Behrend, the Erie campus, chair of the Global Languages and Cultures program and this year's Penn State Laureate. They talk about politics in art, the difference between meanings and messages in art, and the role of art in fascism.

Mark Focht is the Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer for New York City Parks.

He previously worked in Philadelphia for more than 15 years, including serving as First Deputy Commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.

He talks with us about his passion for improving the quality and accessibility of urban environments and how green spaces help our health and well-being.

Take Note: Two Former Staffers Remember Fred Rogers

Feb 8, 2019
Cory Geishauser and Joanne Peacock Loebig both worked on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."
Carolyn Donaldson / WPSU

From the first time Fred Rogers, known to his fans across generations as Mister Rogers, walked through that famous door and into our living rooms on February 19, 1968, his warmth, his kindness, and ability to talk to children on their level was television magic.

By changing from his dress shoes into sneakers and donning one of his many cardigan sweaters–each knitted by his mother–welcoming us as he fed the fish, Mister Rogers made us feel that he was talking directly to us when we were children. 

The next census won’t start until 2020, but the U.S. Census Bureau is already hard at work on preparing to count the more than 325 million people in the United States. The census is one of the few democratic norms that’s required by the Constitution, and the data collected has wide-ranging uses.

Powell Watts described her novel as "'The Great Gatsby' set in rural North Carolina, nine decades later, with desperate black people." Stephanie Powell Watts is a writer and associate professor of English at Lehigh University. Her debut novel, "No One Is Coming to Save Us," won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work and was the inaugural selection by Sarah Jessica Parker for the American Library Association's Book Club Central.

We talked with Powell Watts about representation in literature and how her debut novel draws on F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby."

Ron Haviv
Adrian Whipple

Ron Haviv is an Emmy nominated, award-winning photojournalist and co-founder of the photo agency VII, which is dedicated to documenting conflict and raising awareness about human rights issues around the globe.

Shawn Morelli
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State graduate and retired U.S. Army Major Shawn Morelli took up cycling after an explosion during her service in Afghanistan caused brain trauma, blindness in her left eye and severe damage to her spine and neck.

Katharine Hayhoe
Ashley Rodgers / Texas Tech University

An atmospheric scientist and evangelical Christian, Katharine Hayhoe is known for her ability to communicate science to everyday people, including skeptics of climate change. She is an award-winning professor at Texas Tech University and is involved in a number of educational initiatives, including hosting "Global Weirding," a public media program on YouTube.

Tanya Wright is a familiar face to television audiences. She appeared in ER, NYPD Blue, 24, and The Good Wife. She completed 7 seasons on HBO's cult hit True Blood as Deputy Kenya Jones. And she currently plays Crystal Burset on the Netflix show Orange is the New Black. 

She's also the writer, director and star of Butterfly Rising, a feature film that was a finalist in many competitions. She wrote a book of the same name. 

Lucinda Dickens Hawksley / Lucinda Dickens Hawksley

In this edition of Take Note, WPSU’s Kristine Allen speaks with Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, the great, great, great granddaughter of Charles Dickens.  Hawksley is also an author in her own right.  One of her many books, “Dickens’s Artistic Daughter Katey: Her Life, Loves and Impact,” has recently been updated with new information.

Seria Chatters is the director of diversity and inclusivity for the State College Area School District.
Cheraine Stanford / WPSU

Seria Chatters is the first-ever director of diversity and inclusivity for the State College Area School District. She draws from both her personal and professional experiences to inform her work.

Before taking her current position, she was an assistant professor in Penn State's Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education. 

Chatters talked with WPSU about her first semester on the job and what she hopes to accomplish in the position. 

TRANSCRIPT:

Michael McDonald (right) and Micah Altman are the lead researchers for the Public Mapping Project.
Min Xian / WPSU

In most cases, Gerrymandering -- the practice of drawing political district boundaries to favor a specific political party -- creates unequal representation.

Michael McDonald and Micah Altman, the lead researchers for the Public Mapping Project, talked with WPSU about providing the public with tools and data to create and evaluate redistricting plans for transparency and encouraging greater participation in the process.

They are the winners of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy's 2018 Brown Democracy Medal. 

 

A retired four-star general, 2004 presidential contender, author and commentator, Wesley Clark is now starting a nonpartisan organization. The goal of Renew America is to encourage people to find common ground by promoting public and political discourse.

WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with Clark about the organization, what he thinks needs to change in politics and how Americans can help make that happen.

Charlene Teters
Jason S. Ordaz

This interview originally aired July 20, 2018.

Charlene Teters is an artist, activist and educator whose artwork challenges the stereotypical portrayals of American Indians in American popular culture. She holds multiple degrees, including a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois, where her activism against the use of Native Americans as sports mascots first began. Teters is a member of the Spokane Nation and is the academic dean at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. WPSU’s Cheraine Stanford talked with her about her work. 

Justin Torres.
Winni Wintermeyer

Justin Torres is the author of the international bestseller "We the Animals," which tells the story of three brothers growing up in a tumultuous household. The novel was adapted into a film that will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 20.

We talked with Torres about the film adaptation and how his life shaped his fiction.

Franklin Zimring from the University of California, Berkley, Vesla Weaver from Johns Hopkins University, and Michael Walzer from the Institute for Advanced Study.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

A recent conference by the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State brought researchers into the Ethics of Policing to State College.

Franklin Zimring, from the University of California, Berkley, studies police use of lethal force in the United States. Vesla Weaver from Johns Hopkins University studies how contact with the criminal justice system affects political engagement. Michael Walzer from the Institute for Advanced Study studies the differences between police and soldiers.   

Two men sitting in radio studio
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Jonathan Landay, a national security correspondent for Reuters, and John Walcott, a former Reuters editor, were part of the team covering the war in Iraq that broke from the popular narrative of weapons of mass destruction. Instead, they reported on the lack of consensus about the existence of WMDs. Their award-winning work, recognized for its accuracy, is the subject of "Shock and Awe," a new film by Rob Reiner.

Recent MacArthur Fellowship award-winner Dominique Morisseau.
John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Award-winning playwright, poet and performer Dominique Morisseau was recently named a recipient of the 2018 MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the genius grant, for her work bringing the lives of those on the margins to center stage. 

Morisseau has served as a co-producer and story editor for the Showtime series Shameless. She also worked with Penn State graduate theatre students to create Blood At the Root, a play inspired by the controversial "Jena Six" case. 

Guest host Jenna Spinelle and Knight Foundation president and CEO, Alberto Ibargüen.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Journalism and the free press are essential to a healthy democracy, but trust in media organizations is lower than at any time in recent history. The Knight Foundation’s Trust, Media, and Democracy initiative aims to understand why this is happening and what can be done restore that trust.

Alberto Ibargüen is the president and CEO of the Knight Foundation and joined us for a conversation on the role of the free press in a democracy and the future of journalism.

Abdalaziz “Aziz” Alhamza is the co-founder and spokesperson for Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group of civilian journalists who worked to expose the crimes of ISIS in Raqqa, Syria.

We talked with Aziz about how life in Raqqa changed when ISIS came to power, why he continued this work despite increasing danger and what life is like in Raqqa today.

Photo: Penn State Law

David Frum is a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine, and a former speechwriter for George W. Bush.  He's a conservative, a Republican, and a fierce critic of President Trump.  His latest book is "Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic," which is out in paperback on October 9th.  In the book, Frum talks about the factors that led to the rise of Donald Trump, and other leaders like him around the globe.

Frum spoke with WPSU while visiting Penn State for a talk at Penn State Law.

The opioid epidemic has been described as the worst public health crisis in Pennsylvania.

Jason Snyder has both professional and personal experience with the battle against addiction. He is currently the regional director of outpatient services in Eastern Pennsylvania for Pinnacle Treatment Centers. Snyder previously served in the Wolf administration, where he oversaw the Governor’s Centers of Excellence.

This interview is a part of the statewide Battling Opioids project.

Marisa Vicere is the founder of the Jana Marie Foundation.
Shawn Henfling / Captured Chaos

After losing her sister to suicide in 2011, Marisa Vicere founded the Jana Marie Foundation in her sister’s honor.

The State College-based non-profit aims to educate and empower young people in the Centre County region and to build awareness about mental well-being and suicide prevention.

Vicere talked with WPSU during National Suicide Prevention Month about the foundation and her sister. 

Poet Julia Spicher Kasdorf and photojournalist Steven Rubin spent five years documenting Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania. The project became their new book, "Shale Play."
Zsuzsanna Nagy

Poet Julia Spicher Kasdorf and photojournalist Steven Rubin spent five years documenting Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania. The project became their new book, "Shale Play." 

We talked to them about what they’ve witnessed and how they decided to blend poetry and photography.

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